That’s it. Baselworld, the world’s largest luxury watch and jewellery fair, closed its doors yesterday. For the world’s waiting press and retailers, Baselworld is one of the most important periods in the annual watch calendar. Our challenge is to wade through thousands of new watches and zero in on the important launches for the year ahead – and we’ve done just that. Read on for our round-up of the best watches of the week.
This year, we teamed up with British GQ, bringing you live broadcasts from the Swiss fair, latest panel discussions, exclusive interviews and our verdict on all the new watch launches with our expert team. Catch up on all the Baselworld news via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Patek Philippe Ref 6006G and Ref 7130G-014
Every year, the mighty Patek Philippe prefers to play its cards close to its chest in the lead-up to the fair, keeping the world’s press guessing until the last minute – and, once again, it hasn’t disappointed. Its elegant 2017 collection for gents includes the new Ref. 6006G Calatrava in 18-carat white gold, which replaces the 6000 series first introduced in 2005. There are a few differences in the design: the case is 2mm larger at 39mm, the hands are hollowed out and the date hand is now tipped with a lacquered red arrow. Inside the handsome Calatrava case ticks Patek Philippe’s calibre 240 PS, which turns 40 this year and powers a subsidiary seconds dial that quirkily sits between 4 and 5 o’clock. Meanwhile, for ladies, Patek unveiled the stunning Ref 7130G-014 World Time watch, a glorious blue number that indicates all 24 time zones in a new white-gold version with a grey-blue hand-guilloched dial centre. The bezel is set with 62 shimmering diamonds, and the look is completed with an alligator strap in shiny peacock blue. At 36mm, it makes a real impact on the wrist.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
Rolex always creates a lot of noise at the fair – and this year was no exception. Among its stunning new collection is a subtle update to the Sky-Dweller. The watch is always a popular choice with the jet set thanks to its second time zone and annual calendar functionality, and it’s now available in a white and yellow Rolesor outfit – a first for the line, which until previously had only been available in precious metal. Rolesor, the brand’s combination of gold and steel, has been a signature feature of the brand since 1933, matching precious quality with strength and reliability. This handsome White Rolesor version features a bezel cast in 18-carat white gold, while the crown, middle case and bracelet are made from 904L steel. And it looks like last year’s flood of blue-dial timepieces is here to stay: we love this model’s gorgeous blue dial with a sunray finish.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono
Big news for Tudor – and Breitling – fans this year: the two brands announced at Baselworld that they have been collaborating and sharing expertise in producing certain mechanical movements. The result? The new column-wheel chronograph movement MT5813, featured in Tudor’s new Heritage Black Bay Chrono, is based on Breitling’s innovative B01 chronograph movement, while Breitling has adopted Tudor calibre MT5613, modifying it to create Breitling Calibre B20 (seen on Breitling’s stunning new Superocean Heritage). We are huge fans of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono – the Black Bay’s famous angular snowflake hands and domed dial and crystal are preserved in its sporty steel 41mm case, while the date remains at 6 o’clock. The watch comes with either a steel or leather bracelet, each of which come with a complimentary denim jacquard woven strap.
Zenith Defy El Primero 21
Jean-Claude Biver took the reins at Zenith earlier this year, and he’s already making his mark. The big talking point from the brand at Baselworld was the Defy El Primero 21, Biver’s passion project for the past two years as he attempts to inject the iconic El Primero with a touch of 21st century pep. He tasked his watchmakers with creating the fastest and most accurate chronograph in the world and, according to Zenith, they have succeeded. The chronograph hand on this 44mm watch does a full rotation of the dial every second when activated, achieved via a double barrel COSC-certified in-house movement that reaches 360,000 vibrations an hour. Put simply, that means this watch can measure time to the nearest hundredth of a second – an impressive feat of watchmaking. There are three 44mm iterations, including this titanium model with a cool silver-toned dial.
Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC
When it comes to diving watches, there are few as revered as Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms. First launched in 1953, it holds the title for being the world’s first modern diving watch thanks to its pioneering diving features, including the never-before-seen external rotating bezel. This innovation allowed the diver to measure time accurately and easily while underwater, while the watch’s oversized luminous markings aided visibility. The watch was the brainchild of the brand’s then-CEO, Jean-Jacques Fiechter, and soon after he incorporated a circular water-tightness indicator to the line. If liquid leaked into the watch, a disk at 6 o’clock would alert the wearer by changing from white to red. The water-tightness indicator was present on the dial of Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC 1, introduced in 1957-58 to meet the strict requirements of the military. This year’s Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC has a stainless steel 40mm case, and all the technical features of the Fifty Fathoms past. Its black dial showcases a water-tightness indicator at 6 o’clock, while the unidirectional rotating bezel is covered in scratch-resistant sapphire – an innovation first seen on 2003’s 50th anniversary model. The Tribute model is limited to 500 pieces and comes on a NATO strap, a sail cloth strap or a steel bracelet.
Omega Trilogy 1957 Limited Edition
With three of its most iconic watches turning 60 the year, we thought Omega would have something very special waiting for us at Basel. And we were right. The brand is celebrating with cool new versions of all three: the Seamaster 300, the Railmaster and the Speedmaster. Rather than simply tasking its in-house design team to reinterpret the heritage models, the Swiss brand has gone a step further and used unique digital scanning technology to provide the watchmakers with accurate representations of the originals – although the designs have been enhanced for the 21st century. All three are encased in brushed and stainless steel and feature black dials. The retro watches are each limited to 3,557 pieces, and come in a modern version of the original 1957 packaging.
Longines Conquest VHP
Over at Longines, we were impressed by the new V.H.P. (Very High Precision) collection – in particular, this 41mm three-hand model with a black dial. Longines first introduced this impressive quartz technology on the Conquest V.H.P in 1984, which set a precision record for that time. For this year’s new Conquest V.H.P., the brand has improved its accuracy to within ± 5 seconds per year. Its quartz movement is also able to reset after any exposure to magnetic fields, using a clever GPD or gear position detection system. This sporty new steel watch comes in either a three hands/calendar or a chronograph version, with a choice of blue, carbon, silvered or black dials.
TAG Heuer Autavia
This year, TAG Heuer has proved just how influential a tool social media 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, the clear winner. 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. As soon as we clapped eyes on it at the fair, we knew it would become another classic collector’s item, thanks to its retro details. The watch features the original’s ‘mushroom’ pushpieces, a ridged crown, the original Heuer logo and a distressed calfskin leather strap.
Hublot Big Bang Blue
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, in particular blue, is once again at the forefront, as seen on the Big Bang Blue with its gorgeous blue sunray satin-finished dial. The stainless steel 44mm case and bezel are also satin-finished, giving this watch a sophisticated look. Inside ticks Hublot’s HUB4100 self-winding chronograph movement, and the watch is finished with blue rubber and alligator strap.