Sure as the seasons turn, Baselworld comes and sets the watch world alight with new references, redesigned watches and incredible new movements. In this article, we look at the most interesting new launches from 2 of the most celebrated manufactures, Patek Philippe & Rolex.
picture from watches by sjx
Possibily the most anticipated event at Baselworld, speculation was rife of a new Daytona or even a new Datejust. While we liked the Everose Yachtmaster with it’s newly designed “Oysterflex” bracelet, what really got our attention was the announcement that the Day Date II would be no longer (41mm always struck us as a little large for a dress watch), and along with that the launch of the Rolex Day-Date 40. We welcome a reversion to Rolex’s preferred diameter of 40mm (suitably modern versus the classic Day-Date at 36mm), as well as the beautiful new dial configurations and improved President bracelet. For us though, the real news is a brand new movement, the 3255. Rolex claims that over 90% of the movement consists of redesigned & optimised parts, with 14 patents to show for it. The 3255 now boasts 70 hours of power reserve, nearly 50% more than its predecessor. A new escapement, mainspring barrel and larger mainspring are main factors in improving the power reserve. The new escapement is made from nickel-phosphorous, making it as resistant to magnetic fields as Rolex’s Milgauss. The sum total of these improvements is a movement now twice as accurate as that required COSC standards, with a daily variation of 2 seconds. With all these improvements, Rolex has reinforced the Day-Date’s position as its “most prestigious model”. We look forward to seeing it in the metal.
Ref 5370 picture from watches by sjx
Ref. 5524 picture from time and tide watches
Before we talk about the Basel launches, we first would like to remind the reader that Patek Philippe celebrated it’s 175th anniversary in October last year, releasing 4 limited editions, the highlight being the Grandmaster Chime with it’s 2 (yes, two) dials, 20 complications for the rounded retail price of CHF 2,500,000. My point being that we have seen quite a few new Patek references in the last 6 months. On to Basel: the easy choice would have been to talk about the Split-Seconds Chronograph Ref 5370 with it’s beautiful black enamel dial. Traditionally styled with a modern 41mm diameter and technically superb, the 5370 ticks all the right boxes for Patek purists, both modern & vintage. With near universal “love” from the Instagram community, this wouldn’t have split opinion as much as it can split seconds (sorry!). Instead, we take the harder path and choose to discuss the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524, a dual-time watch inspired by classic aviators timepieces. This has definitely created quite a reaction; emotions ranging from surprised to horrified. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. We should probably first congratulate Patek for trying something very different. There are a couple watches in the Patek Museum that could be considered an inspiration for this watch; but more likely it can see as an extension of previous releases (think Aquanaut Travel Time) with an attempt to reach out to younger watch enthusiasts. Patek claims this release is a fully functional watch for the modern man. With function in mind, a size of 42mm makes sense; however it being in White Gold and retailing for around CHF 45,000 seems to defy that claim. Some aspects we do appreciate are the deep blue dial, bold numerals, date function at 6 o’clock and screw-down pushers. It will be interesting to see how the watch community discusses this timepiece over the coming months.