Baselworld 2018 was a big show. Even with this year’s show shortened by 2 days and almost half the brands leaving the party, Baselworld was a busy period for us. We have met with more than sixty brands. While I cannot remember the exact number of viewed watches, there were some that impressed us more than others. The reasons are simple: watch’s presence, colours and complications. These are Dan-Andrei’s Top 5 choices from 2018’s show: Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Blue, Longines Master Collection Anual Calendar, Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain, Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde and Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One. Here is how to impress your watch friends.
How to conquer a heart lusting for blue – Quadruple Tourbillon Blue from Greubel Forsey
Greubel Forsey is a name that must be known by any watch enthusiast. Not only is the independent brand responsible for extraordinary complications, for example the Différential d’Égalité, but also the dedication to providing some of the most beautiful finishes available today. For their SIHH 2018 outing, the brand’s novelties found their way into our Top 5 selection of our Chief Editor and Top 5 preferences of the author. Having those facts in mind, it comes as no surprise to have, again in the Top 5, a Greubel Forsey watch.
For Baselworld 2018, Greubel Forsey presented four timepieces. My favourite is the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Blue. This ode to the fine watchmaking combines harmoniously the beauty of materials, the exceptional decoration and the technical solutions. The Quadruple Tourbillon is not a novelty per se for Greubel Forsey, but the black polished dial decorated in blue is a first for the independent brand. The watch comes in a limited edition of eight pieces in 5N red gold and eight pieces in platinum. The 43.5mm diameter case has a height of 16.11mm that permits a lateral window made with synthetic sapphire. The view is spectacular, making happy a technical detail-hungry hearth.
But the main reason for a place in the top five is not the 534 parts movement of the Quadruple Tourbillon Blue or its 50 hours of power reserve, neither the 30° inclined inner tourbillons or the outer 4 minutes tourbillons. The eyes of the viewer are arrested by the blue dial. The brand goes for a perfectly finished black polish, adorned blue. The multi-level gold dial is mirror polished to perfection, obtaining what is called the black polish (the surface appear to be black from certain viewing angles). The blue note is applied after polishing as chemical vapour deposition (CVD).
If at a first look, the reason for choosing this timepiece is childish, the author requests a moment of reflection. The new finish is a first time for the brand. The result is beyond the words that can be used to describe it and Greubel Forsey deserve our congratulations for the cosmetic step made with the Quadruple Tourbillon Blue. Price: TBA.
The Annual Calendar for everyone: Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar
In 2017, Longines had the 185th Anniversary. Our Chief Editor interviewed Walter von Kânel last year. “The Chef” of Longines declared that he wants his brand to become the third largest by turnover in the industry. We learned during Baselworld 2018 that Longines fulfilled his wish. For the year ended 2017, industry estimates that Longines was third, displacing Cartier. First and Second are Rolex and Omega respectively.
The Longines Master Collection was released in 2005 and fitted with mechanical movements. The collection has been a success for the brand. And this year’s annual calendar will propel it to reach new heights. This was presented during Baselworld 2018 in several variations of the dials and straps. Packed in a 40mm diameter steel case, the Annual Calendar is powered by the automatic Caliber L897.2. This movement is designed by ETA (ETA A31.L81) especially for Longines and offers a nice 64 hours power reserve deployed by a balance wheel beating at 25,200 bph. This odd frequency is also used in Omega Calibre 8900 (with 60 hours of power reserve). Clearly there is a level of knowledge sharing between SWATCH Group sister companies. The beauty of this movement stays in the annual calendar complication. The date change can distinguish between a month with 30 days and one with 31 days which will change automatically, But the user must still intervene once a year, in February.
The watch is very handsome and dial can be found adorned with a black or silver barleycorn patterned dial or with a sunray blue dial and rhodium plated or blued steel leaf hands. There is even a version with diamond indexes. The watch looks classy and comfortable with the leather strap. The steel bracelet has a nice feel and we are happy to notice that Longines offers so many variations. While the complication is not the wildest creature, the price of the watch starts at €1,940 on a leather strap and €2,260 for the diamond indices version. Isn’t it amazing?
Excellency and independence: Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain
Asked a few years ago about the new generation of watchmakers, Kari Voutilainen picked out the name Rexhep Rexhepi and AkriviA as very promising. Rexhep started AkriviA, his brand, after doing his apprenticeship at Patek Philippe and working even for F. P. Journe. Later, his brother Xhevdep Rexhepi joined. AkriviA is a name under which some extraordinary pieces were born. We are reminded of the AK-06 wits the exposed movement on the dial side or the Tourbillon Hour Minute – a refined version of the tourbillon created by Rexhep when he was woking in BNB Concept.
We met Rexhep during Baselworld and he presented us his new creation – the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain. He told us he feels now confident enough to have his name on the dial. Due to his interesting name, now also known in the horological world, the piece perhaps gain notoriety for being kind of special note and deserved on a most wanted list. The watch is available with white or black Grand Feu dial. The dial is adorned with nice art-deco elements and slender Roman numerals.
The most breathtaking view is reserved for the back side. We will be reviewing this watch in detail, where we will show photographs of the movement as well as more pictures of the watch. In a symmetry that can be rarely seen in a watch movement, the hand wound calibre PR01 has a power reserve of 100 hours from a single barrel, a hacking second and zero-reset mechanism. The 2.5Hz balance wheel uses a Breguet overcoil. The beauty of the movement stays in the architectural construction and in the exceptional finishes.
The Chronomètre Contemporain is a beautiful watch for connoisseurs. A classical art-deco appearance with an exceptional movement lavishly decorated. This watch would impress anyone with some horological knowledge.
The Chronometre Contemporain is offered in 18k rose gold or platinum, priced at SFr55,500 in gold and SFr58,000 in platinum. A Besançon Observatory testing certificate is an option an additional fee.
Traditions and tourbillons: Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde
Blancpain is a brand with some serious heritage. Last year we reviewed the “Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC”, a watch paying a tribute to the 1957’s release. The Villeret Day-Date is another example of the brand’s capabilities in creating an elegant everyday piece.
The Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde was announced during Baselworld 2018 and we got the chance to have some time with it. The jumping hour and the retrograde minutes are new complications to the Villeret family. The Villeret Tourbillon Volant is housed in a double stepped 42 mm red gold case. The dimensions create a balanced view of the dial. The flying tourbillon offers a mesmerising spectacle. The lower bridge was replaced by a sapphire disk. This construction makes the tourbillon cage, escapement and balance wheel “float”.
The Grand Feu dial is decorated with diamond-polished gold rings around the hour’s window, retrograde minute’s dial and tourbillon’s opening. The multi-depth effect increases the charm of the Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde. The backside shows the beautiful finishes of the in-house movement.
Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde is a desirable combination of complications. The retrograde minute looks and functions great in the wild and the good legibility is enriched by the “floating” tourbillon. Blancpain also offers this watch in platinum. Retail prices are set at CHF 139,000 for the red gold version and CHF 169,000 for the platinum version.
Saphyres and skeletons: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One
Jaquet Droz is renown for their Métiers d’Art watches. Their expertise in decorating watches can be observed in the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Paillonnée. The brand uses a multitude of techniques to create small art pieces for the wrist. Their Grande Seconde collection, inspired by the Pocket Watch created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz in 1784, contains the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon in stainless steel with a double level ivory Grand Feu enamel dial.
Baselworld 2018 was the perfect opportunity to release a new piece in the Grande Seconde Collection. This time, the brand decided to let away the high-class decoration and to adorn the dial with only sapphire disks. This choice reveals the entire beauty of the movement, keeping the dial present. The black printed indexes and numerals fit well the theme having an unexpected good legibility. The eight shaped dial architecture with gold hands combines Roman and Arabic numerals.
The 41.5mm in ceramic or 41mm in red gold and white gold case houses the calibre automatic winding JD2663 SQ. A power reserve of 68 hours is managed by a 4Hz balance wheel. The mainplate and bridges are skeletonised and blackened. The finishes are adequate for a full visible movement.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One is a watch combining the tradition of Jaquet Droz with the modern manufacturing techniques. The look is fabulous and can satisfy the wishes of the open-work movement’s lover. Price is set at CHF 34,600 for the gold versions, CHF 24,850 for the ceramic version.
Baselworld revealed some interesting watches. Starting with personal preferences and ending with high-end pieces or affordable timepieces, the show had a little something for everyone. The author’s Top 5 list was based only on personal impressions. The listed pieces have details that can impress any watch lover: exceptional finishes and desired complications. The independent manufactured pieces are always objects of lust, but discovering an affordable piece with generally loved complication was one of the most surprising discoveries of the Baselworld 2018. We dare you to declare your favourite pieces of the show, regardless the reasons behind.