The notion of a luxury sports watch, first birthed half a century ago, is now in full array, as evidenced by this year’s crop of novelties at Baselworld
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel
A venerable diving watch lineage receives a mechanical upgrade in Blancpain’s new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel, which houses an annual calendar complication. The Bathyscaphe watches debuted in 1956 as the civilian version of the Fifty Fathoms, and the Quantieme Annuel continues the tradition with practical displays for day, date and month. The new calibre 6054.P accounts for the length of each month and only needs adjustment once a year in February. The 43mm watch retains the striking black rotating bezel with ceramic insert that is a hallmark of Fifty Fathoms, and comes with a dark meteor grey dial.
Chopard Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition
Chopard celebrates a 30-year association with the revered Mille Miglia motor race through a special, 100-piece limited edition in a case that combines steel and 18-carat rose gold. The collection has always been unashamedly sporty and this one is no exception. The anthracite dial bears an engine-turned pattern and is unmistakably automotive in persuasion, while the leather strap has red contrast stitching and is lined with rubber that takes after a vintage tyre tread. This 42mm COSC-certified three-register chronograph is right at home on the racing driver’s wrist – the gentleman driver, that is, for despite its attitude it retains an air of old-school elegance.
Breguet Marine Chronographe 5527
Breguet is best known for exquisite, vintage-inspired timepieces with a pocket watch vibe. The new Marine 5527 series, however, looks much more the part of a contemporary sports watch. The styling is best summed up with the truncated Roman numeral markers: a modern and energetic take on tradition. The series includes a classic three-register chronograph format with a date window between four and five o’clock. The blue and silvered gold dialled versions are two-toned and wave-patterned, with white and rose gold cases, respectively. There is also a titanium option with a sunburst-textured slate grey dial for a cleaner look.
Breitling Navitimer Super 8
The inspiration for the Breitling Navitimer Super 8 came from the watchmaker’s extensive aviation archives; in this case, it was the Reference 637 stopwatch, used by bomber crews during the Second World War and worn on the thigh. The Super 8 is not thigh-sized, but still measures a considerable 46mm in diameter; the overhanging bidirectional bezel brings this up to 50mm. It is also not a stopwatch, but a time-only three-hander powered by Manufacture Calibre B20, which is self-winding and boasts of a beefy 70-hour power reserve. It retains the robust, industrial aesthetic of the original though, as well as the left-side position of the screw-down crown.
The Rolex Deepsea continues to live up to its name. The 2018 version is waterproof to 3,900m, and has a helium escape valve, ceramic unidirectional bezel and supremely tough construction. The Oyster bracelet is now slightly wider, but the real update has been to its movement. The new Calibre 3235, of Rolex’s own manufacture, is at the forefront of today’s technology. It is more resistant to shocks and magnetism, it is phenomenally accurate and it boasts of an impressive 70-hour power reserve. Innovation is far from dead.
Corum Admiral Ac-One 45 Squelette
Corum’s Admiral has gone naked in a most provocative way. Skeleton watches are usually flashy, but the Admiral AC-One 45 Squelette takes it a step further with the boldly coloured date ‘disc’ – not a disc as much as a rotating framework that seems to float its numerals over the exposed movement. The effect is one of sharp contrast with the complex mechanisms below it; in combination with the angular 45mm titanium case, the appearance of the watch is daring, unique and bursting with energy. There are seven colour variants, four of them with matte black PVD-coated cases. Each is limited to 288 pieces.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m
As the Seamaster Diver 300M sees its 25th anniversary, Omega marks the occasion with a refreshed line-up. The updates are suitably modern: the case diameter is increased to 42mm, and the new Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 is of improved performance and reliability. There are nods to the original though, such as the wave-patterned dial returning, and for a limited edition, a revival of material. Tantalum is a metal that was used for the original Diver 300M; and hence, for the Titanium Tantalum edition – limited to 2,500 pieces – tantalum was used for the base of the bezel and middle links of the bracelet. Its blue-grey tones provide a subtle contrast to the titanium of the case and bracelet; 18-carat Sedna gold accents complete the picture.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut sports a new complication for 2018 in the form of calibre CH 28-520 C, the self-winding flyback chronograph previously seen on the Nautilus. Thanks to its virtually friction-free clutch, the chronograph seconds hand can also be used as a running seconds hand, which eliminates the need for an extra subdial. The dial is black and bears a geometric pattern; the hands, numerals and markers are a contrasting white or orange. All this, combined with the chunky bezel that the collection is known for as well as the composite strap (which comes as a pair of black and orange), make for a casual but luxe watch that combines elegance and vivacity.
Seiko Prospex Sla025
The Seiko Prospex should need no introduction, especially not this one: SLA025 is a re-creation of an iconic 1968 Prospex. The original broke new ground with its 300m water resistance and high-beat movement; the new edition matches both. It houses the 36,600bph calibre 8L55, which was specially designed for divers and has a power reserve of 55 hours. In typical Prospex fashion, the watch is also eminently practical with highly legible hands and markers. The SLA025 is vintage charm in a contemporary package, and is limited to 1,500 pieces.
Tag Heuer Monaco Bamford
The Tag Heuer Monaco, the iconic watch that brings 1970 to the wrist, has been given a makeover in the typical style of Bamford Watch Department; a result of the partnership between the Swiss marque and the pioneering luxury watch customisation house. It is very recognisably a Monaco: the case is as square as you would expect, as are the two chronograph subdials; the crown is still mounted on the left. The black carbon case and dial and sharply contrasting luminous, aqua blue markers impart a retro-futuristic vibe to a watch that was never afraid to look ahead.