There is a marketing term that I here occasionally, to describe when the consumer is bombarded with a million different concepts, ideas or offers all at once; overmessaging. Well, any visitor to Baselworld will know that that is exactly what it’s like to walk the numerous halls, booths and stands…but that’s why we love it and go back every year! The past week has witnessed all the horological press getting stories out there about the hundreds of new products that were released this year and I’m sure you’ve already read our Tudor story and the of course the Daytona overview.
Best of The Best
Now the dust has settled we’d like to share with you our Baselworld 2016 favourites and highlight key pieces from the fair. All of these brands you’ll have heard of, some of these you’ll have owned and others will be less familiar to you. There is one common theme though…we thought they were all cool!
Patek Phillipe is a brand you will all be fully aware of and it’s a watchmaker that is held in such high esteem by both vintage and modern watch lovers. The Patek ‘booth’ at Basel is always beautifully appointed and the novelties are always cleanly displayed and showcased (including a 100ft digital billboard this year!). After last year’s surprise launch of the pilots watch this year saw some more traditionally Patek pieces, including our favourite – an annual calendar reference 5396 which was launched to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the brand’s annual calendar complication.
Since Patek launched the patented Annual Calendar (which needs adjusting only once a year) there have been 22 versions, including this one. Available in both 18k white and rose gold, it is the white gold version with grey dial that I love.
For me, the classical elegance of the grey sunburst dial with applied breguet numerals makes this a beautiful and timeless watch that will be coveted by all watch lovers. The watch has more than a passing resemblance to the vintage stainless steel PP watches that have become hugely popular over recent years, which is why we belive it will be a popular choice for lovers of old and new!
Long Live The King
I have to be honest here; my view of this watch isn’t entirely without a nostalgic tinge from my first ‘proper’ watch – a vintage Air King ref 5500. The Air King was officially removed from the Rolex collection a few years ago, but it made a surprise return this year as a 40mm anti-magnetic, mercedes hand wielding sports watch! The Rolex reveal is a highlight of Baselworld each year and there was of course the excitement of the newly updated Daytona, but the watch everybody really wanted to talk about was Air King.
With a 3-6-9 dial borrowed from its Explorer brother and prominent painted 5 markers, the watch features merc hands and a green seconds hand, which perfectly matches the yellow Rolex coronet and green ROLEX text on the dial…unusual? Yes! Cool? Definitely!
One thing is for sure, it’s a watch that has people talking and that’s a good thing for any brand. So, what do you think?
During all of my visits visits to Baselworld I have taken a walk across the road from the main hall to visit the independent watchmakers. One brand that we always enjoy checking out is Ressence. In an industry that so often sees the solution to telling the time in much the same way (three hands turning to tell the hour, minutes and seconds), Ressence have truly reimagined how the watch face can be utilized to tell the time. The watches themselves are unique and have two distict parts – the back half contains the mechanism and the front half is oil-filled and has the time telling components. The movement controls the dials in the front of the watch via magnets…this is seriously impressive innovation.
A casual glance could fool you into thinking the whole face is a clever LCD digital composition, but the reality is actually one of the most interesting and exciting horological developments of the past decade. We really loved seeing the new Type 5BB, an all black version of their Type 5 watch. The most ‘familiar’ aspect of this watch is the diving bezel for timing elapsed minutes. There is the necessary hour, minute and seconds dial but also a very useful temperature gauge…this watch can literally tell you how cool it is!
A Classic Diver
Oris has enjoyed a lot of attention recently, in no small part thanks to it successful Diver 65 watch, a reinterpretation of its diving watch from the 1960s. Founded in 1904, Oris is a brand that has enjoyed mixed fortunes over the decades, but the Diver 65 watches are a hit. I was first shown one of these watches last year, at a dinner with friends in London and I loved it – especially on the vintage tropic-style strap. This year at Baselworld we saw the watch in a range of new colour ways and some interesting fabric straps. The watches scream 1960s dive watch cool with patinated hour markers, 60-min bezel, exposed large size winding crown and domed sapphire crystal.
I think my favourite was the blue and cream dial with tropic strap. The watches are also sensibly depth rated to 100m. This is, arguably, quite shallow by modern standards but the original was rated to this depth and let’s be honest – how many divers actually dive below this depth? The original was 36mm and the new version has been increased to 40mm in a slim case. Overall, this is a great value watch in a very wearable case that can do the sports to dress watch thing really well.
Nomos by Name
Nomos is a German manufacturer that produces watches in the small town of Glashutte, near Dresden. A horological hotbed, Glashutte is home to a number of watch manufacturers including A. Lange & Sohne and is the birthplace of German watchmaking. Nomos has made a name for itself by producing accurate, high quality watches in very minimalist executions; very Bauhaus (the early 20th Century German design era).
The Nomos news at Baselworld was the introduction of the Tetra, the latest watch in the Neomatik line of in-house automatic watches. The Tetra is a square watch that features cool double-form lugs. It isn’t the first square watch that has ever been released, but the fine bezel and sharp-shape dial keep a very angular aesthetic that is unaplogetically square – and I really like this.
I’m sure many of you have owned and in fact still own Omega watches. It s a watch we love at Bulang & Sons, especially the vintage Speedmasters, Seamasters and the oversized 40s calatrava watches. We were fortunate to be guided through the Omega collections by one of their senior sales team, where we saw the mix of dress and sports watches. In terms of dress watches, our favourite was the new Globemaster with its ultra-precise Master Chronometer rating. This year an annual calendar was added to this popular line and I liked the simple four hand execution of this watch.
Speedmaster fans will be excited by the new ‘CK2998’, which will be made as a limited edition of just 2998 pieces. The vintage Omega 2998 is one of the most sought after Speedymasters – launched in 1959 it was the first with the bakelite bezel and alpha hands. It was produced for only 3 to 4 years and is something of a grail for Omega collectors. The new version is faithful to its vintage forefather by keeping the bakelite-esque bezel and alpha hands, but the watch is updated in a warm blue colour. Add a lollipop chrono second hand and really vintage looking chrono pushers, this watch will undoubtably be a hit and a future collectible.
The new Seamaster Planet Ocean watch was a watch that the Omega rep was very excited by. Omega have created a new unique way of combining rubber, ceramic and liquid metal in the bezel. In the watch below the orange section is rubber, whilst the black ceramic is punctuated with liquid metal markings.
As ever it was cool to see the SM300, Omega’s reissue of the vintage Seamaster. With its broadarrow hands, no crown guard case and patinated markers its always nice to see these watches, which we think look really cool on the ‘Bond’ NATO strap…it being a Bond watch and all!
Baselworld’s Breadth of Brands
Baselworld 2016 was a great year for all of the manufacturers we saw and I hope this summary inspires you to think about the breadth of options out there. I would recommend a visit for all watch lovers and as I said at the beginning, some of the brands will be very familiar and others less so, but you’ll certainly find something you like…I guarantee it!