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Top timepieces from Baselworld 2018

With updates on luxury sports watches, vintage reissues and gender-neutral watches, these timepieces can be used for any occasion.

It remains the world’s largest watch and jewellery fair, but Baselworld has been hard hit by the changes sweeping through the watch industry in recent years, with just 650 exhibitors this year. This represents a stunning 57 per cent drop over the past two years, with big names such as Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, Hermes and the Movado Group having left the fair. While some have chosen to show at rival Genevan fair, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, others have opted to meet their retailers and press at different sites – or simply rely on digital means to do their business. This year, the duration of the fair was cut by two days, running for five days instead of seven.

(RELATED: Why Swiss luxury watchmakers need to woo millennials in the digital space – and soon)

However, with big names – including Rolex, Patek Philippe, the Swatch Group, Chopard and the LVMH stable – still throwing their support behind it, Baselworld remains an important fixture on the watch calendar. Demonstrating the cautious optimism that many industry leaders have expressed since the upswing following the industry downturn two years ago, commercial appeal was a key uniting factor across the watch launches this year. Largely putting blockbuster pieces on hold for now, companies introduced pieces designed to sell – think updates on luxury sports watches, vintage reissues and smaller watches meant to appeal to (and fit the wrists of) both genders. In short, there was something for just about everyone. Here, we present our (tongue-in-cheek) lists of timepieces for horological temperaments of every shade.

FOR MECHANICAL MAXIMALISTS

 THREE NO-HOLDS-BARRED HOROLOGICAL STATEMENTS
  • 01 MB&F THE FIFTH ELEMENT
    Before smartphones arrived, enabling users to easily avail themselves of meteorological information, there were desktop weather stations. MB&F reimagines these digital instruments by fusing this concept with mid-20th-century visions of UFOs to create The Fifth Element. Created in conjunction with partner and Swiss high-end clockmaker L’Epee, this piece of desktop art comprises a brass frame – the so-called Fifth Element – that holds four removable “pods” that are actually a clock, barometer, hygrometer and thermometer. Meteorology just got a whole lot cooler.

 

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY SURPRISES

WATCHES THAT ARE MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

  • 01 HUBLOT BIG BANG TOURBILLON POWER RESERVE 5 DAYS SAPPHIRE
    To the uninitiated, it might look like a plastic watch gone wild. Your fellow watch nerds, however, will know that the Big Bang Tourbillon Power Reserve 5 Days Sapphire is one of the latest examples of high-end timepieces that come fully clad in sapphire crystal, the ultra-hard glass that usually covers watch dials or display casebacks. In its latest, 45mm glass-centric outing, Hublot has given its five-day power reserve, manually wound tourbillon movement greater transparency by holding it in place with a strip of sapphire crystal, while using acrylic to form its skeletonised mainplate.

 

FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE LOOKING (A LITTLE) RUGGED WITHOUT BREAKING A SWEAT

SPORTS WATCHES THAT WE WOULD NOT SUBJECT TO ROUGH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

  • 01 BLANCPAIN FIFTY FATHOMS BATHYSCAPHE QUANTIEME ANNUEL
    If you use dive watches for actual dives, you would (a) be in the minority of dive-watch owners, and (b) probably want a simple watch that is easy to read in deep water. In a nod to the swelling ranks of desk divers who mostly appreciate the robustness of diving time-pieces, however, Blancpain has added calendar complications to its new Fifty Fathoms and Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe models: The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel, for instance, is the first annual calendar within Blancpain’s dive watches. Although yes, you could wear it underwater if you wanted to – the 43mm steel watch has 300-metre water resistance and a unidirectional ceramic bezel that indicates how long you can stay beneath.

 

FOR THOSE WHOSE WRISTS AREN’T BUILT LIKE STALLONE’S

SMALL TIMEPIECES THAT CAN WORK FOR EITHER GENDER

  • 01 BREITLING NAVITIMER 1 AUTOMATIC 38
    These days, you are less likely to hear companies marketing smaller watches to a specific gender – fact is, there are many male watch fans out there with moderately sized wrists who welcome the downsized timepieces that have entered the market in recent years. We like the look of the brand- new 38mm Navitimer 1 models, which retain the iconic aviation watch’s slide rule while doing away with the chronograph. The COSC-certified chronometer comes in steel with black or blue dial variants, and in steel with a red gold bezel.

(RELATED: These luxury watches are great for kickstarting your collection)

 

FOR WATCH FANS WHO ALSO LOVE JEWELLERY

SPARKLING PIECES THAT – HURRAH – ALSO TELL THE TIME

  • 01 CHOPARD HAPPY PALM
    Distinguished by diamonds that move freely around the dial, Chopard’s Happy Sport watches were launched 25 years ago, overseen by Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele. One of the metiers d’art pieces marking this anniversary year is the 36mm watch, Happy Palm, which is made using Chopard’s sustainable Fairmined yellow gold. The watch’s key motif is the Palme d’Or, which was created by Scheufele for the Cannes Film Festival: A mini sculpture of the palm leaf, and diamonds move around against a backdrop of golden leaves created using traditional Japanese urushi lacquering and Fleurisanne engraving.

(RELATED: Best of Baselworld: Check out timepieces from Patek Philippe, Bulgari, Omega, Urwerk and Chopard)

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