Baselworld 2017: Best Watches From Day 1Written by Melissa Kong
Patek Philippe – Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G ‘Advance Research’
The first watch we saw at BaselWorld 2017 set the bar very high indeed for the other acts to follow. Beyond the obvious – that this is a two-time zone Aquanaut, a collection that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year – what really got us excited was the watch’s ‘Advance Research’ tag that promises world premiere technical breakthroughs.
There are two major innovations to know about. The first concerns top-notch precision. The watch boasts deviation of just -1/+2 seconds a day (as accurate as Patek Philippe’s tourbillon watches), thanks to a re-engineered Spiromax balance spring with an inner boss that improves its isochronism. The second innovation is even more astounding. Christened ‘compliant mechanisms’ and displayed on an opening on the left of the dial, it refers to the watch’s time-zone setting component, which is now constructed in a single block of steel comprising flexible leaf springs. This eradicates the need for extra pivots and components, and consequently, the need for lubrication leading to the reduction of wear-and-tear. The two super revolutionary methods of construction are not mere gimmicks, though. Like previous Advance Research watches, they are very likely to see light of day in series production timepieces.
Glashütte Original – Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar
This comes hot on the heels of last year’s debutant, the Senator Excellence that featured Glashütte Original’s 12th in-house movement, the Calibre 36. The said movement was billed as the Saxon’s brand new flagship calibre, offering robustness, stamina and the flexibility to include complication modules – virtues that the new Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is demonstrating with aplomb.
The watch delivers on the complication’s full-suite calendar features on all counts – day, day, month, moon phase and leap years – that require no adjustment until the year 2100. It is interesting to note that many watch marques have strived to simplify the typically cluttered perpetual calendar display in recent years, and Glashütte Original does likewise with great success. The displays are neat, well-organised, and they lend the an watch’s unfussy and classic disposition – accentuated, of course, by the brand’s signature Panorama Date display.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono
Tudor’s momentum continues on the upswing with its star timepiece of 2017—the Heritage Black Bay Chrono. The first chronograph in the Black Bay family, this model features pushers inspired by first generation Tudor chronographs that collectors affectionately refer to as ‘MK 0’.
Inside, the watch is powered by the new self-winding Manufacture Calibre MT5813—a collaboration between Breitling and Tudor. Based on the Breitling chronograph Calibre B01, the MT5813 is given a Tudor regulating organ, oscillating mass and finishing. The 30.4mm MT5813 is a COSC-certified movement with 70-hour power reserve, equipped with a silicon balance spring, column wheel and vertical clutch.
While the Black Bay has aquatic heritage, the circular satin-finished bezel with tachymeter scale adds a racing element to the sporty ticker. Available in steel bracelet or leather strap, the watch also comes with an additional denim-style fabric strap for casual Fridays. From 4,500 Swiss francs for the leather option, this very decently priced chrono looks set to fly off the shelves once it hits the stores in July.
Bell & Ross – BR03-92 Horolum
According to the folks at Bell & Ross, the premise for the 500-piece limited edition BR03-92 Horolum is its no-nonsense legibility, which makes the watch an excellent travel companion. While that is kind of a moot point – after all, a good watch of any kind ought to be able to tell the time with minimal distractions – the BR03-92 Horolum is a great looking addition to the brand’s iconic BR family of flight panel instrument-inspired watches.
Everything that one loves about the BR03 collection is well-represented – the 42mm x 42mm bead-blasted case with exposed screws at the corners, which provide a perfect foil to the round bezel the time display. The matte, slate grey finish on the case and layered dial contrasts beautifully with the Superluminova-coated hands and hour markers, anchored by the quarter hour display numerals that recall vintage WWII timepieces.
Rado - DiaMaster Grande Seconde
If there are two things this Swiss marque is known for, it’s an expertise in harnessing the use of high tech ceramic, and winning design awards—both evident in its DiaMaster Grande Seconde collection. Scoring the prestigious 2015 GOOD DESIGNTM award, the collection is marked for its asymmetrical dial featuring two overlapping sub-dials: the larger one for hours and minutes, and the smaller for seconds.
As with the previous collections, the DiaMaster Grande Seconde comes in a plasma high-tech ceramic case which offers a gorgeous metallic sheen reminiscent of metal wristwatches. This year, the new models feature elegant blue or greyish brown sunray dials instead of last year's Clou de Paris motif. Roman numerals have also been added, replacing the baton indexes of before. And thanks to the high-tech ceramic, which is hypoallergenic and 25 per cent lighter than steel, the watch wears comfortably and, together with its leather strap, makes for a stunning dress watch.
Like most people these days, Melissa tells the time with her phone. She considers serious timepieces works of art and thinks the perpetual calendar is the handiest complication to date (pun not intended). She's also a Grammar Nazi but promises not to judge if you can't tell the difference between "guilloche" and "guillotine".