Robin Swithinbank chooses his 30 favourites from Baselworld 2016

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze


The standout watch of the fair? To many minds, the Heritage Black Bay Bronze stole the show, not perhaps because it’s the best looking or most innovative watch out there (it’s neither of those things), but because it’s indicative of Tudor’s total revival. Its bronze case will age naturally over time, and inside it is Tudor’s in-house, chronometer-certified movement.


Omega Globemaster Annual Calendar


The all-purpose Globemaster debuted last year, bringing with it Omega’s high-performance Master Chronometer movements, each of which is independently certified for accuracy and anti-magnetism. This year, it’s grown by a couple of millimetres to 41mm and has been given an annual calendar function, which only needs adjusting for month length at the end of February.


Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time


In a quiet year for Patek at Basel (expect bigger things later in the year as it marks 20 years of its annual calendar complication and 40 of the iconic Nautilus), the Aquanaut Travel Time stood out. It looks great with its rose gold case and brown dial and rubber strap, and features a second time zone.


TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T


Avant-gardism is alive and well at TAG Heuer these days, as demonstrated by this Carrera, a black titanium watch that combines a chronometer-certified chronograph with a tourbillon made of carbon and titanium. It’s made in-house and becomes the Swiss watch industry’s most affordable watch of its kind.


Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Oris Divers Sixty Five

At a time when watch buyers are counting their pennies, Oris’s ‘reasonably priced’ watch strategy is coming into its own. It helps that the independent company is also making fantastic watches like this steel-cased, blue-dialled man-watch on a roughed-up leather strap.


Tissot Ballade Powermatic 80


Tissot makes 4 million watches a year, and it uses its huge capacity to introduce landmark innovations in watches that undercut the competition by a country mile. This piece becomes the first Swiss watch under £1,000 to feature a silicon balance spring. In short, this means the watch is more reliable and needs servicing less often than regular mechanicals.

£700 approx.

TAG Heuer Carrera Panda Calibre 17


Four years ago, TAG Heuer made a Carrera to celebrate the 80th birthday of Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of the company’s founder. It was limited to 3,000 pieces and sold out in a flash. That watch’s twin-subdial ‘Panda’ design is revived this year in a special edition made only for the UK – just 250 of these will come to market later this year.


Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe


The Bathyscaphe was a revelation when it was first launched three years back. Now Blancpain’s diver’s watch resurfaces as a three-hander with a grey plasma ceramic case and bezel with a blue ceramic insert.


Breitling Superocean Héritage Chronoworks


Chronoworks is Breitling’s new performance division. The first watch produced under the banner is this souped-up Superocean Héritage, which has a 100-hour power reserve and a chronograph that uses energy 45% more efficiently. Only 100 will be made, but the tech will trickle down into the collection in the future.


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona


Among non-limited watches, there is none so sought-after as Rolex’s steel Daytona, the world’s most famous chronograph. Waiting lists are likely to go through the roof for the new Cerachrom-bezelled version, which has so far received universal praise from watch critics.


Bremont Regatta AC


Bremont’s sponsorship of the America’s Cup has yielded a suite of new watches this year, none more wearable than this steel-cased, rubber-strapped Regatta AC. Its clever feature is its countdown function at 12 o’clock, designed for timing a race start, but just as handy for boiling an egg.


Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36


The addition of a 36mm model into Tudor’s all-conquering Heritage Black Bay series is a stroke of genius. The 41mm standard model will be big on some wrists, and it lacks the versatility of a sports watch, two problems remedied in one fell swoop by the 36. Calls now will be for a larger version…


Rolex Air-King


One of the more contentious pieces launched this year is Rolex’s new Air-King. Not only does it use a minute scale in place of hour markers, it’s also the first Rolex to use a green and yellow logo on the dial. Love it or hate it, there’s no ignoring it.


Omega Speedmaster CK2998


The retro-dialled version of the ‘First Omega in Space’ Speedmaster was launched in Omega’s Sedna Gold last year to great acclaim. It’s followed this year by a striking blue version, dubbed CK2998 after a 1959 original. Only 2,998 will be made.


Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti


Pairing watches with high-end fashion houses isn’t new, but it’s certainly unusual to see a watch with a leather dial. Berluti is the supplier on this occasion. It’s given Hublot’s Classic Fusion its tobacco-coloured dial (with hour markers stamped into it) and strap, a pairing teamed with the brand’s own scratch-resistant 18-carat King Gold.


NOMOS Glashütte Tetra Neomatik


The idea behind this larger 33x33cm version of NOMOS Glashütte’s Tetra is that it becomes a man’s watch, where previous iterations were worn mostly by women. The theory works to a degree, but, as ever with NOMOS, the glory of the watch is in the beautifully-finished movement, in this case an in-house automatic visible through the case back.


Longines Railroad


Longines’ Heritage collection is always where you’ll find the brand’s strongest pieces. This year’s Railroad boosts the theory – it’s a simple steel-cased, time-only automatic, inspired by the watches Longines made to service early 20th-century railway workers.


Junghans Meister Driver Chronoscope


Resurgent German watch brand Junghans’ new ‘Driver’ collection is loosely inspired by instrument panels from Maybachs of the 1930s. This grey-dialled, Mulberry-leather-strapped version has a chronograph function. But what’s so winning about it are the details – look at the 7, or the red hands. Brilliant.


Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire


Not many brands have made watch cases out of sapphire, and none have achieved the volumes Hublot is planning with its see-through Big Bang Unico Sapphire. Some 500 pieces will be made, a leviathan industrial effort. Of course, the aesthetic is ground-breaking too – like a movement frozen in ice.


Hermès Slim d’Hermès


With its svelte case, in-house calibre and bespoke dial typography, last year’s Slim d’Hermès was one of the stars of the show. Following it up this year is this stunning blue model, a watch that makes you feel more elegant just by picking it up.

Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Calibre 36


The German watchmaker spent four years developing Calibre 36, a precise, super-stable movement that packs a 100-hour power reserve. It’s clothed in a typically timeless case, and has been dubbed by the brand ‘Senator Excellence’.


Chanel Monsieur de Chanel


The J12 has led Chanel’s watch line since 2000, but it was always distinctly unisex. The brand’s first watch aimed at men is the Monsieur, which also carries Chanel’s first in-house calibre. The hours are shown in the window at 6, and the minutes on a retrograde display, both of which ‘jump’ on the hour.


Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater


Record-breaking in watchmaking is a competitive business. Bulgari’s newest Octo Finissimo becomes the world’s thinnest minute repeating watch, rising a barely perceptible 6.85mm off the wrist. Its 40mm titanium case is a wonder, too – there are 110 facets on it.

£140,000 approx.

Breitling Avenger Hurricane


The biggest, lightest watch ever made? At 50mm Breitling’s Avenger Hurricane is a monster, but it’s made of a trademarked material called Breitlight that’s 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, but much harder. Inside is Breitling’s Calibre B12, giving the watch an unusual 24-hour dial.


Breguet Tradition 7087


Very clever, and very expensive, the Tradition 7087 features a minute repeating device regulated by magnets that chimes the time on demand. Apparently, Breguet’s engineers synthesised 100,000 sounds before settling on one. Also has a tourbillon…

£350,000 approx.

Breguet Classique 7147


How classic can a watch be? Breguet redefines the word every year, never more absorbingly than with this glorious ultra-thin white gold watch, which tells the time via two blued-steel hands that rotate over a dial with two different engine-turned finishes.


Blancpain Métiers d’Art The Great Wave


Blancpain’s craftsmen have produced one of the surprise hits of the fair – a watch with a wave motif inspired by the Great Wave off Kanagawa, a woodblock print created by the artist Hokusai. It’s made of Mexican silver obsidian and crafted using a technique called Japanese rokusho patina. A complicated way of saying it looks fantastic.


Bell & Ross BR 03-94 AeroGT


The latest version of Bell & Ross’s square-cased watch is designed to look like the hypercar concept car dreamed up by the company’s designers. It has a 42mm case made of satin-polished steel, a skeletonise dial and an automatic chronograph movement, topped off by a perforated leather racing strap.


Harry Winston Project Z10


The Z in Z10 stands for zalium, Harry Winston’s proprietary, ultra-light zirconium-based alloy (think heat-resistance shields on spacecraft), used here in the watch’s 42mm case. Its skeletonised dial is inspired by New York’s Manhattan Bridge, and it features retrograde displays for its day and small seconds.

£16,200 approx.

Zenith Elite 6150

Zenith Elite 6150

Another line-extension piece (a common theme at this year’s show) that caught the eye was Zenith’s Elite 6150 in rose gold. Its thin bezel and elongated hour markers give it its genteel feel, while inside is Zenith’s beefed up Elite 6150 calibre, a unit with a 100-hour power reserve.


Further Reading