Basel, Switzerland — In the final days of this year’s BaselWorld watch and jewelry fair, watch company executives came to terms with a trade event that saw fewer retail partners from the United States, Russia and the Middle East in attendance than in previous years. However, the retailers who made the journey here to discover the new collections were reported to have placed significant orders for the most saleable pieces. Terrific timepieces that were on view today included familiar watch models that contained new functions, advances in movements, and inspired timepiece designs.
The Function Front
Vogard watches always incorporate one of the most useful functions for travelers: a 24-hour time zone display. This year Vogard adds a chronograph to the world time watch, resulting in its new Chronozoner line. The dial of this 48-mm watch is based on the linear design of a dashboard, and the arrangement of its crown and extra large pushers—at six o’clock and four and eight o’clock, respectively—make it more comfortable to wear than many other large chronographs. The watch is made in titanium with a blackened bezel, and will sell for $12,500. There will also be a limited edition of 24 pieces with a platinum bezel. In homage to the world time zones, the series will be numbered from minus-12 to plus-12. Its price will be $16,500.
Graham London, the founder of the chronograph, never strays far from that useful function in the creation of its masculine timepieces. This year Graham adds a tourbillon complication to the chronograph to produce a new series: the Tourbillograph. These automatic watches are available in both the Trigger case with left-side chronograph levers/trigger and crown, and the Silverstone case that is recognized for its right-side crown and traditional pushers. The see-through tourbillon has an extra large aperture on the dial, placing it in the spotlight among the other functions there. Versions will be made in steel, PVD blackened steel, and rose gold. Only 50 pieces of each reference will be manufactured. The price starts at 79,000 Swiss francs in steel.
The independent watch maker Thomas Prescher manufactures all of the parts of his highly complicated timepieces with the exception of only sapphire crystals and bracelets. He expands his line this year with its first perpetual calendar: QP1 Perpetual Calendar Central Jumping. The automatic timepiece will display the accurate date through the year 2100, and unlike most perpetual calendars, this version bases all hands at the same center point on the dial. The first piece in the series is crafted with a rose gold case with a rhodium dial, yellow gold Roman numerals, and a hand-finished movement that incorporates a platinum and gold rotor. Other variations are possible, and that case can measure 39 or 43 mm. The price range is 65,000 to 75,000 Swiss francs.
Make Way for Movements
Carl F. Bucherer revealed its revolutionary in-house manufactured movement CFB A1000 a year ago. Now, the first line of watches to contain the innovation is here too. The Patravi EvoTec DayDate, a cushion-shaped timepiece, has a wonderfully clean dial that displays a seconds subdial at six o’clock, day aperture at nine o’clock, and large date at 11 o’clock. A sapphire crystal protects both the dial and the case back, and the latter deserves much attention. Here is where the wearer can watch the movement’s key invention—a peripheral winding rotor—in action. The watch is available in steel for $15,500 and rose gold for $37,500.
Greubel Forsey, the pre-eminent tourbillon timepiece design team, produces just 100 watches a year. And this year the company will add a new model to its portfolio: Invention Piece 3. Similar to Invention Piece 1, Piece 3 features a single tourbillon cage inclined at a 25-degree angle that performs a rapid rotation in 24 seconds. The display is unconventional in that plates themselves serve as the base for timekeeping indicators, and these four gold plates are engraved with the story of the watch’s creation, in tiny French script. Additionally, a personal message from Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey is engraved on a gold crescent plate visible through the case back. It is limited to 11 pieces in white gold, 11 in red gold and 11 in platinum. Its price is 430,000 Swiss francs in gold.
Finnish watch maker Stepan Sarpaneva worked for such complicated timepiece manufacturers as Christophe Claret, Piaget and Vianney Halter. Now his own collection makes its formal debut. The first model to be unveiled is a philosophical take on the moon phase. The 42-mm round watch features a dark dial covered with a radiating grill structure. Two large moons—with serious faces representing the importance of the sphere to man over the ages—revolve under the grill to reveal the accurate phase of the moon for the date. A third large moon appears on the rotor of the automatic watch. The timepiece is available in red gold, white gold and DLC blackened steel, and the color of the moons coordinates with the case each time. Prices range from 12,200 Euros for the steel edition to 20,000 Euros in rose gold.
Ernst Benz, the maker of aviation watches, has seen other timepiece manufacturers encroach on its territory of large diameter watches in recent years. Now, with the introduction of its largest automatic timepiece yet, Ernst Benz reclaims its standing as the leader in large sports watches. The 60-mm Chronoscope Automatic Limited Edition bears the largest sapphire crystal in production. It also contains a movement that is extraordinarily accurate—not an easy feat considering the dimensions of the case. The chronograph is housed in a brushed steel case, and it is limited to a production of 100 pieces. The price is $9,600.
For decades, watch manufacturers have sought the expertise of Armin Strom when they were creating watches with engravings or hand-made skeletons. Three years ago, Strom founded a brand of watches in his own name, and its designs smartly display his two exceptional areas of talent. For the company’s new modern line, Armin by Armin Strom, Strom collaborates with a young team of watch makers. Their Four Elements series is based on a regulator watch with an off-center arrangement of seconds, minutes, hours, and retrograde date display. The manual-winding movement is beautifully engraved and visible through the glass case back. All versions are housed in a 45-mm titanium case, with dial and strap variations creating four distinct timepieces inspired by earth, water, air and fire. Prices start at 18,000 Swiss francs.
Dubey & Schaldenbrand’s Gran Chrono Astro 432 Diamond is housed in a sculptural, pink gold tonneau case that took more than 16 months to invent, and its exclusive black guilloche dial required a total of 85 different stages to perfect. The result is an imposing automatic timepiece that adds a triple date (day of the week, day of the month, month) and moon phase function to the previous model. Set with 8.92 carats of diamonds, the watch is also beautiful inside with hand-engraved gold finishing, a skeletonized rotor, and blued screws.
Romain Jerome introduces its second collection of watches with the extremely rare “DNA” of a legend inside. The first collection, Titanic DNA incorporating rusted metal and other elements obtained from the wreck of the famous liner, continues to expand with complicated models and highly rusted bezel options. And the second collection, Moon Dust DNA, debuts this year as well. The Moon Dust pieces contain dials made from mineral deposits and actual moon dust, and bezels that include parts from the Apollo 11 craft. Additionally, pieces of material from space suits are woven into straps. The closed case back to the automatic watches is engraved with an image of a footprint on the moon, and the date 20 July 1969 to mark the lunar mission. Prices start at 13,000 Swiss francs for the steel version and range to 150,000 Swiss francs for the tourbillon in blackened steel case. Rose gold is also available.