About time: show and tell
The watch press is full of snap, crackle and pop at the moment, following Baselworld. It was big, it was glitzy and there was no shortage of B-list celebrities with only the most tenuous links to horology.
As for the watches themselves, Baselworld lives by the dictum "he who shouts loudest gets heard", so it's tough to pick real winners. Instead, we've picked three of the more unorthodox offerings at the 41st Baselworld watch fair from some less obvious brands.
Chopard is one of the few remaining family-run companies that hasn't been swallowed up by one of the luxury conglomerates - yet - so it's great to see the company coming out with innovative and daring watches such as the LUC Engine One H (below left).
A new iteration of the Engine One from a few years ago, the Engine One H flips things around, with the small seconds and the tourbillon now side by side rather than one on top of the other, as in the first generation. Other than that the design accents are more or less the same: the dial design and overall look of the watch are still inspired by automobiles, with the tourbillon mounted on shock absorbers to protect it from buffeting. Features-wise things are kept simple, with a small seconds hand floating on top of the tourbillon at the three o'clock position and a power reserve indicator at the nine o'clock position.
The in-house tourbillon movement is a delightful hand-wound LUC 04.02L that has a decent 60 hours of power on a single wind. Prices for the Chopard LUC Engine One H are yet to be released. The watch is limited to 100 pieces.
Talk to any old-school watchmaker and he - it will invariably be a he - will tell you that the fashion brands are taking over and we're all doomed. Well, there is a grain of truth to that: fashion brands such as Dior have entered the watch market in a big way and taken significant share; but one could argue that they've expanded the market, too, and are providing invaluable competition with watches of the quality of the Dior Chiffre Rouge A2 (top).
Fully certified by Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), the chronograph watch is yet another step up in class for Dior watches - which have always done well on design but perhaps lacked the technical chops.
Inside the Chiffre Rouge A2 is an ETA 2894 Automatic with 42-hour power reserve, and there's a nice Dior Homme engraving on the oscillating weight. The case is sized at a relatively restrained 38mm and comes in brushed steel with steel bracelet; and taken together with the chronograph and the matt-black with hints of red dial, this is a very masculine watch with a sporty edge. It's certainly another stark reminder that Dior is taking its watches seriously. The Dior Chiffre Rouge A2 will be priced at about HK$53,000.
Finally, we have the Tissot T-Complication Squelette (right). Why, you may ask? After all, Tissot is a billion-dollar brand and probably one of the biggest shouters at Baselworld. All true, but Tissot's popularity is based on its affordable T series and sports watches and we forget that the company also makes timepieces such as the T-Complication Squelette, which continues to do justice to the brand's 160-year heritage. Featuring a revealing skeleton dial, it shows off the five arms that form its specially built Tissot movement.
The case is sized at 43mm and comes in stainless steel with a classy black crocodile leather strap. Prices for the Tissot T-Complication Squelette are yet to be announced.