Baselworld 2015: Identity Crisis!


It's been a while since I have posted anything, but that doesn't mean I haven't kept busy or that you haven't made inquiries. I have and you have, and thank you!

And seeing that Baselworld 2015 has ended, I figured this would be a great time to resume with actually posting something.

Actually, one of the reasons why I felt a need to post about Baselworld this year is because I need to vent my frustrations.

This year, without a doubt, the them of the show was some kind of perverse identity crisis among many brands.

Even Patek Philippe, one of my favorite brands was not immune to a certain level of "issues", who accompanied the usual suspects: Rolex, Tudor, Omega, etc.

And its with those brands in particular, that I would like to focus my disdain.

But to preface, let me be clear that I understand why these brands (and others) did what they did: money. 

In a nutshell, it's clear that what came from Baselworld this year was directly related to market research, which dictates what will sell or not. And since money talks, well bullshit definitely walks.

In other words, part of my frustration is the fact that money trumps style almost every time. As a result, we now have garish, big, confused watches, just because some new-money wanna-be's represent some of these brands biggest clients.

And while I get that, I wish more brands would do as Jaeger LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin have done and limit the degree in which they prostitute themselves.

Patek Philippe's Zenith/IWC Pilot Watch Interpretation...

Patek Philippe's Zenith/IWC Pilot Watch Interpretation...

Lets start with Patek Philippe, because to me, this was the most shocking given the fact that they literally sit on top of the watch mountain, and even they felt the need to lower themselves.

Their "new" 5524 Pilot Watch is a disaster. Not because it's ugly or "bad", because it's not. Its a disaster because it looks like Zenith and IWC had a love child, and while thats OK if you are Zenith or IWC, it's not OK if you are Patek Philippe.

This is the equivalent of Ferrari designing a car that looks like a BMW or Mercedes. Yuk!

The Tudor North Face along side the Rolex OysterQuartz (both huge fails)

The Tudor North Face along side the Rolex OysterQuartz (both huge fails)

Next, Tudor and their brand new North Flag.

While making an in-house movement is something admirable, Tudor did so because ETA stopped supplying their movements at will. So, they had to. Makes me wonder why Tudor (and others) didn't at least try to make in-house movements previously, but whatever. The point is its commendable to make your own movements, and doing so doesn't guarantee your movement will actually be any good.

Luckily for Tudor, its not a very complicated movement, so let's assume it will at least be as good as the ETA they used to have, which the obviously used as a template for their movement.

And even though the movement is not my beef with Tudor this year, let me say one more thing about it, which is the finish is terrible. A $50 Seiko 5 S736A is better finished than the Tudor.

But the real reason the Tudor is a fail is because they rehashed a failed Rolex case design from the 70's, the OysterQuartz with integrated bracelet (some will try and suggest it really is inspired by the old Ranger 2, but thats BS. It's the OysterQuartz, which even the Ranger 2 was based on).

It was a fail for Rolex because it looks like a cheap Royal Oak ripoff, and its a fail now, because Rolex actually thought they could get some extra mileage out of it making it part of the Tudor lineup (remember that Tudor is a Rolex subsidiary).

The dial is new, yes, but in an effort to be minimalist, it clashes with the case design. Again, another way in which this watch has some kind of identity crisis.

Maybe if it were priced closer to $2,000 and not $4,000 it'd be acceptable. But it's not, so it isn't.

Rolex Yacht Master sandwich between the watches Rolex copied

Rolex Yacht Master sandwich between the watches Rolex copied

Next, a very nice segue to Rolex.

Rolex actually had a couple fails this year. One was the typical and token fail where they introduce one of the ugliest watches in history. Last year it was the gold-awful Yacht-master 2 (why anyone would spend that much to look so bad is beyond me), and this year it was the even worse, Pearlmaster. 

While I'm sure the Pearlmaster will be a huge among the "new money" crowd, those of us with any sense of style will steer clear.

But that wasn't Rolex's biggest fail. Their biggest fail was the latest Yacht Master in Rose Gold.

It, like the Patek above, is a fail more for what it looks like and doesn't look like than just being a bad or ugly watch.

It looks like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor in the rose gold livery. And it doesn't look like the original Submariner.

And while the Blancpain and JLC are both nice enough, they too are on the garish side (probably what attracted Rolex), and why Rolex would not want to move the exact opposite direction of their very first Submariner is beyond me. 

But on the bright side, Rolex did introduce a new Oyster Date in a very nice 39mm size (in fact the only nice thing about the Yacht Master is that its available in 37mm too), which embodies the Rolex tradition from the 60s. It sells for about $5700, which is too much, but in a few years, you'll be able to pick one up for half as much. Just don't get any of the new gaudy dial colors.


The final disaster I'd like to focus on is the Omega Globemaster.

This watch ticks me off, because it had a chance to be a decent watch: Omega brought back their very distinctly Omega pie-pan dial, they make it in the correct sizes, would have to reply on ETA movements, yes (I don't buy the 'made exclusively for Omega' hence in-house crap), but could have priced it appropriately enough that it wouldn't matter.

But they had to go ruin it all by adding a fluted bezel, which is a Rolex DateJust ripoff. 

I don't care what Omega says that they used to have a fluted dial in the past as well. Thats a load of crap! This fluted dial, with this case design was inspired by the DateJust and on purpose.

Therefore, it's a total fail as well.

Of course that wasn't all that was bad about Baselworld this year, and of course there were some other watches that were quite nice as well. But, these watches in particular were so offensive, it really took away from the rest of the show.

No one is talking about the near;y perfect Patek Philippe 5370. Well, some are, but still.

No one is talking about the Laurent Ferrier Pillow case watches. No one is really talking about some of the Hermes watches, which kind of surprised me, etc.

Everyone is talking about these ripoffs.

And in contrast, SIHH wiped Baselworld's butt this year.

Here's hoping next year won't be so terrible.