Best in Show: Baselworld 2018
By Tanya Dukes
The annual Baselworld fair is a weeklong pilgrimage for watch lovers who converge on Switzerland from all over the world—professionals and enthusiastic window shoppers alike. New models are unveiled, top secret innovations come to light and—maybe most importantly—everyone exchanges notes on some of their favorite finds. This year’s edition has just come to an end and here’s what made the most lasting impression on us.
Chopard: Racing Ahead
Elite autos and haute horology both involve sophisticated mechanics, split-second precision and significant price tags. That’s why the partnership Chopard forged 30 years ago with the Mille Miglia vintage car road race made perfect sense. To celebrate the three-decade relationship, Chopard introduced the Mille Miglia Racing Colors, 42mm chronographs available with dials in one of five colors, each limited to 300 pieces: red, silver, green, blue and yellow. The brand also announced that all of its jewelry and watches will use only ethical gold starting in July.
Bulgari: Get the Skinny
Any watch manufacturer would be proud to tout a single record-breaking achievement at Baselworld. Bulgari was able to do that three times over with a single watch. The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic is the world’s thinnest automatic watch, thinnest tourbillon and thinnest automatic tourbillon. Measuring only 3.95mm from top to bottom, the piece still musters a 52-hour power reserve on its long list of superlative features. A 42mm brushed titanium case is both lightweight and sturdy enough to protect its precious cargo. As one might expect, quantities are very limited—as in 50 pieces.
Rolex: Flying Colors
One of the year’s most anticipated releases comes from Rolex (as usual). The Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II is one of the manufacturer’s signature watches; the 40mm model displays two time zones and features a bidirectional rotatable bezel with a 24-hour graduated Cerachrom insert. Now it features the new Calibre 3285, which has earned 10 patents and made strides in precision, reliability and resistance to magnetism. The most sought after version is the style colloquially known as “Pepsi” for its distinctive coloring. For the first time, the two-color red and blue ceramic bezel is available on the GMT-Master II in Oystersteel, with a Jubilee bracelet.
Patek Philippe: In Her Own Time
More watchmakers are waking up to the fact that there are women who collect fine mechanical timepieces. Patek Philippe is one of the few that already has a significant history of making complicated ladies’ watches. In 2009, the brand created its first chronograph expressly for women, which included the debut of an in-house movement. This year the tradition continued with a sequel. A new chronograph, reference 7150/250R-001, replaces its predecessor, which was built until 2016. It features a manually wound CH 29-535 PS movement with an instantaneous 30-minute counter. The impressive package is housed in a round 38mm rose gold case and a bezel set with 72 diamonds.
Harry Winston: Making a Splash
Along with being one of the world’s forefront jewelers, Harry Winston has a substantial history of mechanical watchmaking prowess. The Ocean 20th Anniversary Biretrograde Automatic 36mm is a fusion of both. It’s an 18K ladies watch that features a biretrograde seconds and day displays and an off-center hours and minutes counter. A frothy palette of diamonds and vivid Paraiba tourmalines embellish the limited edition model. True to its sporty, seagoing identity, the piece is water-resistant up to 100 meters, just in case an impromptu dive calls for a bejeweled timepiece.