As an increasing number of people become interested in watches, the amount of hype surrounding specific models and new releases continues to grow each year. It’s not like watches weren’t already popular or that limited-edition pieces were readily available. However, things have never been quite like how they are now, where you simply cannot buy any Rolex model at retail and thousands of people are lining up all around the world for just the opportunity to purchase a non-limited-edition plastic watch.
We are now less than 4 months into the year, but there have already been a number of timepieces that have amassed serious levels of widespread attention. Given how this industry has been growing, this list is almost guaranteed to grow within the coming months, but here are the biggest hype watches of 2022 (so far).
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 - Turquoise Blue “Tiffany”
Image: Bob’s Watches
When the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches with brightly colored dials were first released in September 2020, they were immediately a smash hit with collectors. However, over the course of the following year, absolute madness for anything with a “Tiffany” blue dial started to build, and it reached a climax when a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 with a Tiffany & Co. dial in the iconic jewelry company’s signature shade of blue sold for an eye-watering $6.5 million. That hype rolled over into 2022, and when Rolex discontinued the Turquoise Blue dial as an option from the 41mm model within the lineup (which was already a fan-favorite), prices for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 ref. 124300 Turquoise Blue “Tiffany” reached as high as 10x the watch’s official $6,150 retail price.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo 50th Anniversary
Image: Audemars Piguet
As the original integrated-bracelet luxury sports watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has been enjoying insane levels of popularity for a number of years now, with the classic “Jumbo” model consistently ranked among the brand’s most coveted options. Last year, when Audemars Piguet announced that it would be discontinuing the then-current Jumbo, hype began to build, and when the new AP Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 16202 was announced at the beginning of this year, it instantly became one of the brand’s most desirable models. To further pour fuel on the hype fire, only the examples produced during 2022 will feature special 50th anniversary rotors on their movements. The official retail piece of $33,200 for the stainless steel model is completely irrelevant because you simply can’t get one at retail. This ultimately makes the 50th anniversary Royal Oak “Jumbo” a six-figure watch - and that is if you are lucky enough to find one available for sale.
M.A.D. Editions M.A.D. 1 Red
Image: M.A.D. Editions
Within the realm of luxury watches, there are expensive options like Rolex - and then there are others that operate on an entirely different level of existence, where even the most humble options will set you back nearly a hundred thousand dollars. MB&F is of the latter variety and for most people, the brand’s timepieces are purely aspirational items. Last year, Max Büsser (the founder of MB&F) created a new brand called ‘M.A.D. Editions’ and produced a watch with a modified Miyota movement (the M.A.D. 1) that was originally offered to friends of the brand at a budget-friendly price of around $2k. The watch wasn’t available to the general public and examples traded hands on the open market for values in excess of ten times their original retail price. This year, the brand announced the limited-edition M.A.D. 1 RED and allowed anyone to enter a raffle to win the opportunity to buy one. The raffle received an overwhelming number of entries, and you can almost guarantee that once these watches start marking their way onto the open market, they will be selling for multiple times their official $3k retail price.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR
Any new stainless steel Rolex sports watch is almost guaranteed to be accompanied by a fair amount of hype, and that is certainly true for the new Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR that was just recently announced at Watches & Wonders Geneva. Although a lot of people were questioning why Rolex chose to exclusively offer the new watch with a left-handed winding crown configuration, it is easily one of the most discussed new releases of the year and will be entirely unattainable at a retail level. As the new Rolex GMT-Master II reference 126720VTNR was just announced a couple weeks ago, examples have yet to reach the secondary market, but they are almost guaranteed to sell for multiple times their retail price of just over $11k.
Swatch x Omega MoonSwatch
At the beginning of this year, most watch enthusiasts would have probably told you that the biggest hype watch of 2022 would likely end up being something from Rolex or Patek Philippe. Others might have named some hot independent brand like F.P. Journe or Richard Mille, but I don’t think anyone would have expected the one release to send the watch world into a frenzy would have been some affordable plastic (sorry, “Bioceramic”) timepiece with a quartz movement that was made by Swatch. Although they were exclusively released at select Swatch boutiques, these fun and colorful versions of the Omega Speedmaster were explicitly stated to not be limited editions. And yet, thousands of people lined up for hours all around the world for the Swatch X Omega MoonSwatch, with some of the very first examples to hit the secondary market selling for thousands of dollars - despite having an official retail price of just $260.