Sure, Baselworld may have gotten (considerably) smaller in the past couple of years but it’s still the biggest watch fair in the world. It’s the Monaco Yacht Show, Frankfurt Motor Show or CES Vegas of the horological landscape. There are many watchmakers and many, many more watches. The headline pieces will be kept for the show of course (keep your eye here for those as they come in) but we already know some of what we’re going to see. So, to whet your appetite for the raft of releases that’s sure to be revealed, here are the Basel pieces we won’t get sued over telling you about.
Chanel Monsieur Édition Noire
The Monsieur is to date the best watch Chanel has revealed. Well, for us at least. Now they’re giving it a stark, dark makeover that if anything feels a little more Chanel. Monochrome black and white is the label’s thing, after all. It features the same impressive calibre 1 movement as the original, but now in a stunning black ceramic case that’s upped its size from 40mm to 42mm. It’s as stunning as ever and a good deal more masculine.
Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback Chronograph
The latest watchmaker to jump on the retro bandwagon with an ode to Seventies watchmaking, Carl F. Bucherer is one of the better at balancing modern watchmaking with vintage charm. The Manero Flyback Chronograph, with its 43mm rose gold case and mushroom pushers, is the epitome of classic racing beauty. Inside, the aptly-named CFB 1970 has a 42-hour power reserve and, more importantly, a column-wheel chronograph. It’s pure elegance, both inside and out.
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Bi-Compass
Bell & Ross go hand-in-hand with their signature square cases, but now they’ve dialled up the instrument panel inspiration to 30,000 feet with the BR 03-92 Bi-Compass. It’s one of those pieces that looks pretty simple but is far from it. The minutes and seconds are the same as ever, but the hour hand has been replaced by a central disk with a green indicating arrow. The tiered dial not only naturally separates the hours and minutes/seconds into different sections; it also looks seriously cool. Limited to 999 pieces, we want one.
Reservoir Longbridge Nightfall
Where Bell & Ross show no signs of moving away from cockpits, so too are Reservoir resolute about their automotive inspirations. That said, you wouldn’t know the Longbridge Nightfall is Mini Cooper-inspired unless we told you. Which we just did. It’s dark, elegant and, with its retrograde minutes, jumping hours and power reserve indicator, is more like a classic racer. The 41.5mm case is solid palladium, so expect a good bit of weight on the wrist. It’s worth the workout though; the precious metal is the perfect match for the midnight blue of both dial and strap.
Anonimo Nautilo Vintage
Florence seems to have a penchant for diving watches; first there was Panerai, then there was Anonimo – and there are even more similarities when you look at the latter’s signature Nautilo. A big, sexy diving watch, it has everything the gentleman mariner could ask for. This latest version is jumping on the retro-styled bandwagon with a smaller 42mm size, and boasts a beautiful blue dial with railway indexes replacing the usual oversized numerals. All in all, it’s more subtle, wearable and needs to be on our wrist. Now please.
Grand Seiko Elegance Collection
Aside from the occasional diver, Grand Seiko has always been wonderfully restrained, relying more on their incredible level of detail – their hands, for example, require decades of training to perfect – than anything showy. Sure, their spring drive movement is always worth shouting about, but you’d never see a tourbillon outside of the rarefied Credor collection, a sub-brand in itself. That means an entirely new collection is a big deal for the Japanese watchmaker, especially when that collection is pure Elegance. The Elegance collection takes the pure essentials of Grand Seiko and distils them into beautifully slim dress watches. There are actually eight pieces in the collection, including both automatic and hand-wound movements (the latter are of particular interest) and boasting some stunning dials made from the same kind of maki-e lacquer used in the best pens. In short, Grand Seiko just got more beautiful than ever.
Zenith Type 20 Extra Special Silver
We’ve always had a thing for the Type 20 Extra Special and this is simply fantastic. It’s the first silver-cased watch from Zenith, though it’s not like they’re super common at the best of times. More impressively though is the brushed silver dial, which imitates the rivets of a vintage plane. Complete with oversized numerals and the Type 20’s signature fluted crown – not to mention a nicely chunky leather strap – it’s a beautiful timepiece. You know, if you can get away with wearing a 45mm wide chunk of silver.
Bulgari Octo Grande Sonnerie
Their big news may be the one-piece revival of Gérald Genta’s eponymous brand, but you can find out far more about that in our main feature on the subject. Instead, we’re here to admire the new Octo Grande Sonnerie – and there’s a lot to admire. Containing both grand and petit sonneries as well as a minute repeater, its uncompromisingly open dial is dizzying with its big reveal of the absurdly complicated movement. Said movement is controlled by near-aggressive pushers on the left-hand side and Bulgari’s signature crown on the right. It’s not a member of the record-breaking Finissimo family, but this is more than enough of a statement for Bulgari to flex their horological muscles over.
Corum Admiral 42 Full Black
A while back we reviewed the skeletonised, bright blue Admiral model which was cool. Very cool in fact. But nowhere near as cool as this version. There’s still a lot going on here, with the faceted case, nautical flags and skeleton hands, enough that if it weren’t all black it might be a bit much. But it is black, so you end up with a sharp, multilevel watch that’s impressively architectural. The case is stainless steel with black PVD treatment, so it can survive the rigours of a regatta, and at 42mm it wears nicely. Limited to 100 pieces, it’s not your classic sailing watch, but that’s definitely why it’s worth paying attention to.
From pure, beautiful, traditional haute horology to smartwatches; well, the Horological Smartwatch, as Alpina call it. The watch itself technically launched last year as a Kickstarter project, which is all well and good. Why? If there’s one thing a substantial watchmaker needs, it’s support. Small gripe aside, the watch is a seriously cool, outdoors-oriented connected timepiece that puts most others to shame in durability and usability, and is now available in three new liveries designed by the AlpinerX’s original backers. It’s a nice tribute to the people that made it possible, and the blue and orange version especially is £700-odd well spent.
Breilting Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk
We often get hung up on the Spitfire this side of the pond, but for our Transatlantic cousins – and many a vintage aviation aficionado – it’s all about the Curtiss Wright P-40 Warhawk. The same too goes for Breitling, who have used the iconic aircraft as the inspiration behind their triplet of new timepieces. Each of the three Aviator 8 watches – two chronographs (one of which uses Breitling’s B01 movement) and an automatic – come with military green dials, notches bezels for grip in the cockpit and a cool, professional look. That said, the automatic is our favourite, with a pared-back, non-nonsense style, DLC coating and canvas strap.
Oris Aquis Date Relief
Water is important. I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that. Most of the world is water; most of us is water. It’s a good thing then that Oris are doing their part to save the world’s water in their new collaboration with swimmer Ernst Bromeis, the Aquis Date Relief. It’s a solid 43.5mm stainless steel watch with all the bells and whistles needed for a professional diver, including 300m of water resistance. It also has a typically Oris (read exceptional) price point of £1,500 on a bracelet. Well, if you’re going to raise awareness of arguably the most important part of the planet – it’s water – you may as well make something everyone both wants and can afford.
Chopard L.U.C XPS Twist Qualite Fleurier
Sometimes less is more, and while that’s never stopped Chopard’s increasingly convoluted number of acronyms, it does perfectly describe the latest in their ultra-thin XPS collection. Until you flip it over, that is. The twist in the name comes from the fact that the dial has been rotated slightly, making it nice and asymmetrical with the off-centre sub-seconds, but it could also easily describe the movement. It’s gorgeously, lusciously, almost ludicrously decorated – especially its microrotor – in flagrant contrast to the minimal, subtly guilloché dial. At just 7.7mm tall, it’s also incredibly slim.
De Bethune Maxichrono
Back in 2006 De Bethune, being the horological mavericks they are, did something nobody else had dared to do: five central hands. Well, that’s not strictly true, as it had been done before, but it was still one hell of a watch – and now it’s back. The oversized, five-handed, architecturally-cased Maxichrono is a beast of a watch in size but with the attention to detail of a fine classical timepiece, embodying that odd dichotomy that is De Bethune. If it resembles anything – and that’s a big if – it’s classic sports stopwatches that would have always had central chronographs. Which is fitting really; only 10 will be made. On your marks, get set…
Meccaniche Veloci Icon Podium
Who says one dial is enough? Not Meccaniche Veloci. Like all of their impressive, avant-garde pieces, they favour four over one. That might seem a lot to cram onto one watch, but not so when you have a 49mm titanium case to work with. This latest entry into their Icon collection, the Podium, is particularly close to the brand’s engine obsessed heart, with the two upper dials in carbon fibre and the two lower skeletonised to show the machine beneath. It’s big, it’s bold and there’s nothing else like it. It’ll also take some balls to pull off.
Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition
Breitling and aviation go hand-in-hand, to the point where the watchmaker operates a flying team. That’s dedication – dedication that began with one watch: the Navitimer. First built in 1952, it’s aviation-oriented slide rule made it an instant mainstay of any professional cockpit. It was a golden era, not just for Breitling but for flight. Now, the watchmaker is looking fondly back on that era with their first ever re-issue: the Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959.
Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk Collection
This side of the pond we’re all a bit obsessed by the Spitfire. There’s good reason I’ll grant you, but look across the pond and you’ll find an equally iconic – and some might say superior – aircraft in the P-40 Warhawk, the inspiration behind Breitling’s latest trio of pieces dubbed the Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk.
Bell & Ross BR03-92 Bi-Compass
It’s no secret that Bell & Ross take their design cues from the cockpits of military aeroplanes. Leaning on a simple, legible aesthetic they create utilitarian watches that are instantly readable and also instantly recognisable. With the new BR 03-92 Bi-Compass Bell & Ross takes this principle of legibility to the nth degree.
Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin
As we gear up to the raft of releases at Baselworld, Chopard is one watchmaker that won’t be lost in the clamouring crowd of new watches. They’ve pulled out their horological big guns in the form of their new L.U.C. Flying T Twin, the manufacture’s first ever flying tourbillon.
‘Vintage-Inspired’ is one of the biggest buzzwords in watches, with countless brands turning to archival designs and reissues for inspiration. Generally, they’re just modern updates of old models. For Laco though it’s hard to believe the new Erbstück pieces aren’t genuine vintage pieces.
What kind of watch can you get for around £50,000? You could opt for a nice Patek Philippe or A. Lange & Sohne, some beautiful, exquisitely-made Swiss timepiece. Or you can instead go for the latest Casio G-Shock – the most expensive ever released.