Which watch brand won 2022? Zach picks Cartier – here’s why… Which watch brand won 2022? Zach picks Cartier – here’s why…

Which watch brand won 2022? Zach picks Cartier – here’s why…

Zach Blass

Editor’s note: During one of our final editorial meetings of the year, the question was posed: which watch brand won 2022? This then raises the question of what it means to win. Is it total revenue? Likes on social media? Page views on our site? The number of watch spots in the wild? There is no one way to answer, so each team member was tasked with picking their watch brand and making the case. My selection is Cartier and here is why…

Exhibit A: Cartier topples Omega, taking #2 spot

Image: Morgan Stanley

According to Morgan Stanley reports, Rolex and Omega generated the most estimated revenue in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But, in their 2022 report, it was revealed that Cartier had toppled Omega for the number two spot. It was a massive shakeup to see in a watch world seemingly dominated by sports watch brands. For a dressier watch brand like Cartier to overtake a manufacture like Omega, that makes a large quantity of watches per year, was a big deal, and it set the stage for surging interest in Cartier watches throughout the year.

Exhibit B: Cartier Crash sells for whopping US$1.5M

Cartier 2022

A lot of the growing interest in Cartier’s modern watches stems from the rocketing interest in their vintage pieces. Cartier watch design is lauded for not only having beautiful aesthetics, but highly distinct aesthetics as well. It is very rare, if at all, that enthusiasts claim a Cartier watch was inspired by another manufacture – in fact, it is usually the other way around. One such example of an incredibly distinct and unique design from Cartier is their Crash watch, a seemingly Dali-driven warped case that is stunning to see and wear in the metal. We have since learned that not all Crash pieces are created equal, and that some are more coveted than others. But, regardless of the variant, Crash watches are now associated with six-figure or greater price tags. The most desirable, however, the London Crash and its record-breaking result at auction, shook the watch-internet so much that even those outside of #watchfam even took notice. An exceptional example, auctioned via LoupeThis, took home over US$1.5M, leading more and more collectors to put Cartier in their collecting crosshairs (if they were not already).

Exhibit C: The Tyler, The Creator Cartier Moment

Image: Robb Report

A large funnel of interest towards the Crash, and vintage Cartier as a whole this year, came from rapper and musician Tyler, The Creator – his Cartier-covered arm in Robb Report likely to become one of the most memorable modern wrist shots. In a scene dominated by Rolex, Richard Mille, AP, and Patek Philippe, people definitely took notice of Tyler’s preference for Cartier. Any switch-up from the typical Royal Oak and Nautilus will definitely be registered, but with such distinct designs, Tyler’s Cartier disruption was that much more noticeable. And when Tyler wore a Cartier Crash in one of his music videos it made the Cartier-grail a household name.

Exhibit D: An incredibly strong Watches & Wonders 2022 showing



Bringing things back to modern Cartier, their novelties this year, particularly their Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 debuts, were the “if you know, you know” talk of the town. If I had to pick the big three everyone on the ground was talking about at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, it would be the Grand Seiko “Kodo” Constant Force Tourbillon, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Rattrapante GMT, and the Cartier Masse Mystérieuse. But, in terms of measuring up what brands brought to W&W as a whole, I, and many others, felt Cartier had the strongest variety of offerings.

Cartier 2022
Cartier Santos Dumont Limited Edition with a beige-lacquered pink gold case and dial

There was a Cartier watch for every taste, from the more approachable quartz-driven Tank Musts to the insane Cartier Crash Tigrée. The lacquered-case Santos models were absolute sleeper hits, although I made it abundantly clear in our coverage I instantly fell in love with the limited edition beige-lacquered pink gold model which I feel blessed I was able to acquire. The squishy pillow-like case of the diamond-decked out Coussin De Cartier was a powerful reminder that jewellery know-how is not to be scoffed at, but rather an intricate pillar of watchmaking ability. Lastly, the Cartier Masse Mystérieuse was a total knock-out that displayed just how powerful Cartier’s mechanical movement mastery can be, an entire watch movement packed into the winding mass of a watch fully displayed via a mystery dial.

Summary Judgement

Cartier 2022
Cartier Masse Mystérieuse

While making my case for Cartier as the winner of 2022, I think I have come at it from all angles. From a fiscal standpoint the Morgan Stanley report was a huge win for the brand and indicative of greater market permeation. For better or worse, auction results are an indicator of a brand’s power, and Cartier smashed it this year on that front. The massive Cartier Crash result, along with other key vintage Cartier watches that have had successful hammer prices, conveys the greater focus and appreciation for the brand’s creations from the powerhouse collectors of the world. Tyler, The Creator was just one key example of the strength of Cartier in the pop cultural landscape, bringing more and more eyes to the brand that would not consider themselves within the niche bubble of watch enthusiasm. And, lastly, Cartier’s novelties throughout 2022, particularly Watches & Wonders Geneva, cement their, perhaps, unrivalled strength in design, size and style variety, wide price point spectrum, and ability to execute everything from two-handed quartz to the mind-boggling Masse Mystérieuse.

With so much ground covered across their catalogue, you would think in such great quantity quality would suffer. But the Cartier tasting menu has a flavour for every palate. And I look forward to seeing what new flavours debut in 2023.