For the third year in a row I have been attending Baselworld but for the very first time, I am actually participate as a member of the press corp. And for the first time, I get to see works from other brands – that I would not typically visit – and honestly, it has been an eye opener. 3 days of mad schedule and seeing numerous creations from small independents to creations from powerhouses such as Patek Phillipe. So when the editor asked me to do my version of Baselworld 2015 Top 5 for the show, I thought it will be a good exercise for me to really understand what I really like. Trust me, it is a very hard exercise especially after looking at hundreds of watches in the span of 3 days.
Without further ado, here is my top 5, with no particular order and with certain bias towards certain brand which I have love affair with.
Debethune DBS Tourbillon
Every Baselworld, I am always excited when the time comes to meet Alessandro Zanetta and DeBethune team. Every year it seems they always manage to surprise me and this year is no exception. Especially when they introduced DBS Tourbillon for the 10th year anniversary of DBS model.
DBS was the model that I fell in love with during Tempus 2007 so I always have a strong connection with this particular case, and to think about it, this is the model that laid the DNA for many of DeBethune’s future creations such as flexible lugs and heart shaped bridge.
With tourbillon cage weighing a mere 0.18 grams, and spins at rate of 5Hz, it creates a fantastic feast for the eyes. And as a unique differential this year, DeBethune introduced new hands for the DBS which I think just look awesome, with sharp lines. Also, the hour marker is made of blued titanium sphere that sits on a floating rail.
DeBethune has managed to compose all its DNA into a watch that creates a very tasty symphony.
Zenith Type 20 Pilot in bronze
Another brand that is very close to my heart is Zenith. I always think that Zenith is a brand with glorious past and currently is producing fantastic products that are honestly priced. And this year is no exception.
As an owner of Type 20 myself, I always thought that with this piece, Zenith has evoke a certain connection with its past as one of the major supplier for aviation industry and to this day, it is the only company that has the right to put “Pilot” title on its watches.
One good thing that I know straight away is the fact that this version use Zenith Elite movement again which I think is a very good move after the much discussed Extra Special piece with Sellita movement that was launched last year. Unfortunately, it still uses Elite 861 movement with 55 hours power reserve, I was kind of hoping they uses the new Elite 6150 which would be awesome combination.
As for the look, I think it is just dapper. Sized at 45 mm, with pure bronze case, combined with aged leather strap, just look right. I would love to see the case patina with time, makes you think that you actually have a Pilot watch from the WW II.
Fantastic piece from Zenith and surely will be on my radar when it launches towards autumn this year.
Rolex Yachtmaster in Everose with Oysterflex bracelet
Rolex is a brand that I have love and hate relationship with. Don’t get me wrong, I think it creates wonderful products and I actually own some vintage Rolexes but there are some products that I just could not put my heads on such as Yachtmaster II.
Having said that, with a bold move, Rolex introduced Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yachtmaster in Everose. Outside of what everyone else has predicted for this year and what a wonderful surprise it is. Especially this is the first Rolex that comes with rubber strap straight from factory. And in typical Rolex fashion, they do not just put a normal rubber strap, instead they introduced some improvements such as a cushioning system that suppose to stabilize the watch when worn.
But what really catches me is the overall combination of the watch. The dial hour marker has gold bordering and the Rolex logo and name in gilt, just give the watch sensual looks that really catches attention.
I did not get a chance to try out the watch in person but I can really see myself wearing one and it maybe my first modern Rolex that I would buy.
Patek Philippe 5370 Split Seconds Chronograph
In the two previous years prior, I passed Patek’s booth without any slight interest in looking through the presentation case at their products but this year I passed Patek’s booth and I actually stopped.
I think I have not seen a Patek of recent years that truly represents a Patek. Then comes the 5370. A split second chronograph that I think really represents what Patek is suppose to be inside and out.
The dial has a very rich black color made of enamel grand feu. It seems to be the trend this year, with Lange also issuing the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst with grand feu enamel dial. It has Breguet numerals made of white gold and it is applied. Yes, you heard me, applied numerals on a grand feu dial. …..creates a very depth perception of the dial that I think is just to die for.
Flip it over then you can marvel at Patek’s new split second chronograph movement that replaces the storied ref 5959. Named CHR 29-535 PS, the movement itself is exemplary of what Patek can do in terms of movement design and finish. One improvement that Patek has made to this is the use of an isolator mechanism which decouples the split seconds wheel from the chronograph wheel to eliminate unwanted friction. Further, Patek also developed a lever mechanism that will keep the chronograph hand and split seconds hand in alignment. Fantastic piece indeed and actually made me want to buy a Patek this year.
Cabestan Triple Axis Tourbillon
Cabestan is not a typical watch that I naturally would be attracted to. Having said that, I am quite impressed with the actual products when I actually saw them in metal when Cabestan visited Asia last year.
But nothing prepared me for what I saw when the Triple Axis tourbillon was presented to me. A unique case shape which for me looks like an aircraft wings section and made from a single block of crystal, which I can see takes many-many hours to produce. But the star the product is the triple axis tourbillon. Looking at it, I can’t recall if I have ever seen a triple axis tourbillon that spins as fast as this one on all of its axis. Got to admit, I ended up staring at this watch for a very long time.
From the construction I can see clearly that this is the brainchild of Eric Coudray, the genius behind Cabestan. I applaud Cabestan for pushing the limits of watchmaking. Creating innovative product that evokes emotion, which I believe any good product should bring.
Baselworld 2015: Top 5 watches conclusion
So there you go. My Top 5 Baselworld 2015 picks. I am actually surprised how wide the range of my selection is, but one thing for certain, each product brings something that is unique to its brand/DNA. I hope you enjoy the article and may hunting season starts.