At the end of Baselworld 2018 we noted several trends. New GMTs, bronze cases, brown dials and moderate case diameters were frequently seen from day one. And, happily, there were inklings of heightened attention to a reasonable price/value ratio.
If you’ve followed online coverage of the show here and elsewhere you are likely aware of the Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, Bulgari, Seiko and Tudor debuts that (rightfully) dominated much of the on-the-spot coverage this year. These top brands, plus a few dozen equally noteworthy watchmakers, have contributed to what may be the most practical-minded Baselworld in recent years.
There was a decided focus this year on the crowd-pleasers. As a result, sexy dive watches, familiar GMT dials, easy-to-read pilot’s watches and vintage-tinged dress pieces dominated at this year’s show. Oversize is over; less is more.
Of course there are notable– and very interesting – exceptions. If you’re Bulgari, and you’re going to make the world’s thinnest automatic watch, why not add a tourbillon to the mix and wow everyone?
If you’re Patek Philippe, you answer collector prayers with a debut perpetual calendar in a Nautilus case and a solid first-ever Aquanaut chronograph.
And when you’re Tudor and your big brother re-introduces its ‘Pepsi’ GMT model to much applause, go ahead and offer your own version at a bargain price.
We will get to these and many other debuts in future posts. Until then, enjoy my first list of Baselworld 2018 favorites. These five watches look good on my wrist. They offer terrific design, though each also has an interesting technical feature or two. And these five debuts are each priced within the ‘affordable’ range for new fine mechanical watches, most selling for less than $5,000.
Hyperchrome Chronograph Automatic
This 45mm debut contrasts bronze and high-tech ceramic construction in a limited edition of 999 pieces. You’ll find bronze side inserts, an engraved and polished black ceramic case back and a bronze crown and pushers. The result is a nicely balanced layout with a clearly brushed dial. The lightweight ceramic case won’t scratch and will always look new while the bronze accents will age, personalizing the watch with patina over time.
Sure, I’d like to see a upgraded chronograph here rather than the just-fine ETA 2894-2, but the watch does arrive on sharp-looking vintage-like brown leather strap. Price: $4,950.
With its first astronomical watch, Meistersinger shines brightly among the many new moonphase watches we’ve seen of late. Utilizing a thin steel Pangaea case, the German-based maker of one-hand wonders offers a beautiful, unusually large moon-phase display.
The upper half of the dial features a broad aperture that hosts a realistic moon moving across a dark blue, starry background. Lunascope is available in two versions, blue or silver, each with a circular date window. Price: $3,850.
One of the most-discussed Baselworld 2018 debuts is Seiko’s set of ‘20th Anniversary Of Caliber 9S’ models. This blue-dialed beauty (model SBGH267) is powered by Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Caliber 9S85 and delivers accuracy of +5 to –3 seconds a day and a power reserve of 55 hours. While not the +3 to -1 seconds per day delivered by Seiko’s hot debut VFA (Very Fine Adjusted) 20th Anniversary model, each watch from this 1,500-piece limited edition is housed in steel rather than platinum, thus is priced lower ($6,300 versus $53,000 for the platinum VFA limited edition).
Tangente Neomatik 41 Update
Nomos has equipped three of its best-known models, the Tangente, Orion, and Ludwig, with new in-house caliber DUW 6101.
Nomos then tailors the date display for each model. My favorite of these is the unusual dual-dot method seen on Tangente. Two red dots frame the current date around the edge of the dial within this 40.5mm steel watch.
What’s more, the date can be set both forward and backward. It’s a novel approach to displaying the date that again demonstrates why this brand continues to be a favorite among collectors who prefer contemporary designs. Price: $4,100.
Archive Series Oceanographer
Inspired by the water-resistant timepieces Bulova supplied to the U.S. military for years, this limited edition of 666 reprises the original ‘Devil Diver,’ named because its dial stated its water resistance on the dial as 666 feet rather than 200m. This non-limited version is larger than the orange-dialed limited edition seen earlier this year (44mm versus 40mm) and sports a black dial with a red/blue bezel. Powered with a Miyota automatic caliber, the watch will sell for $895 on its Fall 2018 release.