Baselworld 2018

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The best men's watches at Baselworld 2018
his years Baselworld fair, in the city that borders both France and Germany, duly delivered the latest from watchmakings big guns, accompanied by promotional jamborees, press conferences, parties and noise.

Despite being held against the background positive news on global sales (Swiss exports are growing in double digits from a low base), Baselworld 2018 was a comparatively muted affair as brands played cautiously and visitor numbers were down again.

Baselworlds organisation has rightly taken some flak C it cant be right that a whole cohort of well-established, independent makers prefer to take space in the hotels next door to the exhibition halls.

If the brands were a little cautious for the most part, thats not a bad thing as it means more attention to detail and value. And it was the simpler watches that stole the show. Patek Philippe will have generated impossibly long waiting lists for the 5524R and 7234R Pilot Travel Time watches, but the winners, for me, were the two versions of the Ellipse that Patek presented to mark the 50th anniversary of the design.

 best men's watches at Baselworld 2018
The brand's standout new watch
The ebony black dial has a subtle sunburst pattern and is given warmth by the rose gold details and case (the matching cufflinks are pretty smart too).

Similarly, at Bulgari the headlines belong to a new record-breaking, ultra-slim, automatic tourbillon version of the Octo Finissimo. At 3.95mm, its a whole 0.35mm thinner than Piagets Altiplano C make of that what you will, but its also very smart, which is why I preferred the simpler steel and yellow gold versions of the Octo Finissimo Automatic. Both have a sand-blasted treatment that gives the watches a pale brightness thats utterly original.

Rolexs headline watch, the steel GMT Master II with its new Pepsi bezel was both wanted by Rolex collectors and well-received, but was still upstaged by the bi-colour, rose gold and steel version with its very smart chocolate and black bezel.

Always keen to demonstrate its range, Rolex also showed a rather special rainbow Daytona set with diamonds and sapphires and with meteorite subdials.

 best men's watches at Baselworld 2018
The new Rolex GMT-Master II "Pepsi"
The Swatch Group occupy a mini village within the main hall and highlights within were again about detail and design more than bold statement. Later this year well see the new generation Seamaster 300 which is the most comprehensive update of the model since its launch in 1993.

 best men's watches at Baselworld 2018
The new Omega Seamaster
Theres a new generation METAS movement, ceramic bezels, laser-engraved dials, reshaped hands and refined hour markers that all add up to a very pleasing package. Glashtte Originals green dial Sixties and a bronze ceramic Hyperchrome from Rado were the pick of the groups other brands.

 best men's watches at Baselworld 2018
Glashutte's newest offering
Seiko, oddly enough, are making (very) small steps in the opposite direction. Its twenty years since Seiko introduced the 9S movement thats still a benchmark for quality and durability across the industry. That means some celebration models from Grand Seiko that step a little higher than usual with textured dials and special finishes and if you can find one marked Special on the dial, it means just that and will run within +4 to -2 seconds per day.

 best men's watches at Baselworld 2018
The Nomos Autobahn
There were, of course, spectaculars on show from jewellery houses such as Graff and Harry Winston and the independents which will be the subject of another column. But if youre after a trend in the making, try the colour-blocking going on with both Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Racing Bird and Nomos Glashuttes new Autobahn (a word that they read as my way as much as motorway). A smaller affair this year then, but by no means lacking.


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