Every year, the Swiss city of Basel hosts Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair with hundreds of exhibitors and well over 100,000 visitors. As the ShopWorn team roamed the vast halls and gazed into the glass displays, we couldn’t help but notice some general themes that stood out amongst the vast assortment of new watches. Here is our take on the top watch trends from Baselworld 2018.
Bold New Versions of Iconic Luxury Watches
The GMT-Master, the Nautilus, and the Seamaster. These iconic luxury watches need no introduction to watch enthusiasts since they are almost as famous as the brands that make them. During Baselworld 2018, Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega unveiled new modern versions of some of their most popular long-standing models.
First there was the new Rolex GMT-Master II with the instantly recognizable blue and red “Pepsi” bezel. This contemporary edition of the inaugural GMT-Master pilot watch is crafted in stainless steel, outfitted with a Jubilee bracelet, and equipped with a new movement.
Then there was the Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar, which marries the brand’s famed luxury sports watch with a signature Patek complication—the perpetual calendar. The 18k white gold model boasts a range of practical functions including time, date, day, month, leap year, 24-hour, and moon phase displays, all set within the familiar porthole-shaped case and blue grooved dial.
Omega added some solid updates to their range of Seamaster Professional Diver 300M watches this year. The new Seamaster dive watches now sport 42mm cases, include ceramic details, feature the wave patterned dial, run on Omega’s Master Chronometer Caliber 8800 automatic movements, and come in a range of metal options including steel, gold, and two-tone.
Vintage Inspiration Remains Strong
For the last few years, leading watch brands have been looking back into their archives to take inspiration from vintage models. And 2018 is no different with the retro trend still going strong with plenty of vintage-inspired watches released at Baselworld.
An homage to the brand’s dive watches from the 1950s, Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight was a big hit at the show with its restrained 39mm case size, black domed dial with gilt details, in-house manufacture movement, and a choice of three straps.
The new Longines Heritage Military Watch looks like it could be purchased from a vintage store rather than a new boutique. Essentially a reissue of pilot’s watches supplied to the British RAF during WWII, the Military Watch has a 38.5mm steel case, an off-white dial with faux patina, and is powered by an automatic movement.
Oris debuted their Divers Sixty-Five collection back in 2015 as a tribute to the brand’s dive watches from the 1960s and for 2018, we saw two new models added to the lineup. With a choice between a 40mm case or a 36mm case, the new Divers Sixy-Five include steel cases, bronze bezels, domed sapphire crystals, and black and gold dials.
Speaking of sizes, there was a notable trend at Baselworld 2018 of the reduction of watch case sizes and the advent of the unisex watch. Traditionally, many high-end watchmakers have been focused on making mechanical timepieces for the men while depending on bejeweled quartz watches for the ladies. However, times are a changing and gender-neutral style is now also spreading to the luxury watch world.
Breitling unveiled a pared down version of their famous Navitimer watch with the Breitling Navitimer 1 Automatic 38 by reducing the size of the watch to 38mm and foregoing the chronograph function. The result is a beautiful pilot’s watch with the fundamental Navi aesthetic suited for either his or her wrist.
To celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary, Mido released a pair of commemorative Commander Shade watches. Flaunting a funky 1970s design, sized at just 37mm, fitted with a mesh bracelet, and available in either steel or PVD gold, this is one watch that certainly blurs the lines between gender specific watches.
Finally, Chanel presented their latest unisex Boy.Friend Skeleton Calibre 3 timepiece with the signature case inspired by the bottle cap of the renowned Chanel No. 5 perfume. In an effort to highlight the Maison’s focus on haute horology, this new version of the Chanel Boy.Friend watch is fitted with the company’s third in-house movement, which can be seen via the skeletonized dial.
Overall, Baselworld 2018 gave way to plenty of “safe bets” with reiterations of popular models, vintage inspired products, and crafting watches suited for either him or her. And we welcome the strategy of watch brands focusing on new watches that people actually want to wear!