It’s showtime


The wait is over. From 23-30 March, all watch industry eyes will turn to Baselworld. Every spring, it becomes the epicentre of the watch world as the top brands unveil the latest launches they hope everyone will be talking about for the next 12 months.
 
And this year is extra significant as it marks 100 years since the show’s inaugural edition. On April 15, 1917, the show as we know it today opened under the name Schweizer Mustermesse Basel (MUBA). This inaugural trade fair saw a total of 831 companies in Basel’s key industries of banking, insurance, transport and, of course, watches exhibit in a 6,000m2 space. By 1931, it was simply known as the Swiss Watch Show, and a tradition was born.
 
Fast forward to 2017, and the show’s scale and scope is astounding. Last year, it welcomed an estimated 150,000 visitors from around the world during its eight-day run, who filled the 141,000mexhibition space and admired the latest launches from 1,500 brands, including the likes of Patek Philippe, Rolex, Omega and TAG Heuer.
 
This year, for the first time, we’ll be sending out our expert team to the show where we’ll have unrivalled access to many of the top watch brands. We are excited to be broadcasting live for two days between 23-24 March, bringing you the latest panel discussions, exclusive brand interviews and our verdict on all the new watch launches.
 
Keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where we’ll be posting our exclusive coverage in real time, and sharing the latest updates on our blog.
 
But what do we know so far? Both Patek Philippe and Rolex are keeping quiet but many other watch brands have teased news of their latest launches. Here we round up a few…
 
 
Omega Speedmaster Automatic ‘Racing’ Master Chronometer
 
The watch industry loves an anniversary, and this year, Omega’s iconic Speedmaster celebrates its 60th birthday. The first Speedmaster was launched in 1957 and has been associated with space exploration ever since: it was the wristwatch of choice for NASA astronauts throughout the 1960s and 70s, and in 1969 it became the first wristwatch to be worn on the surface of the moon.
 
So it’s no surprise Omega is focusing on its most storied collection this year. Ahead of Basel, news has broken of the Speedmaster Automatic Master Chronometer ‘Racing’. Taking design cues from a 1968 model, the watch has a distinctive minute track around its black racing dial and eye-popping orange accents throughout, including the word ‘tachymeter’ printed on the polished ceramic bezel. Inside ticks Omega’s new automatic movement 9900, which has passed the rigorous tests set by the Swiss Federal Institute of Meteorology (METAS) – giving it Master Chronometer certification. We predict the Speedmaster will be one of the show’s big talking points.
Omega Omega Speedmaster

 
 
TAG Carrera Heuer-01 43mm
 
Two years ago, TAG Heuer caused a stir with the Carrera Heuer-01. At 45mm, it was a sporty and chunky racing chronograph with a skeletonised dial – and at less than 5000 CHF it was affordable, too. This year, the brand will unveil an evolution of that watch with a slightly toned down case size (it’s still a sizeable 43mm).
 
The new models retain TAG Heuer’s distinctive 12-part case, polished ceramic tachymeter bezels and the brand’s in-house Heuer-01 movement ticking away inside. But the marginally smaller 43mm cases will open the Carrera Heuer-01 line up to a wider spectrum of wrist sizes. There’ll be 6 variations in three colours: the intense blue dial (pictured) and deep cognac brown dial versions each come with a steel bracelet or matching leather strap, while the black dial comes with a steel bracelet or a matching rubber strap. All three colours have matching ceramic bezels, the Heuer-01’s trademark skeletonised dials, and striking red dial accents. This is one to look out for.
 
TAG Heuer TAG Heuer Carrera

 
 
 
Breitling Colt Skyracer
 
At last year’s Baselworld, Breitling lived up to its strapline ‘Instruments for Professionals’ with the launch of the Avenger Hurricane – the first model to be cast in its innovative new material, Breitlight. As a polymer composite, Breitlight made its mark on the industry thanks to being 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, but significantly harder.
 
The second model to feature this super-material is the new Colt Skyracer, which will be unveiled this month. The watch is named after the Breitling Air Racing Team’s MXS-R ‘Skyracer’ that competes in the Red Bull Air Race, and is just as high-performing. Its sturdy but lightweight 45mm Breitlight case has a stealthy all-black design with contrasting easily legible white luminescent hands and markers and a useful 24-hour military scale. The case houses Breitling’s SuperQuartz™ movement, which is ten times more accurate than standard quartz and chronometer-certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). We can’t wait to see this watch in the flesh.
 
Breitling Colt Skyracer Breitling Colt Skyracer

 
Longines Flagship Heritage
 
Another model marking its 60th anniversary this year is the Longines Flagship Heritage. When it launched in 1957, the Flagship was widely hailed as a quintessential gents’ dress watch thanks to its open white dials and elegant leather straps.
 
This year, Longines is launching an anniversary collection comprised of three different versions in steel, yellow gold and rose gold. The most noticeable design update is the slightly larger case size, which comes in at a modest 38.5mm. The brand has also kept the original font of the Flagship logo on the dial. Inside ticks calibre L609, which has a 42-hour power reserve and powers a small seconds dial at 6 o’clock. The fact there’s no date window to clutter the dial is a deft touch – it keeps things clean and simple. Each of the gold models will be produced in a run of just 60 watches each, while the steel version will come in a limited series of 1,957 pieces (pictured). A caravel – a small Portuguese or Spanish sailing ship – will be engraved on the watch’s caseback.
 
Longines Longines Flagship Heritage

 
Meistersinger Neo Plus
 
Fans of Meistersinger have been requesting a larger version of its popular entry-level Neo model – and ahead of the show, the German brand has responded with news of a ‘big sister’ model it’s calling Neo Plus.
 
This enlarged update of Meistersinger’s design classic is a beefier 40mm (instead of 36mm) and sticks with the brand’s single-hand trademark. The watch stays true to the original Neo’s classic design principles with numerals in sans serif Helvetica and a round date window. However, there are now five different dial colour versions as a silvery opaline white model (pictured) joins the existing ivory, black, green and blue dial line-up. Meistersinger has also added new red accents on the black and green versions: both feature a striking red hour hand and date disc while the green model also sports a red 12-hour index. The Neo Plus houses an automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve, and the collection comes on a variety of coloured suede straps. Word is the watch will be available in May.
 
Meistersinger Meistersinger Neo Plus

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