Watch brands at this year’s Baselworld 2018 exhibited strong timepieces, but there were a few creations that really took our breath away.
Here are this year’s 10 best new watches that made their debut at the fair held in Basel, Switzerland, at the end of March.
1. Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8
Omega takes us to the moon and back with this timepiece that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the US space agency Nasa’s Apollo 8 mission, which the first manned spacecraft to successfully orbit the moon and return safely to Earth.
The skeletonised dial features laser ablation, used to decorate the surface with ridges and grooves that mimic the look of the moon’s surface.
The watch, made in black zirconium oxide ceramic, is beautifully paired with bright yellow accents (on the chronograph hands, hour makers and strap lining).
Super-LumiNova treatment is found on the hour markers and crown, so they are visible in the dark.
Featured on the caseback are the famous words, “We’ll see you on the other side”, spoken by command module pilot Jim Lovell just before breaking contact with ground control as Apollo 8 entered its unmonitored orbit around the dark side of the moon.
The 44.25mm timepiece is driven by the calibre 1861.
2. Tudor 1926 line
Whether you’re a fan of Taiwanese singer-actor Jay Chou (who is the face of the new 1926 line) or not, you have to agree the new Tudor 1926 line looks pretty sleek. (Yes we know we’re highlighting a line and not an individual watch – we’re making an exception here)
The new 1926 line pays homage to Tudor’s vintage design codes, from the embossed dial that echoes the look of a waffle, to the metal bracelets that have been an integral part of the overall Tudor look.
Four sizes are offered: 28mm, 36mm, 39mm and 41mm – all of which are powered by self-winding mechanical movements (the calibre 2671 for the 28mm version, and calibre 2824 for the three larger sizes) and come with 36 hours of power reserve.
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Novelties are available in steel, rose gold or two-tone versions.
Dials come in three versions: black, opaline and silver, all with or without diamonds.
3. Rolex GMT-Master II
Who can forget the iconic “Pepsi” bezel?
The bidirectional rotatable bezel with 24-hour graduated two-colour Cerachrom insert in red and blue ceramic is reminiscent of the original GMT-Master from 1955.
Its revival this year as an Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II no doubt brought nostalgia to centre stage at Baselworld.
This watch also marks the first time the “Pepsi” bezel has been matched with an Oystersteel and a Jubilee bracelet.
It also comes updated with a brand new movement, the Calibre 3285, for which 10 patent applications were filed. It offers 70 hours of power reserve.
Two other versions of the 40mm timepiece, all powered by the Calibre 3285, are offered: brown and black ceramic insert paired with an Oyster bracelet in either Everose Rolesor (two-tone Oystersteel and Everose) or in full Everose.
4. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sandblasted (pink gold)
The Octo Finissimo Automatic returns with two new versions: rose gold and rhodium-plated steel. Although both new versions are aesthetically pleasing, there’s no doubt the rose gold was the one that caught everyone’s attention, both in real life and on social media.
The colour, which teeters towards a warm golden sunset glow rather than a girlish pink, makes this a suitable option for both men’s and women’s wrists. The matte finishing, too, is just insane.
Inside the case beats the manufacturer’s self-winding Calibre BVL 138 Finissimo, which made waves last year as the world’s thinnest mechanical self-winding movement.
Despite its slim size (it is only 2.23mm thick), it offers 60 hours of power reserve.
5. Patek Philippe 5531R-001 World Time Minute Repeater
This, to us, is craftsmanship at its best.
The new 5531R World Time Minute Repeater (introduced this year as part of Patek Philippe’s regular collection) is an update of the Ref. 5531 New York Special Edition, which debuted in 2017 as a special edition for the American market.
The remarkable thing about the Ref. 5531R is that it strikes the local time, instead of the home time, a groundbreaking function for which a patent was filed.
A separate pusher also makes it easy to set the time zone.
The new Ref. 5531 combines a minute repeater with a World Time mechanism, with a beautifully created enamel dial, all encased within a rose-gold case.
The cloisonné enamel dial depicts a serene Lavaux landscape set against Lake Geneva.
The 40.2mm timepiece is driven by the Calibre R 27 HU, a 462-part ultrathin self-winding mechanical movement, with 48 hours of power reserve.
6. Chopard L.U.C All-in-One
Sometimes, being complicated is a good thing – especially when it looks like Chopard’s All-in-One. The All-in-One boasts 14 indications featured across two faces, including a tourbillon, astronomical orbital moon phase and perpetual calendar.
The timepiece is powered by a 516-part mechanical hand-wound L.U.C 05.01-L movement, which comes with a seven-day power reserve.
Two versions are offered, rose gold and platinum, both of which are limited to 10 pieces each.
7. Chanel Boy.Friend Calibre 3
Chanel has been seriously raising its game in terms of timepieces – churning out in-house movements at a rate of one per year for the past three years.
Its third calibre, Calibre 3, debuted this year inside the heart of the Boy.Friend Skeleton.
The skeletonised movement is shaped as a series of vertically aligned circular curves, making it look like a circular mass floating within an empty octagonal beige gold case.
8. RJ ARRAW collection
Romain Jerome has certainly been keeping itself busy.
It has rebranded itself as RJ as well as launched its first new core line, named ARRAW.
The company also has a new punch line: Just Raw.
As a collection, the ARRAW is like a greatest hits album, channelling the brand’s biggest assets into one physical outlet.
The core collection features timepieces with or without diamonds, in 45mm versions for men and 42mm versions for women.
Classic RJ design features have been kept, including the shaped lugs, arrow-shaped hands and the four rubber “bumpers” (which come in colours that echo the colour of the dial face) at 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock.
The line come in black or black and blue versions, while the women’s variation, dubbed ARROW Diamonds, also includes models in pure white or hot pink.
Three case materials are offered: titanium, red gold and black ceramic.
Three counters decorate the dial: a small seconds counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter and date window at 6 o’clock, and a 30 minutes counter at 9 o’clock.
The 45mm timepieces run on the self-winding RJ 2040 chronograph movement, while the 42mm versions run on the self-winding RJ 2041 chronograph movement.
9. Blancpain Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde
There are two things that make this 42mm Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde timepiece really stand out: the flying tourbillon and the jump hour and retrograde minute complications.
The flying tourbillon looks as if it is suspended in air, an optical effect made successful by removing the lower bridge and replacing it with a clear sapphire disk.
This is the first time the jump hour and retrograde minute complications have been introduced to Blancpain – and they come grouped together, with the hours window placed within the minutes counter.
The super precise and incredibly smooth retrograde movement of the minutes hand, which swings counter-clockwise back to 0 (instead of taking the shorter clockwise route from 60 to 0), is reason enough to pull out your smartphone to take a slow-motion video.
The dial is kept beautifully minimalistic and sophisticated, with a grand feu enamel dial made using champlevé technique. The 42mm timepiece runs on the calibre 260MR, which boasts a power reserve of 144 hours.
Two versions are offered: the red gold and a 20-piece limited-edition platinum.
10. Hublot Big Bang MP-11 Sapphire
Hublot certainly had a few tricks up its sleeve this year.
From the Big Bang Unico Red Magic (which highlighted vibrant, fire-engine red ceramic) to the Big Bang Referee 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia (the first electronic connected watch from the brand, which it insists is going to be a one-off), every tray that came our way was full of pleasant surprises.
Our favourite, however, was the Big Bang MP-11, which demonstrates Hublot’s continued commitment to playing around with hi-tech materials and innovative watchmaking technique.
The timepiece is made of transparent sapphire, which provides an unobstructed view of its inner workings, including the 7 series-coupled barrels and in-line power reserve indicator.
It is powered by the hand-wound manufacturer’s HUB9011 movement, which offers 14 days of power reserve.
The 45mm timepiece is limited to 200 pieces.
A black version, made of 3D carbon, is also available.