Editorial: Seven Musings and Takeaways from Baselworld 2018

A much more focused Baselworld (and industry)

Much has been said about the shrinking of Baselworld and how it is a reflection of the industry at large. But I felt that this year the show was leaner, more focused, and frankly far more interesting than it has been in years past. And the brands were acting like it, too. Collections generally featured far less extraneous SKUs. Watches were also priced better than they have been in recent memory, and there seemed to be a real shift in offering watches hovering around (and under) the $5,000 mark that actually worked for that price tag. In other words, brands seem to be focusing on watches people actually want to buy. To me, that’s a sign of good things to come.

Nomos’ biggest release this year isn’t a watch…

It’s a movement. The new neomatik date DUW 6101 caliber took three years to develop, and while it may seem like a small update to what already exists in Nomos’ arsenal, it’s an important one. Nomos now has a super thin (3.6mm) automatic movement with a quick-set date. That’s awesome, especially at Nomos’ price point. Plus, it’s a movement worthy of 2018. The date can be adjusted in both directions, the changeover happens in a small time frame close to midnight, and should you find yourself accidentally adjusting the date too close to the moment of changeover the wheel disengages to avoid damaging the movement.  Kudos, Nomos.


“High-end” becomes more accessible

This is a trend we picked up a few years back, but this year it felt even more palpable. From silicon hairsprings and in-house movements to enamel dials and Zaratsu-finished cases, we’re seeing a greater push for high-end details and craftsmanship at new, lower price points. Seiko was especially impressive in this regard with their limited release of two watches featuring Shippo enamel dials. But they’re not the only ones. We saw a lot of interesting offerings from the Swatch Group, some smaller independents, and, of course, Tudor.

Tudors for everyone!

It’s something that we’ve said in the office among ourselves before, but we now definitely feel confident in saying it out loud. Tudor’s goal is to make a dive watch for everyone, and they’re damn well succeeding. With the new Black Bay GMT, which confidently steps into Rolex territory, and the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which gives you the vintage proportions you’ve been waiting for, Tudor is absolutely dominating their price segment, especially if you’re looking for a dive watch. And if what they have on offer isn’t 100-percent up to what you’re looking for, give them time. Tudor is shaping up to be the kings of iterating, and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot coming out of these two new Black Bay sub-families in the following year.

Smaller-wristed watch lovers, rejoice!

Tudor, Oris, MeisterSinger, Omega, Longines, Bell & Ross, Rado, Hamilton, etc. —all of these firms now proudly offer sub-40mm watches. Heck, Tudor even released an entire collection—1926—in four case sizes right off the bat, and three of those sizes are under 40mm. The industry is catching up to trends, and all of us who love smaller watches are better off because of it.

Heritage isn’t going anywhere

This one isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s nevertheless worth restating. Heritage and neo-vintage is as strong this year as it was last, perhaps even more so. Nearly every brand we met with had at least one reissue that sent our hearts aflutter.

With the price of vintage watches climbing ever higher, having the option of buying a watch with vintage aesthetic cues (and one that’s also built to modern expectations) is most welcome.

Micro-brands are making strides

Right off the main complex is the Hyperion hotel, where in years past smaller brands would take meetings because the price of exhibiting in the halls was way too exorbitant. Every year that I have attended Baselword, I have seen the number of brands doing this grow. But this year, that growth was exponential. We saw so many of the brands we regularly discuss on W&W, including numerous Wind^Up alumni. This is an exciting shift in the industry, and no doubt it’s one that the industry needs to be aware of.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.