Last week, in a usually-sleepy corner of Switzerland, the largest watch expo in the world kicked off. Spanning five vast exhibition centres and packing months of innovation and invention into the space of just a few days, watch journalists from countries far and near convened on the convention to learn what 2017 horologically holds.
Gentleman’s Journal joined the fray, and here we present our top ten picks of the timepieces on show.
Graff GraffStar Eclipse Tourbillon
This spectacular timepiece is the latest successor to the GraffStar Slim Eclipse, made from lightweight titanium DLC and features the all-new Tourbillon Automatic with peripheral rotor movement.
The all-black 43mm case encases an impressive power reserve of up to 42 hours whilst exposing the beautiful tourbillon movement on the face. And with a refined black alligator wrist strap, we believe this makes an iconic dress-watch for only the finest of gentlemen.
Seiko SLA017 Dive
The SLA017, is a limited edition that’s a complete re-creation of the original Reference 6217 which was first launched in 1965 with elements like the hands, hour markers and rotating bezel being identical to the original.
The case design remains untouched, but welcomes a slight sizing up from 38mm to 39.9mm and is more water-resistant up to depths of 200m compared to the original 150m limit. Inside is a thoroughly modern 8L35 automatic movement, whilst the aptly modern wrist strap distinguishes this model as the sporty successor to the original Reference 6217.
Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Breitling’s first in-house split-seconds chronograph was no doubt an unmissable announcement at Basel 2017. Featuring innovations related to the split-seconds hand, the user can stop and isolate it in order to increase the precision of the watch and to save energy – whilst boasting up to 70 hours of power reserve.
Maintaining a 45mm case available in stainless steel or red gold (the latter being limited to only 250 pieces), the Navitimer Rattrapante is arguably one of the finest complications by Breitling to date.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe 38mm
Four years ago, Blanpain brought back the Bathyscaphe diver. Last week, they revealed a new iteration of the iconic timepiece – at 38mm. The 2013 diver was 43mm, so this marks a significant downscale, but the case isn’t new to Blancpain – in fact, it’s been used in women’s collections before.
But don’t let that recycling put you off – this is a beautiful watch. Jumping on the blue dial bandwagon evident at Basel, the wide rectangular hands are typical of Blancpain, and a 100 hour power reserves means that this is a timepiece that delivers on those looks.
Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph
Innovative and unmissable in horological design, the hours and minutes of Fabergé’s Visionnaire Chronograph are read at the periphery of the watch dial while the chronograph function takes centre stage. And the Visionnaire Chronograph marks 100 years after the start of the Russian Revolution and pays homage the unfinished Constellation Egg of 1917.
The automatic calibre 6361 construction made by Agenhor continues the revolutionary theme, which imparts unprecedented clarity, precision and efficiency – the affable qualities needed in a watch that’s also a work of art.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel
With an all steel finish and brushed steel bezel insert, the 41mm Heritage Black Bay watch was introduced last week at Baselworld. Elegant and sporty with an impressive 70 hour power reserve, the Heritage Black Bay Steel introduces a date function to the Black Bay family.
The characteristic angular hands, known to collectors as snowflake, are present on this chronometer, as if the large winding crown – seen since the first generation of Tudor divers.
Tag Heuer AUTAVIA
A revival of their legendary chronograph from the 1960s, the Tag Heuer Autavia is making a return over a half a century after it’s original appearance. Blending the designs of aviation and motor racing (hence AUTomobile and AVIAtion) this piece may look retro, but its mechanics are anything but.
Water resistant to 100m, the 2017 version has a hefty 80 hour power reserve and TAG Heuer’s Movement Heuer 02 Manufacture. Visually, we’re talking Rhodium-plated applique indices, with a polished and satin-finished top complete with beige SuperLuminova highlights. Suitably sophisticated.
Breguet Classique 7147
Breguet’s new Classique is classic Breguet. Right down to the movement, everything about the new 7147 screams Breguet, in fact. A radiant white grand feu enamel dial is painted with black Breguet numerals, and the subtlety of the minute track – seen in previous models – makes a very welcome return here.
Hand painted fleur de lys markers and the sunken five o’clock subdial mask a 2.4mm-thick automatic movement, capable of producing up to 45 hours of power reserve. And, a free-spring balance and anti-magnetic silicon balance spring mean that this timepiece is as easy on your ears as it is on your eyes.
Longines Heritage 1945
40mm and automatic, Longines Heritage 1945 pays heed to the brand’s watches of old, whilst throwing its own spin into the mix. With a dial of brushed matte rose, this is indeed a re-edition, but one considerably more balanced and attractive than the timepiece on which it is based.
The subdial sits a little higher, the calibre L609 ticks nicely away and the strap is a nice recreation of the buffed brown suede of the original. Price is where we’re really impressed. Longines will charge a mere $1,700 for this beauty.
Omega Railmaster 1957 Anniversary Edition
A favourite of Baselworld, Omega’s vast stand boasted a trio of new reissues of classic pieces. Our pick of the trio – which also includes the Speedmaster and Seamaster – is the Railmaster. But, despite the limited edition iteration sitting on a steel bracelet, it is not this with which we were most taken – rather it is the new, small collection of Railmasters that are, thankfully, not limited.
40mm in diameter and with a subtle curved lug design, the dial on this edition is steel rather than bronze, and finished with lovely vertical brushing. A closed case back and printed dial may put some off, but an optional charming herringbone strap is certainly enough to buckle you back in.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5168G
Patek Philippe’s sporty Aquanaut line saw its new 42mm Ref. 5168G model, which aptly coincides with Aquanaut’s 20th anniversary where it first appeared in Basel 2007. Finished in 18K white gold, Patek Philippe offers a noble example of how precious metals can be made into a work of art whilst maintaining a rugged, masculine edge.
Additionally, the gradating night-blue hue of the dial and strap is a new design finish seamlessly compliments the white gold case, which houses the self-winding caliber 324 S C movement. What’s more, the vernissage of the movement, visible through the sapphire-crystal case back, is truly fascinating.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller
Of course, there had to be a Rolex on this roll call. This 50th Anniversary Sea-Dweller has a unidirectional rotatable bezel, water resistance to 4,000 feet and a bidirectional self-winding movement.
On a steel bracelet with Rolex’s Oysterlock folding safety clasp, the black gloss dial evokes classic models, and white gold hands assure us that the Swiss watchmaker isn’t skimping on the luxury. This timepiece celebrates a true piece of history, whilst establishing itself as an enduring addition to the Rolex legacy.
Oris Big Crown 1917 Limited Edition
It may come off as a homage, but Oris’ latest Limited Edition is in fact a completely new watch, put together using scraps and elements from throughout the brand’s history. When pilots first began strapping their pocket watches to their wrists, the crown was still incredibly conspicuous, hence both the name and design of Oris’ latest.
At 40mm, this is a nice size, and the dial – a grainy-textured, silver-colored design, stepped, with a rail-road track and large Arabic numerals – gives a retro look to a modern watch. The brown leather travel roll also includes two brown leather straps – should you want to switch to the cuff variant.