Once a year, the small Swiss city of Basel becomes the centre of the universe for watch lovers from around the world. This year’s instalment of Baselworld saw more than 1,300 watch manufacturers plying collectors, connoisseurs and the media with their upcoming releases.
Smartwatches were a pronounced trend and with younger collectors often interested in vintage or retro watches, timepieces harked back to classic releases while incorporating up-to-date mechanics and technology. Here are our favourites from the fair:
Rolex GMT Master
The official watch of Pan AM, perhaps the most glamorous airline to ever take to the skies, the Rolex GMT Master was used as a navigation device by its dapper pilots. The two-colour Cerachrom insert is available in the original’s famed red and blue ceramic or an earthy new brown and black combination.
Made for adventurers and nomads, the watch can easily be adjusted to a second-time-zone with the alternative time displayed by a simple twist of the bidirectional rotatable bezel.
The hands and hour markers are made for luminescence and shine against a black lacquer dial.
Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Edition
During World War II, Omega delivered more than 100,000 watches to British Air Force members, who valued the reliability of the timepieces.
This limited edition casts an eye back to that historic release but incorporates the latest technology in calibres. The technology is housed in a stainless steel case with an opaline silvery domed dial and polished crown.
The fine details will delight military history buffs; the flat sapphire crystal case back comes with a hand-lacquered, laser-engraved image of a Gloster Meteor, the first jet plane employed by the RAF. Fittingly it has 1,948 pieces.
Certina DS Action Diver Sea Turtle Conservancy
This special edition is one for ocean lovers, tying in with 60 years of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, which was established the same year Certina introduced its DS (Double Security) watches.
Featuring an automatic ETA Powermatic 80 movement, it is a certified professional diver’s watch employing special O-ring seals in the crown and case back.
The case back features the conservancy’s logo, while an aquamarine seconds hand is a further nod to the theme.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special
When Louis Blériot became the first person to fly across the English Channel in 1909, he did so wearing a Zenith.
With an etching of his history-making plane features on the titanium case back, this premium offering pays tribute to his spirit.
The broad fluted sapphire crystal dome is distinctive, while oversized Arabic numerals and gold-plated hands make for a bold design. Adventurers will appreciate the 55-hour power reserve.
Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02
Synonymous with the glamour of motor racing since the 60s, the TAG Heuer Carrera is reinventing itself into its sixth decade.
The 02 features an anti-reflective sapphire crystal case with a sapphire back, while the open-worked dial showcases mechanical prowess.
The 45mm version introduces GMT function, with a centrally mounted GMT hand making it ideal for frequent travel.
Blancpain Villeret Quantième CoMplet GMT
Featuring the stylised Roman numerals familiar to Villeret aficionados, this model comes in both stainless steel and red gold (opaline) versions.
The upper half features neat windows for the day and month, while a lower window indicates the moon phase.
An additional winding hand points to the date on a scale around the chapter ring. It also comes with a GMT function on the central axis, meaning the watch displays both local and home time.
Carl F. Bucherer Manero Peripheral
A player in the luxury game since 1888, Swiss company Carl F. Bucherer has added a gem to its range with this series. There are six variations of the Manero Peripheral, each with a 43mm case.
Each model features fine details including a date display at three o’clock and a miniature small-seconds subdial at six o’clock. The design is uncluttered and classical.
It comes in different colour combinations, but the rose gold model with a crisp white dial and brown alligator leather strap is an effortlessly stylish choice.
Anonimo Epurato Imperial Green
Showcasing a striking shade of green, this offering from Italian watchmaker Anonimo pays subtle tribute to a colour associated with royalty and spring regrowth.
Versatile for any gender, the gradient coloured sun-brushed dial is the model of understated, refined elegance. This sleek, lightweight piece also features a soft-to-the-touch felt bracelet.
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel
With a movement featuring 30 jewels and an 18-carat gold rotor, Jaquet Droz’s premium offering is a truly luxurious piece of apparel.
Inspired by the phases of the moon, this stunning model makes a centrepiece of an engraved 22-carat gold moon mounted on a rotating black onyx disc.
Above the subsidiary dial, the inky black of the Grand Feu enamel dial evokes the depths of the night sky.
Longines Conquest VHP
Boasting advanced gear position detection technology, which resets the watch’s hand after the most minute impact or magnetic exposure, the Conquest’s calibre has an accuracy rating of +/-5 seconds over an entire year.
Beyond that technological feat, it’s an on-trend, ultra-modern sports watch with Arabic numerals and bar indexes.
Previously only available in stainless steel, it now comes with a choice of silver, black, blue or carbon fibre dials.
Hublot Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
The official partner of the World Cup, this is one for stylish football fans. A sleek smartwatch, it will alert owners with a vibration and the word GOAL! every time a player scores during the event.
The dial will also show the score of each game along with goal scorers, red and yellow cards, substitutions and match time.
Only 2,018 watches in the range will be produced and can be customised with team colours. Even the screws around the bezel look like balls.
Patek Philippe WorldTime Minute Repeater
One of the heavy hitters of the luxury watch world, Patek Philippe’s latest offering features a world time minute repeater that adjusts to, and chimes, the local time wherever you go.
The design is a lavish tribute to the spirit of world travel, with an evocative oil painting style image of Lake Geneva circled by the names of international cities.
Another innovation on the minute repeater are the gongs affixed to the case middle rather than the movement plate, allowing for unprecedented clarity of sound.
Chopard L.U.C All-in-One
First launched in 2010, the All-in-One is the pinnacle of Chopard’s luxury offerings. There are two versions of the 2018 vintage, with only 10 of each to be made.
The watch is spectacular, with a hand-guilloche dial galvanised into a shade of blue like a twilight. Featuring ethically mined 18-carat gold and no less than 42 jewels, this year’s model has subbed out the Roman numerals for the cool minimalism of arrowhead batons.
Comprised of more than 500 individual components, it is also a staggering feat of miniature engineering.