Baselworld, the annual gathering of the great and good in the world of wristwatches is traditionally the place where new designs are introduced from the big hitters in the Swiss watch industry. The 100th Festival this Spring did not disappoint with some head-turning new watches from leading manufacturers such as Rolex, Omega, Tudor and TAG Heuer.
Rolex watches at Baselworld 2017
Rolex have been criticised for being a conservative brand that relies on minor modifications to 60-year-old designs instead of innovation. This is true to an extent, but when you have created some of the most iconic wristwatch designs in the world, it is understandable. After all, other manufacturers are still inspired by the Datejust for dress watches and the Submariner for their dive watches to this day. Rolex introduced new versions of their Daytona Chronograph in white, rose and yellow gold on the Oysterflex reinforced rubber strap that was introduced recently in their Yachtmaster range. They also brought out a new Cellini which – in a notable change of direction – included a moon phase complication.
The real talking point, though, was the 60th Anniversary Sea Dweller 126600. This is one of te less common watches and is essentially a bigger Submariner with a 43mm case and greater water resistance. It allows Rolex to move into the fashion for larger watches without compromising their iconic Submariner design. Like the latest entries in the Submariner range, it has a ceramic bezel but offset by the highly sought after signature red writing on the dial. Expect to pay around £9,000 for one.
If that will break the bank, there are always a selection of Rolex watches to choose from on eBay.
Tudor watches at Baselworld 2017
Tudor has traditionally been Rolex’s ‘junior brand’. Until recently they used Rolex cases with consumer ETA movements to keep costs down, but more recent models since the brand was relaunched worldwide in 2014 have featured a new in-house movement.
Tudor is seen by many in the industry as a test-bed for future Rolex innovations. Unencumbered by the conservatism of the biggest watch brand in the world they have tried a number of new designs, perhaps the most successful being their Black Bay range. Unsurprisingly, the Black Bay had some significant updates this year.
The Tudor Black Bay 79350 chronograph was probably the biggest talking point of the show. It drops the well-regarded Black Bay bracelet in favour of a ‘vintage style’ riveted bracelet (albeit with screws to adjust the removable links, so no need to dismantle it to make it fit your wrist like the true vintage ones). This was a controversial change, and has been described as feeling cheaper than the bracelets on the rest of the Black Bay range. It uses the new in-house MT5813 chronograph movement which was designed with
The trademark ‘snowflake’ hands remain, and the watch uses the new in-house MT5813 chronograph movement which was designed with Breitling, and is the first Black Bay to incorporate a date complication. The lack of a date has put many off the Black Bay range, and this should help draw them in – together with the £3,800 price tag – astonishingly low for an in-house mechanical chronograph. Alternatively, you could try to pick up a vintage Tudor chronograph – but prices are increasing as they become more sought-after.
TAG Heuer watches at Baselworld 2017
TAG Heuer are very much the marmite of the Swiss watch industry. For every hit (the Steve McQueen Monaco; the ceramic Aquaracer 500m) they seem to have innumerable misses, and they occupy an awkward space above the likes of Michael Kors but below Rolex and Omega. They score full marks for effort and are one of the few Swiss brands to attempt a smartwatch (the TAG Heuer Connected was a hit with enthusiasts and the public alike). You can pick up a pre-owned TAG Heuer Connected watch but beware; they may stop being updated now that newer models are coming.
The new TAG Heuer Autavia is a definite hit. Drawing inspiration from vintage Heuer chronographs, it is brought into the 21st Century with a 42mm case with a display case back and a new in-house chronograph movement. Expect these to sell like hot cakes at their £4,000 price tag.
Omega watches at Baselworld 2017
Omega hit the ball out of the park this year with some new designs. All eyes were on their 60th Anniversary collection – new editions of the Seamaster 300, Speedmaster and Railmaster all with vintage lume and aluminium bezels. The limited runs are remakes of early versions of each of the watches and – unlike TAG Heuer – they have left the original designs pretty much unchanged.
The updated Speedmaster is particularly striking. The Speedmaster is renowned as being the first watch to be worn on the moon. This has been as much of a curse as a blessing as the look is so iconic that updates have been shunned in favour of the Moonwatch design. This latest update is a remake of the original 1957 model and – unusually this year – has not been upscaled to 40mm+. It is the same 38mm size as the original, and therefore smaller than the 42mm Moonwatch.
We expect that this watch will be popular as a unisex option, and it is refreshing to have a modern watch in a size that suits smaller wrists or less ostentatious tastes. The production run is limited to 3,557 pieces, and the price will be around £5,500 when it hits the UK later this year. In the meantime, a second hand Omega Speedmaster Reduced offers the same size and feel for a lot less money!
For more information visit the Baselworld website. Did anything catch your eye this year?