Back in 1917, at the first Schweizer Mustermesse fair in Basel, a few Swiss watchmakers exhibited their timepieces to the world. Their limited presence at the fair became an annual event, and grew so much that watchmaking took over the entire event. By 2003 the event got its current name: BASELWORLD, and today it’s the biggest event on any watchmaker’s calendar.
As an enthusiast and a specialist, it’s a big day in the year for me too. Rolex, Patek Philippe and Omega are all present, along with plenty more. No matter what your taste – if it’s a watch, you’ll find it there.
More than 150,000 visitors are expected to crowd the venue during the 5 days from Marc 17th. Each year all the big names in the industry (and the little ones too) go out of their way to put on a bedazzling display of haute horlogerie. New designs and technologies are unveiled, and there are plenty of surprises each year. Baselworld has come a long way since 1917.
Some of the design houses that will be at the show this year have released a teaser of what’s to come, and judging by the sneak preview we can expect big things. Here are three limited edition timepieces that caught my eye:
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire 2016
Hublot have gone transparent with their latest update to their Big Bang range. The case is made entirely from sapphire crystal, and many of the internal parts are made from transparent materials too. The skeleton is laid bare, but protected by a super scratch resistant case. Even the strap is transparent.
The in-house movement is the HUB 1242 UNICO, which is a superb automatic chronograph with 72 hours of power reserve. The price tag is set around $57,000
Bell & Ross BR 03
Bell & Ross will be showing their new models in the BR 03 “Desert Type” range this year. The brand has always taken the tough ‘tool-watch’ approach to design, with a reputation for precision engineering. Their new offering takes it even further.
The military-inspired desert camouflage color theme works well with the rugged sandwich dial. (The luminescent material is first applied onto a bottom disk, and then the numerals are cut out of the dial to let the glow through from the bottom – then it’s put together sandwich style – hence the name).
There are three versions coming out simultaneously, ranging in case size from 39mm to 42mm, all with ceramic cases and leather straps.
Breitling Navitimer 01 Limited Edition
Just like the original Navitimer from 1952, this watch is quite big – it measures 43mm across. There’s nothing petite about it. What I particularly enjoy about this year’s 1000 piece limited edition is the new dial design.
I’ve always liked Breitling’s distinctive aviator style, complete with the double wing logo and complicated bezel slide rule. The sunburst brushing from the center is a nice touch in my opinion.
The crown is non-screw locked with two gaskets, and the movement is Breitling’s own in-house caliber. The strap is also available in three options: Leather, Navitimer or Air Racer.
The high-end league of watchmakers tends to hold out on their designs until the fair each year. It’s a trend I’ve noticed over the years, and I’m looking forward to see what they’ve kept under wraps this time around. We’ll just have to wait until the 17th to find out!