Time has run out on this year’s Baselworld but watch enthusiasts are still buzzing about the innovative and creative luxury timepieces unveiled during the show’s week-long run.
For those new to the high-end watch scene, Baselworld is the premier trade show for the international watch and jewelry industry. Every year, over 1,400 of the world’s most dedicated watchmakers and jewelers descend upon Basel, Switzerland to display their latest creations and designs to more than 122,000 chronometer experts, retailers and devotees.
Heavyweight brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breguet and Jaeger LeCoultre tend to create the biggest splash at Baselworld, often with technical tour-de-forces or idiosyncratic pieces composed of million-dollar bling. Nonetheless, beautifully-crafted, inventive works by less well-known watchmakers like Carl F. Bucherer and Arnold & Son grab headlines too, not to mention the loyalty of fans.
Although thousands of fascinating timepieces debut at Baselworld, amid the technical wonders and razzle-dazzle, certain broader trends in watch styles make themselves evident ... and will likely make their way to a watch retailer near you in the coming year.
Curious to know what watch styles you might be looking at in 2014? Watch out for the following five trends:
1. Contemporary Takes on Iconic Pieces
Watchmakers were clearly busy dusting off old catalogue last year, as this year’s Baselworld was rife with modern updates to classic timepieces.
Rolex GMT-Master II, nicknamed the “Pepsi” watch
Of these, few were talked more about than the new Rolex GMT-Master II, nicknamed the “Pepsi” watch. The GMT-Master II is a reinvention of the emblematic Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT Master from 1955, and sports the familiar red & blue bezel in cerachrome (Rolex’s patented technique for creating ceramic) for the first time. As it has long been believed that this particular two-tone color combination was impossible to achieve in cerachrome, this bold watch was an instant sensation.
Another notable retake is the sporty Omega Speedmaster Mark II, which modernizes the popular 1969 watch of the same name. The new Speedmaster now has automatic movement and tachymetric scale visible in limited light, and flaunts a fiery orange second hand and minute track against a charcoal-gray dial.
Omega Speedmaster Mark II modernizes the popular 1969 version
Classicism fans should also look to Rolex’s Cellini collection for an update of their über-elegant “Date” watch, which resembles something James Bond circa 1965 would have thrown onto a Monte Carlo high-rollers table when he was down on his luck.
2. Thin Watches
Thin is definitely in. Ultra-thin watches for men were seen everywhere in Basel this year, marking a return to the classically elegant form. Raymond Weil, Gucci, Frédérique Constant, and Emporio Armani all unveiled new collections featuring slim models paired with fine leather bands. And luxury brands seemed in outright competition with one another to produce the thinnest product.
Jaeger LeCoultre stood out for creating the slimmest minute repeater with the Hybris Mechanica 11. This chic watch measures only 41mm in diameter and 7.9mm in thickness: an impressive feat for a watch that combines complication systems such as, automatic winding, a tourbillon and a minute repeater. Only 75 pieces will be produced, so this will surely become a collector’s item.
Piaget has held many records for producing thin watches, but their new Altiplano 900P displayed at Baselworld trumps them all. The Altiplano 900P is current the slimmest mechanical watch in the world with an extraordinary thickness of just 3.65mm.
3. Blue Watch Dials
Just as the color blue was all over the catwalks, blue watch dials were ubiquitous at Baselworld this year. This is one of our favorite trends: a blue dial is an graceful way of adding a splash of color and personality to a timepiece even while keeping a classic look.
While this trend was first noticed at last year’s Baselworld, most 2013 dials tended toward navy. This year’s blues, however, were a burst of rich hues and nuances, ranging from brilliant sapphire to steel blue to turquoise.
Notable watches with blue dials include “1966” by Girard-Perregaux, whose deep blue dial and slightly raised dome create a subtle starburst effect when the light strikes it at certain angles. NOMOS’s Tetra Nachtijall’s midnight blue, square-shaped dial makes an invigorating change from the usual sea of round-face watches. Among women’s watches, Omega Constellation Pluma offers a delicate blue mother-of-pearl engraved watch dial surrounded by white diamonds.
Women may expect to see the graceful form of butterflies alighting on their watches this year, as multiple brands presented timepieces featuring this eternal symbol of spring.
Graff Classic Butterfly watch
Graff Diamond launched their new Graff Classic Butterfly watch collection. These highly feminine watches feature four pear-shaped white diamonds styled in the shape of a butterfly perched either at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock on the watch face. The stylized butterflies are also available in sapphires, rubies and emeralds, while the dial comes in either classic black onyx or fully set with white diamonds.
Omega also unveiled the Omega de Ville Prestige “Butterfly”, a sophisticated ladies’ watch graced with a repeating butterfly motif on its mother-of-pearl dial. The time points are adored with nine white diamonds set in 18k gold, while a diamond pavé butterfly rests in between the 7 and 8 positions. The bezel is framed with 50 full-cut white diamonds and the case is available in white, red or yellow gold or stainless steel. Butterfly-themed watches were also present in collections by Chopard and DeLaneau.
5. Hand-Wound Watches
Consistent with the retro theme that was omnipresent this year, manually-wound watches made a strong showing. This trend should delight old-school watch enthusiasts who love the tranquil ritual of winding their timepiece each morning.
Oris Calibre 110
The Swiss watchmaker Oris unveiled the gorgeous Calibre 110, a hand-wound calibre that has been in development for six-years, to celebrate the company’s 110th anniversary. The watch has a ten-day power reserve with a patented non-linear display indicating the reserve’s status. The watch case is available in stainless steel or rose gold, and only 110 pieces of each model will be available for sale.
Another striking hand-wound watch includes Epos’s 3419, from the Oeuvre d’Art Collection, which can be carried as a pocket watch, worn as a wrist watch or can conceal time entirely. Jumping on two trends at once, the 3419 also has a lustrous dark blue dial. If this is your timepiece of choice, you’ll be twice as fashionable.