It takes a certain type of arrogance to put the word “world” in the name of your exhibition, but in Basel’s case this is definitely justified.
For 10 days in March, every single watch and jewellery brand worth writing about, or indeed wearing, decamps to a series of gargantuan halls in Basel’s Messeplatz to show press, buyers and also members of the general public exactly what wrist candy they’ll be coveting come September.
While we can’t tell you everything that will be launched there – firstly there are embargoes we have to obey and secondly it would take a listing the thickness of a telephone directory to do that – here is a just a little taster of what we’ll be getting to try on.
Prepare to update your watch shopping list…
Ball has long been a proponent of anti-magnetic watches. Which is why it will come as no surprise that its launch for Baselworld this year features a completely new approach to the protection of a mechanical movement. Its patented A-PROOF device uses a new composite called mumetal, which is an alloy of nickel, copper, iron and molybdenum, and which has very high magnetic permeability enabling it to attract and deviate static or low-frequency magnetic fields.
Ball has also developed an ingenious diaphragm mechanism that extends or retracts via a circular motion of the bezel allowing the wearer to reveal the movement through the transparent caseback, when it is in its retracted position. When fully closed, the diaphragm locks the anti-magnetic protection cage. At 42mm this is a robust-feeling timepiece, which is also COSC certified.
There’s been a lot of discussion about how watch brands are putting out simple (read “boring”) watches because of the impact of the financial crisis. However, as this addition to Blancpain’s Villeret Collection shows, simple can be so effective.
This is the first time there has been a grande date on a Villeret, which has been made possible thanks to its calibre 6950, which has been especially developed to ensure date legibility and instant change at midnight.
The rose-gold case and opaline dial have a delicate iridescence, which is perfecty complemented by the chocolate brown alligator strap. Simple doesn’t get less boring than this.
Apparently, back in the late 1700s, Abraham-Louis Breguet made “subscription watches”. They were single-hand timepieces containing a simple movement, which were sold by subscription: a down payment of a quarter of the price on order, with the balance owed on delivery.
In 2005, these watches were paid tribute to when Breguet launched its Tradition collection, which it has added to for this year’s Basel with the Tradition Automatique Seconde Retrograde 7097. The visible bridges, wheels, escapement, barrel and other components are a hommage to Breguet’s subscription watches, while the offset dial is a reference to the tact watches – one which enabled the wearer to tell the time by touch alone – that Breguet started making from 1799 onwards. It’s a wonderful nod to this brand’s rich and varied history.
The L’Ammiraglio del Tempo, with its moveable lug that operated the minute repeater, may have had the watch nerds needing a change of trouser at last year’s Basel, however we were too busy falling head over heels with Lvcea.
It was everything you wanted from a woman’s watch. Beautifully designed, easy to wear and, generally, so covetable, we would have left the stand wearing it were it not for those pesky security guards.
This year, the Lvcea is back and more beautiful than ever thanks to Bvlgari’s decision to introduce alligator straps and gem-set bezel. All that and an automatic movement as well. We’re working on ways to get past those security guards as we speak…
This fashion house used to be looked down on by “serious” watch journalists, who dismissed it as merely a fashion brand on a “me too” campaign. However, since teaming up with watch names such as Renaud et Papi, those snotty sorts have had to eat their words.
And this J12 proves why. It takes the classic Chanel design and seriously ups the ante, by skeletonising the dial, working ceramic into the movement and putting a hidden flying tourbillon at six o’clock.
There are plenty of diamonds, if you like that sort of thing, but they don’t detract from the technical mastery at its heart.
Only 20 of these watches are available, so chances of getting your mitts on one is probably slim, but even if we can’t own one, we can still dream about an alternate reality where we can…
When Chopard’s Happy Sport first launched, back in 1993, it challenged convention by putting diamonds on, or rather in, a steel watch. Previously, diamonds were only set in precious metals because it was deemed an infra dig to diamonds to put them in so common a material.
For Caroline Scheufele, the brand’s co-president and creative director, this was a major gamble, but one that ultimately paid off because this watch is still an icon, over 20 years later.
Its latest incarnation hasn’t changed much, it’s just got a slightly smaller dial and, by putting one of the models on leather, Chopard can now offer an automatic with diamonds for under £5,000. At that barginous price, we’ll take two.
There is something about this watch that makes us giggle like a five-year-old that’s just been given a tutu. There is just something so fun and frivilous about this watch you can’t help but smile when you see it.
And what’s not to love? The Fendi My Way looks like a Fraggle (anyone under the age of 25 please click here to understand this reference); it comes in a variety of fabulous colours and the case is fully set with diamonds.
The Glamy, as the interchangable pom-pom around the dial is unfortunately known, is made from Arctic fox fur, which may put off some people and, thanks to its quartz movement, it won’t be for those seeking serious horology. However, if you want to wear something that looks absolutely fabulous on your wrist then get in line…
You can always count on De Grisogono to buck the trend for simple, pared-back design – it has a history of creating things that vere more into ostentation than austerity – and this year it hasn’t disappointed.
This wonderful Grappoli in ruby looks bonkers at first glance but look again and you realise the sheer stone-setting prowess that has brought it to life, something that De Grisogono has always prided itself on.
Comprising a whopping 1,062 rubies in various cuts, the stones are set in such as way that they appear to float around the bezel. De Grisogono says that it always likes to seek the “beauty of audacity” in everything it does and we’ll be surprised if you manage to find anything more beautiful or audacious at this year’s Baselworld. No, really. Try. Go on, we challenge you.
You know you’re in intellectual watchmaking territory when a dial is described as being inspired by the Golden Ratio. This is the mathematical name for when the ratios between two things is 1:1.618, which is thought to be the ratio at which perfection is found. It also crops up across natural world, giving rise to some sectors of society believing that this is evidence of God’s intelligent design.
Perfect ratio or no, this PanoMaticLunar is rather pleasing to look at. Having a moonphase at two o’clock is unusual, but works with the way the rest of the dial is balanced. There will no doubt be mutterings about the date and whether it is obtrusive, but that is a small quibble when the rest of the watch, with its black dial and strap and rose-gold case, looks so darn amazing.
If gemstones, and lots of them, are your thing then Graff will not disappoint. For 55 years, Graff has been making its name as a purveyor of exceptional-quality precious-stone jewellery and it has continued this ethos in its watches.
There are so many fabulous watches at this year’s fair – from its MasterGraff tourbillon, which is basically a tourbillon surrounded by more diamonds than you can dream of, to its utterly stunning secret watches – but we just love the mix of playfulness and stone-setting brilliance encapsulated in this Butterfly Disco watch.
So often jewellery watches stay on the side of staid, but this is a celebration of its stones and that’s precisely why we love it.
After all the goings on at Gucci HQ last year – the sacking and summary dismissal, respsectively, of fashion’s power couple creative director Frida Giannini and CEO Patrizio di Marco – it was always going to be interesting to see what direction the brand would be going in for Baselworld.
The answer is “not gone crazy”. There are additions to its Dive Collection – three in 32mm and 40mm and two larger 45mm versions – and these two XL-sized G-Timeless chronographs, one in brushed steel with contrasting black dial and the other in a more dressy black leather strap and silver-tone dial combo.
It is a solid Gucci design that doesn’t offend. We’re just wondering what next year, under Alessandro Michele, will bring.
Venture away from the towering behemoths of stands that crowd Hall 1.0 and you might find yourself discovering some hidden gems, like this chap here. Ten years ago, Chaykin began repairing and restoring clocks and watches. Having mastered the intricacies of creating watch movements, he then moved on to creating his own watches and this year he’s bringing to Basel this wholly original moonphase.
Named after Diana, or Artemis depending on your mythological preferences – the virginal huntress and goddess of women, the moon and fecundity – it features a hollow “mirror” that moves around the dial encircling the bright “lake” at the centre, so representing the waxing and waning of the moon through the interplay of dark and light. It is an ingenious, whimsical invention and one you certainly won’t find in Hall 1.
Nomos has been hinting about a big reveal at Basel this year, so this little teaser is likely to be all it’s shouting about. However, as watches go it’s a pretty good starter for ten.
The first thing you notice about this update of the Metro is that the power reserve is gone, which opens up the dial. An illusion that is enhanced by the extra 1.5mm that’s been added to the dial width.
This being Nomos though, the watch wasn’t just stretched sideways, various prototypes had to be produced, and lugs, back, and heights adjusted accordingly, in order to create the perfectly proportioned watch. The watch has also been fitted with Nomos’s Swing System – its take on the escapement that it unveiled last year.
It’s a great update and will satisfy all those who complained about the original being too small for their masculine wrists.
TAG has been rummaging through its archive for this year’s launches. There is the Carrera Calibre 18 Automatic Chronograph, which is based on one of Jack Heuer’s original Carrera designs and has a telemeter scale on the flange – an unusual detail because this is a complication generally used by the military.
However, for us, the star of the show is this Carrera Calibre 6. It’s the blue sub dial and matching perforated strap that really makes this watch stand out. There are obvious references to TAG’s motor racing history but without the whole thing feeling like a gimmick. The 60, picked out in red, combined with the Heuer logo and the red second hand all hark back to a 1963 Carrera design. Perfect if you want to emulate Steve McQueen riding a motorcycle across the Mojave Desert.
We’ve come to expect our Zeniths to be refined and elegant – the sort of watch we imagine we’d own when we grow up. So you can imagine our delight when this vibrant fuchsia take on one of our absolute favourites – the Zenith Ultra Thin Lady Moonphase – landed in our inboxes.
All the design codes of the traditional Ultra Thin Lady Moonphase are there, it’s just been seriously jazzed up courtesy of a fuchsia dial and leather strap. There is also a Milanese bracelet version but we like the sheer audacity of the coloured dial and matching strap. This has definitely gone to the top of our watch lust list.