With the ubiquity of smartphones and the unfettered progress of mobile technology, many previously vital products and pieces of personal technology have begun falling by the wayside. Digital cameras are a case in point. Particularly those of the point-and-shoot variety, which have seen sales plummet as mobile phones with built-in cameras have become the norm. Even the almighty iPod – a revolutionary product that seemed irreplaceable in its heyday – has lost favour with consumers increasingly relying on their smartphones for their on-the-go needs. But for true luxury watch aficionados everywhere, no manner of smartphone or Bluetooth-coupled wearable tech will ever fully replicate or replace a timepiece of finely crafted elegance.
Testament to this is the ever-growing popularity of the Baselworld watch and jewellery show. Held every spring in the city of Basel in Switzerland, Baselworld is arguably the highlight of the haute horlogerie and joaillerie calendar. It sees watch and jewellery makers everywhere gather to exhibit their latest creations, and has grown from a handful of exhibitors at its inaugural show almost a century ago to now featuring over 2,000 exhibitors from across the globe. This year is tipped to attract close to 100,000 discerning watch lovers.
We take a look at some of the more noteworthy creations to debut at this year’s show from some of the industry’s more traditional names as well as some more modern ones.
Long synonymous with quality, luxury watches is Omega. As much a status symbol as a watch, Omega has been gracing the wrists of the stylish and famous for centuries. This year they have taken an iconic model and given it a revamp – albeit retaining an unmistakeable classical aesthetic. The Speedmaster is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and as such, Omega has taken the watch made famous by surviving a trip to the moon, to new heights. Instantly recognisable, the Speedmaster is a benchmark in the world of luxury watches. The new Speedmaster is available in a dynamic duo of models: the simple yet elegant Speedmaster 38, and the superbly functional Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer.
“For true watch aficionados, no smartphone or wearable technology will replace a timepiece of finely crafted elegance”
Ideal for both men and women, the Speedmaster 38 is made from stainless steel and 18-carat Sedna gold with a leather strap. The watch features a diamond paved bezel complete with tachymeter scale that frames the bi-colour dial with unique oval subdials. Powered by the Omega calibre 3330, the watch comes with Co-Axial technology and a silicon balance spring.
Another iconic timepiece from one of the biggest names in luxury watches is the Rolex Yacht-Master, which has also been given a make-over in time for this year’s Baselworld. The Yacht-Master 40 has been crafted for the first time in Everose Rolesor (a combination of 904L steel and 18-carat Everose gold). Carrying the superlative chronometer certification means you are guaranteed superior performance. Waterproof to 100 metres, the Yacht-Master is tough, reliable and classically refined. Featuring the bi-directional, self-winding calibre 3135, the chronograph has a 48-hour power reserve.
Another watch that has been released in time for Baselworld is the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe by Blancpain, which has a distinctly vintage essence. First presented in 2013, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe range has been extended with the inclusion of the newest Fifty Fathoms model – a 38mm timepiece in a striking shade of blue that recalls the deepest blue oceans.
The steel bezel features a blue ceramic insert while the hour markers are made of Liquidmetal. Note this is not the same stuff that Liquid Metal Guy in Terminator II is comprised of, but rather an alloy prized for its long-term stability. As par for the course for any good diving watch – if we dare be so bold as to mix our sporting metaphors – the Fifty Fathoms has a unidirectional bezel that rotates counter clockwise.
Water resistant to 30 bar (approximately 300 metres), it is powered by the calibre 1150, ensuring an impressive 100-hour power reserve.
Next, we have a timepiece specifically designed for women: the Breguet Classique Phase de Lune Dame 9088. Striking a pure and clean aesthetic with its simple lines and elegant curves, the watch is made of white gold and is sized at 30mm in diameter. The minutes track is made up of tiny stars, together with stylistic fleur-de-lis for the five-minute fractions.
The ceramic dial features a moon-phase aperture at six o’clock. The chronograph is subtly decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds that adorn the bezel and lugs. Housing the Breguet 537L calibre, a self-winding mechanical movement, it is equipped with silicon escapement and balance spring.
From Audemars Piguet comes the new Royal Oak self-winding QEII Cup 2017 limited edition watches, made especially to commemorate the 19th edition of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup – a Group One thoroughbred horse race sponsored by the watchmaker and held in Hong Kong in co-operation with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
A delicate mix of titanium and platinum, the new editions pay respectful homage to the original Royal Oak timepiece, adhering to the design codes of the Royal Oak collection. Powered by the manufacture self-winding calibre 3120, these special watches have a 60-hour power reserve. The 37mm edition of the new models feature a diamond-set bezel and a total of 40 stunning brilliant-cut diamonds.
Last but most certainly not least is a name that might be relatively new to the world of haute horlogerie but has nonetheless crafted some stunning timepieces. More akin to a work of art than a watch, the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Sky watch is stunningly eye catching and is almost otherworldly in appearance.
Taking a unique approach to time display with the use of ‘satellites,’ this timepiece is strikingly creative. Despite this, it remains very easy to use and set and is as practical as it is beautiful. Sized at 40mm and with a 60-hour power reserve, the watch even displays celestial indicators such as sky and stars as well as a month indicator.
Text: Hans Schlaikier