You could say that Baselworld is the fashion week of watches, except on a more epic scale—a bit like if Paris, Milan, London and New York happened all at once.
Across 1.5 million square feet of exhibition space, 1400 brands showcase their latest and greatest. Here's a taster of the hundreds of novelties vying for attention over the next eight days.
The wraps are barely off Hublot's Techframe Ferrari 70 years Tourbillon Chronograph, but it's already a collector's item.
Marking the Italian automaker's 70th anniversary (the two brands have a long-standing partnership), just 70 pieces of each version – in King Gold, PEEK Carbon or Titanium – will be produced. Designed in Maranello led by Ferrrari's Head of Design, Flavio Manzoni, the watches are crafted in much the same way the marque builds a supercar: start with the engine (Hublot's new HUB6311 calibre with manual winding and 253 components offering five days of power reserve) then wrap a high-strength, lightweight chassis around it.
The unique open lattice structure employs three modular components: skeleton mid-section, outer structure and a sapphire back, which is individually numbered. Naturally, design cues include Maranello Red highlights and the iconic Prancing Horse logo on the crown.
Bell & Ross
Taking cues from the graphic minimalism of the Bauhaus art movement, the BR03-92 Horograph and BR03-92 Horolum put a utilitarian spin on Bell & Ross' signature aesthetic, the circular face on square case styled after a cockpit clock.
The Horograph models its graphics on an old-school ticker-style airport departure board, featuring a matte finish achieved by high-pressure spraying tiny glass beads over the surface. The Horolum, a 500-piece limited edition, boasts photoluminescent numerals and indices reminiscent of runway lighting. As the official watch partner of the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, Bell & Ross also shows the ceramic BR03-94 RS17. The carbon fibre dial and yellow anodised aluminium highlights draw from the R.S.17 racecar set to take to the track at the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.
Housing the striking longitudinal placement of Corum's linear CO113 calibre is the Golden Bridge Rectangle. Revisiting the design of the original Golden Bridge from 1980, the new timepiece sandwiches the movement between panes of sapphire crystal and encases it all in 18-carat gold.
With the spring barrel set a six o'clock and escapement at 12 o'clock, the elongated calibre – affixed to a beautifully engraved central pillar – is but one arresting feature of the design. Riveted to the bridge beams that run along the length of the movement are geometric girders that, upon closer inspection, reveal themselves to be stylised, Art Deco-inspired Roman numerals.
Longines Flagship Heritage
Also casting an eye to the past, Longines introduces the Flagship Heritage – 60th Anniversary 1957-201 – which does pretty much what it says on the box, paying homage to a mainstay of the watchmaker's offering. The white dial, thin profile, simple graphic treatment and brown leather strap are the very definition of timeless style, destined to look just as beautiful in another 60 years time. The 38.5mm case houses the brand's L609 mechanical calibre, with sixty gold and rose gold versions to be offered next to 1957 steel variants. Each comes individually numbered with a ship stamped on the case back, in line with the original timepieces.
Subtlety has never really been a hallmark of the G-Shock range and Casio's big news (literally) at Basel is the Gravitymaster GPW2000 – a beast of a thing with a whopping 66mm diameter. Crammed inside is a whole bunch of technology including GPS that connects to an app via Bluetooth where it presents the data as a 'flight log'. As is customary for the Gravitymaster range, the GPW2000 is designed with aviation in mind, so the GPS tracking is suited to traversing the wilderness or piloting jets rather than recording anodyne activities like climbing the stairs. The all-analogue displays include latitude and longitude alongside more conventional day/date, world time and 24-hour dials.
Although it's a company with over 130 years of watchmaking heritage, Alpina is embracing the very modern phenomenon of the hybrid smartwatch, offering something for people who fancy their tech dressed in conventional looks rather than the styling of a miniature smartphone. The Seastrong Horological Smartwatch introduces hybrid tech to the brand's venerable Seastrong diver's watch in a 44mm fibreglass and stainless steel case. Connecting to iOS or Android, it controls a host of alerts, notifications and tracking functions via the crown, allowing the wearer to monitor sleep, activity and more without strapping a screen to their wrist.
Jame's Bond's official watch supplier has already offered a look at the new Speedmaster Moonwatch Automatic Master Chronometer, harking back to the Speedmaster's early motorsport heritage (before it became known as the watch of choice for astronauts). Cue vintage-style graphics and sporty details including perforated strap, orange highlights and tachymeter. Given that the original Speedmaster was introduced in 1957, however, the big question is whether Omega has something special in store at Basel to mark the 60th anniversary of their most iconic model. Watch this space (no pun intended).
Check out the gallery above to see a preview of the most anticipated watches from Baselworld.