5 Of The Coolest Watches From Baselworld 2019
Speak to anyone who either attended this edition of Baselworld or followed closely along online and you’ll start to understand that it wasn’t the best year for what is supposed to be the watch industry’s biggest fair. “Lackluster,” “boring,” and “uninspiring” are just some of the unflattering adjectives being used to describe Baselworld’s new watch releases. While it’s true that the absence of Swatch Group’s brands (Omega, Breguet, Blancpain, Longines, et al) left a notably void (both physically within the halls and products-wise) and some famous watch brands played it safe this year, there were still some solid new watches to note. Here are our top picks for five of the coolest watches from Baselworld 2019.
Patek Philippe 5212A Calatrava Weekly Calendar
The brand new 5212A Calatrava Weekly Calendar is a significant new watch release from Patek Philippe for several reasons. First, it is a stainless steel Calatrava, which is uncommon for this Patek watch collection that typically only offers precious metal cases. Second, along with the time, date, month, and day of the week, the ref. 5212A displays a weekly calendar—which is not something we see often on watches. As a result, Patek had to develop a brand new automatic movement for the watch, the Caliber 26-330. Third, look closely at the dial and you’ll see that the never-before-seen typography is actually based on the watch designer’s handwriting!
All in all, Patek broke with some brand traditions with the new 5212A Calatrava Weekly Calendar. Perhaps this is giving us a glimpse into a more casual approach to fine watchmaking from one of the best in the business.
Rolex Yacht-Master 42
Most of Rolex’s new releases this year were simply new versions of familiar favorites, either constructed with another metal configuration (such as the two-tone Sea-Dweller), equipped with new calibers (such as the Day-Date 36), or fitted with different bracelet styles (such as the new GMT-Master II).
However, there was one Rolex novelty that stood out at Baselworld 2019 for being quite different from past models: the new Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659. Not only is this the first time Rolex makes the Yacht-Master in white gold, but it is also the very first Yacht-Master with a 42mm case. Another notable addition to the Crown’s biggest Yacht-Master model is the new-gen Caliber 3235 with an amped up 70-hour power reserve (compared to the previous 48-hour one). Plus, emphasizing the Yacht-Master’s nautical sportiness are the black Cerachrom ceramic bezel, black dial, and the black rubber-clad Oysterflex bracelet.
Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G
Looking past Tudor’s most talked about release—the controversial Black Bay P01 based on a 1960’s prototype—there’s a good-looking chronograph worth another glance. That would be the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G.
Sporting a vintage-esque vibe, the new two-tone Tudor chronograph is strikingly stylish thanks to its yellow gold screw-down chronograph pushers and winding crown on the steel case, black and gold tachymeter bezel, and black and gold dial. Whether paired with a matching two-tone bracelet, a super cool leather bund band, or a basic black fabric strap, the Tudor chronograph is clearly related to its distant cousin, the Rolex Daytona, yet happily doing its own thing.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic
For the last decade or so, Bulgari has been working very hard to change the hearts of minds of watch enthusiasts to be taken seriously as a modern watch manufacture. To shed its previous reputation as making expensive fashiony watches, Bulgari has pooled most of its resources into producing the world’s thinnest watches—successfully smashing records year after year.
And 2019 proved to be another record-breaking year for Bulgari with the introduction of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic. Not only is this now the world’s thinnest automatic chronograph ever, but it also boasts a GMT function activated by pushing a button at 9 o’clock. The sleek titanium 42 mm case measures a mere 6.9mm thick, and comes fitted with a matching titanium bracelet and titanium dial for an appealing monochromatic design. Sleek, contemporary, and mechanically innovative, this groundbreaking Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic is Bulgari’s way of showing us what modern watchmaking should look like.
Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT
While the watch world is no stranger to collaborations with luxury car brands, Hublot took their relationship with Ferrari one step further this year by actually sharing design responsibilities. Developed in collaboration with Ferrari’s design team, the new Classic Fusion Ferrari GT watch is markedly different from what we are used to from Hublot.
With a curvy 45 mm case, an exaggerated stepped bezel that creates an almost moat-like frame, and hooded lugs, the Classic Fusion Ferrari GT is architecturally intriguing. Available in titanium, King Gold, or 3-D carbon, and powered by an in-house UNICO movement, these new limited editions Hublot chronographs are a great direction for the brand.
Next year will be the start of a new era for watch industry exhibitions in Switzerland. Both SIHH and Baselworld (the two biggest watch shows) have, for the first time, coordinated to take place right after each other starting in April 2020. It will also be interesting to see how the big watch brands that have since left these two fairs (Swatch Group, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Breitling, and many others) will announce their novelties moving forward.
— Featured Photo and Body Photo Credits: BeckerTime’s Archive.