Baselworld 2019 Best of Show, including a Plethora of Tourbillons and another World-Record

Among the hundreds of watches we saw this week, a few stood out. Here’s a look at our favourite watches from this year’s Baselworld.
calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Frank Geelen | ic_query_builder_black_24px 11 minute read
Gronefeld Decennium Tourbillon

Baselworld 2019 has come to an end. As always, it was a rather packed event, despite the strange impression caused by the absence of Swatch Group’s brands, and an unusually high number of brands presenting their watches in different locations around the official ‘Messe’. If the mood was good overall, the future of the show was on everyone’s lips with speculations regarding the attendance of the LVMH brands, Breitling and many more to the next editions of the fair. Now the dust has settled, team MONOCHROME looks back and chooses the best of show…

Note: this selection is based on a consensus among the MONOCHROME team. It reflects our preferences among watches unveiled at Baselworld 2019. For instance the MB&F Flying T could have (easily) made if to this list, but it was presented about a month ago and thus not a Baselworld ‘novelty’. If you have a different view on what could be the best watches of Baselworld 2019, feel free to share them in the comment section at the end of this article.

This year there’s a plethora of tourbillons, but we start in alphabetical order…

Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition

Since Breitling is under new ownership, the focus was on removing many old references from the catalogue and introducing two entirely new collections, focusing on a new (younger) clientele. In this light, it was quite remarkable that the brand introduced a reissue of its most sought-after vintage piece, the Breitling Navitimer ref. 806. The new Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition is created so well, so close to the original, in size and design, that there’s a lot to like. Inside ticks a hand-wound and COSC-certified version of Breitling’s own chronograph calibre, now dubbed B09. The dial is adorned with the Breitling name in capitals and an unsigned winged logo, like the old Navitimer for the EU market.

Quick facts: 41mm x 12.86mm – stainless steel – Breitling in-house movement calibre B09 – manual-winding – 70h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph – 30m water-resistance – www.breitling.com

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

Bulgari’s fifth world record and just like the previous four records, awarded to a member of the Octo Finissimo family. Dare I say it, the watches in this collection make the perfect MONOCHROME watches, as their colour scheme is entirely monochromatic! The new Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is the world’s thinnest automatic chronograph and also comprises a second time zone indication! Mind you, a 3.30mm thin movement in a 6.90mm thin case with a crown, two chronograph pushers, one GMT pusher and sapphire crystals on both sides. Magnificent!

Quick facts: 42mm x 6.90mm – sandblasted titanium case – water-resistant to 30m – Bulgari in-house calibre BVL 318 – automatic with peripheral rotor – 55h power reserve – column-wheel and horizontal clutch – independent second time zone display – CHF 16,500 – www.bulgari.com

Carl F. Bucherer Heritage BiCompax Annual

This elegant chronograph is inspired by a Bucherer Chronograph from the 1950s. Its vintage good looks are underscored by a sapphire box glass, a bi-compax dial framed by a tachymeter and syringe style hands. The automatic movement with a Dubois Depraz module combines a chronograph and an annual calendar (requiring no more than one correction per year). Price is set at CHF 6,900 in steel. The Production is limited to 888 pieces in both steel and in steel and gold.

Quick facts: 41 mm steel (or gold and steel) case – water-resistant to 30m – automatic calibre with hours, minutes, seconds, annual calendar and chronograph – leather or rubber strap with folding clasp – CHF 6,900 – Limited Edition of 888 – www.carl-f-bucherer.com

Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin

Chopard’s first flying tourbillon is supremely elegant and superbly crafted. Inside the slender 40mm case is the COSC-certified automatic calibre 96.24-L. This micro-rotor movement is just 3.3 mm thick and its two stacked barrels can store up to 65 hours of power reserve. It is meticulously finished to the standards of the ‘Poinçon de Genève’. The centre part of its ruthenium coated gold dial is embellished with a honeycomb hand-guilloché pattern. The Chopard L.U.C. Flying T Twin is a limited edition of 50 pieces in ethically certified Fairmined pink gold.

Quick facts: 40mm diameter x 7.20mm thickness – 18k ‘Fairmined’ rose gold – automatic calibre L.U.C 96.24-L – 25,200vph (3.5Hz) – 65h power reserve – COSC chronometer-certified – Geneva Seal quality hallmark – hours, minutes and one-minute flying tourbillon – EUR 109,000 – 50 piece limited edition – for more information, visit www.chopard.com

Greubel-Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon GMT

Bringing together two of the brand’s most striking creations into one piece is the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon GMT, a more than impressive timepiece. The three-dimensional architecture of the manual-winding calibre comprises 705 parts, including three fast-rotating barrels, two double tourbillons, and a spectacular Earth in motion. At CHF 780.000 the price tag is astronomical but as is customary with Greubel Forsey, we are looking at a level of watchmaking and finishing that is simply second to none.

Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon - Baselworld 2019

Quick facts: 46.5 mm white gold case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound calibre with hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve indication, GMT, rotating globe with universal time and day/night, quadruple tourbillon – alligator strap with folding clasp – CHF 780,000 – Limited edition of 66 pieces (11 in white gold) – for more information, visit www.greubelforsey.com

Grönefeld Decennium Tourbillon

Grönefeld… a small Dutch watchmaking company with a long history, is currently led by two brothers, nicknamed the Horological Brothers. Bart and Tim Grönefeld started creating watches with the name Grönefeld on the dial in 2009 and to celebrate their first decade they launch a 10-piece limited edition of a very elegant tourbillon. Named aptly, Decennium Tourbillon, it comes in the elegant 1941 case that was introduced with the launch of their Remontoire. The Horological Brothers are well known amongst collectors for the use of beautifully shaped stainless steel bridges and the magnificent level of finishing. Never shy to add a spectacular complication, they’ve earned their place among the greats in watchmaking.

Quick facts: 39.5mm x 10.5mm platinum case – water-resistant to 30m – automatic calibre with hours, minutes and a one-minute tourbillon – stainless steel bridges – in-house developed movement – alligator strap with folding clasp – EUR 145,000 – Limited Edition of 10 pieces – for more information visit www.gronefeld.com

Montres-KF Spirograph Sport

Montres-KF is the brand of German watchmaker Karsten Fräßdorf. His work has always shown a very strong focus on classic chronometric challenges and his latest creation, the Spirograph Sport, is no exception. With the launch of the Spirograph, which we reviewed last year, he created a large tourbillon wristwatch with an incredibly strong inertia (something beneficial to a strong chronometric performance) created by his self-developed escapement. The new Spirograph Sport features almost the same movement, however, it now comes with an auxiliary thermo-compensating balance. Now that’s something the world of watches hasn’t seen in half a century and we’re super enthusiastic to see that master watchmaker Karsten Fräßdorf pulled it off to showcase such an important improvement to the balance.

Quick facts: 45mm x 13.4mm steel case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound in-house developed and manufactured movement with hours, minutes and a one-minute tourbillon – double curved free-sprung hairspring – in-house developed escapement with temperature compensating balance – 5000 G shock-protected movement with special protecting devices for the dial, main plate and winding stem – alligator strap with folding clasp – CHF 95,000 – Limited Edition of 10 pieces – www.montres-kf.com

H. Moser and Cie. Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Devoid of any logo or markers, the H. Moser Endeavour Concept minute repeater Tourbillon focuses on the essentials. A Minute Repeater and a Tourbillon packed into one timepiece. The chiming parts of the minute repeater, the hammers, and gongs are displayed on the dial accompanied by the flying tourbillon and the hour and minute hands. Nothing else and it’s simply superb. This typical H. Moser & Cie. is housed inside a 43mm white gold case.

H Moser Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Quick facts: 43 mm white gold case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound calibre with hours, minutes, minute repeater and tourbillon – alligator strap with folding clasp – Price CHF 320,000 – www.h-moser.com

Hautlence HL Sphere 01

With its newest creation, Hautlence goes back to its roots. The brand founded 15 years ago, in 2004, with a TV-screen case featuring a jumping hour display and retrograde minute hand. This has become the brand’s iconic and unique time display and after being astray for some time, the La Chaux-de-Fonds based brand seems to have found its way back to its origins. Although the ‘usual’ jumping hour display has now been replaced by a novel hours display, with a spinning sphere rotating on three axes, the retrograde minute hand remains in place.

Quick facts: 39mm x 46mm x 12mm – 18k white gold case – hand-wound mechanical movement HTL 501-1 – 3 days power reserve – spherical jumping hours, retrograde minutes on 180° arc – CHF 99,000 – www.hautlence.com

Patek Philippe 5172G

The venerable Patek 5170 has a successor. The latest model in the brand’s lineage of hand-wound chronographs is presented in white gold and it is superbly executed. Its case stands out with a sapphire box crystal, round guilloché pushers and stepped lugs. Its blue varnished dial is paired with syringe hands. Like the 5170, it is still powered by the calibre CH 29-535, meaning a traditional hand-wound integrated chronograph with column wheel, horizontal clutch and instantaneous jumping minutes.

Quick facts: 41 mm white gold case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound calibre with hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with instantaneous minutes – alligator strap with folding clasp – CHF 65,000 – www.patek.com

Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC

For the last couple of years Porsche Design, the brand responsible for injecting a breath of fresh air in the watchmaking industry in the 1970’s and 1980’s, is taking things into its own hands. Under the new ownership of Porsche, it is setting up the workshop in Solothurn, Switzerland, and applies the same approach of just-in-time production as used in the car industry. For Baselworld 2019, Porsche Design proposes a new iteration of its Globetimer and it did everything right! The new 1919 Globetimer UTC is a very versatile and practical traveller’s watch that displays the time in two different time zones, and it’s even very easy to switch the local time when you’re travelling without compromising the timekeeping and the home time indication. It will be available in titanium or 18k rose gold, on Porsche sports car leather strap or titanium bracelet; how befitting!

Quick facts: 42mm x 14.90mm titanium case – 100m water-resistant – Porsche Design Calibre WERK 04.110 – COSC chronometer-certified – 38h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date by hand, 24h display, day/night indication – titanium bracelet or genuine Porsche sports car leather strap with double folding clasp – price starts at EUR 5,950 – www.porsche-design.com

Seiko 1970 Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition SLA033

In the past years, Seiko has pleased many fans of the brand with a nice line-up of vintage reissues. This year the reissue story continues with a famed 1970 dive watch, the 6105-8110, which is now available as the Seiko Limited Edition SLA033. This faithful rendition offers an almost 1:1 recreation of the reference 6105-8110, however, with several technical evolutions. The materials are more modern and so is the movement, so bottom line, we get to enjoy a modernized 6105-8110. Unfortunately, the price point has also been ‘modernized’ as this limited edition of 2,500 pieces is available for EUR 4,350. 

Quick facts: 45mm x 13mm – stainless steel case – screw-down crown at 4 o’clock – magnetic resistance 4,800 A/m – water-resistance 200m – Seiko calibre 8L35 – automatic – 50h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date – Limited Edition of 2,500 pieces – EUR 4,350 – www.seikowatches.com

Zenith Defy Inventor

Presenting prototypes of a new oscillator or escapement is one thing. Taking it from concept to market is quite another… With the Defy Inventor, Zenith makes the step into serial production of one of the most innovative horological concepts of the past years, its revolutionary oscillator unveiled in 2017. With it a single silicon flexible oscillator, vibrating at 18Hz, this component replaces the 30 parts or so of a standard regulator. The absence of mechanical coupling eliminates contact, friction, wear, lubrication, and dispersions. This innovative movement is presented in a 44mm titanium case with an aluminum composite bezel called aeronith.

Zenith Defy Inventor

Quick facts: 44 mm titanium / aeronith case – water-resistant to 50m – automatic calibre with hours, minutes, seconds -alligator strap with folding clasp – CHF 17’900 – www.zenith-watches.com


Tudor Black Bay P01 – Special mention

Taste is subjective and the P01 is definitely not a watch for everybody. A majority of the MONOCHROME team did not like the watch. But the P01 was without doubt one of the most talked-about watches of Baselworld 2019, if not the most talked-about – and deserved a special mention. According to Tudor, its design is inspired by a prototype proposed to the US Navy in the 1960s. Its 42mm steel case is extended by long lugs and includes a 4 o’clock crown and a rotating bezel with blocking system. Inside is the COSC-certified automatic MT5612 calibre. The strap is leather stitched onto rubber.

Quick facts: 42 mm steel case – water-resistant to 200m – automatic in-house calibre with hours, minutes, seconds and date – hybrid leather and rubber strap with folding clasp – CHF 3,750 – www.tudorwatch.com

6 responses

  1. I can understand most of your choices. However, in my humble opinions, I would like to add the following candidates:

    1. New Chanel J12
    The iconic design now has a technically advanced movement inside.
    I think it’s not only a good watch for women, also for men or couples.

    2. Grand Seiko SBGZ001/SBGZ003
    When the typical GS aesthetics combines with a meticulously finished movement(yes, it’s even better than the highly praised 7R14), it’s hard not to choose them as one of the best novelties.

    3. Seiko Presage SPB093/SPB095
    Seiko again has brought the traditional Japanese artistry to the popular Presage line. In my eyes, these porcelain dials are even better than their previous enamel dials.No doubt they are too thick and their movements are only pedestrian, but they still have a good value for money.

  2. That Moser is beautiful. Could be even more so if they kept the tourbillon hidden (especially considering their irreverent attitude to industry indulgence).

  3. The only one of these I would wear is the Tudor P01…..with the strap changed . I just don’t get this thing with tourbillons . As I understand it they were devised to even out wear on carriage clocks but a wristwatch moves about in use so it is not a problem. They are clever but unsightly and unnecessary. If they must be fitted , keep them hidden.

  4. I love the Bucherer, Chopard, Breitling and also the Tudor, although that bracelet is horrible.

  5. Bvlgari still the only bona fide innovator. Rather scary though, as it is a jeweler first and a watch-maker second, among a host of supposed “real” watchmaker (ie those that claim watchmaking as their core busniess).

  6. Navitimer in 1959, “for the EU market”? The EU was 40 years away in 1959, and this misses several European countries, and of course, the RoW. So “everywhere other than the USA” would have been better!

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