As this year’s Baselworld looms near, we reflect at our picks from last year’s crop and re-look if they remain our top watches one year on.
We ran several Baselworld 2018 staff picks after the show completed last year. See this link for the suite of articles outlining our top choices from then. We re-looked at the list and the benefit of hindsight, now re-evaluate them one year on. Here is our top 6 as it stands now, from Baselworld 2018. Most of the picks remain, although there is one notable new entry. As usual, the title will link you back to the hands-on detailed reviews.
The Rolex Pepsi remains THE HOTTEST watch from 2018. Waiting lists are really long, and the vile black marketers are asking exorbitant amounts for BNIB (Brand New in Box) pieces. Read our discussion on the effects of the black market to real collectors in the Throwback article on ultra hype watches.
And Rolex can seem to do no wrong. Almost all their sports models have this hype aura, and are difficult to find at retail prices. From the Cosmograph Daytona, to the Sky Dweller, the Deep Sea Sea Dweller. They all command a long wait list and require effort to cultivate a relationship with the authorized dealer.
But Rolex did not become king by just having a crown as a logo. They tick all the boxes. Robust, tough, consistent, legible, usable, and ultimately very beautifully made watches which stand the test of time. Material selection is top rate. The industrial manufacturing applied is state of the art. And backed with a superb after sales service organization worldwide which is perhaps second to none. And add to that impressive list, a very reasonable pricing policy. The GMT-Master II “Pepsi” retails for S$12,430 incl of GST. Here we see why Rolex is consistently the winner.
This was a surprise from our listing last year. None of the writers nor the Chief Editor identified it as a favourite in our post-Baselworld exposé articles. But it has become the darling of the Chief Editor, and many at our offices for its outstanding performance in accuracy, and attention to detail, as well as very sober and pleasing aesthetics.
It packs a lot into the petit package of a mere 39mm case of exquisitely finished titanium case: a ultra quartz movement accurate to +/-5s a year, instantaneously jumping date with perpetual calendar, Japanese high craft washi paper on the dial to the zaratsu finishing on the case, hands and applied indices. It is a magnificent watch, the AQ4020 is currently only available in the domestic market and priced at ¥ 330,000 excl Japanese VAT. Worthy of much adoration.
It may be a simple dial change, but the salmon coloured dial on this Patek is perhaps ahead of the times. In SIHH 2019, we see several manufacturers offering salmon dials. A case of follow the leader?
There is no denying the beautiful aesthetics of the Ref. 5270, both from the dial side and from the case back. The watch is packed not only with physical beauty, but also has excellent operational ergonomics. Plus the magnificence of the old world refined finishing. Hard to beat.
The Ref. 5270P is now the only leather-strapped perpetual calendar chronograph left on Patek Philippe’s current catalogue, as the rest have been discontinued.
And with this watch, we have the expertise of the Patek Philippe company and its decades of experience percolated into the perpetual calendar with chronograph. Unlike the Ref. 5970 it replaces, which used the much loved, heavily modified and refinished Lemania movement, the chronograph in the Ref. 5270 is in-house developed and manufactured.
The Ref. 5270P is priced at a cool CHF 165,000. A tad above average sized budgets, however, the track record in the resale market of its predecessors are superb. And taking history as a guide, all indicators point up, and that even at this pricing, it might well turn out to be a good investment.
The Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar takes the cake as the least expensive Annual Calendar watch in the world. It takes the crown from the MIH Watch by a large margin. Priced at a very modest retail price of CHF 3,350 the Longines is almost half the price of the MIH.
The aesthetics are excellent, and the the watch looks beautiful. Perhaps the only drawback is the machine finishing and the stamped dial. Make no mistake, this is a mass produced watch. After all, Longines is now currently the third largest watchmaker in the world by sales revenue. But these niggles are easily to forgive at this price point. There is simply no competition.
We now move into the realm of the independents. And not only does the Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain remain at the top of the charts one year on, its creator Rexhep himself is still basking in the glory. An intense, passionate, young and very talented watchmaker, he has charmed his way into the hearts of watch lovers. To get a glimpse of why this is so, please read our conversation with Rexhep, click here.
But he did not get here with pure charm. The watches created speak for themselves. The aesthetics are just about perfect. The movement layout is beautiful, bringing the magnificence of the old world into the modern realm. And the finishing is quite spectacular. Combined with a very reasonable price (red gold is priced at CHF55,000 while the platinum comes at CHF58,000), it remains on our list.
We round up with another independent. A truly spectacular piece from former enfant terrible, now man genius Andreas Strehler.
The watch is truly a spectacle from the front and back. The dial is almost non-existent, and the entire movement laid out for all to admire. And there is plenty to admire. The genius of the design is in the complicated, yet neat layout, and the superbly magnificent finishing applied. Of course, a Strehler piece is not complete unless is replete with high complexity and unique solutions to age old problems. Here the tourbillon is equipped with a constant force remontoire mechanism.
And at CHF 182’500 (excl. VAT/Tax) with Gold case, it is not exactly small change, but handily beats competition in pricing. See the full review for the Competitive Landscape survey.
These are the six which remain standing after the passage of one year. We have had substantially more time with these watches over the last 12 months. We have been examining, looking, playing, using and wearing them. And as a result have formed deeper impressions of the watches and their character than we have had when we first published the Picks list.
What among our picks from Baselworld 2018 do you think remain big gems in your book?
And as we look into this year’s edition, with the absence of the Swatch Group and many other brands, what can we expect to see in Baselworld 2019? We wait. But only for a few weeks.