The most colourful: Bell&Ross BR-X1 RS17
Dominant black, strongly present yellow, touches of blue, green, red, grey and white, all without precious stones: the chronograph dedicated to the partnership between Bell&Ross and Renault F1 is a veritable chameleon. But this is not merely a gratuitous or decorative option. The abundance of colour indications picks up the codes of the steering wheel on the single-seater that the team is racing on the F1 circuit in 2017: the RS17. Within this area dedicated exclusively to the driver and composed of a few square centimetres, the colours serve as points of reference when the car is speeding at more than 200 km/h and the accompanying vibrations render any writing entirely illegible.
The purest: Breguet Classique 7147
A large white enamel dial, slender Breguet-type Arabic numerals, tiny hour-markers and a small seconds hand so slim it could almost go unnoticed, especially in its hollowed subdial. The new Classique 7147 is mainly white, a little bit grey due to the gold colour of its bezel, and slightly blue because of the rest – but nonetheless, essentially pristine white.
The lightest: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
Thanks to a new self-winding calibre with micro-rotor, the new Octo is the thinnest automatic watch on the market. That is however not the predominant impression it creates when worn on the wrist, since there are plenty of slim watches around and it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between its 5.15 mm and 6 mm, for example. The really striking aspect of this watch is how incredibly light it feels, thanks both to its slenderness and to the minimalist use of titanium for the case and buckle.
The most floral: Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel Glyptique
I’ve not talked about how 108,000 bph sounds yet. You can certainly hear it. The various pieces of the Aeronith-cased Defy Lab I had evaluated sounded just a little bit different. That tells me that as more watches have higher-frequency movements, more attention will need to be paid to case materials because of how sound waves leak out. Even minor differences in the cases (given the structure of foamy aluminum) changed the sound profiles from the 15Hz movements. It is a pleasant sound, but fast paced given its manic rapidity. The watch is also comfortable on the wrist – and looking at the dial with its ever-vibrating Zenith Oscillator offers a fun animation to watch when you want something to distract your eyes.Upcoming models of the Zenith Defy Lab will maintain the same 44mm wide, 14.5mm thick case (water resistant to 50m), but I don’t think they will be in Aeronith. They will also cost much less than these more exclusive pieces. The watch community will be impressed with the relatively reasonable price, which I believe will be around 10,000 Swiss Francs. It is a cost that no longer requires watch lovers to consider between a new timepiece and a new car. The watch also allows watch addicts to have new conversations about accuracy and the performance of watch movements as being something worth caring about. For years mechanical watch lovers more or less convinced themselves that thinking about accuracy was sort of silly because your standard cheap quartz watch will most always best even an expensive mechanical watch when it comes to accuracy.
Chanel continues to explore the aesthetic universe of its founder’s famous Coromandel screens (folding panels). Coming in the wake of numerous animal-inspired scenes, this particular Mademoiselle Privé features an incredibly luxuriant floral motif. While the hardstone carving glyptic technique enables the Maison’s favourite flower to reign supreme on this one-of-a-kind model, the white camellia is not alone in this composition with its Ikebana-worthy dynamic.
The most neon-inspired: Mini D de Dior Double Tour
Interpreted in pink or red variations, the Mini D debuts a new double wrap-around strap version, although the total-fluorescent look that definitely grabs the limelight. This flashy little miniature model is the edgiest and liveliest of all the watches introduced at the show, as well as one of the most amusing.
The best-dressed: Hublot Classic Fusion Chronographe Italia Independent
While not the most elegant, this chronograph is definitely dressed to the nines. Hublot continues cooperating with Lapo Elkann and his Italia Independent brand. Elkann joined forces with his friend and tailor, Mariano Rubinacci, in selecting a series of six fabrics – ranging from tweeds to houndstooth and a strongly contrasting Prince-of-Wales check – to attire the dials and straps of this new limited series.
The most accurate: Longines Conquest V.H.P.
In 1984, Longines presented the most accurate quartz movement of the era: the 276 VHP. The brand now brings us a blast from the past with a new version of its V.H.P. (Very High Precision) system. This battery-driven quartz movement is accurate to within five seconds a year, drives a perpetual calendar (showing only the date) and boasts an integrated memory system that repositions the hands in their rightful place in case of shocks.
The most democratic: TAG Heuer Autavia
When TAG Heuer decided to relaunch the Autavia, one of its classic models, it opted to proceed in an unusual manner. Instead of single-handedly choosing which of the many versions of this model should be revived, it entrusted this task to the public. “The Autavia Cup” drew the attention of 50,000 internet competitors, who were asked to state which Autavia re-edition they wished to see issued, out of 16 vintage models on display. The winner was the “Rindt” variation worn by former F1 driver Jochen Rindt, and equipped with the 3-6-9 Heuer-02 chronograph movement, formerly known as Calibre 1969.
The most… everything: Hysek Colossal
The largest, the thickest, the most complicated, the most complex, the most impressive, the most sculptural… The Colossal by Hysek is undeniably the superlative model of this Baselworld edition. Flying tourbillon, micro-rotor, roller-type displays of the time, instantaneous perpetual calendar, power reserve and day/night – all housed with a skeletonised 3D Eiffel-inspired construction. 1,081 components, an eight-piece limited edition, half a million Swiss francs excluding tax… Truly dizzying!
The most musical: Jacob&Co. Opera
Whereas it features both a strike governor and a minute repeater, the Opera does not chime the time. It is equipped with two music box combs and two cylinders. They do not play two tunes but instead one, working together to ensure heightened intensity. While the music plays, the entire movement rotates on its axis, as does the tri-axial tourbillon serving to tell the time, a function also provided by this watch with its variety of fascinating volume effects.
The fastest: Zenith Defy El Primero 21
The El Primero movement by Zenith watches vintage collection Replica long remained the fastest of them all – among both chronographs and non-chronographs – with its 5 Hz frequency. The brand now ushers its 50 year-young flagship calibre firmly into the 21st century by combining the technological firepower of its own development team with that of its sister company, TAG Heuer. The El Primero 21 movement uses a 5 Hz escapement to tell the time, and a second separate 50 Hz escapement exclusively dedicated to timekeeping, based on a system that TAG Heuer has been operating for several years. This entirely skeletonised calibre is framed by an ultra-sporty case costing little more than a classic Zenith chronograph.