This year’s Baselworld is now in full swing, and we are reporting live from the action. If you follow us on social media, you’ll know that we have joined up with GQ Magazine to bring you regular updates from the show for the very first time. Over the last two nights, we have hosted live panel discussions with our CEO Brian Duffy and watch buying experts on the British GQ website and the Watches of Switzerland Facebook page. If you’ve missed the broadcasts, fear not – here’s another chance to discover our highlights so far from the world’s largest luxury watch and jewellery fair. Plus, don’t forget to keep following us on social media so you can be among the first to discover the latest watches.
With three of its most iconic watches turning 60 this year, we knew Omega would have something very special waiting for us at Basel. And we were not wrong! The brand is celebrating with beautiful new versions of all three: the Seamaster 300, the Railmaster and the Speedmaster. Not satisfied with simply tasking its in-house design team to study and reinterpret the heritage models, the Swiss brand has used unique digital scanning technology to provide the watchmakers with accurate representations of the originals – although the designs have been enhanced slightly for the 21st century. All three are cased in brushed and stainless steel and feature black dials, the watches are limited to 3557 pieces, and come in a modern version of the original 1957 packaging. For serious Omega collectors, the set can also be purchased as a truly handsome trio for around £16,000.
Social media is a powerful thing – and this year, TAG Heuer is showing just how influential a tool it can be. The brand put out a call online asking fans and collectors which first generation 1960s Autavia model should inspire the rebirth of its iconic watch. More than 50,000 votes were cast, with the famous Autavia Ref. 2446 Mark 3, designed in 1966, coming out on top. At the time, the watch became known simply as the ‘Rindt’ after the celebrated Formula 1 driver Jochen Rindt, who often wore the watch while racing. The new-for-2017 model is a beefier 42mm (instead of 39mm) and houses TAG Heuer’s new Heuer-02 calibre, a proprietary chronograph movement, which powers a new date window. Design-wise, we think this Autavia is going to be another classic collector’s item. It has a modern feel, despite featuring the original’s mushroom’ push pieces, a ridged crown, the original Heuer logo and a choice of either a distressed calfskin leather strap or a slinky ‘beads of rice’ metal bracelet.
Another model marking its 60th anniversary this year is the Longines Flagship Heritage. When it launched in 1957, the Flagship was widely hailed as a quintessential gents’ dress watch thanks to its open white dials and elegant leather straps. This year, Longines has unveiled an anniversary collection comprised of three different versions in steel, yellow gold and rose gold. The most noticeable design update is the slightly larger case size, which comes in at a modest 38.5mm. The brand has also kept the original font of the Flagship logo on the dial. Inside ticks calibre L609, which has a 42-hour power reserve and powers a small seconds dial at 6 o’clock. The fact that there’s no date window to clutter the dial is a deft touch – it keeps things clean and simple. Each of the gold models will be produced in a run of just 60 pieces each, while the steel version will come in a limited series of 1957 pieces (pictured). A caravel – a small Portuguese or Spanish sailing ship – will be engraved on the watch’s case back.
Hublot is a cult favourite among our customers, and this year’s bold offerings are just what we’ve come to expect from the brand. Colour is once again at the forefront, as seen on the new Big Bang Unico Sapphire, a collection cast entirely in polished sapphire crystal, and which now comes in a range of colours including blue and pink. We are big fans of the model with a stunning rainbow bezel. Elsewhere, the colour trend continues with the Big Bang Blue Steel in its handsome 44mm case. Last but not least, there’s the Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis, the latest in its collection of Manufacture Piece (MP) watches. This incredible timepiece features a three-sided sapphire crystal case that tapers at 6 o’clock to show off the double rotation of the bi-axial tourbillon. There will be 50 pieces cast in titanium and 20 pieces in King Gold. It’s a truly stunning watchmaking feat.
Luxury Swiss watch brand Zenith has plenty of new and exciting product to show, but for us the highlights are the Defy El Primero 21 and Chronomaster El Primero Range Rover Velar Special Edition. The Defy El Primero has been a passion project for Zenith CEO Jean-Claude Biver for the past two years. Biver tasked his watchmakers with creating the fastest and most accurate chronograph in the world and, according to the brand, they have succeeded. The chronograph hand on this 44mm watch does a full rotation of the dial every second, achieved via a double barrel movement that reaches 360,000 vibrations an hour. Meanwhile, the new Chronomaster El Primero Range Rover Velar Special Edition is the second timepiece to come out of a creative relationship that last year produced the El Primero Range Rover Special Edition. In the main, the watches share the same DNA, including a 42mm case cast in black ceramised aluminium (Range Rover makes it cars’ chassis from aluminium, and the black ceramic treatment helps prevent scratches and dents) and a sleek charcoal grey dial. However, taking its design cues from the new Range Rover Velar, it features handsome copper details rather than silvered accents. Inside ticks the automatic El Primero 400B movement, which is visible through the case back. The watch feels more discreet, thanks to the Range Rover name having been removed from the dial. It’s now available in our network of Watches of Switzerland showrooms and online.