Baselworld 2016 has come and gone. I have seen the good and the bad, the exorbitant and the affordable, but which 5 really caught my attention? Well this year, I am rather conservative in my selection and my taste swings to the side of chronograph timepieces. As usual, for the watch to make my list, it has to meet my criteria of good value, sound heritage and an x-factor.
1. Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer
The first on my list is the Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer. As an ardent Zenith fan, I was very much impressed with their prodigy Heritage line. The release of retro models without the stigma of lazy replication, has allowed the brand to reinvent itself while drawing on its past classic designs. The Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer is created with a retro feel and vibe, sporty yet classic at the same time. Although hard to verbalise, I have a very good feeling about this timepiece, because of its uniqueness, to be an icon of the brand in the long run. My only qualm is with the long name and its somewhat confused identity as a Pilot’s watch and Cafe Racer. More info on the watch here.
2. Sinn 910 Anniversary Split-Seconds Chronograph Watch
Sinn releases the very special 910 Anniversary split-seconds chronograph that deserves an ovation. It is without doubt an amazing feat by our ‘over engineering’ German friends. To begin with, split second complications are a rarity today, because of its complex mechanism and high costs of production. Sinn could have opted for a simple chronograph, but instead they chose to venture further to produce a split chronograph. Sinn modified a Valjoux 7750 and incorporated a ratchet and column wheel lever activated split seconds function. Furthermore, the Bauhaus design of the dial, with the nice cream colour and contrasting tachymeter, and the syringe hour and minute hands just work so well together. All that horological goodness and limited to 300 pieces, the Sinn 910 is one desirable timepiece.
3. Patek Philippe 5396 Annual Calendar with Breguet numerals
The Patek Philippe 5396 Annual Calendar sized at 38.5 mm gets my vote. It is potentially highly collectible in the future because of its special font. Not commonly used on regular models, the Breguet numerals are usually reserved for grand complications or special order pieces. But I must be clear, I am still learning to like this watch. Among the other modern annual calendars, 5205, 5146, the 5396 is arguably the most classic, but the dial seems very cluttered with the vertical layout. That said, this watch has a certain x-factor to it and in my opinion, will be an important timepiece in future. My all-time favourite Patek Philippe calendar is the 3940.
4. Glashütte Senator Chronometer
The Glashütte Senator Chronometer is a beautifully crafted timepiece from its movement to the case and finally the dial. The dial is what makes this watch. By far the best looking chronometer variant, the deep blue luster of the dial subtly reveals the finely grained lacquer texture, and its brilliant contrasting white markers. I love how the dial is more matte than polished, which gives the white roman numerals and subdial markers the centre stage. While it is made to look simple, the effort put into making the dial is anything but simple. Specialists in the Pforzheim dial manufactory applies and dries several coats of lacquer until the desired tone is achieved. The numerals and markers are then engraved and galvanised in silver for the quality contrast. That is exactly what Glashütte is all about. Fuss free quality, quality, quality.
5. Breguet Hora Mundi 5727
Successor to the award winning, highly successful 2011 Hora Mundi, the 2016 version is yet another head turner. Known as the first mechanical watch with an instant-jump time zone display with the push of a button, the Breguet Hora Mundi also instantly synchronizes the date and 24 hour indicator. This updated version comes with a new dial, without the rather gawdy looking North America map motif, that is more classic, alike the 7147. Operating at 4 Hz and a power reserve of 55 hours, the Cal. 77Fo movement drives the fascinating mechanism of the latest version. This classic piece is brilliant in so many ways and I absolutely love it.
Well that wraps up my top 5 choices for Baselworld 2016, and I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to weigh in in the comments section on what other pieces you feel makes your mark.