Much of the product launched in March at Baselworld 2017 is or will soon be available to Australian customers… so, time for a recap of our favourite pieces.
TAG Heuer Link Men Calibre 5
Having relaunched its Link for women collection last year, TAG Heuer turns its attention to the men’s line as it marks 30 years of the family. While it’s distinguished by the signature S-shaped links of the bracelet – with the links rounded on the top, bottom and sides for an ergonomically smooth feel on the wrist – this new version is also notable for going up in size to a more imposing 41mm. Inside is the automatic Calibre 5 movement, visible through a sapphire case-back, and there are three dial variations: black, silver-plated and blue sunray.
Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
In blue (pictured) and also red, and limited to 250 pieces each, Hublot’s work in sapphire is a totem of its brand mission – innovation and boundary-pushing. For those attracted to the unique properties of sapphire – transparency and hard, ultra-resistance – Hublot are now the go-to brand. The case middle, bezel and caseback are cut from blocks of red coloured sapphire, while flange, indices, Arabic numerals and hour/minute hands colour match the case. The Unico HUB124 proprietary movement and its column wheel are seen on the dial side.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono
While Tudor has produced chronographs since as far back as the Prince Oysterdate Chronograph of 1970, this is the first chrono in the Heritage Black Bay line. It’s unmistakeably a Black Bay – the snowflake hands and domed dial and crystal, as well as the prominent winding crown which first appeared on the reference 7924 from 1958.
The chronograph functions are powered by the Calibre MT5813, a movement based on the chronograph manufacture calibre Breitling 01 and the result of a new collaboration between the brands on certain movements (Breitling now use a movement derived from the Tudor Caliber MT5612 in the Superocean Heritage II opposite). The sub-counters are hollowed for optimum contrast, with the date window at 6 o’clock, inside a steel case of 41mm and fitted with pushers inspired by the first generation of Tudor chronographs.
Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Rattrapante (also called split-seconds chronograph) is a grand watch complication in which there are two seconds hands – one can be stopped to measure an intermediate (or split) time before ‘catching up’ to the first hand still ticking onwards. Though Breitling produced a splits-second chrono long ago, the Duograph, this is its first with an in-house movement – the manufacture Breitling Caliber B03.
The iconic 45mm Navitimer was chosen as the host and despite some chatter about the split-second function appearing on a pilot’s watch, it’s a simply striking piece. In steel or red gold (the latter of which is a limited edition), the bronze-coloured dial (which appears more fashionably ‘chocolate’ in photos) sets off the silver-toned counters and the inner bezel which defines the classic Navitimer look.
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver
While it has pedigree in dive watches going back to 1997’s Hydromax, this is the first time Bell & Ross has created a diver’s watch inside one of its iconic square cases. And while dive watch purists may have apoplexy at that thought, consider water resistance to 300m, a Swiss self-winding mechanical movement, and 60-minute calibrated uni-directional rotating bezel with luminescent dot at 12 o’clock, and it becomes all about whether the shape works ergonmically for the wearer. In all other respects, it’s a high end dive watch.
The renewed coherence and consistency across Gucci’s fashion, watches and jewellery offering is aptly demonstrated by this steel on alligator strap version of the G-Timeless with automatic movement and GMT function (40mm). The distinctive snake motif forms the GMT hand indicating the second time zone, while the signature bee, star and heart motifs orbit the dial as indexes. The movement and hallmark honeybee engraving on the oscillating weight can be seen through the transparent caseback.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
Bulgari was particularly proud to present at Basel this elegant and refined timepiece as another world record – the ultra-thin 2.23mm self-winding movement, the BLV138, developed and manufactured at the Bulgari manufacture in Le Sentier, making it the thinnest automatic movement in watches. The slender profile and famous Octo design ensure it sits superbly on the wrist.
Seiko Grand Seiko HI-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s
While Seiko announced its Grand Seiko division would from now on effectively be another company, it was introducing pieces like this beautiful diver, sporting a high-intensity titanium case and bracelet beautifully finished by Zaratsu polishing. It features an exclusive 9S hi-beat caliber, exceptional anti-magnetism and extended grooves on the rotating bezel for use even with gloves.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
The story around the Sky-Dweller models introduced this Baselworld was ‘Rolesor’ models – Rolex’s steel and gold (yellow or white) variants of the model, which make them somewhat more affordable. Of course, the model’s key function for world travellers – the dual time zone with local time read via centre hands and a reference time display in a 24-hour form on a rotating off-centre disc on the dial – remains its appeal, but these Rolesor versions (white gold with black dial, right) will broaden that appeal.
Zenith Defy El Primero 21
A modern successor to the 1969 El Primero, which was considered among the world’s most accurate series-made chronographs, the 2017 version displays 100ths of a second via a central hand capable of one rotation per second. Beating at 50Hz, the new piece is 10 times faster and more accurate than the 1969 original, and the in-house movement is COSC-certified for chronometry. The open work dial is housed within a Grade 5 titanium case of 44mm diameter.