Baselworld 2017 is over. Thus, we, at the redaction, have to come with our Top 10 watches of the show. You’ve already seen Xavier Markl’s picks and Frank Geelen’s top 10 watches, combined with a quite critical take on the fair. Don’t worry, my best of the show will come later this week. But what about you, readers? What are the 10 watches you enjoyed discovering most during Baselworld 2017? To find out, we looked at the 10 most read articles from the 22nd of March till the 30th of March 2017 and the results are not that surprising…
Analysis of the results
Before going into the top 10 stories you read (enjoyed, we hope) most, let’s take a look at what we can learn from this ranking. First of all, no surprise, these 10 watches all come from the heavyweights of the industry: Seiko, Rolex, TAG Heuer, Omega, Tudor, Patek, Bell & Ross (with Frédérique Constant making an incursion, but that’s justified by the beauty of their offer). Apart from the brands, the clear trend is towards sports watches. People love a good-old sports watch, you do and so do we. Whether they are casual sports, pure divers or chronographs, there are no dress watches here. While fashion seems to be reverting to a more dapper / elegant style, watches are very much moving towards casual sportiness. Maybe brands should take notice of this and start putting forth less tuxedo pieces.
Then comes the question of the price… Half of the watches you will see on our top 10 list (Seiko, B&R, Tudor, TAG and FC) are priced below EUR / CHF 5,000, showing how crucial this price range is. And brands know that they can’t mess up in this segment, which might explain the relatively low level of risk taken here: vintage inspiration and known codes are key – Seiko with 2 watches inspired by the 62Mas, B&R with retro-styled pieces, Tudor with many elements of the past, TAG with a modern take on an icon, FC with a reassuring look.
Should we be worried? Well, it might indicate a lack of inspiration or the reaction to a slow market (a sort of “no risks taken, no drama to expect” position), but also the fact that the industry has reached the point of no return in terms of creativity. Brands won’t be able to rely on their heritage for another 10 years. Innovation and novelty are required, please. Think 1960s and 1970s watches, when almost everything was allowed. Of course, some attempts have failed, but at least there was some fresh air. OK, we’ve mused enough about the situation of the industry (and Frank already did a sharp analysis of Baselworld here). Now it’s time for your favorite articles of Baselworld 2017.
The 10 Stories You Enjoyed Most
Here we go, based on Google Analytics, the 10 articles you read most on Monochrome-Watches, during the 22/03/2017 – 30/03/2017 period.
1 – Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017
We knew already for quite some years, but now the message is clear: Seiko is hot, and they are not just here just to participate in the race, they have the clear intention to get on the podium. With the launch of Grand Seiko (now a brand on its own) on all markets in 2010, followed by Presage in 2016, and now with even more watches made for Europe and USA, and not only for Japan, the brand wants to beat the Swiss on their own territory. And this year, they came with THE watch to please the huge collectors community, the re-edition of the iconic 62Mas (the brand’s first dive watch). It is massively cool, very faithful and perfectly executed. Numbers don’t lie: you loved it. And for once, it even surpasses Rolex in our books!
The only thing you did complain about was the price (EUR 3,800), which seems quite high compared to a MarineMaster 300 for instance, with the same movement (priced at EUR 2,100). But this Seiko SLA017 is limited to 2,000 pieces (not produced in 10,000 or 20,000 pieces per year like the MM300, so no economies of scale due to a larger production) and you have to understand that exclusivity has a price… Anyway, it is probably already sold-out. A future collector, no doubt about it. And for those who don’t have the budget or that won’t be able to find one, Seiko has another solution (just scroll down a bit…) Read our story here.
2 – Rolex Datejust 41 Steel
Clearly, having Rolex in our Top 10 most read articles is no surprise. What we did not expect was to see the Datejust 41 in Steel surpassing in numbers the main novelty of the year, the SD 43mm. Yet, readers don’t lie: you know how good this new edition of Rolex’s most classical watch is. Introduced in steel and gold last year, the Datejust 41 comes this year with steel options, and sticks to the perfect recipe we saw in 2016.
The new DJ is slimmer, more elegant, more modernly designed, more refined (no more maxi-dial) and equipped with the new generation of movements. What’s not to love here? Actually, nothing. It is a no-brainer and will certainly be a hit in stores – maybe not as much as steel Daytona but don’t forget that the DJ is cornerstone of the Rolex collection. Read our story here.
3 – Rolex Sea-Dweller 43mm Ref. 126600
This is the watch we expected to see at the top of our ranking… but it only made it to the third place. The Rolex Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 126600 has generated quite a bit of discussion. Larger, equipped with a cyclops, more expensive, more fashion-oriented maybe. This is not what a portion of the collecting community was hoping to see. However, as we explained to you in a recent review, the SD 43mm was somehow required in the collection, to create differentiation, and to answer to the demand of certain markets for larger watches.
On the other hand, there is also some very good news from the SD 126600: a new movement for instance, an improved comfort on the wrist, a size that actually is not that disturbing on the wrist… And there’s the red line of text. A small revolution for Rolex. Will the brand dive a bit into heritage? Will the brand be a bit more unpredictable? We hope so. Read our article here.
4 – TAG Heuer Autavia 2017 Reedition
Offering further proof that TAG Heuer should focus more on its heritage and less on signing dozens of ambassadors every month (sorry, but it had to be said…), one of the watches that was of most interest to you at Baselworld 2017 was the revival of the iconic Autavia, the first watch designed by Jack Heuer himself. The watch you see here is an inspiration, not a copy-paste. And Mister Biver even emphasized the fact that this watch is not made for vintage collectors.
Why is that? With its 42mm case, its rather bulky proportions and its modern (yet pleasant) in-house calibre Heuer-02, it has been created for clients that want the flair of vintage without the inconvenience of vintage. On the other hand, the dial, the bezel and even the straps / bracelet use codes of the past, for a result that really looks good. Read the story here.
5 – Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 – SPB053 Modern 62Mas
As I said, the list to get your hands on the new Seiko 62Mas Reedition is a short one… Too short, knowing that many collectors will run to the nearest boutique to buy one. Don’t worry, if budget and availability are issues for you, Seiko has a solution, and one that you seemed to love: the modern interpretation of the 62Mas, the Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 and SPB053. To be clear, these watches are as good as you can imagine: a cool, slightly vintage style, great performances, the X on the dial meaning professional specifications, an ultra-reliable movement, a case with good proportions and nice details (the casebands are really superb) and a very decent price.
Indeed, the SPB051 and SPB053 will be available for a fraction of the price of the SLA017 – EUR 900 on silicon, EUR 1,100 on bracelet – and they will be available in two flavours, either with a black or a blue dial. A watch with real pedigree, real diving capacities and a modern look that can still clearly relate to the original. Read our article here.
6 – Patek Philippe Aquanaut Jumbo 42mm Blue Dial 5168g
One word to keep in mind: Jumbo, a word that resonates in Patek collectors’ minds for sure, and that indicate that the Aquanaut, celebrating this year its 20th anniversary, is growing. From a 40mm diameter (which actually wears like a 38mm), the watch will now be available in 42mm diameter (and guess what, it wears like a 40mm). Don’t worry though, the Aquanaut still retains its elegance, its thinness and its relative discretion. It is just a bit bolder now and more modernly sized.
As with the 40th anniversary editions of the Nautilus, Patek has decided to go on the luxurious side here, manufacturing the case in white gold. Sad for the wallet of course, but it comes with a striking blue dial, with a gradient finish that looks stunning in the metal. It will require CHF 34,000… Who loves doesn’t count (sort of). Read our hands-on article here.
7 – Bell & Ross Vintage Collection 2017
Now, this watch received some true love… and for good reason. When it’s good, it should be said loud and clear, and this new Vintage Collection by Bell & Ross is very good. 3 watches, classical complications and style, and some hard work done on the design and proportions. The smaller the better? Not what you expect from B&R, but they’ve changed. The new collection is slimmer, smaller, more elegant and very nicely designed.
Still based on the military and utilitarian roots of the brand, this new Vintage collection changes everything: the 43mm diameter is out, the long and pointy lugs too. Welcome to 41mm (and even 38.5mm on the 3-hander without rotating bezel) and curved lugs “hugging” the wrist. The finishes of the case have been improved, the dials still show the brand’s DNA, the hands are new… A perfectly executed “back to basics” watch, which we hope will remain like this in the collection for the coming years. Read the story here.
8 – Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41 Ref. 79540
Tudor is clearly hype these days, and this is reflected in our most read stories (and not only during Baselworld). Still, the shield could have been much higher in this ranking if we had talked about the new Black Bay Chronograph – we haven’t covered it yet, we need to time to comprehend it fully, but it’s coming. Instead, number 8 is the Black Bay 41, basically, the enlarged version of the super-desirable BB 36 of last year. Same recipe: clean dial, glossy finish, flat dial and crystal, flat bezel, no additional complication or function. The essence of the sports watch, now larger.
Indeed, the case is now going back the traditional 41mm diameter of the collection, and inside is an ETA movement (no in-house calibre here), making this watch the entry-level proposition for the 41mm (EUR 2,470). Don’t see this watch as a poor’s man offer though, or a too clean version, as when worn, there’s a lot going on in terms of reflections, and still this perfect balance between sporty and iconic. Read our hands-on here.
9 – Omega 1957 Trilogy 60th Anniversary
Clearly one that we expected to see much higher… To make the story short we, at the Monochrome redaction, bet on this 1957 Trilogy to be the star of the show. What is certain however are the highly positive reactions around these 3 watches and the amount of work done by Omega to make them as close as you can imagine to the original ones. The result is stunning.
The 1957 Trilogy is among the most iconic watches, with 3 names that resonate in all collectors’ minds: Speedmaster CK2915, Seamaster CK2913 and Railmaster CK2914. And the promise is more than just a rebirth of the style, as everything (diameters, hands, inner flanges, dials, bracelets, bezels, casebacks) has been analyzed and reproduced with great exactitude. Superb and already collectable. Read the story here.
10 – Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture
Last but not least, as a proof that value for money is an important factor, is the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture. Comments were clear; the brand has been working hard to offer a good chronograph, with a nice display fitting the 42mm of the case, done in-house, for a price that is extremely competitive (below EUR 4,000).
The Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture is classically designed, with a dressy style, in the vein of the brand’s collections, and offers a lot for the money: elegance, modernity, complex automatic flyback chronograph and date movement. Impressive. Hands-on and video here.