5 Favourites From Baselworld 2018
From the city of Basel comes the world’s biggest and best watch show: Baselworld. Every year, the big hitters, Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe and many, many more, come together to show off their latest releases, and 2018 is no exception. Here are five of our favourites from this year’s show.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 BLRO
It’s been four years since Rolex managed to simultaneously excite and disappoint with the long-awaited ceramic, red and blue ‘Pepsi’ bezel GMT-Master II. The GMT-Master II had debuted Rolex’s move to ceramic way back in 2005, and the ‘Pepsi’ release had been hotly anticipated ever since. Now, thirteen years later, Rolex has finally given in and announced a ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II in steel: the 126710 BLRO.
At last, a ceramic Pepsi bezel in stainless steel—or Oystersteel as the brand now calls it
As if to distract from the cruel, torturous wait endured for so long, Rolex has thrown in a few extra titbits to sweeten the deal. The first you can’t see, because it’s hidden under the case back: the new calibre 3285. It gets the skeletonised Chronergy escapement, lightened for extra efficiency, aiding a boost in power reserve to 70 hours from the previous 3186’s 48 hours.
The second extra is very much on show, used by Rolex to tease the release, and it’s the welcome return of the Jubilee bracelet in the GMT-Master collection, also in steel. Well, I say steel, but it seems that Rolex has dropped the 904L naming convention for a new, very Rolex buzzword: Oystersteel.
Tudor Black Bay GMT 79830RB
The next one’s an interesting one, and throws up some questions regarding the corporate relationship between Rolex and its junior brand, Tudor. Given that it’s taken 13 years for the steel—sorry, Oystersteel—Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’ to materialise, it’s surprising that it’s the exact same year that Tudor announces a GMT version of its ever-popular Black Bay, also in red and blue.
At the same time, Rolex sister brand Tudor introduces a GMT version of the Heritage Black Bay
At roughly half the price of the GMT-Master II, and with its own in-house calibre MT6552—also with 70 hours of power reserve—the Tudor Black Bay GMT 79830RB actually fills in a niche the GMT-Master II has left behind with its ever-increasing price point. On the face of it, it looks like the two brands are treading on each other’s toes, but actually it makes a lot of sense. After all, the Tudor customers of today could well be Rolex’s customers of tomorrow.
And Tudor has, in line with the rest of the Heritage collection, had a bit of fun with the design. There are no crown guards, there’s a riveted bracelet, an aluminium bezel and there’s snowflake-tipped hands, including—and this will be the source of some controversy no doubt—the GMT hand.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 79030N
We’re still talking about Tudor, because hidden in the shadow of the surprise GMT release (from both Rolex and Tudor) comes a sneaky addition to Tudor’s Black Bay collection that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
For those who find the Black Bay too big, the Fifty-Eight has a more reasonable 39mm diameter
Many of you may have watched the last segment and thought, ‘that’s all very well and good, but the Black Bay is 41mm in diameter and nearly 15mm thick—it’s too big!’ and that’s something that’s put a lot of people off the Black Bay in the past.
Well here’s the answer, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, a 39mm version of the classic Black Bay. Currently only available in steel with black and gold details, it’s a promising start for those who want something closer in size to the vintage watches the Heritage designs ape. The best news? The thickness is down too, the in-house calibre MT5402 allowing 11.9mm.
Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M
Ever looked at the current Omega Seamaster Professional and wished it had the wavy pattern from the old model? The shiny dial, while nice, is fairly plain, lacking the dynamism of the original Professional. Oh, and have you also ever wished Omega would do the decent thing and put an in-house calibre in it? The brand has plenty of them, after all.
The wave pattern is back for the new ceramic Seamaster dial
Well, for this year’s Baselworld, Omega has made both those wishes come true with the new Professional Diver 300M, it’s gloss-finished ceramic dial etched with that familiar wave design across a selection of different colours like black, blue and grey.
As for the movement, to actually fit the in-house calibre 8800—a chronometer-certified co-axial ticker with a 55-hour power reserve—in the Seamaster’s already ample case, Omega has had to up the diameter a millimetre to 42mm, hopefully a worthwhile compromise considering the style of the watch.
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5740
Can you believe that Patek Philippe has never put a perpetual calendar in a Nautilus before? Well, it hasn’t, until now. It’s the calibre 240Q they’ve slipped between the pinned-eared case, a micro-rotor powered masterpiece that is so efficiently executed that it somehow manages to the make the Nautilus the thinnest watch of the five here by some margin, at 8.32mm.
The Nautilus and the calibre 240Q finally meet for the Patek Philippe 5740
The white gold 40mm case gets a bright blue dial to display the time—including a 24-hour indicator—day, date, month, leap year and moonphase, all whilst still knocking out up to 48 hours of power reserve as it beats at 21,600 vph. It’s even water resistant to 60 metres! Availability? Unlikely.
There are many, many exciting watches to debut this year that didn’t make the list, including Longines Military watch, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon and Omega’s Seamaster 1948 pairing, and that’s indicative of the fascinating direction many of our favourite brands are moving in. If the themes for previous years have been things like ceramic bezels, all-black watches or faux vintage re-issues, this year’s theme feels very much like it’s based around feedback, comments and suggestions that have at last been listened to. Hopefully it’s not just a passing trend!
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