Worn & Wound’s Top Picks from Baselworld 2018

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Baselworld 2018 did not disappoint. The presenting brands came out strong, the collections were more focused than they have been in years past, and as our Managing Editor Ilya wrote here, it seems that the industry at large is putting its energy toward producing watches consumers actually want to buy.

Despite the overwhelmingly strong showing, there were a few pieces that stood out against the competition. Today, the Worn & Wound team picks their top pieces from Baselworld 2018. And no, it’s not all Black Bay Fifty-Eights.

Brad Homes – Seiko Presage ref. SJE073

For me, the standout watch from this year’s Baselworld is undoubtedly the Seiko ref. SJE073, a watch that impresses as much for the movement as for the aesthetics. At first glance, the SJE073 looks pretty close to the JDM ref. SARX055 (aka the “Baby Snowflake”) which was announced late last year and which we drooled over in our write-up here. You’ll see the real difference between the two watches in the profile, which reveals that the SJE073 comes in at under 10mm thick. Couple that with the beautiful dial and case finishing (the case is given Seiko’s high-end Zaratsu treatment usually reserved for the Grand Seiko line), and you’ve got an absolutely killer watch.

The thinness is made possible because of Seiko’s new caliber 6L35, which is 1.3mm thinner than the well-known and ubiquitous 6R15. It’s a better movement all around, with improved accuracy tolerances and an increased beat rate of 28,800 per hour.The watch is $2,200, so it’s a bit pricier than most watches in the Presage range, but there’s no denying that the Seiko ref. SJE073 is a whole lot of watch.

Allen Farmelo – Grand Seiko Hi-Beat ref. SBGH267

In the realm of $6,000 watches, Grand Seiko delivers unrivaled craftsmanship, and the limited edition Hi-Beat 36,000 SBGH267 is a noteworthy case in point. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Caliber 9S and the 50th of the Hi-Beat 61GS movements, the steel SBGH267 incorporates the renowned 9S85 movement, a vibrant blue anodized rotor, a Zaratsu polished case, and a mesmerizing spiral dial. The steel SBGH267 joins two other limited editions: a solid gold Special (+4/-2 secs/day) for $29,000, and a platinum Very Fine Adjusted (+3/-1) for $53,000. If, like me, you can live with the COSC-trouncing +5/-3 rating, the SBGH267 delivers the important goods for $6,300. Under a loupe, the blue spiral dial reveals a minuscule engraved pattern of G, S, and the Daini Seikosha logo. The touches of yellow-gold add needed warmth to the otherwise chilly colorway. Proportions are perfect at 39.5mm across and 13mm thick, and I’d use the drilled lugs to mount warm-colored leathers faster than you can say Hi-Beat.

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Christoph McNeill – Longines Heritage Skindiver

Once again, there were a plethora of amazing new releases at Baselworld, which one would think would make it hard to choose a favorite. Well, for me the choice was easy—it is, hands down, the Longines Heritage Skindiver. This wasn’t an official show novelty, but pictures and details of a prototype unexpectedly made their way to Instagram, and people got really, really excited.

The Skindiver is a faithful reissue of the rare ’60s Longines Nautilus. With its textured matte black dial, sword and spade shaped hands, and no date (yay!), this diver is about as perfect as a heritage reissue can get. The dial and hands have a tan “aged lume,” which I love, but I know that will be a source of some debate among collectors. The black PVD steel bezel looks very much like the original plastic bezel. An oversized, cross-hatched screw-down crown and domed sapphire crystal complete the look. As an avowed vintage dive watch junkie, a remake of such a rare and desirable gem is a welcome addition to Longines’ Heritage stable. I do have to say that the new Seiko 6159-7001 re-issue, the limited ref. SLA025, is a very close second, being another extremely faithful reproduction of a vintage grail. But since the Longines will be priced around $2,600, roughly half that of the Seiko, it makes the Skindiver a slam dunk for my favorite this year.

ZQ – Tissot Heritage Petite Seconde

My favorite timepiece of this year’s Baselworld is the Tissot Heritage Petite Seconde. Let me first detail what it’s not. It’s not powered by the latest and greatest in horological innovation, promising decades of lubricant-free wear. It’s not covered with multi-colored precious stones. And it does not have to burn a hole in my meager bank account before I can make an impulse purchase.

Here’s what it is. It’s an extremely handsome heritage-inspired watch, complete with a cool vintage logo, an Arabic numerals track, and leaf-shaped hands over a brushed silver dial set in a 42mm case. It’s definitely larger than what I expected, but flip the case over and you’ll see how well the movement—a trusty Unitas 6498-1— fits within the case.The fact that it’s a much cheaper alternative (approx $1,000) to the other vintage-inspired watches with a small seconds sub-dial released this year (I’m looking at you, Omega Seamaster 1948) is a real sweetener as well.

Oren Hartov – Tudor Black Bay GMT

This show had a lot of highlights, but if I had to go with one watch it would have to be the Black Bay GMT from Tudor as my favorite new offering. As someone who travels quite a bit and always loved the aesthetics of the 1675, but could never dream of affording one (anymore), this watch is sort of a dream. It hits all the right notes and comes in at an reasonable price for the specs (starting at $3,575 on strap), so what could be better? If I had to nitpick, I would have loved a 40 or even 39mm case size, but that’s about all I would change here. Tudor, take my money!Oh, wait! I spent it all on watches this year. Scratch that. Tudor, take a deposit from me and I’ll pay you the rest later!

Read more about the Tudor Black Bay GMT here.

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Mark McArthur-Christie – Nomos Autobahn

You’d have thought I’d have learned by now.  I dismissed the new Rolex Airking at Baselworld 2016 as “the illegitimate lovechild of an Explorer I and a tree frog.”  Then, six weeks later I’d done a complete volte-face and was on the web searching for an early used example. This year, I was hugely sniffy about the new Nomos Autobahn. I thought it was over-busy, confused, and a bit of a design mess. A cuckoo in the Nomos nest, if you will.

Shows how much I know. Before Baselworld is even over, I’m already clicking rather too regularly on the Nomos site and hovering over the “buy” button.So, what do you get here? A thin 41mm stainless case, Nomos’ new self-winding cal. DUW 6101, and a design that’s rather different from most Nomos (Nomoses? Nomoi?). That arc of Super-LumiNova across the dial is meant to echo car dash instruments; the hand arrangement and design likewise. I suspect it’s a love-it-or-hate-it watch, but I’m firmly in the “love it” camp. Not so much the road to Damascus as the autobahn to Glashütte.

Zach Weiss – Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

It’s shocking, I know, but I’m choosing the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight as my favorite watch from Basel. Crazy, right? In all seriousness, it’s the watch that I (and it seems like most everyone else) have been waiting for Tudor to bring out, even if I didn’t really think they would. I didn’t think they’d out-Sub Rolex, but they did.

The Fifty-Eight—at 39mm with no crown guards, no date, a gilt dial and bezel, in-house COSC-rated caliber, and a rivet bracelet—is the subiest Sub out there. It looks and feels more like the classic models than anything Rolex produces today, and yet it is thoroughly modern in its execution so you’re not sacrificing anything for looks. Priced at $3,500 on the bracelet, though you’ll likely be able to get it for less second-hand, it finally makes a classic Sub-style watch at least somewhat accessible, especially as vintage prices continue to rise.It’s the Black Bay to get, simply put.

Read more about the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight here.

Jon Gaffney – Seiko ref. SPB079

My Seikoholic reputation is well-known at this point, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my pick from Baselworld comes from the Japanese powerhouse. When rumor of the pending demise of the Marine Master 300, a model I’ve lusted after for years, leaked prior to the show, I was worried. Clearly I didn’t have to be.

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The SPB079 embodies what I love about Seiko; it looks great, it’s functional, and it’s a solid value proposition ($850 on strap). And with a 6R15 movement, it’ll run reliably. While the black bezel is more true to Seiko’s dive-watch heritage, the blue bezel would be my pick as it reminds me of some of the unique fades seen on 6306/6309 bezels, where a grey-blue emerges over time. Now if only Seiko would ditch the “X” from the dial, but that’s just me being picky.

Read more about the Seiko ref. SPB079 here.

Ilya Ryvin – MeisterSinger Metris

Two watches really stood out to me this year. Wait, scratch that. A bunch of them did, but the two that I would throw down some cash for are the Black Bay Fifty-Eight (drool) and the MeisterSinger Metris. But since I have to choose just one, I’m going to go with the latter—probably the more unexpected choice of the two, but, and trust me when I say this, the watch is oh so good. And at $1,500, it’s relatively reasonable for what you get. MeisterSinger nailed it. The new case design especially elevates the Metris, separating it from the rest of the brand’s catalog without deviating from the firm’s core ethos. And on the wrist, the watch is a dream. At 38mm, it’s delightfully small, but not at all lacking in presence. The balance is just right. Now I just want to MeisterSinger to churn out some other color combinations, not unlike what they offer across their other ranges. That would kill.

Read more about the MeisterSinger Metris here.

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