It’s the third day of Baselworld 2016 and someone remarked today that the watchmakers this year “grew some balls”. Crass as it may be, that has been the general sentiment from journalists throughout the fair – brands aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone and seem willing to try new things.
Even for the brands that have stuck to their guns, more emphasis has been put in different places, be it marketing strategies or attention to finer details on timepieces. 2016 seems to see watch brands push the limits a little further than the stoic Swiss personality usually goes.
Here are our top five picks of Baselworld 2016 Day 3.
Zenith Heritage Pilot Cafe Racer
For the past couple of years, Zenith has had their hands in a number of pies – sports, music, extreme feats, aviation. While that has obviously benefitted the brand’s image in terms of reach, Zenith has chosen to focus on vintage as a theme this year for its main campaign.
Leading the charge is the new Zenith Heritage Pilot Cafe Racer, a proud tribute to the slick and adventurous cafe racer lifestyle founded in Britain back in the ’20s. Zenith’s Heritage Pilots have always done well with the crowd for obvious reasons – it’s large, legible and hell of a story to tell. This year, the combination of a slate grey dial and a olive green nubuck leather strap just emphasize that oomph a little more.
Sinn 6200 Meisterbund I Limited Edition
We’re not too sure if we’re just misty-eyed over Sinn’s anniversary 55th anniversary but its commemorative piece is something dress watch lovers might want to take a second look at. Sinn may have had climbed to fame for its ability to build tool watches for the everyman but the new 6200 Meisterbund is proof that it can swing the other way just as easily.
An important distinction is that while Sinn usually outsources its movements from Swiss companies such as ETA or Valjoux, the 6200 Meisterbund has a calibre designed and made by boutique German movement developers Uhren-Werke-Dresden (UWD) for Sinn itself. As the brand puts it, the commemorative watch is a symbol of German watchmaking capabilities.
Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto
There really isn’t much to say about this piece that hasn’t been covered by managing editor of August Man, Darren Ho, here. In short, those Berluti leather double monk straps you’ve always wanted to get can now also be on your wrists. Well, kinda. As Darren puts it, a dandy’s dream.
Patek Philippe Ref 5930G World Time Chronograph
Patek Philippe presentations during Baselworld are a lot like heading to an art museum. The tour guide (brand representatives in this case) points you to a work of art and points out minor details that you would not have seen at all, if it weren’t for them. There are on average, twenty instances of “Ohhhh, I see it,” during presentations, proof that the devil is in the details.
This year, Patek Philippe unveiled its first World Time Chronograph timepiece, a stunning classic in shades of blue. Aesthetically inspired by several watches in its museum from the ’30s and ’40s, the 5930G has quite possibly the most sublime layout I’ve ever seen in a dial that should be more crowded.
For starters, Patek Philippe redesigned the layout of the world time disc such that the countries were more symmetrical. The chronograph track is now in 1/4-second increments rather than five to space out the dial better. Finally, the middle has been hand-guilloched for a hypnotising effect that seems to make the 5930G appear larger.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
You say you want to be wowed? How about the world’s thinnest minute repeater housed in a case that looked like it popped out of the future?
Bulgari continues on its never-ending trend this year of breaking records and proving it can dance alongside the big boys of watchmaking thanks to this full titanium minute repeater. At just 6.85mm thick (case) and a movement at 3.12mm, Bulgari bested Vacheron Constantin’s previous record of 8.09mm.
The sound off the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater isn’t one that ridiculously loud but it does just the trick in a peaceful setting thanks to the full titanium case (even the crown that’s been topped off with a cabochon). The resonance of the case allows the chiming to be crisp and not dull as with the heavier metals. Bulgari also cut out the hour markers for more sound to pass through the dial and ring throughout the timepiece for better projection.
As Bulgari puts it, they wanted to create a minute repeater that one could wear everyday and believe us, they’ve done it. Who could bear taking it off?