Baselworld has remained a talking point for horology fans for just over a century. Launching as the Swiss Sample Fair on 14 April 1917, Basel, as it became known from 1983, showcases the best of watches and jewellery from some major brands.
The fair takes place, unsurprisingly, in Basel, Switzerland and this year played host to residents including Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Breitling, Patek Philippe and more. Those in attendance, journalists, and enthusiasts globally waited with anticipation for the latest models to be announced by the brands.
Rolex GMT Master
Arguably the most anticipated announcement was from none other than Rolex. At Basel this year, perhaps unexpectedly, Rolex announced an updated GMT Master. The watch which launched in 1955 has been a popular choice for Rolex fans ever since. The red and blue bicoloured bezel appeared on the first ever GMT Master. Dubbed the Pepsi by collectors, the split red and blue bezel has appeared on a number of GMT Master and GMT Master II models over the years. To the frustration of many collectors the Pepsi dial was reserved for White Gold versions when Rolex introduced their ceramic bezels. Perhaps answering to their requests, this release showcases the popular Pepsi back in steel, with a stunning jubilee bracelet too.
Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar
Another unexpected, yet highly demanded, release was provided by another Basel stalwart, Patek Philippe. The brand’s iconic Nautilus saw the addition of a perpetual calendar complication for 2018 – which for most was a long time coming. The model is cased in white gold and now contains the brand’s 240 Q automatic perpetual calendar movement with micro-rotor, it sits perfectly with the Nautilus ‘porthole’ design, which is in-itself iconic, as i’m sure the latest adaptations will become.
TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford
TAG Heuer named British firm Bamford Watch Department as their official partner for customisation in 2017. At this year’s Baselworld they unveiled their first model from this collaboration: a brand new take on the Monaco. First introduced in the 1970s, the Monaco was produced before the company actually gained its TAG prefix and I love that this is reflected in the 2018 re-visit. The Monaco features a carbon-fibre case, a full black dial and aqua blue chronometers.
Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Magic
Perhaps the most flamboyant release at this year’s Baselworld was by Hublot. A brand that are never shy of pushing design boundaries and creating a timepiece that is sure to stand out, Hublot released a full ceramic red Big Bang. The Big Bang was first introduced in 2004 and the use of such a colour was non-existent until recently as ceramic was very much limited to black or white on watches. I can only believe that some incredible work went into making this possible at Hublot and they have gone so far as to patent the colour used here. Following the brands Big Bang style, this watch contains an in-house Unico chronograph movement. I’m sure this isn’t the first ceramic bold colour we will be seeing adorning our wrists from Hublot.
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8
Omega were not to be missed at Baselworld this year as they continued their series of ceramic-cased Dark Side of the Moon Speedmaster chronographs. Marking the 50th anniversary of Nasa’s Apollo 8 mission, in which astronauts circled the moon for the first time and saw its ‘dark-side’ for the first time ever, this model pays a pretty incredible homage to the mission. From the laser-etched movement bridges which resemble the lunar surface, right to the iconic phrase “We’ll see you on the other side” spoken by astronaut Jim Lovell and engraved on the case-back. It’s any space-fanatics intergalactic dream, surely?