Baselworld 2017 is a stressful week. It is one of those weeks, when after it is over, the stress piles up, and one swears “Never Again!”, and yet, when February swings about the following year, one gets excited and eager to go again. I have been attending the show since 1998, missing just one year, so that makes this my 19th. Overall this is a very commercial year for most brands. Modest novelties are the norm rather than outrageous complications. And where there were complications, they were #ComplicationsForLess. We saw this trend in SIHH 2017. And it continues to Baselworld 2017. Here are the Top 5 watches from Baselworld 2017.
For this author, the week was filled with half hour appointment slots. Each slot is allocated for novelties to be introduced, viewed, and photographed. Some 80 brands were visited over the week. At an average of 4 novelties per brand, meant that some 320 watches were viewed and discussed, and some 1500 photographs taken. Days were long. Starting as early as 8:30am on some days and ending as late as 1am after Brand Dinners.There was almost no time for lunch. Of the six days that I attended the fair, I only ate one lunch, courtesy of Blancpain (a big shout out and thank you to the angel who arranged a presentation at 11:30am, and a photoshoot at 12:30pm, and a tasty lunch at the Blancpain restaurant within the booth). Almost 60km made on foot criss-crossing the Basel Messe. What were the highlights? Here are my top 5, in alphabetical brand order. Two were picked from the usual suspects. And three from brands some may find surprising to be playing at this level.
Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph
We were one of the first with breaking news of the new, ground breaking AgenGraphe chronograph movement being used in a watch when we announced the Fabergé Vissionnaire Chronograph the week leading into Baselworld. Our report, with technical details is found here.
The hands-on viewing of the watch was even more impressive than reading the pre-press release and discussions with Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor. The watch was presented in a titanium case, with either black DLC ceramic accents or with accents of rose gold accents.
The dial is unusual. Center stage is taken by the coaxial, centrally mounted chronograph hands. The time indication for hours and minutes are at the peripheral of the center dial, seeming to float above the indices.
Priced at a rather modest CHF 35,000 before taxes, the innovative chronograph stands for good value.
Truth be told, we were not familiar with Kerbedanz. Hidden in Neuchâtel, the brand has been in existence for a few years, showing in Baselworld at the Palace – the place for the Independence. Until Baselworld 2017. The Show Management decided to move Palace, which was housed in a tent by the carpark across Hall 1, into the main Hall 1, but upstairs in Hall 1.2. We chanced on Kerbedanz and admired the huge tourbillon in its case, and was promptly invited into the booth to be presented the novelty.
Called the Maximus, the new watch’s main feature is the eye catching giant tourbillon, covering most of the disl surface of the 40mm case diameter watch.
Visual spectacle it was indeed. The tourbillon cage makes one revolution in 6 minutes is 27mm in diameter. And carries a balance beating at the standard 18,000 bph. Four barrels are used to provide enough torque for the huge, heavy balance. We were reminded of the Antoinne Martin Slow Runner by Martin Braun. The Slow Runner’s huge balance is 24mm, but it runs at a very slow 7,200 bph to economise on the power. The Maximus is a tourbillon, which requires more power and torque than a regular balance, and requires four barrels. More details to follow in a full hands-on review.
Priced at CHF 165,000 in titanium, CHF 175,000 in gold and CHF 185,000 in platinum.
Omega Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer
To most people, the Omega Speedmaster is the Moon Watch. But the heritage of the Speedmaster lies in the race track. And this year, being the 60th Anniversary of the Speedmaster, a slew of Speedmasters were introduced in Baselworld. All were beautiful, many were drop dead gorgeous, but the one which ultimately caught my eye was the return to the roots Speedmaster Racing. In particular, the stainless steel with a matt-black dial, a polished ceramic bezel with a brushed Liquidmetal® tachymeter scale, and distinctive orange wording that matches the colour of the varnished hands and tip of the seconds hand.
The Racing origins first began in 1968 with the release of a rare Speedmaster model with an alternating minute-track. It is generally accepted that this “Racing” style, along with the bi-color minute markers and orange hands, was added to make the chronograph easier to read – perhaps for those in the air or on the racetrack.
The model shown is priced at S$ 11,700 with GST, and S$ 31,400 gold on leather.
Rolex Sea Dweller
Celebrating its 50th year, the Rolex Sea Dweller gets an update. A method to fix the signature cyclops to magnify the date is found. Earlier attempts to attach the cyclops by glue used in the Submariner were not successful. At the rated 1200m, the glue would not be strong enough to keep the cyclops attached. A new method, unspecified by Rolex. No further details were available at press time.
To celebrate the 50th, Rolex adorns the new Sea Dweller with a red text. A nice touch to mark a special watch. Red Sea Dwellers (and even Red Subs) have fetched astronomical prices in secondary markets. Double Reds, where the “Sea Dweller” and “Submariner 2000” (in the days where the Sea Dweller was rated only to 2000 ft, 610m) fetched even higher prices.
The case has also grown in size to 43mm diameter. The older Sea Dweller with a case diameter of 40mm and ceramic bezel is discontinued, and will be probably the Rolex with the shortest life span, and quite possibly very collectible.
Priced at S$ 15,250 with GST.
Sinn is a perennial favourite here at Deployant. They make very special watches. And often great tool watches. The EZM series is an exceptional collection. The collection is designed in collaboration with the actual intended users of the tool watches. Starting with the EZM1 for the German Border Patrol from the 1960s where the first editions had tritium dial markers. I have one of the early commercially issued EZM1, made in the late 1990s, which still featured the tritium markers and the Lemania 5100. Later EZM1 had Superluminova markers and Valjoux movements.
The EZM12, the latest in the collection is designed in collaboration with the Air Rescue Service patrolling the German high speed Autobahn.
The watch is beautiful, but more importantly its features are designed to fit the use. The bezel can be easily popped open for cleaning and sterilization with a small multi-tool included in the package. The hypoallergenic silicon straps are user removable without any tool for the same reason. The bezel markings allow the rescue industry’s “platinum 10mins” and “golden hour” to be set and measured quickly. The specially designed four handed seconds hand allow the heart rate rates to be measured accurately and easily. The tagiment case is hard, and almost scratch proof. The visibility in light and dark is exceptional. Magnetic field stability up to 80,000 A/m and a water resistant to 200 meters complete the impressive specs.
Full review to come soon, the EZM12 is a limited edition of 300 pieces and it is priced at US$ 3,340.
Had to limit to 5. Blancpain Fifty Fanthoms MilSpec would make it if there were 6.
No 62mas, no fifty fathoms mil spec?