And just like that, we’re back in the land of cheese, chocolates and watches. It’s only been six weeks since we were last in Switzerland, braving Geneva’s bitter cold to bring you the spectacular novelties introduced at SIHH.
For eight days every year, this small city hosts about 1,400 exhibiting brands and welcomes well over 100,000 visitors for Baselworld, attracting collectors and amateurs alike. We'll be covering Baselworld 2017 live with regular updates.
See our highlights of the first two days and the brands that caught our eye at the world's biggest watch fair.
We had the opportunity to talk to Fabrizio Buonamassa, director of Bulgari's Watches Design Centre, who tells us about the brand’s two stars at Baselworld. First is the Octo Finissimo Automatic, where Bulgari once again holds a world record—this time for the slimmest automatic watch at a scant 5.15mm.
He also shares another evolution to their beloved Serpenti. Targeting a much younger consumer, the new Serpenti introduces double wrap-around straps in exotic leathers of various colours. He tells us that they “wanted to offer clients yet another way to wear the Serpenti. This approach is very new to this iconic line and easy to wear.”
German brand, Glashütte Original is incredibly underrated -- its timepieces deserve much more praise for their incredible craftsmanship and technical accomplishments.
Two of the four new watches it introduced are the Senator Excellence Panorama Date, where we see their new in-house movement, the 36 Excellence movement, enhanced with the addition of a date and moon phase; and for the women, a new Savonia model which now features mother-of-pearl—a first for the collection.
Breguet on this occasion introduces a grand complication called the Marine Équation Marchante 5887. The equation of time is one of the rarest and most fascinating horological complications. It serves to display the difference between mean solar time, corresponding to civil or standard hours and minutes, and true solar time, meaning the actual solar hours and minutes.
To put that in perspective, the mean solar time runs up to 16 minutes behind true solar time, as is the case on November 3; or up to 14 minutes ahead of it, as is the case on February 12.This incredibly complicated watch can indicate the civil time and true time by means of two separate minute hands, while the running solar hand provides a direct reading of solar time minutes.
Master of automatons Jaquet Droz mesmerises with the Loving Butterfly Automaton. This piece is inspired by an android automaton created by the brand’s founder Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz over two centuries ago, of a cherub seated on a chariot drawn by a butterfly.
With the press of a button, the butterfly starts to flutter its wings. Every part of the automaton has been engraved and assembled by hand. The automaton mechanism took three years to develop and is fitted with three barrels that allow the butterfly to flutter its wings 300 times over a period of two minutes.
Watchmaking need not be serious all the time, and Corum’s Big Bubble is definitely a fun piece. I’ve always been drawn to this collection because it’s full of character, and it reminds us that there is humour in horology. The Bubble was first created in 2000 but was discontinued for many years, only reappearing in 2015.
This year, with a bigger bubble—all of 52mm—Corum saw the opportunity to just go completely nuts, and it was incredible. While some were borderline creepy, they were pretty amazing overall. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the pupil version in particular—pun intended.
Rolex Yacht-Master 40
Baselworld is full of surprises, but a bejewelled Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master Rolex was definitely not what we were expecting. This latest iteration of Yacht-Master has its bezel set with sapphires, tsavorites and a diamond.
Its 40mm case is made from a special rose gold alloy, Everose, which is exclusive to Rolex and produced right at their foundry. But make no mistake—this gem-set piece, fitted with the patented Oysterflex rubber strap, is still every bit a sports watch.
Hermès Slim d’Hermès L’heure Impatiente
Hermès appears to have mastered the art of creating timepieces that are emotive, but not necessarily because of its aesthetics.
No metiers d’art artistic crafts are applied on the dial of the Slim d’Hermès L’heure Impatiente, but Hermès have incorporated whimsical fantasy through a complication that allows a countdown to an event happening in less than 12 hours. The countdown is triggered an hour beforehand in an aperture at 6 o’clock, and ends with a pleasant chime.
Dior Grand Soir Botanic 36mm
Dior continues to assert itself as a serious jeweller and watchmaker with its new Dior Grand Soir Botanic timepieces. With stunning, diorama-like dials featuring flowers set with various precious gemstones and framed by a diamond-covered bezel, Dior boasts exceptional jewellery savoir-faire.
Although this piece is every bit a jewellery watch, Dior remains steadfast to its fashion roots, matching the strap with a fabric used in their sneakers. Can’t decide between high-end and high street fashion? With this timepiece you can have both.
Harry Winston Project Z11
Harry Winston is synonymous with exquisite, delicate jewellery dripping in diamonds, so this chunky, high-tech timepiece is pretty surprising. Unknown to many, the jeweller has, in recent years, created incredible technical pieces sought out by watch collectors, and the Project Z11 is just one of them.
What makes this piece special is the case material—a proprietary grey alloy called Zalium exclusive to Harry Winston. With its ultra-modern design, technical superiority and use of cutting-edge materials, the Project Z11 once more proves that the jewellery maison is also a watchmaking extraordinaire.
Chanel Mademoiselle J12
Chanel’s new J12 ceramic timepiece pays homage to the beloved Coco with a super-chic cartoon version of her on a lacquer dial, using her arms as the hour and minutes hands. This playful piece measures 38mm—perfect on a smaller wrist—and is equipped with an automatic movement that guarantees 42 hours of power reserve.
Graff MasterGraff Floral Tourbillon
The MasterGraff Floral Tourbillon by Graff is a piece of art on the wrist. Its ultra-feminine dial is covered with hand-crafted gold petals coloured using an ancient and extremely complicated process called high fire enamelling—a technique mastered by but a handful of artisans today.
To keep with the theme, its flying tourbillon is also shaped like a flower, and the hands are formed like petals.
Check out our Baselworld highlights from day 3.