People from all parts of the globe are about to descend on the tiny town of Basel, Switzerland, this week, all for one reason: Baselworld. On the 22nd of March, the world’s largest watch and jewellery fair is set to open its doors once again and the air is rich with anticipation. All the major players will be there of course, including Patek Philippe, Omega, Breitling, Tag Heuer and Bulgari, just to name a few and this will be your (and our) first opportunity to discover the hottest new timepieces coming from your favourite brands this year. Who will be the stars of the show? Only time will tell.
The Baselworld Show
Started in 1973, Baselworld has grown to become the most influential watch and jewellery trade fair in the world. It also happens to be the largest. Last year, 1,300 exhibitors set up shop for the duration of the show, with around 106,000 buyers and a further 4,400 journalists attending. This year there is a sharpened focus on quality over quantity, and so the number of exhibitors has been cut down to somewhere between 600 – 700 and the Fair has been shortened in length by two days.
What Can We Expect?
The short answer is: just about anything. For example, last year, Bulgari wowed us with the world’s thinnest automatic wristwatch, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic, which measures just 5.15mm thick and is crafted from sand-blasted titanium. TAG Heuer came out strong with the vintage-inspired Heuer Autavia, an instant hit with collectors and enthusiasts alike. Meanwhile, Patek Philippe flexed its technical muscles with the limited edition Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G, whilst simultaneously demonstrating its exceptional expertise in fine watchmaking with the stunning Ref. 5320G Perpetual Calendar.
Some brands, of course, have already given some sneak previews of new models that are coming this year. The new Navitimer 8 collection from Breitling, for example, has been highly publicised and will be much anticipated when the models hit stores later this year. Likewise, Chanel has announced that three years after the launch of its very first in-house movement, the company will present the BOY.FRIEND Skeleton watch this year, equipped with its third in-house movement, as well as two new versions of Calibre 2, which won an award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in 2017.
Swiss watch manufacturer Hublot has also teased images of its striking Big Bang Unico Red Magic, which features a vibrant red ceramic case that boasts extreme density. It’s reportedly even harder than conventional ceramic. LVMH stablemate TAG Heuer is also celebrating a few pieces of news this year. Firstly, it has just forged a new partnership with British car maker, Aston Martin, and will be unveiling two special edition watches – one a Carrera and the other a Formula 1. Secondly, it is celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Carrera collection this year and will be introducing a 43mm Carrera equipped the new Heuer 02 Calibre manufacture movement.
Dive watch specialists, Oris, will be keen to show off its new Carl Brashear model in bronze, which it teased earlier this year. A gorgeous chronograph, it’s the second model from the brand that pays tribute to Carl Brashear, the first African-American and first amputee master diver of the US Navy. Keeping with the bronze theme, Rado will unveil a new edition of its HyperChrome Chronograph Automatic, which combines the brand’s signature high-tech ceramic in matte black with bronze-plated elements and bronze inserts on the sides of the case for a subtle yet striking design.
This is just a taste of what’s to come. There will, of course, be lots, lots more to discover in the coming weeks so check back here for regular updates as we profile some of the hottest new models for 2018.