After Robin and Brice shared their personal Top 5 watches from Baselworld 2016, it’s time for my Top 5 of the most impressive watches from this year’s edition of Baselworld. My choices of watches are not exclusively focused on the most expensive or most complicated timepieces; sometimes all it takes to make a strong impression is a great looking watch for a great price. At Baselworld, it was again clear that some brands are very good in that! Think of Frederique Constant who introduced the world’s most affordable perpetual calendar, Tudor with their new (well, last year they introduced it) in-house movement that finds its way into the collection, and Meistersinger and Oris still doing great things. However I’ll start my Top 5 with the watch that I finally (the wait was long) got to see ‘in the metal’ on the first day of the fair.
1 – Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire
The first day of Baselworld, Wednesday, is press day and many brands do press conferences to inform members of the press about their latest creations. We had another plan for that morning and had our first meeting of the fair with Tim and Bart Grönefeld, the Horological Brothers, who recently presented the Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire. However when they presented it there were only computer drawings, and well before the fair I’ve seen (and tried) some 3D printed models. Based on that, plus what I know that these gentlemen can do, I was very eager to finally see the watch myself in the metal. When I saw it that Wednesday morning, it was all I hoped for, and more, and better!
The main complication, a remontoire, is not unique however to me it is one of the most attractive complications in the entire horological field, because it’s focused to achieve a constant force. The Grönefelds included a governor to balance out the forces in the gear train, making the watch (theoretically) even more precise. Again one of those stunning ‘extra’s’ that make a watch guy’s heart beat faster. Especially because they choose to show the governor on the dial side, reminding of the 8 seconds that the remontoire spring is being charged, and subsequently releases its energy.
Another feat of any of the Grönefeld’s watches is the stainless steel bridges. The bridges are beautifully shaped / designed and the finishing is simply spectacular and breathtaking. When that’s the impact that a watch has, there’s no doubt that it is my favourite of the show. Another important factor: the price. In this case it’s very competitive, to say the least… First place is firmly taken by the Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire. The 1941 Remontoire is limited to 188 pieces and has a price tag of approx. € 50.000 before tax.
2 – Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante
Next up is another watch that I was very eager to hold in my hands, try on the wrist, and inspect through a loupe. When the press release came in, I was very excited to read the news and when I heard the price I was simply baffled (it’s just under 60k). Angelus, the brand that was re-launched last year with the introduction of the U10 Tourbillon Lumière, introduced a host of highly complicated and highly skeletonised watches. All of them are stunning beauties, and one stood out of the crowd even more, hence it made it easily to my Top 5 Baselworld watches. I’m talking about the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante.
Imagine a 46mm titanium case and inside a highly skeletonized and technical looking movement. Than you dive into it a little deeper and you see it’s a chronograph. No wait; there are two central chronograph hands, so it’s a rattrapante or double split in English. Moreover it’s a rattrapante with double fly-back function, plus the regulator is a tourbillon escapement. Now that’s an offering, and when you also know that the price is just under € 60k, it gets even better. Downsides? Nun, well except that it’s limited to 25 pieces, so by the time I raised the required budget it will be long sold out. What a stunner!
3 – Tudor Black Bay 36
After these two high-rollers it could be difficult to name number 3, 4 and 5; however I must say that I can enjoy a nice and understated classic as much as a visual bewildering display like the stainless steel bridges of the Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire, or the skeleton tourbillon movement of the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante. My number three is actually a very understated timepiece, both in its style as in its size. It is the Tudor Black Bay 36 (see our review here). While its bigger siblings are full swing dive watches, this smaller iteration comes without a diver’s bezel and has a depth rating of only 150m. Does it bother me? Not at all, because A) it looks absolutely great, B) the case and bracelet are finished very nicely and C) the price point is again very good.
A few years ago this watch would have been introduced as a ladies watch, however now it is presented as a unisex watch. And that’s a good thing, because we here at Monochrome aren’t shy of smaller watches. One of the good things of smaller watches is that you really get to see the strap or bracelet and we feel that this is part of the entire design. Most big watches take up all space on the wrist, and the strap can only be seen from the side. Altogether a very striking watch from Tudor that comes either on a steel bracelet or leather strap with folding buckle. Price tag will be € 2.370 (on leather) or € 2.670 (on steel bracelet) and I’m having a hard time choosing (steel or leather, the watch being already approved).
4 – Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5164R
Last year’s Rolex Yacht-Master in everrose gold made a very good impression on me. The rubber strap, the rose gold sporty watch, which is neither too big, nor too small. It’s sporty, it’s chic, dressy and casual. Well, this year Patek Philippe surprised us with a rose gold edition of the Aquanaut TravelTime. This watch is one of my favourites of the brand and this particular timepiece has the same great balance between classy, sporty, dressy, casual and chic that the aforementioned Rolex has.
All together a stunning timepiece, great design, great fit on the wrist, a very comfortable rubber strap and superb functionality. Only a few watches are able to offer such a lovely mix of so much horological sweetness. This Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5164R might not be the first to come to mind when selecting your Top 5 best watches from Baselworld, however I keep looking at the photos that I made of it…. I guess that says enough.
5 – Chopard XPS 1860 steel
I’ve always had a soft spot for a micro rotor powered movement, especially when it’s finished to a high degree. That’s also the reason why I own a Chopard Sport 2000 with a beautifully finished micro-rotor movement. Watches with this movement are part of the L.U.C collection and this year Chopard celebrates the 20th anniversary of the L.U.C collection. For this occasion, the Fleurier-based brand introduced the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 that pays homage to the very first L.U.C 1860 that featured the beautiful calibre 1.96.
The new XPS 1860 sports an updated version of that movement, which is now dubbed L.U.C calibre 96.01-L. The watch, available in a 18k rose gold limited edition of 100 pieces, and a non-limited edition in stainless steel. The case measures a pleasant 40 mm in diameter and is only 7.2 mm thick; that’s a proper dress watch! The dial shows central hour and minute hands, and a sub dial for the seconds, and a date window at the 6 o’clock position. A perfect layout for a classic dress watch, which matches so well with the watch’ dimensions. Another great feat of the new Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860: it’s a certified chronometer! And the best is that it comes at a price of € 19.950 for the limited edition in fair-mined 18k rose gold, or € 8.290 euro for the steel version. With such properties and price, I can imagine that the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 will fast climb on the wish-list rankings.