With an uncertain economy looking over watchmakers and their clients' wallets, Baselworld 2016 had a decidedly play-it-safe attitude. That’s not to say there weren't mind-blowing creations, as brands unveiled a bevy of heavy-hitting complications — next to elegant design.
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Bremont Boeing 100
The Brit watchmaker celebrates flight — and, specifically, Boeing’s 100th birthday — with 300 examples of this limited edition aviation-grade titanium 43mm chronograph, each of which bears a piece of carbon fiber composite from the ZA004 Boeing Dreamliner flying testbed in the crown. Bremont's Trip-Tick case design, bidirectional rotating bezel, and 42-hour power reserve make it capable and ready; even the “Boeing Brown” color comes from the Bakelite-like aesthetic of the original cockpit.
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Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
A testament to watchmaking with sapphire, this completely see-through 45mm Big Bang is comprised of a multipart case, bezel, and crystal, all of which blend seamlessly with the silicone strap. The only components that aren't sapphire are the combination titanium-and-sapphire crown and pushers, the titanium screws, and the strap-release system. Lightweight and waterproof to 100 meters with a 72-hour power reserve, it provides a great view of Hublot's in-house Unico flyback chronograph movement.
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Patek Philippe Ref. 5930G World Time Chronograph
Meet Patek's first-ever timepiece containing both a world-time indication and a chronograph. Boasting an entirely new in-house movement, this 39.5mm white gold manages to be the thinnest such watch in its category, at just shy of 13mm thick. Blending stylistic elements of the Bauhaus-inspired Ref. 96 and the winglet-style strap lugs from the 1940s and 1950s, the three-zone dial elegantly melds blue and silvery display of the 23 world time zones and chronograph readouts.
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Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered
It’s hard not to notice the simple figure-eight face with overlapping hour, minutes, and seconds dials, which have proved very popular in China. This "Off-Centered" 43mm stainless steel version is a new design, though the automatic movement with 68-hour power reserve is the same as in previous brand models. In this model, the polished black onyx face adds a modern sleekness what with the radial Geneva stripes and polished bevelled angles.
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Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chronograph
This manual flyback chronograph and perpetual calendar is a new addition to the L.U.C line. Made with Fairmined white gold (ethically sourced from mines in South America) and a dial coated with grey ruthenium, the Calibre 03.10-L movement is structured around a column wheel that serves as the backbone that controls all operations. COSC and Poinçon de Genève certified, this beauty is immediately distinguished by its large twin-aperture date display.
Price: approximately $75,000-$80,000
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Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
The world’s thinnest minute repeater in production, Bulgari succeeded in coupling a crystal-clear chime with a uniform, consistent cadence when activated. An in-house BVL Caliber 362 just 3.12mm thick powers this titanium timepiece, whose cut-out markers on the dial further help amplify the resonance inside the case. In an edition of 50, the power reserve of this 362-piece, hand-wound movement is 42 hours when fully wound — making this striking watch a true masterpiece.
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Tag Heuer Monza
A return to its racing roots sees the return of the iconic Monza watch, first created by Jack Heuer in 1976 to celebrate F1 legend Niki Lauda’s first world championship title with Scuderia Ferrari, the racing team for which the Swiss watch brand was then official timekeeper. This modern 42mm version is the first to include both the tachymeter and pulsometer scales within the cushion-shaped case as well as the original type font on the all-black matte look dial.
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Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
Everyone’s favorite vintage-inspired divers’ watch now comes in a bronze 43mm case and a first-ever chocolate-brown dial that will develop a patina over time. Present are the snowflake hands, domed crystal, and chamfered lugs, but the brown dial and unidirectional rotating bezel are now highlighted by golden-and beige-colored accents. Elements new to the dial are the Arabic 3, 6, and 9 o’clock numerals, a 70-hour power reserve, and a Tudor “shield” logo below 12 o’clock.
At 39.5mm, this “chocolate” Seamster boasts a new Co-Axial movement for the series with 55-hour power reserve. The black enamel face and Ceragold bezel is an attractive match with the pink Sedna Gold — an alloy of gold, copper, and palladium that's scratch-resistant and less likely to suffer from discoloration. It’s also water resistant to 600 meters. The applied and polished markers on the dial are filled generously with high-quality luminant.
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Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The much-loved 40mm Daytona now features a bezel made of black ceramic, a nod to the black Plexiglas insert from 1965. The numerals on the bezel’s tachymeter scale — a hallmark of auto racing chronographs — are applied via a special process developed by Rolex. Other new features include black rings around the chronograph subdials while hairsprings made of Parachrom, an alloy composite, are said to be 10 times more precise in case of shocks than a traditional hairspring.
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Zenith Academy Tourbillion George Favre-Jacot
Further advancing the Academy Georges Favre-Jacot timepiece introduced in 2014 to mark Zenith’s 150th anniversary, a tourbillon now features prominent on the dial of this 45mm ceramic watch. Limited to 150 pieces, it features a 807-part movement — among which is a 50-hour power reserve mechanism that alleviates the loss of balance wheel amplitude, reducing the force produced by the barrel.
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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
Following the sell-out success of the gray plasma ceramic version, Blancpain has reissued this vintage-inspired divers’ watch in nearly the same fashion — distinguished by its unidirectional bezel and blue ceramic insert with hour markers made of LiquidMetal. The luminous dot index at 12 o’clock is a reproduction from the 1950s Fifty Fathoms watches. The 43mm case is also water-resistant to 300 meters and offered with a NATO strap or a sail canvas version with rubber interior.