Wristwatch Trends to Watch in 2022

With men and women, old and young clamoring for wristwatches these days, the mega trends that fashion, jewelry and lifestyle influencers and platforms are reporting about include minimalistic design, responsibly made watches, smart watches, and vintage/retro style.

Color also plays a key role in dials, bezels and straps; and whimsical character watches are keeping watch collectors young at heart.

Carol Besler, veteran watch and jewelry journalist and founder of the blog watchdetail.com, reports classic styling the top design trend, including elements like Roman numerals, minimalist dials, and super-slim cases. She also cites bold sports watches, with lots of color on dials, bezels, and straps trending.

Besler sees yellow gold and yellow gold tone watches making a big comeback, in softer tones or mixed with stainless steel. She explains that for the past couple of decades, with the popularity of steel watches, yellow gold was thought to be bold and showy. Most gold watches were rose gold. Now yellow is reappearing.

Watches that reduce the world’s carbon footprint are becoming mainstream, says Besler. “The next generation of watch buyers are environmentally conscious. That means recycled straps, packaging, and case materials are coming on stream. Making a big impact — battery-less, solar-powered movements!”

Sustainable Watches
One of the surprising consumer watch trends in the past five years is a shift in expectations, Alexander Thiel, a partner at the research firm McKinsey & Co., shared in a recent podcast. Consumers, even five years ago, were shopping for watches, looking first for a design they liked, then particular features. Only after that did they look for a brand.

“Now, it’s completely different,” says Thiel. “Consumers look first for a brand that they identify with and like, that they want to wear, as part of their public persona. That is also one of the reasons why an aspect like sustainability — and a brand being authentic in its sustainability appeal — is so important. An individual watch can be sustainable, but it’s difficult to communicate that. For a brand, it’s much easier to put forward what you are doing for sustainability.”

Recently, Citizen Watch debuted its “Purposeful Power” brand campaign, including limited-edition watch (NaviHawk), powered by Eco-drive, with synchronized Atomic Timekeeping technology. When people share moments with the hashtag #mylight to its Instagram, Citizen donates $5 to its partner Everybody Solar to help fund a solar-installation project planned in 2022.

The first to create quartz crystal and titanium timepieces, Citizen was also an early pioneer in advocating for the environment, launching the first light-powered watches with proprietary Eco-Drive technology in 1976, thus adding eco-mindful as a core value, the watchmaker underscores.

“It’s a new way to talk to consumers,” states Jeffrey Cohen, president of Citizen Watch America. “The phrase ‘Purposeful Power’ is shining a light on the values that our brand wants consumers to connect with and has our Eco-Drive technology and consumers at the forefront.”

Smart Watches
The existence of smart watches has not sent traditional watches the way of the dodo bird, but traditional watch companies have found their voice in this space.

A great example of this is Citizen’s CZ Smart, next generation hybrid smart watch with analog display. It blends the style of a traditional timepiece with feature-rich technology — customizable dial, track outdoor activity, with untethered GPS, health and wellness monitoring, call/text/email/social media alerts, and calendar reminders.

Compatible with both iPhone and Android, it features a large black-and-white display that eliminates glare, making it easier to read the screen in daylight. A notable feature is the watch’s robust 15-day battery life that eliminates the need for daily charging, and it comes with a 40-minute quick-charging cable.

“We are continuously creating new solutions for our customers’ needs,” Cohen states. “Many smart watches on the market are only about functionality. This timepiece also makes a statement with superior design and style. It embodies Citizen’s commitment to excellence and the drive for continued innovation.”

Whimsical Watches
Chalk it up to a pandemic’s worth of casual Fridays, or the simple need to have something to smile about, even during the dreariest zoom session, but character watches remain a favorite, says Colaizzi. “Quality Gold has always carried a fun assortment of cartoon and character watches, and we know from years of experience, they’re not just for kids! We’re excited they’re even more in vogue.”

Quality Gold’s Watch Book delivers more than 100 new timepieces in licensed collections, says Colaizzi, including Marvel, Disney, Red Balloon, Colori and Time Teacher for a wide variety of character watches for all age groups, as well as LogoArt, Collegiate, NFL, MLB, and NHL. She mentions that more of its watches are unisex.

Citizen — the official timepiece of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and Disneyland Paris — has had a decade-plus partnership with the brand, including the creation of watch models that showcase the essence of Disney, with designs inspired by fan-favorite characters.

“Our Disney partnership is intensive and broad,” Cohen says. “They’re great people to work with on concepts. They’re an idea company. Even a casual fan finds all of their details appealing, and that’s what we do as a company as well.”

Part of Citizen’s universe with Disney includes licensed lines for Marvel and Star Wars. Among the latest new styles are two limited-edition models inspired by R2-D2 and C-3PO, and timepieces inspired by the light saber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, and a more recent Disney series the Mandalorian.

Colorful Watches
Colaizzi mentions brown or blue bands and faces have been trending for some time, but many leading accessories companies are currently featuring wristwatches with red or green elements (dial, bezel, strap).

For five years now, Besler says blue dials have been popular. But in the last year, “cool ice-blue dials” have been hot, both for sports watches and classic dress watches, ladies’ and men’s.

Some great examples of color use are found in Citizen’s latest Eco-Drive offerings, including the sporty “Blackout” Nighthawk series, black ion-plated stainless steel with black, gray or camo dial; and Garrison workday-to-weekend styles in silver tone Super Titanium bracelet with black or blue dial, or brown leather strap with dark green face.

Reintroduced by Citizen in 2020, Accutron, a collection previously under the Bulova name, is its own brand featuring the world’s first-ever electrostatic powered movement. The Citizen Group spent nearly a decade developing the technology, shares Cohen. Accutron was the name associated with the first tuning fork-controlled electronic timepieces, originally released around 1960. It was the most accurate watch on the market until quartz-regulated electronic watches came a long a decade later.

For 2022, Accutron’s Legacy collection has some standout watches inspired by the design-centric, fashion-forward thinking of 1960s, with new interchangeable luxury leather straps in a variety of colors.

Nostalgic Watches
Retro styles (genuinely old or look-alike) continue to trend, shares Colaizzi, speaking to the timelessness of these watch designs. “Think 1950s minimalism, ‘60s “Mad Men” type luxury styles, ‘70s groovy gold bracelet bands, or ‘80s dynamic disco dazzlers.”

Bulova reflects its nearly 150-year history of firsts and the bold spirit of its founder, immigrant Joseph Bulova, in its latest “Bold at Heart” campaign. Some of the brand’s most popular watches are highlighted including CURV, Precisionist, Rubaiyat, Classic, and Gemini watches.

Especially nostalgic is Bulova’s coveted Frank Sinatra inspired collection, with timepieces named for some of his most famous songs, like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way” and the latest edition to the series, “Summer Wind.” Classically elegant, styles in the series incorporate vintage Bulova designs, with unmistakable elements iconic to the singer.

Under the Citizen Group umbrella, Bulova delivers plenty of vintage appeal in its popular Archive Series that re-imagines the brand’s most nostalgic models, infused with modern elements like its American Girl from 1957 and Computron from the late 1970s. Designed with an unconventional trapezoidal body, the watch’s unique shape allows wearers to see the time without having to twist their wrists, earning it the nickname the “driver’s watch.”

In fact, Computron bridges nostalgia with the dynamic digital world in its latest collaboration with D-CAVE in a pair of new Computron LED watches. D-CAVE is a lifestyle metaverse marketplace for the new digitally minded community, and their partnership with Bulova brings cool features integrating the physical and digital worlds. Inspired by gamers, these new models mark the first time the brand has accepted cryptocurrency alongside traditional currencies.