With SIHH 2016 done and dusted, we are on to the next international culmination of all things horology. Baselworld 2016 is an 8-day event held between the 17th and the 24th of March. Held at the Messe Basel in Basel, Switzerland, this event showcases products from a wide range of retailers from both ends of the spectrum. All in all, there will be about 1800 exhibitors showcasing their products to the ensuing crowds. Here is a list of some of the pieces expected to debut at Baselworld this coming March.
Arnold & Son Constant Force Tourbillon
A superb piece from a very understated brand, the Constant Force Tourbillon combines technical prowess with traditional design architecture. The case is made of 18K red gold, but at 46 mm it may prove to be slightly larger than what a customer would want. The movement is a mechanical hand-wound A&S5119 calibre that incorporates a constant force mechanism, a tourbillon and a dead beat seconds mechanism. Limited to only 28 pieces and with a price tag well above the $200K mark, the Constant Force Tourbillon is definitely not for everyone, but for those 1%ers I say pull the trigger.
Rado True Open Heart
New from Rado is their futuristic looking True Open Heart. Made of a white ceramic, the piece well and truly could be something from the future. The case is super light due to it being completely made of ceramic, yet proves to be extremely durable and much stronger than its steel counterparts. Flowing lines and monochromatic design make this watch extremely pleasant to look at, and the mother-of-peal open dial complements the uniform nature of the white case very well. An automatic calibre ETA C07.631 provides about 80 hours of power reserve and is limited to only 500 pieces.
Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Earth
A brand that I have yet to feature in my blog, Armin Strom combines the absurd with practicality to produces piece that entice and mesmerise. The Tourbillon Skeleton Earth is another edition to an already impressive line up. The case, made up of black PVD-treated steel holds within it a spectacle to marvel at. The skeletonised dial showing the beautiful calibre ATC11-S can capture your attention, and keep it for hours on end. The tourbillon is deep, fully skeletonised and adds another dimension (or two) to the dial. Unsurprisingly, the piece costs more than we would like to think, but given the fact that you get something that I can assure you no one else in a 2000km radius will have, it will be money very well spent.
Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition
You either like Oris or you don’t. There is no grey area here. I really enjoy Oris and their brand direction, having nearly pulled the trigger on one of their diver’s pieces a year or so ago. But they do cop a lot of flack, and I can understand why. They constantly release “limited editions” that are not that different to their standard counterparts but command a much higher price tag. Anyway, I like them, and so should you. The Carl Brashear Limited Edition is a tribute to the U.S. Navy’s first African American master diver (hats off to you, sir). A great achievement in light of the cultural differences back then. The piece has a unique case created by a process of oxidation to produce a distinctive patina. As new, the patina is bright and shiny, but will age uniquely to the individual’s habits. This means that in 10 years time each piece will look different, which I think is awesome. Limited run of 2000 pieces under $5K make it a no brainer, but only if you find one.
Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch
Oh no! Another smartwatch from Switzerland! Fear not purists, this one is a little bit different. Having seen one in the flesh, I can safely say that I am sold. The combination of classic design and cutting edge modern day technology means that this piece ticks all my boxes (except for the Roman numerals, of course). The watch tracks daytime activity as well as sleep patterns, or extended periods of immobilisation. You can then sync the watch’s information to the MotionX-365 application on your mobile phone. Obviously a quartz calibre, the FC-285 will give a couple of years worth of charge to the watch. Priced a bit higher than I would be willing to pay for it, but it is a good all rounder.
Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
I know I tend to give Hublot a lot of s**t whenever I describe their watches, but I’m going to try and be as unbiased as I possibly can this time. The Unico Sapphire is made up entirely of sapphire, one of the hardest minerals you can possibly use (and one that can only be scratched by a diamond). The dial is also transparent, and with that you can literally see through the movement as it works. If anything, it is a spectacle piece that you would wear every once in a while to impress your friends. But, technically, it isn’t too shabby either. A fully automatic anthracite ruthenium 1242 Unico calibre with 36 jewels, a column-wheel chronograph, flyback function and double coupling clutch that can be used throughout its 72 hours of power reserve is nothing to laugh at. It is haute horlogerie, but not as we know it.
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered Onyx
A very avant-garde reinvention by Jaquet Droz sees a watch that is supremely simple and beautiful. A deep black adorns the expansive dial with two simple rings displaying the hours and minutes in one, and the sweeping seconds in the other. The crown at 4 o’clock does more to this piece than maybe even the designers thought, and adds another dimension to the already stunning spectacle. The triumph here is the precise aesthetic nature of the watch, and with the accompanying automatic calibre 2663A.P, it truly is a work of art. Extremely calming to look at and a play on your senses, the Onyx is magnificent.
Girard Perregaux 1966 Skeleton
It seems that a lot of the watches to be presented at this year’s Baselworld are combining contemporary flair with traditional design. The 1966 Skeleton is a culmination of old case design and new skeletonised dial directions. The gear train is rhodium-plated, while the plate and bridges have been treated to anthracite for a deeper, more refined finish. Meticulous detailing is unabashed and proudly displayed throughout the open-worked dial which displays the automatic calibre, wait for it, GP01800-0006 comprised of 176 components. Not cheap, not common and not something I would say no to.
Bulgari Serpenti Incantati
On a purely design-focused analysis, disregarding movement quality and finishing, this piece is stunning. Created to reflect a snake’s typical coiled resting position, the watch sits on the rest as would a snake of similar size. Adorned with diamond and rubellites, it is a beautiful combination of curves and sparkles that make this piece an instant eye-catcher. Priced expectedly high and so obviously made for the female watch aficionado, Bulgari have pulled out a design feat worthy of applause.
Artya Cumbere Tourbillon
To do different is not always the direction you would want to go down. It guarantees attention, but isn’t always the kind of attention you want. The Cumbere Tourbillon by Artya is precariously positioned on that dangerous line. In my humble opinion, it opens the doors for the typical consumer to try and understand Artya’s ethos. Overlook the ostentatious nature of the piece and reflect on the audacity that one must have to bypass tradition. A case that is unlike any other, and in a world where watch brands try so hard to change case design, that is not easy. Combine it with a dial that can be nothing short of artistically divine, and you have a sure-fire winner. But then you add a flying tourbillon inside of the MHC hand-wound calibre and you shut down the small niche you have just infiltrated. So far, as pre-Baselworld pieces come to light, this one for me is the standout. And do you really have to ask the price?