With the first of the year’s watch fairs, SIHH in Geneva, barely wrapped up, the giant Baselworld show, headed by the likes of Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, Patek Philippe, Girard Perregaux, Hublot, and Breitling, approaches fast.
Scheduled for March 19 to 26, the Basel fair attracts some 150,000 attendees and 4000 press representatives, not to mention a mind-boggling 1500 brands showcasing new models in temporary but spectacular multi-storey pavilions costing in the millions of dollars.
That said, there was a distinct mood of fiscal caution emerging at January’s Geneva event, and pundits will be interested to see if the usual excitement is in the air in Basel.
Certainly the brands will be putting their best forearm-works forward, and the signs are we’ll be seeing some spectacular pieces – although maybe fewer of them.
We’ll be there to bring you the latest, meantime, a glance at a range of newcomers slated to make a debut, evidence there’s going to be something for everyone.
Alpina salutes the military
Alpina has used its experience as official supplier of military and pilot watches to develop two new versions of its Startimer Pilot line.
The 44mm Startimer Pilot Chronograph Big Date features a highly readable “aviation dial” with contrasting silvered chronograph counters, inspired by Alpina pilot dials of the 1970s. It’s presented on a military green leather strap or metal bracelet.
The Startimer Pilot Big Date likewise features a 44mm two part stainless steel case with a scratch-proof sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, and a small seconds display at 6 o’clock with a big date.
The movement for both models is a high precision Swiss quartz module.
Bell & Ross on the march
Must be the times we live in, but Bell & Ross too has the BR03-92 Military Type breaking cover in Basel, describing it as a “practical watch that is perfectly adapted to professional use”.
Paying tribute to the forces “who were the first professionals to use the wristwatch as fundamental instruments for their missions” the Bell & Ross has a ceramic case with khaki dial “the colour of a military uniform” adorned with the screen-printed red symbol MT for Military Type, just in case you were in any doubt. That case is virtually unscratchable,the movement inside mechanical.
Breitling occupies the flight deck
Among a platoon of new releases Breitling is showing the aviation inspired Chronoliner, a terrific reinterpretation of the brand’s look that manages to be classically pilot-style but contemporary at the same time. With its second 24-hour timezone display, it’s claimed to be the natural wrist-choice for a flight captain and is inspired by a 1950’s model, but with the addition of a defining feature: a broad bezel in scratch-resistant ceramic. Inside the 46mm case beats a chronometer-certified chronograph movement.
Hermes go au naturel
Not surprisingly there’s nothing overtly macho coming up from Hermes: witness this Arceau Ecuyere Aventurine, a creation that relies on the natural force of an aventurine dial and Top Wesselton diamonds. The 34mm case is white gold and it houses a fine mechanical movement crafted in Switzerland.
Jaquet Droz celebrates the seconds
The brand famed for it’s large seconds display will present the Grande Seconde Deadbeat, a watch that showcases a complication that was at its peak in the 18th century. “Deadbeat” sconds are a rare complication whereby the direct-drive seconds hand makes a small jump every second, giving extremely accurate measurements. For the Basel model the seconds hand is now placed at the very heart of the dial, while a retrograde date indication occupies the space that is traditionally reserved for the seconds hand.
Longines saddles up a moonphase
Linking with its role in timing world equestrian events, Longines will unveil the Conquest Classic Moonphase, a handsome new chronograph in the Conquest Classic collection. With a diameter of 42 mm, the chronograph houses a self-winding mechanical chronograph movement and is available in steel, steel and rose gold, or rose gold with black or silvered dials. As the name implies, it features a moonphase indicator with a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, 24-hour indicator and sub-dial for the seconds at 9 o’clock, and a 30-minute counter and the day-and-month display at 12 o’clock. The date is indicated by a half-moon central hand. The watch comes on a black alligator strap or matching bracelet.
Oris dives deep again
We can’t wait to see the new 46mm Oris Aquis Depth Gauge at Baselworld, a reworking of the 2013 breakthrough. Now with a blackened DLC steel case and yellow highlights, it’s a sub $5000 bargain with clever touches: safety strap with sliding clasp, tungsten bezel, flow-through gauge. It would do a true diver proud – not to mention the legions of desk-divers out there.
Zenith celebrates a legend
Hoping to see something truly special? The impressive Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage not only looks the part but excels on a technical level. The dial-side of the watch showcases the manual-wind movement with its three major breakthroughs in watchmaking: a patented gravity control system, a fusée-chain transmission, and an exceptional frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour. But it’s the looks when you turn the watch over that dazzle, thanks to a vivid and subtly layered portrayal of the adventures of the famous Italian explorer, a wrist-sized miniature illustrating Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Micro-painted front and back by hand. Measuring 45mm, the watch is cased in rose gold and is water resistant to 300 meters – but you wouldn’t dare would you?