Watchonista Staff Picks: January Releases
“What was your favorite new watch from last month?” It’s not an easy question to answer, but Team Watchonista did just that!
As the copy editor and fact-checker, I read every article published on Watchonista. I look through a lot of media kits, read even more press releases, and feast my eyes on hundreds of photos taken by our stellar photography team.
However, one unfortunate byproduct of my job is that in busy months (like when, oh say, all of LVMH’s watch brands announce new models simultaneously), sometimes individual watch models can blur together.
That is, of course, unless a model really speaks to me. For instance, I think Zenith was January’s big winner.
I loved the kaleidoscopic yet subtle rainbow coloration of the DEFY 21 Chroma, but its 44mm case diameter took it out of top-watch contention.
I’m also totally obsessed with the dial of the DEFY Midnight Sunset, and with a diameter of 36mm, it is much more reasonable for my small wrist. However, this guilloched wonder loses the top spot because of its diamond-set bezel and indices. I generally eschew diamond-encrusted products.
No, my favorite January release is the Zenith Chronomaster A384 Revival Lupin The Third – Final Edition. At 37mm, it is not too big. Plus, its bisected, dual-color dial is diamond-free and completely fascinating. In other words: It’s just right.
Team Watchonista’s Favorite Releases: January 2022
In recent years, the definition of luxury has changed much. However, with the release of the Lucea Intarsio Aventurine during LVMH Watch Week, Bulgari is clearly to expand our definition of luxury by increasing a watch’s value via craftsmanship and innovation instead of only expensive materials
Made of aventurine and assembled using a classic marquetry technique in a radial pattern called intarsia, the dial of this model offers a unique holographic effect that has never been seen in the watch industry before.
Moreover, as the deep and dark aventurine magnifies the star-studded diamond indices, the marquetry layers capture the light in an incredible set of rays that converge on the center of the dial.
The magic succeeding while keeping the mystery intact is, for me, a fundamental aspect of what should be luxury. That is why I chose Bulgari’s Lucea Intarsio Aventurine as my favorite January watch release
From the deluge of watch releases in January, the quite obvious top spot for me goes to the Hublot Big Bang Unico Golf Carbon 45mm!
The choice is not only because Hublot used a lightweight orange carbon for the case. As a golfer, it is eminently practical. For instance, with just a quick click of a button, I can easily track my strokes for a whole round of golf. Plus, to satisfy the serious watch lover in me, the watch is also equipped with the super reliable, in-house Unico movement.
Seeing as the end of January 2022 saw Audemars Piguet kick off the Royal Oak’s jubilee anniversary celebrations, picking my favorite release from last month was easy: the new Royal Oak that best channels the original 5402BA. And that would be the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-thin 39mm (ref. 16202BA).
Early Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks were known for the unique “brassing” effect that occurred as they aged. (“Brassing,” if you’ve never heard the term, is when the paint fades away to reveal the beautiful chocolate and caramel visage of the brass micro-tapisserie dial beneath).
This year’s ultra-thin model pays beautiful homage to that while still being its own unique entity. Plus, it doesn’t fall victim to the pitfalls a simple re-release often does. Also, you know, gold!
Seduced by a perfect, geometrically structured dial and its repeating star motif, I definitely choose Zenith DEFY Skyline as my watch of the month.
This time-only, sport-chic piece coupled with the El Primero movement makes it a great fun playground for the manufacture's present and future expression, not to mention its extremely attractive price of only CHF 8,700. What else could a watch lover want?
The new Autavia timepieces from TAG Heuer were among the earliest debuts of the New Year. But I am selecting the 60th Anniversary GMT Three Hands. And it is for this simple fact: Generally speaking, GMTs without a more traditional “pilot watch” package don’t float my boat, yet this one caught my eye.
There is just something about the combination of the bold GMT hand joining the distinctive large hour markers atop the blue sunray dial that perfectly completes the Autavia design language for me. Don’t even get me started on the excellent black-and-blue ceramic bezel!
Now, normally, I’d peg this 42mm wristwatch as a bit of stealth luxury, but at $4,200, a lot of folks will be able to get in on it.
In the end, I’m going with the Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi Ref. 103558 that was released on the first day of LVMH Watch Week. Not only is one day owning a Bulgari Serpenti one of my life goals, but its wildly innovative Piccolissimo calibre makes it doubly desirable.
Slim, clean, time-only watches by independent brands are kind of my thing, so my picks would have to be a pair of late-January releases: The Gilt Spectre, a collaboration between Ophion Watches, The Horophile, and The Limited Edition (CHF 4,000), and Louis Erard’s Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta (CHF 1,950).
They both have really well-executed dials in terms of color and finish. And both are (or were) available – the 40-piece limited edition Gilt Spectre immediately sold out – in smart-looking 39mm cases, perfect for my chicken wrists.
My January pick is the Hublot Big Bang Integral Yellow Gold. Simply put, I love it. Gold, gold, and more gold. This timepiece has all the right angles, and at 42mm sits right in that sweet spot for sports watches with bracelets.
I believe Hublot got the Big Bang’s balance just right, with the right ratio of black, red, and silver to perfectly temper the vibrancy of the gold. I don’t know if this is my recent fixation on gold watches speaking, but I think this piece is tonnes of fun – as all watches should be.
Saving the best for last (for last), Audemars Piguet released the perfect juxtaposition between vintage and modern late in January. I was instantly taken in the first time I saw the 39mm Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-thin (ref. 16202BA) but only fell further in love when I got to try it on.
As someone who prefers vintage pieces, aesthetically, the dial on this gold RO is pure perfection.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel, other sources mentioned)