For a watch lover, Baselworld is the big dance. It is every birthday rolled into one. It is Vegas, it is Christmas, it is a jolt back to childhood, when you would count sleeps before a special day. It’s awesome. And, I think you will be able to quickly establish from the video, we get ever so slightly overstimulated by all the lights, jetlag, cameras and the watch action.
In the days leading up to Basel, speculation runs rife about who will release what. Those adept at Photoshop design the watches they’d like to see, and social media, the new hive for the world watch community, escalates into a buzz louder than the engines of the A380 we took to get over there. Did Rolex keep the crown for the most-hyped release? Did the reinvented Bond watch by Omega dazzle or disappoint? What about those challenger brands from Germany and Japan, did they shake the Swiss?
Longines – Legend Diver
The Legend Diver is not a new watch, but a fully blacked out version, including a black rubber strap molded to look like a ‘Milanese’ style bracelet, is beyond surprising, it’s astonishing. Longines excel every year at heritage reissues, their archive is 185 years deep, but this is the first truly modern version of a classic we’ve seen from the ‘Winged Hourglass’ brand and sits alongside new coloured and smaller ladies versions.
Nomos Glashütte – Tangente Neomatik 41 Update
German brand Nomos are masters of minimalism and clever design and this date display is up there with their most inventive creations yet. As the days progress around the outer edge of the dial, two red apertures appear either side of today’s date, giving you a quick visual glimpse of how much of the month has elapsed.
Rolex – Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II
The Rolex buzz was all around the steel GMT-Master II with a two-colour red and blue bezel – giving it its ‘Pepsi’ nickname – but the more interesting watch aesthetically speaking was the ‘Root Beer’, so named for its brown and gold colour palette. It’s the first GMT-Master II model ever to be presented in ‘Everose’ (Rolex terminology for rose gold), and is offered in full gold or Rolesor (two-tone) case variants. In the latter version, the effect is a symphony of warm tones, with the coppery coloured Everose and steel of the case and brown and black of the bezel coming together in the most intriguing way.
Jaquet Droz – Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel
Jaquet Droz the brand dates back to the 18th century, but it’s a decidedly modern model that caught our attention this year – black and gold has never looked sexier, nor the moon phase complication so poetic, as in the striking Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel, which gives the second hand its own oversized subdial. The inky dial is black enamel and the moon is in solid gold, as is the case. A watch for those wanting to scale the very heights of elegance.
TAG Heuer – Monaco Bamford
TAG is an acronym for ‘Techniques Avant Garde’ and this stealthy, extraordinarily light-on-the-wrist carbon fibre model conceived in collaboration with George Bamford – founder of the Bamford Watch Department, a company that modifies watches, often ‘blacking’ them out – lives up to the name. It also combines the modern and the classic by housing ‘the’ Heuer movement, the Calibre 11 which is the original movement from the first Heuer Monaco, which was released in 1969, winning the race to be the first patented automatic chronograph movement.
Bulgari – Octo L’Originale
As much as watch brands might tell you otherwise, the road to icon status in this game is as long as it is everywhere else. But, last year, Bulgari’s Octo officially broke through with the Octo Finissimo Automatic, the thinnest automatic watch ever made and perhaps the most feted of Basel 2017. Here we have the same materials of sandblasted grey titanium in an Octo case, but with a different movement and strap. At roughly half the price of the Finissimo version it will attract the many new fans Bulgari won last year.
Omega – Seamaster Diver 300M
This exceedingly popular Omega model received a range of significant upgrades across the board in 2018 – an extra 1mm in size up to 42mm, new ceramic bezel, ceramic dial with wave pattern, top notch movement, open caseback, the works. The only thing that didn’t get upgraded was the price, making it the watch to beat in its price bracket in terms of bang for buck.
Blancpain – Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date 70s
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Day Date 70s combines a lush tobacco starburst dial, day-date complication and rustic chunky leather strap into a very manly package indeed. And one that is competitively priced for the high-end watchmaker.
Moser & Cie – Venturer Small Seconds
H.Moser & Cie make around 1500 watches a year and are priced from $20,000, a lofty price point that makes very good sense when you look at one up close and note the extraordinary hand-finished quality of every component. But, more likely, the detail that will draw the eye more than any other are the brand’s entrancing fumé dials. Words fail to capture this artisanal wonder. Try and see one for yourself.
Tudor – Black Bay GMT
Tudor were toiling away for years without a strong identity of their own until the release of the Black Bay in 2012. It was larger on the wrist than many traditional dive watches, and brought colours like burgundy red and navy blue into the game, as well as on-point distressed leather and woven fabric straps. This new GMT version is slightly more grown up, with smaller lume plots giving the dial a more refined air and pleasing details like a ‘snowflake’ GMT hand.