Seven Intriguing Chronographs You’ll Discover at WatchTime L.A.

WatchTime Los Angeles kicks off this Friday, May 3, with 27 sponsoring watch brands and a host of watch-industry VIPs. Among the brands’ new products on display will be, of course, some new chronograph models making their U.S. debut after being introduced at Baselworld or SIHH. Here are seven that are worthy of a closer look.

The Bremont Arrow is an aviator-style chronograph hailing from Bremont’s new Armed Forces Collection, a trilogy of new models developed in partnership with the British Ministry of Defence that take their inspiration from the famous “Dirty Dozen,” a series of watches commissioned by the British Army during World War II. Housed in a two-part 42-mm case made of hardened steel and powered by the chronometer-rated, automatic BE-51AE movement, the watch features a chronograph operated by a monopusher at 2 o’clock, with readouts indicated by a central red-arrow-tipped chronograph seconds hand, and subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock for 30 elapsed chronograph minutes and for running seconds, respectively. The matte black dial, which also has a date window at 6 o’clock, has mint-colored Super-LumiNova details. The caseback, like those of all the Armed Forces models, bears the heraldic badges of all three of Britain’s military services, the Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force (RAF); the watch’s strap is in RAF-style blue sailcloth.

Bremont MoD Arrow - Front
Bremont Arrow

Chronoswiss’s navy-dialed Sirius Chronograph Moon Phase combines a stopwatch with a moon-phase and analog date indicator. Its 41-mm steel case is stylized with partially knurled edges, polished and brushed finishing, unusual tipped chronograph pushers, and a large onion crown. It is secured to the wrist with a blue Louisiana alligator strap using long, straight lugs. Surrounding the blue, partially guilloché-decorated dial is an outer analog date window, with a red-tipped crescent-moon indicator hand sweeping over its face, and a chronograph minutes counter with applied Breguet hour markers between the quarter hour positions. The chronograph’s 30-minute counter is at 12 o’clock, the running seconds at 9 o’clock, and the 12-hour chronograph counter at 6 o’clock. At 3 o’clock you’ll find a moon-phase display accented with a zero-to-29.5 scale representing the length of a typical lunar cycle. Lacquered white “Breguet Losange” hands point to the hour and minute, while a simple pointer indicates the chronograph seconds, white raindrop-style hands sweep the chronograph subdials, and a simple pointer tallies the running seconds. The multi-complication ensemble is powered by the automatic Chronoswiss Caliber C.755, which is based on the ETA 7750 and visible through a sapphire caseback.

Chronoswiss Sirius Chronograph Moon Phase

François Czapek was the original partner of Antoine Norbert de Patek (of Patek Philippe) before leaving the nascent brand to form his own watchmaking atelier, Czapek & Cie, in 1845. A Polish immigrant in Geneva, he is credited with opening what is considered the first watch boutique on the Place Vendôme in Paris and served as the official watchmaker to Napoleon III. Today’s Czapek brand, revived in 2015, named its first chronograph, the Faubourg de Cracovie Dioné & Rhea, after the location of one of its namesake’s watch Polish watch boutiques. This year’s new Faubourg de Cracovie Tao is a new take on that watch, with a black-on-white “panda” dial replacing the white-on-black “reverse panda” look of its predecessor. The steel 41.5-mm case has deeply engraved sides and an uncommon integration between its seamless, elongated chronograph pushers and signed crown. On the white grand feu enamel dial are Roman numerals for the hour markers, with a bright red accent to denote 12 o’clock; two contrasting black subdials and a subtle white register indicating the chronograph minutes, hours, and small seconds; and a small date indicator at the 6 o‘clock position. Sweeping over the face are two rhodium-plated “Fleur de Lys” hands and a simple counter for the chronograph seconds. The piece is powered by the automatic Caliber SXH3, with a 65-hour power reserve and a golden rotor visible through a sapphire caseback.

Czapek Faubourg Cracovie Tao

The De Bethune DB21 Maxichrono Réédition is a modern re-issue of the independent brand’s first chronograph, originally released in 2006. The 2019 version is a limited edition of only 10 pieces. The original Maxichrono was notable for its avant-garde design — with five centrally-located hands (two for hours and minutes; three for chronographic functions) and a distinct lack of subdials. This minimalist construction requires an extremely complex movement, with several interdependent column wheels embedded into one another yet still needing to operate independently. In the Maxichrono, each can be zero-reset on demand and can autonomously restart through the use of a single pusher located at 6 o’clock. The benefit of this pared-down design not only increases legibility at a glance but also offers the ability to measure longer times, up to 24 hours in a row, rather than the more common limits of 9 or 12 hours, with 1/10th of a second accuracy. Inside the new Maxichrono is the DB2030 manufacture caliber, fitted with the De Bethune Absolute Clutch and boasting a five-day power reserve.

De Bethune DB21 Maxichrono Reedition
De Bethune DB21 Maxichrono Reedition

Grand Seiko is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Spring Drive movement this year with, among other new models, a new rose-gold-cased version of the Spring Drive Chronograph GMT 9R96 (ref. SBGC230). The 44.5-mm case has a faceted design, specially finished with the brand’s Zaratsu-style polishing, with two prominent chronograph pushers and a LumiBrite-accented black GMT bezel. Beneath the dual-curved sapphire glass is a deep red dial, matching the color of the crocodile leather strap. It has a racing-style racing minute track on the flange, along with large, applied indices, a 3 o’clock date window, a power reserve indicator, and three sub-dials for running seconds, 30 chronograph minutes, and 12 chronograph hours. Passing over the dial are two diamond-cut hands typical of the Grand Seiko Sports line and a simple pointer for the chronograph seconds. Powering the watch is the automatic Spring Drive Caliber 9R96, capable of a 72-hour power reserve and accurate to +/- 0.5 seconds per day, whose gold lion-embossed rotor is on display through a clear sapphire case back. For more detail on how Seiko’s Spring Drive system works, click here.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT

The Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition features a specially designed chronograph complication that was once used by doctors to measure a patient’s resting heart rate. The stainless-steel case measures 40 mm in diameter and contains the Montblanc Manufacture monopusher chronograph Caliber MB M13.21, which is visible through an exhibition caseback. The slightly domed dial features an attractive salmon color and has several design elements that call back to Minerva timepieces from the 1940s and ’50s (Minerva being the legendary chronograph producer that became part of Montblanc after it was acquired by parent company Richemont on 2006). The dial has two different finishes; anthracite applied Arabic numerals and dots for indexes; dauphine hour and minute hands treated with Super-LumiNova; and blued baton hands for the chronograph registers. Another notable retro-style detail: old-school payphone indications at the 3-, 6-, and 9-minute marks on the chronograph’s minute counter that would let payphone users know when to add a coin for more time. Limited to 100 pieces, the watch comes on a color-coordinated, anthracite-colored Sfumato alligator leather strap.

Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition
Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition

The Zenith El Primero A386 Revival is, as its name implies, a faithful re-creation of the original El Primero watch from 1969, which famously featured the first self-winding chronograph movement to offer a high balance frequency of 36,000 vph, meaning times could be measured to the nearest 1/10 second, along with both an integrated column-wheel construction and a then-unprecedented 50-hour power reserve. The stainless steel case measures a now-modest 38 mm, the same size as the original’s, with a curved, magnifying sapphire crystal. The vintage-look dial offers the same tricolored subdials (light gray for running seconds, blue for elapsed minutes, anthracite for elapsed hours), tachymeter scale, hand shapes and hour markers as the original. The lugs and mushroom-style chrono pushers are also direct descendants of the vintage model’s. Only the caseback, which features a sapphire viewing window while its predecessor was solid, is a nod to modern tastes, and the movement visible through that window is the most up-to-date, contemporary version, the El Primero Caliber 400, with the same 36,600-vph frequency and 50-hour minimum power reserve that wowed the watch community a half-century ago.

Zenith El Primero 50th Anniversary Set - watch-reclining
Zenith El Primero A386 Revival

There are still tickets available for WatchTime Los Angeles, taking place on May 3-4 at Downtown L.A.’s Hudson Loft. Click here for more info and tickets!

6 Sports Watches and Dive Watches Built for Adventure

From the WatchTime archives: If you want to climb mountains, explore caverns, or undergo underwater ordeals, these watches will blithely master such extreme situations. But their attributes can also be useful in everyday life.

1. Light Fantastic: Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Black

Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Black
Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Black

A watch designed for extreme missions must be easy to read in every situation. When nighttime legibility is at stake, everything depends on how long the dial’s luminous material continues to glow. Some watches can be read after eight hours in darkness, but even Super-LumiNova gives up the ghost if the gloom lasts much longer. This is not the case when the dial’s illumination relies on tritium gas. Here, little glass tubes are coated with a luminous substance on their inner surfaces and filled with safely captured tritium, which activates the luminescent material that lines the tubes. The tubes continue to gleam brightly, even after spending years in total darkness. Watches equipped with these luminous tubes are frequently used by the military and by members of the Special Forces. Ball Watch uses this technique in its Engineer Hydrocarbon Black, which has a titanium case coated with black DLC, a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel and a 5.3-mm-thick sapphire crystal. A patented system protects the crown against impacts. Ball Watch uses another patented system to modify the shock absorbers for the balance so the watch is more resistant to vibrations. Ball’s self-winding caliber, which is based on Sellita’s SW 200, is COSC-certified. This 42-mm watch is water resistant to 300 meters. Price: $4,699*.

2. Brawn in the Brine: IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000

IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000
IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000

Saltwater can cause pitting in the surface of a watch’s steel case. The case can become speckled with tiny holes, behind which lurk larger cavities. Steel’s ability to resist corrosion by saltwater is measured by its PRE value: PRE means “pitting resistance equivalent.” A PRE value of 32 is considered to be resistant to corrosion by seawater. Higher PRE values provide greater resistance. Most steel cases are made from 316L steel, which has a PRE value of only 24. These cases should always be rinsed in fresh water after exposure to seawater. Rolex’s cases are made from 904L steel, which has a PRE value of 35, and is quite resistant to corrosion by saltwater. The submarine steel that Sinn uses for its divers’ watches has a PRE value of 38. But titanium is an even better choice for watch cases because this metal is totally impervious to corrosion by saltwater. The IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 has a titanium case. It is water resistant to 2,000 meters and is equipped with self-winding in-house Caliber 80110. Price: $9,500*.

3. Taking the Field: Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M
Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M

Magnetic fields can damage watches. Parts of the movement can become lastingly magnetized, which severely interferes with the accuracy of the rate. The invisible force of magnetism lurks in our everyday surroundings: for example, stereo loudspeakers or smartphones generate magnetic fields. The best protection from magnetism is offered by Omega’s Master Chronometer in-house movements, which have been certified by METAS (Switzerland’s Federal Institute for Metrology). Antimagnetic materials inside these watches ensure that they can cope with magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. This protection is 15 times greater than that provided by a conventional soft-iron inner case. The Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M is powered by Omega Master Chronometer Caliber 8912. It has a 48-mm titanium case. The watch’s ceramic diving bezel is released and locked by a distinctive pusher at 2 o’clock. The crown is protected by a bracket that cannot be opened until the crown is unscrewed. The Ploprof is water-resistant to 1,200 meters. Price: $13,800*.

4. Up to Scratch: Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica

Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica
Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica

Scratch-resistant cases aren’t only useful for extreme athletes, but also for mere mortals in everyday life. The sapphire crystal that’s used to protect most watch dials has a hardness of 2,000 Vickers and is, therefore, very scratch-resistant. Steel cases, on the other hand, are more vulnerable: the hardness of 316L stainless steel, the most commonly used steel alloy, is around 220 Vickers. The case of the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica is made of zirconium-oxide ceramic that has a Vickers hardness of 1,200, which is significantly harder than steel, but is also more susceptible to breakage. The 44-mm case houses self-winding in-house Caliber P.9001. The sandwich-style dial with beige Super-LumiNova guarantees good legibility in the dark. Price: $11,200*

5. Pressure Suitable: Rolex Deepsea

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea

A watch’s resistance to pressure really cannot be too high. While professional divers descend to a maximum depth of only 300 meters, additional pressure is generated by a diver’s motion. Furthermore, high resistance to pressure makes a watch more robust. Rolex’s Deepsea is a divers’ watch that uses innovative technology to combine pressure resistance and a compact case. The case is 44 mm in diameter and 18 mm high, yet the watch resists pressure to a depth of 3,900 meters. The case is made of three different materials: a 5.5-mm-thick synthetic sapphire crystal; a 3.28-mm-thick back made of grade-five titanium; and an intermediate inner ring made of Biodur 108 steel, to which the crystal and the back are affixed. When subjected to pressure, these materials undergo less distortion than the steel alloys typically used for watch cases, so Rolex can build a slimmer watch. The Deepsea’s movement, Rolex automatic Caliber 3135, also has the reputation of being extremely robust. Price: $12,350*.

6. Beating the Heat: Sinn EZM 7 S

Sinn EZM 7 S
Sinn EZM 7 S

Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on a watch and cause it to stop running altogether. That’s why Sinn uses special oil and follows narrow tolerances to build the EZM 7 S, which is specifically designed for use by firefighters. Thanks to these features, this watch is guaranteed to remain operational at temperatures ranging from -45° C (-49 degrees F) to +80° C (+176 degrees F). Every timepiece is individually tested at these extreme temperatures. The calibrated rings on the EZM 7 S’s dial are printed according to firefighters’ specifications and are helpful when the wearer is using a protective breathing apparatus. The 43-mm stainless-steel case is fully “tegimented” using Sinn’s special surface treatment process for hardening to create a protective layer against scratches. Sinn’s stay-dry technology inside the case guarantees that the sapphire crystal never fogs up. An inner case made of soft iron protects Caliber ETA 2893 from magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss (80,000 A/m). Price: $2,890*.

* Prices are subject to change.

This article was originally published in 2016.

WatchTime’s Official Editors’ Round Table for Baselworld

Baselworld 2019 will most likely go down as the show’s deciding year: On one hand, Baselworld had to deal with yet another significantly lower number of exhibitors (and visitors); on the other hand, the show’s new management also had to make sure the outlook for 2020 would be convincing enough to bring back large portions of the watch and jewelry industry it had lost in just two years (if it ever wants to go back to being profitable). Still, the 2019 edition was good, and Baselworld is by far the largest and most important show for the watch industry, even without the brands from the groups like Kering, Haldian, Movado and, most importantly, Swatch Group present. More importantly, Swiss investment bank Vontobel concluded that “feedback from Baselworld was more positive than expected with almost all brands talking about a higher order intake”. Which is good news for everyone, even though “America has seen a little bit of a slowdown,” according to Vontobel.

WatchTime’s editorial team (as well as all our international colleagues from Mexico, India, Dubai, Germany and China to just name a few) spent several days on the ground in Basel, visited a majority of the brands present (some of them have already been covered here), and are now working on the Baselworld special for the upcoming issue of WatchTime magazine (July). Until then, we’re certain you will appreciate a slightly more personal selection of some the highlights seen by Roger Ruegger (RR), Mark Bernardo (MB) and Logan R. Baker (LRB):

How did this year’s Baselworld compare to previous years?

RR: Interestingly, the show was as busy for me as it was the years before, even though there were significantly fewer brands (this year, only 520 brands exhibited at Baselworld 2019, down from about 1,300 in 2017), and consequently fewer watches were launched during the show. Also, people weren’t afraid this year to openly question the future of Baselworld, which sometimes created a difficult environment to have a constructive dialogue about the importance and future of the show (or the problems we’d face without it). The new press center certainly was an improvement for everyone doing live coverage, and it was much less difficult to get a table in a restaurant. What didn’t change though is the typical feeling that you hadn’t managed to see and talk to everyone the day I left. Oh, and I only lost one lens cap this year, which was a substantial improvement.

MB: Certainly the absence of large exhibitors like the Swatch Group, Movado Group, and Swarovski was noticeable, and the halls during the height of the show were not nearly as jam-packed as in previous years. For a journalist on the move, dashing from appointment to appointment and back and forth to the press room, however, this was not always a bad thing. And the relocation of the press center, from across the street in the Hall 1 annex to the heart of the main Hall 1, the space formerly occupied by the massive Swatch Group Pavilion, was mostly a very positive change, although it meant less time walking between the buildings across the courtyard and thus less time outside to enjoy the uncommonly lovely spring weather that Baselworld was blessed with this year.

LRB: This being my second Baselworld fair, I don’t have much to compare this year’s show to, but I can say that while Swatch Group’s missing presence was felt heavily through the hall, it did allow other smaller brands — that don’t always get the love that they deserve — to shine. Being able to meet with these brands on a more macro scale rather than focus on heavy hitters like Breguet, Blancpain, and Omega made the show, from a journalistic perspective, a bit more diverse and interesting. Echoing Roger and Mark, the press center was much easier to access than ever before. 

What was the highlight of the show for you?

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph


1/5

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph

Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual


2/5

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition SLA033


3/5

The Bulova Compton LED


4/5

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5212-001 - side

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5212-001 – side


5/5

RR: The Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT from Bulgari was certainly one of the most important launches we saw this year. Speaking of chronographs, Carl F. Bucherer‘s Bicompax Annual hit the mark for me. I was also very impressed by Grand Seiko’s new line-up, Seiko’s additions to the Prospex collection, Bulova’s continued Archive Series, and how Patek managed to show several new watches that will certainly attract a younger audience as well. Last but not least, MB&F’s first attempt in creating a women’s watch serves as a masterclass in how it’s done. 

ZENITH Defy Inventor
Zenith Defy Inventor

MB: I had anticipated that Zenith would go all-in to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its El Primero chronograph movement — definitely one of the most significant horological anniversaries of the year — and the brand did not disappoint, even though some of the special anniversary editions had already been seen in Geneva during SIHH. The evolution of the Defy Lab into the Defy Inventor, while not totally unexpected, was the type of next-generation technical innovation deserving of the spotlight in the El Primero’s anniversary year. It also bears mentioning that even though Defy and El Primero-based chronographs were obviously Zenith’s big story in 2019, the company also put out some wickedly attractive timepieces in its Pilot’s collection, as well. The Type 20 Extra Special Silver, with its silver case and riveted dial, looked especially stunning in the metal.

Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition


1/4

Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition


2/4

Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Swiss Air Edition


3/4

Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 TWA Edition


4/4

LRB: I truly believe that Breitling had the strongest collection at Basel from top to bottom. There wasn’t a single weak model presented during the fair and each model made complete sense from a market perspective. The 1959 Navitimer Re-Edition is a plain gorgeous watch and the trio of Navitimers released to honor Swiss Air, TWA, and Pan Am authentically capture the funkiness that makes collecting Navitimers from the 1970s and 1980s such a widespread pursuit. Watching CEO Georges Kern slowly release each model on his personal Instagram during the days leading up to the show was a great example of engagement from the executive level and just demonstrates once more that the man clearly knows what he is doing.

What was this year’s most unexpected release for you?

Patek Philippe Ref. 5172G


1/3

Tudor Black Bay P01


2/3

Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military


3/3

RR: The 5172G from Patek Philippe was something I had secretly hoped to see; the Tudor Black Bay P01 was the one watch I totally did not see coming. But what might have been more surprising to me were the watches we didn’t get to see from a lot of other brands. Baselworld’s Michel Loris-Melikoff called 2019 a “transitional year”, and it felt like quite a lot of the heavy-weights did the same, as if they were holding back. As a side note, I was amazed how many brands, Bell & Ross’ BR V2-92 Military for example, were showing watches with straps inspired by the ones used by combat divers from the French Marine Nationale (nowadays often referred to as “Erika’s Originals,” named after strap purveyor Erika op den Kelder). Move over, NATO strap.

MB: Bulova releasing an entirely new collection with Swiss-made mechanical movements was certainly not something that most would have predicted. The Joseph Bulova series, named for the man who founded the brand in New York in 1875, is comprised of 16 vintage-influenced styles, all limited editions of 350, pulled from the company’s extensive archives, specifically models produced from the 1920s through the 1940s. All of the watches are equipped with Swiss-made Sellita SW300 automatic movements (a nice nod to history, since Joseph Bulova would have certainly been working with mechanical movements during his era, albeit probably American-made ones rather than Swiss-made) and priced at or below $1,500.

MB&F LM FlyingT


1/4

Urban Jürgensen One


2/4

The bracelet of the Urban Jürgensen One


3/4

003_NOMOS_Tangente_Sport_neomatik_42_date_lying


4/4

LRB: MB&F has to be commended for the daring execution of its first ladies’ model. Rather than recreate one of their LM or HM timepieces into more feminine dimensions, they instead took a risk by crafting an entirely new vertical movement topped with a flying tourbillon. The Urban Jürgensen One collection which includes a number of firsts for the independent brand such as its first bracelet, its first manufacture-produced automatic movement, its first travel-time watch, and its first luxury sports watch was a welcome surprise. I’ve seen the lineup catch a bit of flak on social media due to it being such a departure from the identity that Urban Jürgensen has established, but I think this comes at the perfect time for the brand to reenergize its clientele and capture some additional market share around the world once Audemars Piguet officially leaves multi-brand boutiques. Speaking of brands introducing new bracelets, the new Nomos Tangente and Club Sport models turned out quite nice and need to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

In your opinion, what was the best entry-level watch under $2,000?

Oris Pointer Date with red dial


1/5

Sinn 104 St SA AG


2/5

Doxa Sub 200


3/5

Squale T183 with the 1521’s case in layered carbon


4/5

Bulova Joseph Bulova


5/5

RR: You’d certainly have to look at brands like Oris (Pointer Date with red dial), Sinn (104 St SA AG), Seiko (Presage with Arita porcelain dial SPB093), Doxa (Sub 200), and Squale (T183 with the 1521’s case in layered carbon). Personally, the rectangular Joseph Bulova Swiss Made Automatic Collection was my biggest surprise.

MB: The aforementioned Joseph Bulova models would be in the running, of course, though my personal favorite comes from Seiko’s Presage collection, which continues to astound with its formula of beautiful designs, high-end finishing, and automatic mechanical movements at almost unbelievably reasonable prices. This year’s standouts were a three-hand and a power-reserve model with dials made of Arita porcelain, a traditional Japanese artisanal process used here for the first time in watchmaking, and priced at just 1,195 euros. 

G-Shock MTG-B1000RB


1/4

G-Shock Full Metal GMW-B5000


2/4

Tutima M2 Coastline


3/4

Oris Aquis Clean Ocean Limited Edition


4/4

LRB: Roger and Mark effectively covered Citizen and Seiko, but G-Shock deserves mention as well due to its strong showing. The Japanese brand introduced a Carbon Core Guard case construction that it is marketing as the latest testament to the toughness doctrine that inventor Kikuo Ibe instilled in the G-Shock from its beginning. The two models that stood out the strongest for me include the iridescent MTG-B1000RB and a new addition to the popular Full Metal collection in black aged IP that should keep G-Shock enthusiasts sated. On the Swiss and German side of things, I was immediately attracted to the Doxa Sub 200 (approx. $900), the continued evolution of the Tutima M2 Coastline (more on that later), and the Oris Clean Ocean LE (slightly over $2k). All three offer a lot of bang for your buck.

 What was the most exciting new release for you?

Tudor Black Bay P01


1/2

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT


2/2

RR: After seeing how good the Black Bay P01 looked on my wrist, I really appreciate that Tudor didn’t just release another color version in the Black Bay collection. Nevertheless, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT from Bulgari provided the main reason for a faster heart rate.

Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk series


1/4

Bell & Ross Br 03-92 MA-1

Bell & Ross Br 03-92 MA-1


2/4

Bell & Ross Br 03-92 MA-1

Rolex Yacht-Master 42


3/4

TAG Heuer Autavia


4/4

MB: Minus brands like Breguet, Blancpain, Glashutte Original, and Harry Winston, who opted out with the rest of the Swatch Group, and former stalwarts like Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, which decamped to SIHH a few years ago, this Baselworld was more about new colors than new complications. That said, I found myself drawn mostly to the growing field of military-themed pieces, like Breitling’s Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk series, Bell & Ross’s Br 03-92 MA-1 piece and bronze-cased Bellytanker, and even Tudor’s controversial Black Bay P01, mainly for the fascinating history behind it. I also think that TAG Heuer made a very market-friendly move by turning the Autavia into its own three-hand, time-only collection equipped with the brand’s new carbon composite hairspring. Honorable mention here to Rolex, which got a bit daring in an otherwise low-key year with an all-black Yacht-Master 42.

Citizen Eco-Drive Caliber 0100


1/6

Citizen Eco-Drive Caliber 0100


2/6

Voutilainen 28ti


3/6

Caseback of the Voutilainen 28ti with running seconds and power reserve indicator


4/6

On the wrist with the Voutilainen 28ti


5/6

Akrivia Chronomètre Contemporain


6/6

LRB: As someone fascinated by the pursuit of chronometric perfection through high-accuracy quartz, Citizen’s Caliber 0100 (specced to +/- one second per year!) is a fascinating development and something that every watch fan, even mechanical purists, can — and should — be excited about. Seeing Kari Voutilainen flip the switch on his usual aesthetic with the 28ti was a shock at first but as with every watch produced by the Finnish mastermind, the quality is just far beyond a majority of his peers. Additionally, being able to see the finalized version of the GPHG-winning Akrivia Chronometré Contemporain from the young master Rexhep Rexhepi was a treat beyond words. For the lucky few that secured an order, you can expect delivery to start soon. 

What timepiece released during the fair are you most likely to purchase this year? 

Bulova Snorkel Devil Diver


1/3

Citizen Eco-Drive Aqualand 200m Promaster 30th Anniversary


2/3

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition SLA033


3/3

RR: I am not going to buy another Bulova Snorkel this year, but the Citizen Limited Edition Promaster Aqualand is high on my list. And even though I already have a Sumo, the green SPB103J1 from Seiko (with the new 6R35) currently stands a fair chance to find its way on my wrist (since I already have the 6105, I won’t go for the Captain Willard-re-issue). Most importantly, we did get to preview (which technically makes it eligible for this category) a watch from Oris during the show that really got me excited. Like really.

MB: I may finally need to pull the trigger on a Seiko Presage, one of which I reviewed back in 2017. The other new model that I found it hard to take off my wrist and return was the new Oris Aquis model with a mint-green dial, which made me want to run out and buy a new green-themed wardrobe just to accessorize with it for wrist shots.

Tutima M2 Coastline


1/2

Tutima M2 Coastline Chronograph


2/2

LRB: The Tutima M2 Coastline was one of the highlights for me during last year’s Basel fair thanks to its clean dial that still offered a lot of visual appeal, its attractive brushed titanium case and bracelet, and the overall accessible price tag. This year, the Glashütte-based brand extended the range with a number of new dial colors and a chronograph. I never expected to own a green-dialed watch, but there’s a strong likelihood this one ends up on my wrist permanently by the end of 2019.

If you had unlimited funds, what new watch would you purchase?

RR: That would most likely be the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G, or the new Nautilus Annual Calendar 5726/1A.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726/1A


1/3

Chopard LUC Flying T Twiin - reclining

Chopard LUC Flying T Twin


2/3

Chopard LUC Flying T Twiin

Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II King Gold


3/3

MB: Patek Philippe nearly always wins in this category; this year’s grail is the new Nautilus Annual Calendar with the gradient blue dial that has added another level of gorgeous to Nautilus models of recent years. Chopard’s new crop of complicated L.U.C timepieces, which are all quite elegant and wearable despite their high levels of complication, would be quite tempting as well, especially the new Flying T Twin, with its honeycomb guilloché dial. And Hublot, despite its strong focus on Ferrari models this year, somewhat quietly put out a new version of its iconoclastic Sang Bleu edition, an aesthetic outlier for the brand that I have always appreciated.

Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Black Titanium with blue grand feu enamel dial.


1/4

Grand Seiko SBGZ001


2/4

Grand Seiko SBGZ001


3/4

Grand Seiko SBGZ001


4/4

LRB: The Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor has been atop my grail list for quite a while now. While less technically intriguing than the GPHG-winning Logical One, for me it just makes the most sense as a daily wearer — and trust me, it would be on my wrist every single day. This year, the black titanium iteration that made my heart swoon last year returned with a new blue grand feu enamel dial. Other than that, it would be an absolute privilege to own one of the 30 Grand Seiko SBGZ001 Snowflake models with a hand-carved platinum case that matches the Snowflake dial motif.

How should the show change for 2020?

RR: First of all, Baselworld’s main problem isn’t the show per se, it has simply become way too expensive and frustrating to attend for a lot of exhibitors. I think the show’s new management already has some great ideas on how to make the show more attractive for end-consumers (and I’d suggest not adding more cars). But most importantly, the brands will have to support Baselworld with coordinating their releases: If the industry’s largest show isn’t the platform to launch the most important new watches of the year, why would anyone have to travel to Basel in 2020? At the end of the day, it is still about watches (and yes, also about jewelry) and the people that make, sell or wear them. Everything else, the networking, purchasing, reporting etc. will still require amazing releases from the brands attending the show.

MB: It should embrace some of the changes it promised for 2019, such as affordable food options, which to most guests I spoke to were nowhere to be found despite pre-show guarantees. More seating in the press room, and more electrical outlets, would also be desirable for those of us actually trying to produce content on-site rather than just schmooze over coffee and croissants. And I’m sure the independent watch brands that collectively exhibit in the Les Ateliers would love to know what space they’ll be in next year after several shifts. As Baselworld and SIHH will coordinate their schedules next year, with one show right on top of the other, it is inevitable that the two experiences will be compared even more starkly than before, and Baselworld’s show-runners would do well to up its luxury game.

LRB: I’m a fairly simple guy. All I truly need to do my job at these trade shows (other than obvious essentials like my laptop and camera and those damned plug adaptors that I continuously misplace) is a spot to fill up my water bottle or grab a quick glass of water (or two) when I’m rushing between appointments. And a decent Wi-Fi signal. Both of these things are in short supply within Basel’s Messeplatz. This is something that SIHH in Geneva has figured out long ago and, unfortunately, Basel still lacks.

What did you see outside of Basel that really excited you?

Laventurine Sous-Marine


1/2

IMG_8839


2/2

RR: Technically not outside of Basel, but the new Watch Incubator was so well hidden that I almost didn’t find it: Laventure is one of the more accessibly priced brands I have been following closely that I finally got to see in person. Outside of Baselworld, I got to meet with Orient, and, speaking of excitement, I got a preview of what we can expect next from Laurent Ferrier.

MB: One consequence of Baselworld squeezing into a single hall rather than the multiple halls of the past was that there were, to my reckoning, even more small brands than usual that eschewed the costs of showing their wares at an official Baselworld booth and instead, set up shop in the nearby hotels. Often these hanger-on indies are among those offering some of the most interesting new pieces, and this year was no exception. H. Moser & Cie followed up its strong SIHH collection with a new “Funky Blue” version of its clever Endeavour Flying Hours watch, for example, and Graham celebrated the anniversary of the D-Day Invasion (yes, another military piece) with a limited edition of 75 bronze-cased Chronofighter models.

De Bethune DB21 Maxichrono Reedition

De Bethune DB21 Maxichrono Reedition


1/6

De Bethune DB21 Maxichrono Reedition
De Bethune DB28 GS Grand Bleu Diver

De Bethune DB28 GS Grand Bleu Diver


2/6

De Bethune DB28 GS Grand Bleu Diver

Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon GMT


3/6

Oak & Oscar Humboldt


4/6

Monta Atlas GMT in opaline silver.


5/6

Zodiac Aerospace GMT


6/6

LRB: Ever since Pierre Jacques returned to the role of CEO in late 2017, I think De Bethune has been on the longest hot streak in the watch world. After last year’s GPHG-winning Starry Varius, the independent brand has started 2019 off with the release of its first dive watch and the return of the beloved Maxichrono. Also on the high-end independent side, Greubel Forsey unveiled a technical masterpiece with the new Quadruple Tourbillon GMT. Of the more accessibly priced brands I met with, St.Louis-based Monta released its most compelling timepiece yet with the Atlas GMT. It was also great to grab a few beers with Chase and John from Oak & Oscar and finally see the Humboldt in the metal. Its bidirectional bezel had some of the crispest action I’ve seen this year. And over at Fossil HQ, Zodiac continued its strong run of recent releases with the Aerospace GMT.

 

Follow this link for more about the watches shown during Baselworld 2019.