Baselworld, the year’s most important watch and jewelry trade show, has certainly seen better times.
The number of exhibitors has been steadily declining—there were 520 in 2019, down from 1,300 two years ago—but the biggest blow this year was the loss of the Swatch Group, which has 18 brands, including Omega, Harry Winston and Breguet.
Here are some of the most beautiful, talked-about new watches that should stand the test of time.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5172G Chronograph
Patek Philippe can always be counted on to release some of the most coveted timepieces of Baselworld—among them the Calatrava Weekly Calendar (a new complication that comes in stainless steel) and a white gold “Jumbo” Aquanaut in khaki green. But the standout is the Ref. 5172G Chronograph, which replaces the beloved Ref. 5170 that was introduced in 2010.
Rolex Yacht-Master 42
The nautical-inspired Yacht-Master gets a larger case, new movement and a combo of white gold case, black ceramic bezel and Oysterflex-Rubber strap.
This year, the brand traveled back 60 years to produce a re-edition of a Navitimer from 1959 that’s limited to 1,959 pieces. While the dial may appear busy, it packs a lot of information (and old-school innovation) into a small space. Among the features are a chronograph and rotating slide-rule bezel that allows pilots to make complicated flight calculations just by looking at the wrist. And, yes, it also tells time.
To understand the design aesthetic behind the Hublot Sang Bleu II, you have to think ink—as in tattoos. Like its 2016 predecessor, this Sang Bleu was created in collaboration with famed tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Büchi. The precise geometric lines of the dial complement the hexagonal bezel (which is available in limited editions of titanium or King gold). Inside, the timepiece features a self-winding chronograph movement, which only enhances the art of timekeeping.
This year, Chanel gave the iconic J12 watch (which can be seen on the wrists of women as diverse as Hillary Clinton and Victoria Beckham) a facelift in advance of its 20th anniversary.
The new J12, which is available in polished white or black ceramic, has some subtle updates (including a thicker case and Arabic numerals), but the real news is that it now features the new Swiss-made caliber 12.1, which can be viewed through the caseback.
To celebrate the golden anniversary, Zenith is releasing three El Primero A386 Revival models in yellow gold, white gold and rose gold. Each is limited to an edition of 50 and features Zenith's signature trio of colored sub-registers.
The Black Bay P01 is a rugged, stainless steel diver with a bidirectional 12-hour bezel (with a unusual locking system) and a crown at 4 o’clock. While the watch clearly fits into the Black Bay universe, it will also stand out in a sea of diving watches.