Feature: New Releases At Baselworld 2019
It’s finally here! Another year has gone by and we’ve got Baselworld fever once again. The Swatch Group’s absence may have left a glaring hole in this year’s show, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still pleased, confused and outright surprised once again. This is part one of our two part special—keep an eye out for part two coming up soon.
Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G
In 2010, Patek Philippe announced not only a new chronograph, but a new chronograph movement as well. Having weaned itself off of the Lemania 2310, the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5170 and its CH 29-535 PS movement heralded a new era of in-house chronograph goodness from the Swiss giant.
But it’s time for the curtains to close on the 5170, because, after just nine years, the chronograph has been refreshed once again. Naturally, the expected nomenclature following the 5070 and 5170 would be 5270, but as that’s already taken, we’ve got a different name for this new chronograph. Welcome to the Patek Philippe 5172G.
Despite drawing power from the same in-house chronograph, and therefore carrying over the same off-centre twin sub-dial layout, the 5172G has already caused a bit of a stir. Many considered the 39.4mm 5170 the perfect chronograph, and so Patek Philippe was forced to step not only outside of its own comfort zone, but its audience’s as well.
For a start, the 5172G is 41mm, and that’s already enough to set people off. It also has ornate pushers and syringe hands, bold choices after the incredibly sedate 5170. The question is, has Patek Philippe judged its current and future markets right for the next decade, or has it just given 5170 owners a big bump in appreciation?
Patek Philippe Travel Time 5520P
Talking of controversial releases from Patek Philippe, the 2015 5524G Calatrava Travel Time—presented to gasps of shock and horror from an unsuspecting audience who like their Patek Philippes quiet and reserved—has been turned up to eleven with the announcement of the 5520P.
A literal hair bigger than the original 5524G, the 5520P has upped the 42mm case to 42.2mm—but you’d hardly notice that thanks to the extra pair of crowns that have sprouted from the right-hand side of the case. This is to cater for a new complication, something Patek Philippe quite rightly figured would be ideal for someone who needs a travel watch—an alarm. If you’re in a different time zone, chances are you’ll need a nudge to get you up in time too—or at least a backup for your phone.
The alarm, sensibly, is aligned with the local time display, which is adjusted as before, but unlike many other alarm complications, the 5520P has a few tricks up its sleeve to make the whole experience far more … Patek Philippe. As well as AM/PM and alarm on/off displays, there’s also a digital readout for the time the alarm is set for, which makes setting it and remembering what it is set to altogether easier.
But the best bit is even more Patek Philippe than that—when the alarm goes off, you don’t get some old stick banging against a bit of tin, there’s a proper hammer and gong setup, just like in the minute repeaters, for the clearest, purest, most musical tone you could imagine. Waking up on holiday just got even better.
Tudor Black Bay P01 M70150-0001
If Rolex is the grumpy, unyielding father, then Tudor is the cool uncle, and there’s no better way to demonstrate this than with Tudor’s latest Baselworld release. We know that Tudor enjoys taking a leaf or two out of the history books in the inspiration of its watches, and now it’s gone and ripped out a whole chapter.
And it’s an unusual chapter to choose because the historical watch in question is one of the brand’s biggest mysteries, and one that involves Rolex as well. This is because the 1960s prototypes on which it’s based, the 1690 from Rolex and the 7206 from Tudor, have been widely condemned as fake.
Nevertheless, the Tudor P01 is here, and it certainly looks … interesting. Supposedly developed in line with US military requirements for the marines, the original relocated the crown for better protection and added a locking end link to keep the bezel from being accidentally adjusted.
The P01, which Tudor says draws from a watch it has in archive, borrows heavily from that original prototype—P01 for prototype one, of course—and features a hinged end link that locks the bezel. At 42mm and with more steel than a skyscraper, the Tudor P01 is no shrinking violet—but perhaps it will finally put to bed the conspiracies behind the original Rolex and Tudor prototypes.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 BLNR
Perhaps the bigwigs at Rolex had a meeting when—upon deciding that the popular BLNR would get an updated movement, the calibre 3285—they realised that simply refreshing the powertrain of the watch didn’t really warrant much hype. There needed to be something else, something big—so they gave it a jubilee bracelet.
First seen in this guise on the sibling BLRO, the jubilee bracelet harks back to GMT-Masters of yesteryear—well, all of them except the current generation until recently. An updated model number, 126710 BLNR, completes the release.
It may not be the most exciting thing Rolex could have done, and it may be the adult equivalent of an action figure being released with a new accessory, but at the very least it puts to bed the rumours of what’s going to happen to the BLNR. Rumours included the introduction of a black and red RONR, the discontinuation of the BLNR completely, and an update of the all-black LN from red detailing to green. So now you know.
The one casualty in all of this is that all-black LN, which seems to have disappeared from the Rolex catalogue completely. It introduced the ceramic bezel to Rolex way back in 2005, but now the brand has figured out two-tone ceramic, I guess it just isn’t needed any more.
But it’s not all obvious releases for Rolex this year. We’ve had not one, not two, but three completely unexpected—and slightly unusual, at least for Rolex—announcements from the five-pointed crown.
First is the new Sea-Dweller 126603. It’s 43mm, has a helium escape valve and a water-resistance of 1,220m, as you’d expect—oh, and it’s also made in steel and gold. No one but no one expected that, taking the brand’s most toolish of tool watches and giving it a little twist of precious metal. It’s like having a diamond-set hammer. They’ll sell by the bucket load, of course.
Perhaps a little more left-field is a new addition to the Yacht-Master range. Having seen a turnaround in popularity thanks to the rose gold, black ceramic-bezelled and rubber-strapped 126655, the Yacht-Master range has been given another kick in the pants with the new 226659. At 42mm and in white gold, fitted with the same style ceramic bezel and rubber strap as the 126655, it’s sure to be a hit. Maybe Rolex will consider making one in steel.
But the biggest surprise, and one that’s flown well under the radar, is the 126719 BLRO. That’s the same 40mm white gold case with a red and blue ceramic bezel as the regular white gold BLRO, but the blue dial has now been swapped for a silvery meteorite dial. Why it’s been sneaked into the Rolex catalogue unmentioned is a mystery, because it looks stunning.
So, that’s our roundup of the hottest new releases at Baselworld 2019. We’ll be following up with more from the show very soon; we hope to see you there.
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