One of the highlights of the luxury watch industry’s calendar will soon be upon us. Arguably the most important event for luxury watch and jewellery makers everywhere, the Baselworld trade show has been an annual staple as far back as 1925. From humble beginnings – when only a handful of watchmakers were invited to exhibit their wares – today’s Baselworld features 2,100 exhibitors from over 45 countries and attracts 94,000 discerning visitors, hoping to catch a glimpse of the very latest – and best – in the world of haute horlogerie and joaillerie.
Held in the birthplace of luxury watchmaking, the city of Basel in Switzerland, this year’s iteration will run from the 23rd to the 30th of March. As always, in the run-up to the show, luxury watchmakers from across the globe have been busy working on the models to be featured. We take the opportunity to look at some of the hottest new models you can expect to see hitting stores this spring from some of the world’s most renowned names in luxury timepieces.
Long synonymous with high-end chronographs, Omega has been crafting luxury watches since 1903. From a certain fictitious British secret agent to the first man to walk on the moon, Omega watches have graced the wrists of some of the world’s most iconic and influential people. For this year’s Baselworld show, Omega’s line-up will include a new take on a classic model, the Omega Speedmaster. One of the world’s most recognisable chronographs, the Speedmaster has been part of the Omega line-up for over 60 years.
The latest incarnation of the Speedmaster remains true to its roots while incorporating new aesthetic touches. Sized at 38mm and suitable for both men and women, the Speedmaster 38 is available in a variety of colours. The case is made from stainless steel and 18-carat Sedna gold and comes with a classic leather strap. One of the most interesting features is the diamond-paved bezel that also includes a tachymeter scale on the aluminium ring. Deceptively simple and unmistakeably stylish, the Omega Speedmaster 38 is a triumph of design and aptly pays tribute to a timeless model.
From classic models to the epitome of modernity, part of Bulgari’s pre-Basel line up is the updated edition of the Octo Ultranero. Intensely black and undeniably masculine, the Octo Ultranero has a black Diamond Like Carbon (D.L.C.) case and comes in a purely black edition or with red hands and hour markers for a deft splash of colour. Housed in the case is the bidirectional self-winding Calibre BVL 193 with twin barrels, which allows for a 50-hour power reserve.
Moving with the times, Bulgari has also created a new model for women – increasingly being catered for in the Bulgari universe. Hot on the heels of the recently released Serpenti women’s timepiece comes a new edition of the Lvcea watch. Drawing on a heavy celestial influence, the latest edition of the Lvcea has been upgraded with a moon-phase indicator. In addition to enriching the aesthetics of the watch face the moon-phase indicator also precisely marks a new moon, first quarter moon, full moon and last quarter moon.
The watch has a mother-of-pearl dial and is available in different variations: one with dazzling diamond hour markers on the dial, another with brilliant-cut diamonds on its strap lug and bezel, and a third white gold version with a bezel set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Available in an 18-carat pink or white gold case, each watch features 45 brilliant-cut diamonds and is powered by the Calibre BVL 191, which has a 42-hour power reserve. Water resistant to 50m, ladies can choose between a purple, blue or red glossy alligator leather strap.
High-flying watchmaker Breitling has also been busy updating a model first launched in spring of 2016. The Avenger Hurricane is a chronograph built for extremes, as evidenced by its rugged construction with protective reinforcements and supreme functionality. At 50mm in diameter, this timepiece is no shrinking violet and features a case made of Breitlight, an exclusive high-tech material that is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, while being considerably harder.
“Today’s Baselworld features 2,100 exhibitors from over 45 countries and attracts 94,000 discerning visitors”
The Avenger Hurricane is a triumph of innovation. It’s exceptionally resistant to scratching, traction and corrosion and is thermally stable, anti-magnetic and non-allergenic. Powered by the Manufacture Breitling Calibre 01 – which has been certified by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute) as testament to its precision – the Avenger Hurricane has an impressive 70-plus hour power reserve. Available with a cobra yellow or volcano black dial, the watch features a unidirectional rotating bezel that is equipped with four rider tabs that serve to memorise time. A perfect combination of comfort and sturdiness, the strap has a rubber lining and sides made of anthracite high–resistance military-grade fibre.
Another lunar-inspired design comes from Swiss watchmakers IWC Schaffhausen and their 2017 Da Vinci collection. Smaller and slimmer than the original Da Vinci watches that debuted in the 1980s, the Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 is a work of feminine elegance. Striking a simple but brilliant aesthetic, the wristwatch comes in either a stainless-steel case or an 18-carat red gold case with a silver-plated dial and is sized at a comfortable 36mm for female wrists.
Last but certainly not least in our pre-Basel round -up is a watch that is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Introduced in 1997, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph has been given a fresh new look for 2017 and will be available in seven different models. Steel versions of the watch are offered with a choice of “Grande Tapisserie” dials in black, silver or blue and are fitted with classical stainless-steel bracelets. All of the new Royal Oak watches feature a two-tone dial design and subtle-yet-ingenious details such as larger chronograph counters and an additional luminescent coating for better readability. The Royal Oak Chronograph 2017 is powered by the Audemars Piguet calibre 2385 with 37 jewels and has a power reserve of 40 hours. It’s water resistant to 50m. All in all, something for everyone – and a tantalising sampler of the calibre of watches that will be on display at this year’s Baselworld.
Text: Hans Schlaikier