Still more than a week to go until Baselworld, the world’s biggest watch fair, and my excitement levels are somewhere between mild indifference and tepid anticipation. In my previous column , I outlined why enthusiasm is down for Baselworld, so I won’t rehash things here, but I’m trying to rouse myself so, this week, I’m dipping my toe back into the world of fashion watches, a place that is all about style, even if the pieces are often lacking in substance. Fashion watches, that is, watches made by fashion brands, don’t provoke the same anguished groans from me as they used to. Perhaps I’ve mellowed and become more accepting in my dotage. Perhaps the fashion brands have got better at making watches. Whatever the reason (it’s definitely not the first one), the fashion watches that come across my desk these days are none too shabby. Watches for Crazy Middle Class Asians Gucci, the brand, is most certainly cool at the moment, it’s so cool that I recently stopped myself from buying something as I felt I wasn’t cool enough. Yes, I had cool anxiety. Me! Imagine! Anyway, Gucci watches used to be very uncool, but then something happened and nowadays they are must haves, not least for the affordable pricing. Actually I do know what happened – the brand started giving its watches as much design attention as it did its clothes and the results are pieces such as the G-Timeless (above), which fully encapsulates all the codes of the house, looks super on-trend and exudes luxury. I just love this piece; it has touches of old-world elegance but also the playful idiosyncrasy of a cat head to mark the 12 o’clock position and moths and stars hour markers, and a midnight-blue guilloché dial, which lend it a sort of Midsummer Night’s Dream vibe. I never thought I would describe a Gucci watch as Shakespearean, but they’ve come a long way – plus I’ve mellowed. It’s all about the looks with this timepiece, so functions are simple and inside is a 2895 ETA automatic movement. The 40mm steel case comes with a blue leather strap and the watch is priced at HK$14,200 (US$1,809). I’m doing myself a disservice. I probably could, just about, pull off wearing the Gucci G-Timeless, but there’s no way I could wear the Diesel DZ4500. This watch is massive and I have tiny, childlike wrists. Diesel makes a bewildering number of watches but it’s complex pieces like the DZ4500 that are the cornerstone of its watch business. These watches are an acquired taste, of course, but if you’re into big statement timepieces that don’t cost a fortune then this could be right up your alley. The case is sized at 51mm, which is huge, but this watch sits on the wrist in such a way that it looks even bigger. Despite all the dial space, Diesel has kept features to a minimum (a chronograph with sub dials, date window) which isn’t the case for its other big watches but that’s a good thing, as it gives the blue/grey colour scheme room to breathe. The watch costs HK$2,450 (US$312), the price no doubt kept low by the use of a quartz movement. Finally, we have a fashion smartwatch from Emporio Armani. Smartwatch design has been mostly uninspiring, probably rightly, focusing on the functionality of the watches and battery life. Also, when the dial has to be a black screen, the room to create distinctive design is limited. However, slowly but surely watches such as the Emporio Armani Connected ART5017 are challenging the status quo with original design that also echoes the brand’s image. I really like the look of the aluminium case, with the exaggerated wire lugs at either end reminiscent of military watches from 1930s and 40s. The rubber strap and the black-on-black colour scheme are also great. When it comes to features, this watch runs Wear OS, so it has everything a modern smartwatch has and it will cost you HK$3,500 (US$446).