Sometimes you see the hits coming, sometimes you don’t. For example, the new Daytona. We spotted that alluring black ceramic bezel from December. 2013. But the Air-King? We’re still on the canvas. Having said that there were relatively few true ‘wow’ moments at Baselworld, especially in Hall One, home to all the major players. Everyone was playing it remarkably safe – either limiting themselves to line extensions and updates or releasing their major novelties to the world well before the doors opened. So in 2015, there might have been 20 surprises, this year, we could muster only six. That doesn’t mean that the watches released were a disappointment – far from it. The fact that many brands offered steel versions of their high-end pieces, or upgraded versions of existing models are really positive things if you’re in the market for a new watch this year. The general mood of conservatism also made the unexpected design decisions that much more worthwhile.
The Rolex Air-King
Alongside the aforementioned steel and ceramic Daytona, Rolex also released something a little more unexpected. The revamped Air-King. The traditional entry-point into the Rolex family disappeared from their catalogues a few years ago, largely due to its small (by modern standards) size. Even more surprising than the Air-King’s sudden return was the novel dial, with green and gold printed logo and a strong aviation inspired look.
The Hublot Big Bang MECA-10
Big Bang has been synonymous with chronograph. Until now. The MECA-10 takes the well-known Big Bang case, but leaves the chrono complication at home. And the result is awesome. The power reserve heavy MECA-10 is the best of a very strong collection from Hublot, a watch that promises to give the Big Bang a new lease on life.
The Tudor Black Bay 36
After three phenomenally successful versions of the Black Bay we expected the heritage diver to get a bit of a rest in 2016. Oh boy, were we wrong. Tudor unveiled not one, but three new takes on their top-seller, and the most surprising of the lot was the Black Bay 36. There’s no denying the pared back little number is a stunner, but if it lacks the bezel and domed crystal of its siblings – is it still a Black Bay?
The Seiko Presage Chronograph
Our love for this watch is already well documented, and there sure is a whole lot to like (for example the handcrafted dial and the impressive price). But what really surprised us was the exceptionally Swiss style of this heritage-inspired piece. We expected sharp lines and crisp edges; they gave us flowing Arabic numerals and feuille hands.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
Bulgari has been exploring the limits of thin for a while now, and their Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is their latest experiment. The fact that they’ve released the world’s thinnest minute repeater wasn’t even the biggest surprise. We were amazed at just how good it looked AND sounded.
The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire
To release a completely sapphire BR-X1 shortly after Hublot’s similarly cased Big Bang is a classic case of great minds thinking alike, and the coincidence raised a few eyebrows at Baselworld. What isn’t surprising is just how hot this transparent watch looks in real life.