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Armchair Picks: Three Adventure watches from Baselworld 2019
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Armchair Picks: 3 Watches from Baselworld 2019

Independent Variables
by Robin Lim on March 31, 2019

This year’s Baselworld appears to be pretty different from the previous editions. The pulling out of Swatch Group has certainly left a gaping hole that is difficult to fill, and the predominant focus on Rolex certainly overshadows the rest of the brands in the fair itself.

I have to say this – I am personally a big fan of Rolex watches. I like the brand for its honest and robust construction, as well as its timeless design. Their offerings this year was, unfortunately, nothing too mind-blowing. It lacked the “oomph” factor for the matter – but then again, it might be our fault for hyping up the occasion and expecting Rolex to pull off something incredible this year. It is ironic, but that’s the truth as well.

Amidst all the noises, there are still some gems that we have uncovered in this year’s Baselworld. What are 3 of my favourite watches from this fair? Let’s find out!

Sarpaneva Lunations

The first watch that had caught my eyes was Stepan Sarpaneva’s latest creation: Lunations.

Lunations is a culmination of Stepan’s horological works for the past 25 years. The 42mm watch features on of Sarpaneva’s signatures touches – the moon phase. This particular one is brilliant, for the fact that it only requires an adjustment once every 14,000 years. It is also now fitted with an in-house produced manual-winding movement, with a power reserve of approximately 60 hours.

It is not just the technical aspects of this piece that amazed us. We have always like the design cues of Sarpaneva’s watches, and this is no exception as well. What is also interesting is that the watch can be customised, and the example above features a custom engraved case. The contemporary looking timepiece is certainly one of the more outstanding pieces in the fair this year, and it is something that is rather desirable for one who is looking for an unusual timepiece from an independent watchmaker.

Prices begin at €32,000 (approximately S$48,710) for the base stainless steel model.

Garrick Series 2

Next up, we have a relatively lesser known watch manufacturer from England: Garrick.

The Series 2 is one of the latest creations from the English watchmaker. The watch, notably, features its new in-house movement: Calibre UT-G03. Notably, the movement was designed in partnership with the legendary Andreas Strehler. One of the key highlights of the movement is its large Garrick Trinity free-sprung balance, which beats at a traditional 18,000 bph. It is also highly accurate with the balance adjusted to a variation of around 2 seconds daily.

Priced at £11,500 (approximately S$20,330), the 42mm Series 2 is a delightful watch to behold. The finishing is stunning, and the engine-turned grey rhodium dial is pretty excellent too. It is surely a delightful piece to add into any watch collection.

Kari Voultilainen Vingt-8 Titanium Inverse

We round up the armchair picks with a perennial favourite from the clique of independent watchmakers. Cue the new Vingt-8 Titanium Inverse, from the venerable Kari Voutilainen.

The 39mm piece encapsulates the values of Kari’s watchmaking philosophies. It combines traditional watchmaking, together with stylish and elegant design cues. The finishing, as usual, is superlative – it combines a myriad of finishing techniques such as frosting, anglage, and mirror polish. What is more amazing is that most of it are done by hand, in Kari’s atelier. We dare say that there aren’t many watchmakers out there that are close to matching Kari’s masterpieces. It is really out of this world.

The other highlight of the watch is how Kari had managed to “inverse” the timepiece, by manipulating the movement to allow the face of the watch to feature the balance wheel and other stunning elements of the movement. While there were some other watch manufacturers who had already explored this concept (most notably, the Glashütte Original PanoInverse), but Kari’s rendition is perhaps the most outstanding one just yet. The execution is simply perfect, and the attention to detail is immense. Prices for this piece begins at CHF 86,000 (approximately S$117,166) for the Titanium version.

Concluding Thoughts

I am quite surprised with my selections actually – all of the 3 watches are from the realms of independent watchmaking. I can probably attribute that to several reasons.

First, the lack of Swatch’s presence has reduced the amount of novelties that we have in this year’s Baselworld. Had Omega decided to launch the new 50th Anniversary Speedmaster in Baselworld instead, that would surely be a piece that will be up on this list. There are certainly some interesting novelties this year from the other conglomerates, but I guess the ones from the independents were slightly more compelling.

Next, the independents have certainly reduce the barriers to entry in recent times. Garrick, for instance, is offering well-made timepieces are at an interesting price point of around S$20,000. Comparing this to the usual big names, we think that the independents are currently situated at a good juncture to expand their foothold in the industry.

Finally, as we have always said, independents have much more discretion in terms of the designs and complications that they want to offer. They are not at the mercy of shareholders, and hence they are able to create unconventional/non-commercialised pieces like the Lunations. We certainly welcome this.

With that, I have finished my armchair picks for this year’s Baselworld novelties. Let us know your thoughts on my selection, in the comments section below.

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