Every spring the biggest brands in watchmaking get together in Basel, Switzerland to show off their latest, greatest achievements. Of the hundreds of new models on display at the world’s biggest watch show this weekend, these stood out from the crowd.
Considering its stable of proprietary materials and industry-leading technology, Rolex is at a distinct advantage when it comes to tweaking existing models. A case in point is the stunning new Daytona chronograph, which, thanks to the addition of an Oysterflex bracelet, a black Cerachrom bezel, and a version in Everose gold is now more desirable than ever.
Heritage Black Bay S&G
Tudor specializes in rugged timepieces and archive-inspired designs like this year’s new S&G (steel and gold), which adds a flash of bling to a tough-as-nails dive watch. While the two-tone bracelet is pure class, we’re partial to the contrast provided by the green woven strap.
While their new “Modular 45” smartwatch is a cutting-edge piece of wearable tech, the most exciting release from TAG Heuer is undoubtedly the Heritage Autavia, a faithful reboot of a beloved racing chronograph from the 1960s.
Defy El Primero 21
From its feisty name to its black ceramicised aluminium aluminum case and open-worked dial, there’s nothing subtle about the Defy El Primero 21. The real marvel, however, is inside: a new Zenith chronograph movement that’s accurate to 1/100th of a second.
This throwback piece (a faithful recreation from Oris’ archives) represents all that was great about 1970s sport watches. It also has a groovy old-school timer function in the form of a rotating inner bezel.
The most fashion-conscious wearable tech watch we saw at Baselworld is undoubtedly the Gc Connect. Its Android Wear 2.0 operating system allows for a huge range of apps and functions, including activity tracking with Google Fit and hands-free help from Google Assistant, while its face can be customized to match any outfit or occasion.
Flyback Chronograph Manufacture
A flyback is a more complicated version of your standard chronograph, where the big seconds hand “flies back” to 12 at the push of a button. It takes some pretty advanced watchmaking chops to build one, and the fact that Frederique Constant makes their own (rather than buying it from another brand and slapping their name on it) shows how serious they are about their work.
Startimer Pilot Automatic
With its clean, functional design and classic aviation styling, Alpina’s newest pilot’s watch makes a pretty irrefutable case for a spot in your collection. If you weren’t swayed by its looks, or its automatic movement (which Alpina produces in-house) the aggressive price ought to seal the deal.
Big Bang Unico Sapphire
Hublot makes watches for people who want something totally unique on their wrists, and this watch certainly is that. The case for each Unico Sapphire is milled from a single block of sapphire crystal, a feat that requires NASA-like levels of precision engineering. There’s simply nothing else like it.
The new steel XP is the entry-level piece in Chopard’s LUC line, but it’s still a Chopard (meaning: an impressive watch on all levels, including its ultra-thin automatic movement). An exercise in minimalism, perhaps the most handsome feature of the XP is its woven cashmere strap lined with brown alligator leather.
This indie brand created a new way of telling time with the world’s first “hydro mechanical” watch, which displays the hour using a tiny glass capillary filled with liquid. Its newest model keeps that principle, displaying its fascinating mechanics through a sapphire crystal bubble.
Freelancer Diver 150th Anniversary
Well shucks, Raymond, we thought you’d forgotten. Despite the fact that Raymond Weil made a beautiful David Bowie tribute watch this year, their dedication to Canada 150 (limited to 150 pieces, of course) tops our list.
Superocean Heritage II
They’re more well known for their professional pilot’s watches, but this archival piece is a reminder that Breitling has been making capable divers since the 1950s. For the 60th anniversary of their first Superocean, this new model updates the timeless looks of the original with a date function, scratch-proof ceramic bezel and an optional chronograph.
Octo Finissimo Automatic
At just 5.15mm thick, Bulgari’s latest watchmaking pinnacle unseats Piaget for bragging rights to the world’s thinnest automatic movement (they also make the world’s thinnest tourbillon and thinnest minute repeater). Thanks to a platinum rotor and liberal use of titanium in the movement, this Finissimo also offers an impressive 60 hours of power reserve.