The watch calendar doesn’t run from January to December, it runs from Baselworld to Baselworld! Twelve hundred brands were represented and hundred and fifty thousand visitors passed through the doors.
This gargantuan festival of timepieces provides a punctuation so huge that the time in between seems dwarfed into almost nothing. As I scanned my pass and stepped through the turnstile at the start of this year’s show, I once again wondered how it was that 2014’s new models were already last year, and how on earth enough time had passed for the watch world to turn out a fresh batch of creations.
On the flight to Zurich it has become tradition for us to try and predict the styles and trends which are being presented at the show. This year it was difficult to call, and sure enough the new products proved to be very mixed. There were no over-riding themes or general rules, each brand seemed to have a different approach. Happily however, such unpredictability is enticing and we were not disappointed; there certainly was treasure to be found.
Much of the buzz early in 2015 has been surrounding Smart watches (with Apple due to launch any minute now). Perhaps Baselworld 2015 had come just a bit too early for this particular gatecrash. In fact, connected watches turned out to be rather conspicuous by their absence, although a lot of brands have promised them for later in the year. As it was, the heritage themes of recent years, were not only still in evidence, but provided some of the brighter highlights (I must be getting old).
In 1915 Breitling invented the independent chronograph push piece. To celebrate the centenary of this milestone in watchmaking, Breitling has issued a limited edition TRANSOCEAN CHRONOGRAPH with a brand new manufacture movement. This belter was far and away one of the most stylish watches from this year’s show. Watchmaking aside, I’m always partial to a heritage logo, the dial is very well executed and you’d struggle to choose between a brown alligator strap and the polished Milanese bracelet which Breitling do so well. The single pusher gives the case distinction and there are only 1,915 of these, so it’s a genuinely exclusive offering.
After ten years of upward mobility, TAG Heuer has been returning to its homeland recently, concentrating on its entry level and younger audience, but amongst the FORMULA 1s and Cara Delavigne Special Editions were one or two joyous delves into the Carrera archive. The most lovable of these was the HEUER CALIBRE 18 TELEMETER.
Inspired by the 1960’s legend designed by Jack Heuer himself, this watch features a 39mm case and nice touches include a domed crystal, historic logo, ‘panda eye’ sub dials, and best of all, a telemetric index around the dial’s edge. This was formerly used by the military to calculate distance from artillery fire, but if you are making do with just the sound of a thunderstorm, you can enjoy using it to find out how far away you are.
At Baselworld 2014, the relaunch of TUDOR in the UK worked everybody up a treat for all sorts of reasons. Those people who had been lucky enough to get close to the product had felt all the excitement of rediscovering three or four classic watches all at once, a bit like uncovering James Bond’s old Breitling TopTime in a car boot sale.
Since then, the genius of TUDOR has been the continuation of this same theme in subsequent releases. Every time they introduce a watch, it’s a masterclass in interpretation. This year has been no exception with the handsome new NORTH FLAG.
The NORTH FLAG is a further tribute to TUDOR’s heritage of field watches following the Ranger, but bursts onto the stage crammed full of firsts. The NORTH FLAG is the first TUDOR watch to feature both a display case back and to carry COSC certification.
If this were not enough, the movement which can be seen through the case back is TUDOR’s debut in-house calibre the MT5621, an automatic calibre with a 70 hour power reserve, silicon balance spring and power reserve indication.
Finally, one of the most keenly anticipated watches of 2015 would be found in Omega’s stable. If you are not already aware, you very soon will be. November this year will see the release of the 24th James Bond film “Spectre”. And, needless to say, Omega have been on hand to create a Limited Edition to commemorate the occasion. This watch will be Limited to 15,007 pieces worldwide, with the design inspired by the Bond family coat of arms. The watch is part of the Seamaster Aqua Terra range, and is powered by the brand new 8507 calibre Master Co-Axial movement, which fittingly is resistant to magnetic fields of 15007 Gauss. The oscillating weight is specially shaped to resemble a gun barrel and the Bond family coat of arms adorns both the dial and the second hand. This makes a very creditable addition to the Bond line, arriving in time to pair Omega’s excellent new calibre, with the current appetite for a blue dial.
Above all, it’s a Bond watch. My advice - get your deposit down sooner rather than later!
Tom Milner, Director at Tustains