As the aftermath of this year’s Baselworld settles and everyone gets back into the groove of things, I find that its an opportune time to sit back and reflect on what was shown to us. From the triumphs to the weird and wacky, we’ve got it all. So sit back, relax, and take a look at what caught my eye from Baselworld 2016.
Rolex Yacht-Master 40 116622
The infamous Yacht-Master. You either love it, learn to love it, or absolutely hate it. Is it a Submariner? Is it a Sea-Dweller? I’ve found it very hard to categorise it, but I can say one thing: I love it. The steel and platinum reiteration is flawless in every sense of the word. Once upon a time I hated the ridiculous cyclops-eye (and I still do in the Submariner), but in the 116622 it works. From the beautiful sub-burst rhodium dial to the hints of blue luminescence, it is sublime. Powered by the conventional calibre 3135 with COSC certification, it walks the walk and talks the talk. By far the most beautiful contemporary timepiece Rolex has produced in recent years.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN
The second release from Rolex that really caught my attention was the black dial Daytona 116500LN. The 116500LN pays home to the legendary Paul Newman Daytona while still keeping up with modern day watchmaking technologies. Aesthetically, it as close to flawless as a chronograph can be. A steel case contrasted with a black monobloc Cerachrom bezel in ceramic and an equally dark black dial screams class, elegance and wearability. The white version isn’t by any means lesser than its black counterpart, but in my eyes black wears a whole lot better. The sub-dial registers are atypically laid out, and the numbers all point in the same direction which is fantastic (I absolutely hate it when the numerals are not consistent, direction wise). Mechanically speaking, you really can’t go wrong with the calibre 4130 that is also COSC certified. The bi-directional rotor ensures at least 3 days worth of wear, but in my eyes if it were a manual wind (very much against the grain of what the Daytona is all about), it would be the complete chronograph. In my opinion the Daytona side-by-side the Yacht-Master took the show for Rolex this year.
So far its been accolade after accolade for Rolex. The Air-King is the watch that brought it all crashing down to Earth for me. Brash styling, oversized numerals and unnecessary colour hints that adorn the dial make this a pass for me. It only comes in steel and its sized at 40mm, but this doesn’t make it any more wearable. I can appreciate its COSC certification and the brilliant calibre 3131, but this isn’t a skeleton piece and all the focus is on the dial. Unfortunately for me and possibly a lot of the watch famiglia, this is a bit hit and miss from the crowned manufacturer. Sorry Rolex!!
Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon
What do you get when you combine a passion for all things boating and haute horlogerie? The Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon. Ha ha ha. Okay, maybe I should just stick to writing about watches and drop the jokes, but I couldn’t help myself. The Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon is one fascinating piece. It combines traditional high watchmaking, e.g. the tourbillon, with contemporary design culture in the form of nanowires and ship-deck-reminiscent dial finishing. I won’t go into the technical details of the piece because its just too in depth and complicated, but it is pretty interesting to read up on. Beyond the obvious mechanical prowess of the piece, the aesthetic vacuum that the watch represents is mesmerising. It really is a very special piece, one that I would call a definite novelty. But it does come with a hefty price tag. Expect this one to cost close to $400,000AUD. Yep.
Seiko Presage 60th Anniversary Automatic Limited Edition Chronograph
Seiko are typically less about high end pieces and more about affordable, every day watches like the brilliant Seiko 5. But every now and then they have an inkling to release a watch that makes the watch world collectively let out a gasp. Some gasp for good, some gasp for bad, but all gasp for surprise. And the Presage 60th Anniversary piece is a great surprise! Breguet numerals, black on black dial and registers, well-crafted hour and minute hands and a seconds hand that has a hint of colour on the end to differentiate the passing seconds. It isn’t a tourbillon and it isn’t a perpetual calendar, but for under $5,000AUD you’ll be getting a face that looks great (with either a white or black dial), you’ll get a movement that is highly decorated and reliable, a case that wears great and overall a watch that really is the complete package (outside of a Grand Seiko!).
Patek Philippe 5396G Complications
In my honest, unbiased and completely objective opinion, the 5396 would have to be one of the most beautiful watches, ever. The combination of the charcoal grey sunburst dial, applied Breguet numerals, white gold case and deep-blue moonphase display is just flawless. It really is a dream watch for me. The proportions are right on the dot at just over 38mm, so you know it’ll wear well, while the alligator strap and fold-over clasp will let it sit on your wrist securely and comfortably. The calibre 324 brings the watch alive, and even though it is an automatic, it still is fantastic. An instanst classic.
Patek Philippe 5327G Grand Complications
If you like blue and white gold, sell your house and get it before its sold out. Sunburst and Breguet numerals seems to be the theme for Patek this year, and boy does it look great. Royal blue sunburst dial changes shades in different lights, while the applied white gold Breguet numerals sit solid and pretty. The complication is split between the three sub-dial registers. You have the month and leap year at 3 o’clock, the date and moonphase at 6 o’clock and the day and 24-hour indicator at 9 o’clock. Powered by the ultra-thin automatic calibre 240, the 5327 is a supreme piece from one of the most revered and highly regarded watchmakers in the world.
Omega Speedmaster Moonphase Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph
A long ass name, I know. But it all points to the fact that this is a damn good watch. The Master Chronometer Chronograph is METAS certified and carries with it the pedigree of being one of the most accurate watches on the planet. Add superb aesthetics and what you get is a watch that should fill the void in your collection. And that void is having a reliable watch capable of doing a few extra things, besides telling the time. Chronograph, moonphase and date. These functions you may use on your phone, but bare witness to the fact that in can be done on your wrist, mechanically, and beautifully. Movement wise it doesn’t get much better than the calibre 9904, made of 368 parts and likely to last longer than you. Stunning release from one of my favourite chronograph manufacturers.
Omega Globemaster Annual Calendar
So the Speedmaster release at Baselworld 2016 was jaw dropping, to say the least. And the release of the Globemaster a month or so back was also pretty cool. But then the guys at Omega say to themselves, how can we oversimplify a simple watch? How can we track off the beaten path and end up stuck in mud? Let’s add a complication that, number one, rips off another manufacturer’s design, and two, collectively ruin a beautiful watch. The Globemaster was a triumph, its Annual Calendar cousin is not. It is a blatant rip off of H. Moser & Cie’s infamous perpetual calendar design, and it doesn’t even look good doing so. By complicating the simplest way to tell what month it is, is not the greatest idea. Adding the month’s name between the hour indices is not smart. It looks atrocious. Remove the unnecessary and keep what works.
Oris Artelier Calibre 112
Oris seem to be doing the right thing over and over again for me. Their watches are elegant, wearable and relatively affordable. The Artelier Calibre 112 is just another piece that reinforces my opinion of this understated and severely misrepresented manufacture. The aesthetics of this watch are quite profound, from the abstract dial layout, to the hand design, the date window placement all the way to the manufacture insignia placement. The crown is nice and large and the case blends in well with the integrated lugs. The Calibre 112, Oris’ in-house and hand wound movement boasts a power reserve of an unbelievable 10 days, beating at 3Hz. Pricing should be under $10,000AUD, and is a no-brainer for those that want something from a brand that marches to the beat of their own drum.
H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Perpetual Calendar
This is how you make an already awesome much better. The major watch brands and micro brands need to take note of this. H. Moser & Cie should become as well known and recognised as Rolex, Patek and Omega. They should be admired, respected and above all considered when making a purchasing decision. Their pieces are timeless, classy, pioneering and unique. Enter the Pioneer Perpetual Calendar, Moser’s fantastic and casual take on their perpetual calendar design. It combines a red gold case with black DLC-finished titanium, an ardoise fume sunburst dial with red gold applied hour markers with the beautiful HMC 800 hand-wound calibre to create a spectacle of independent watchmaking done ridiculously well. Functional, wearable and downright perfect. This is supreme watchmaking from one of my favourite watchmakers out there.