I went into Baselworld with a lot of trepidation this year. Some brands had left Basel for Geneva’s SIHH, while other brands just didn’t exhibit at Basel at all. So, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would the halls be empty? Would I have a lot of time on my hands?
I needn’t have worried, because Baselworld was as busy as ever – the show was jam-packed with incredible timepieces. I had more than 100 appointments over seven days, and I estimate that I saw more than 1,500 watches.
Is my head spinning? You bet.
Am I tired of watches? Not a chance.
There were several recognizable trends during Baselworld, and the most important of these was value. Gone are the days when prices were way out of whack with the actual worth of the watch. Today, customers are way savvier about what they should be paying for a watch, and they do their homework, so manufacturers have brought their pricing in line with what fits the value of the piece. Sure, there are still very expensive watches, but more than ever before you get what you pay for today. Even a million-dollar watch can be a great value, depending on the materials and the watchmaking inside.
Vintage is the next big trend—one that has been going on for a few years at least and shows no sign of abating. It seems like every brand has some vintage-inspired offerings, even brands that don’t have the history to offer anything vintage-related. I really like vintage-styled watches, but I prefer vintage from a company that was actually making watches when these styles were popular. Take, for example, Hamilton, Tudor and Zenith, brands with long histories: when they introduce something that takes inspiration from their archives, it means something and makes sense.
In general, sports watches have never been more popular than they are today. There were a ton of great diving watches introduced at Basel, including the new Prospex from Seiko, but there are sports watches for just about every activity, and general all-round sports watches that are built to withstand just about everything while still looking good.
The hot color this year? Blue was popular and grey was omnipresent, but green was the color that stood out. Frederique Constant introduced a beautiful world timer in green, and many other companies explored this rich hue.
Today more than ever before, it’s important to offer something different. Uniqueness has become a prerequisite for a new brand. If you just offer up a watch that looks like everything out there, what’s the point? Two new brands that are on my radar are Tockr, a Texas-based watch brand that is making interesting watches that look like nothing else out there, and Favre-Leuba, the revival of a historical brand. Tockr has the C-47 Wing, which takes its inspiration from C-47 aircraft from WWII that were powered by rotary engines. Meanwhile, Favre-Leuba introduced the Raider Bathy 120 MemoDepth, an update of a historical timepiece, which keeps track of the depth of your dives.
My Top 5 Watches from Basel
Here are my five top watches from the Baselworld fair. Let me know what you think of my choices!
Bulgari Finissimo Automatic – super thin, elegant and robust enough to wear every day. You put it on and wonder how this could actually be an automatic watch.
Hamilton Khaki 38mm – a great size, this hand-wound mechanical watch just makes me smile.
Seiko Prospex 50th Anniversary LE – Seiko has such a history with dive watches, this is a great homage to one of the watches that started it all, and it’s a fantastic timepiece.
Frederique Constant Hybrid – I wear a watch on my left wrist and a Fitbit on my right one, so I am the perfect candidate for this watch, which combines a mechanical watch with a fitness tracker, and it looks great.
Favre-Leuba Bathy 120 MemoDepth – I mentioned this watch above and I think it’s just great. A historical brand innovating and pushing the boundaries of watchmaking forward – what’s not to love?
Have a great spring and I’ll see you next month.