2017 Stars in the Horological Firmament
Our watch aficionado ponders the five watches that lit up this year’s BaselWorld and re-enforced what make this trade fair so unique
Roundup by John Galt
Chopard Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition
Released to honour the 90th anniversary of the iconic Mille Miglia race (raced between Brescia and Rome), the Chopard Mille Miglia 2017 Race Edition houses a self-winding chronograph movement, chronometer-certified by the COSC. As always with the Mille Miglia series of watches, the 44mm steel case features details inspired by racing cars: the pushers with an anti-skid surface, its dial reminiscent of racing dashboards (in engine turned aluminium), the tachymeter, the superb colour accents – and last but no means least, their emblematic rubber strap with 1960s Dunlop racing-tire pattern. Limited to 1,000 pieces.
Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture
Run this through your mind for second: this is an in-house, automatic chronograph with flyback function, all housed in an elegant, luxurious time piece. Already after looking at the picture you’re thinking this is expensive and way out of everyday reach, well, you’d be wrong, as Frédérique Constant once again set the bar extremely high. Having already launched the most affordable perpetual calendar on the market, the “accessible luxury” brand now comes with its own vision of the chronograph, and produces the movement in-house. And all of that for a price below £3,000, it becomes quite interesting as an elegant addition to a collection.
Frédérique Constant keeps its usual strategy to offer a lot of bang for little money but without, believe me, sacrificing any quality. The movement is based on their automatic calibre, on top of which they have added a simplified but very efficient chronograph module with a star-shaped wheel to control the chronograph operations, an innovative clutch system and flyback function. This watch also introduces a new design for the brand, more modern but still perfectly elegant on the wrist. One of my best value for money watches on offers at BaselWorld 2017.
Oris Aquis Date 43.5mm
To me, the Oris Aquis has always been one of the best combinations of cool design, efficiency and affordability In terms of an accessible automatic dive watch which comes from a brand with long history, there aren’t many in its price band. The only minor issues I used to have were the case and hands were not the greatest, but that all changed at BaselWorld with the new versions of the Aquis Date having a redesigned and now thinner 43.5mm case along with new hands and indexes.
It might not be the greatest revolution of the show, but personally all these updates make the watch even better. More refined, one might even say elegantly shaped but still very much a tool watch with hands and indexes that look like they were made with the rest of the watch not as an afterthought like previous models. What we have now is a superb quality watch with a ceramic bezel, great diving capacity and a Swiss-Made automatic movement, with a superb price of around £1,500 (bargain).
Hermès L’heure Impatiente
I was an instant fan of the Slim d’Hermès when the collection was first presented back in 2015 and reflected wonderfully the understated, distinctive style of the brand; elegantly well-thought-out, but equally reserved with a different twist conveyed by uniquely written numbers. The Parisian maison now introduces a poetic complication with L’heure Impatiente, developed in partnership with Agenhor’s Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The watch allows measuring the anticipation toward an eagerly awaited moment. In basic terms, you can set a 12-hour countdown/alarm (5 o’clock counter). The counter at 7 o’clock allows you to countdown the last 60 minutes before the predefined time. When it hits the end, the moment is marked by a delicate chime on a gong. It comes in an elegant 40.5mm pink gold case with manual movement.
Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph
What a stunning chronograph by Fabergé! And, just like for the Hermes, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht is involved behind the scenes. This new chronograph has an unprecedented movement construction based on snail cams, centre chronograph indications for perfectly enhanced legibility, a new clutch system and the smart “Agenpit” regulator. It is not by chance that Fabergé introduces such a development; the Visionnaire Chronograph follows a rather impressive series of other complications like the ‘peacock’ watch and the Visionnaire DTZ in particular and once again provides evidence of the impressive work done at Fabergé nowadays comes in a 43mm pink gold or titanium case.
There you have it, my 10 personal favourites from this year’s Baselworld show. Next up on the watch show calendar is SalonQP in London in November, so leading up to the show we will bring you some British brands that will be showing this year and who should be releasing new pieces.