Now that Baselworld 2017 has ended, we can all take a deep breath, the proverbial “chill pill”, and actually discuss what was released in a (hopefully) objective way. To that end, here is a small list of some of my favorite and least favorite watches from Baselworld 2017.
My Least Favorite Watches:
1. Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis
There were many awful watches at Baselworld 2017, in fact the awful watches represented the majority of the watches shown, but none were as bad as the Hublot MP-09.
My first reaction when I saw this was literally: WTF?
This is the kind of watch that might have targeted new money Asians or Middle Eastern buyers once upon a time, but even they would probably take a pass at this atrocity. There is literally nothing new here, which I suppose represents Hublot as brand perfectly. But the MP-09 takes bad taste to a whole new level and makes it’s buyer pay for it through the nose with it’s $169k sticker price!
2. Rolex Sea Dweller
Nowhere near as bad as the Hublot, but still bad enough, the Rolex Sea Dweller is on my list because Rolex is doing little more than trend-following by making it even bigger, thicker, and adding a magnified date window. The movement is an upgrade, but still, if what you want is a Sea Dweller, buy a vintage one and call it a day.
3. Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5650G
To be clear, technically there are some impressive, and I mean really impressive innovations in this watch. The kind of innovations that shows why Patek is so revered in the watch world. But, this was another "WTF?" moment.
The problem with this watch is its design. Im calling it the "Terminator Watch" since it looks like half of its dial/face has been melted off and feels like Patek really really wanted to show of their new “compliant” steel mechanism for re-setting the GMT indicator. This is the opposite of understated, and therefore not very Patek-like. I don’t know if this is some kind of inferiority complex or what, but there is no kind of technical innovation that could make me spend the tens-of-thousands this will cost to own.
4. Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono
I touched on this in a previous article, but this watch looks like it started with a good design idea that was then rushed. The Snowflake hour hand blocks too much of the sub-dials as it makes its way around and its a problem when it crosses the 3 and 9. It really isn't a confident design, and too bad, because the movement is great, really great, but not great enough to make me buy it.
My Favorite Watches
1. Omega Trilogy, specifically the Speedmaster
Easily the coolest watch(es) from this year’s Baselworld were the Trilogy watches from Omega. Omega demonstrated the right way to do re-editions. Esthetically they’re identical to the originals and they added nothing to make one dislike these watches (unlike Tag, which added plenty to dislike about the re-edition Autavia). In fact, the only changes when compared to the originals, were improvements to things like the buckles or inserting modern movements. But again, nothing that makes a collector cringe or turn away.
2. Longines 1945
What a watch. Not only did they use the perfect era in their history to make a re-edition of, they chose a classically designed and very understated watch and then priced it absolutely perfectly at under $2k. Longines will sell all of these overnight. My only complaint is that its too bad they didn’t have a worthwhile manual movement to use instead of the automatic (the original used the c.12.68z manual caliber). But at this price, its nitpicking.
3. Grand Seiko
I mentioned that my favorite watch of Baselworld 2017 was the Omega Trilogy Speedmaster, but as a brand, Seiko was king this year. The entire Grand Seiko collection (which is now an independent Seiko brand whatever that means), was brilliant. Every variation, every model, the materials, designs, prices, all perfect. Once again Seiko proves there is no better bang for your buck in the entire watch world.
4. Rolex Cellini Moon
This was a surprise in that I really didn’t expect Rolex to come up with anything truly innovative or news worthy, especially not from the Cellini line. The Cellini line is often referred to as the poor man’s Rolex, but it really is the only chance Rolex has to be taken seriously as a luxury watch company. Gold dive watches simply don't cut it and don't fool anyone (except Rolex minions who don’t know how to think for themselves). In the Cellini Moon, however, Rolex introduced a complication they haven’t had in their lineup in over 50 years and could be a real game changer for them.
5. Bulgari Octo Finissimo
I’ve never recommended or liked or thought anything really positive about Bulgari watches. In general, Bulgari watches are jewelry more than anything else. But the Octo Finissimo is an exception. This watch (and the variants) is incredibly thin watch, and to get it that thin requires some serious watchmaking chops. The design still borrows from the famous Gerald Genta design of the past, but being so thin, it doesn’t look as garish as it normally does. So, well done Bulgari. I guess there really is a first time for everything.
6. Tudor Black Bay Steel
Unlike the Chrono version of this watch, this one I like. Not having to worry about the Chrono subdials, etc., this watch becomes much simpler and its design no longer looks rushed. It’s also less money than the Chrono, and overall is a better watch.
7. Rado Captain Cook
Rado used to make a cool dive watch that looked a lot like a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms back in the early 60’s. This year, they did their own re-edition calling it once again, the Captain Cook, but this time they added “HyperChrome” as I suppose its part of their Hyperchrome collection that they introduced back in 2012. I love this watch because it’s 1960’s styling is dead-on, but also they went with a very retro 37mm diameter, which I love. The best part, however, this will sell for around $1800.