W&W’s Top Picks From Baselworld 2019

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Baselworld’s come and gone, and despite it being a sleepier show than it has been in past years, there were some great watches to come out of the fair. We’ve gathered some of the Worn & Wound editorial team to lay out their top picks — regardless of price — from this year’s show. Let us know your favorite watches from Baselworld 2019 by leaving a comment below.

Mark McArthur-Christie – H. Moser et Cie Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon
Price – $320,000

I’m a Basel grump. Vintage is usually my bag, so lots of flashy new stuff is about as appealing as a car controlled by a computer, not a carburetor. But this year, I take my metaphorical hat off to H. Moser et Cie for their Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon. I’m already a Moser fan for the way they poke fun at the whole Swiss haute horlogerie thing whilst making things like this. You get a completely plain, black lacquered, dial but look a little closer and there’s a flying tourbillon with a skeleton bridge and a pair of minute repeater hammers. Moser have even added space to the case to act as a soundbox (a little like a guitar). Not so grumpy now.

Ed Estlow – Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition
$8,600

2019 was an odd year for Baselworld, what with Swatch Group pulling out (and others following), major brands releasing unexpected “love it or hate it” pieces, and the uncertainty around the show itself.

But let me back up. I’ve always been a fan of Breitling (I own two), and especially the Navitimers both old and new. But I love the vintage pieces especially, which are smaller and somehow more elegant. So imagine my surprise when amongst all the controversy, Breitling announced the new Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, a watch that scratches nearly every watch related itch I have! I nearly went incontinent!

The original 806 is legendarily popular among Navitimer cognoscenti, and the Re-Edition is faithful to the original in nearly every way. The overall dimensions (40.9mm x 13.43mm), the beaded bezel, the slide-rule (of COURSE the slide-rule), black dial and sub-dials, even the old winged logo. 

The only real updates, Breitling calls them “concessions to modernity,” are water resistance (boosted to 30 meters — older Navis were famously un-water-resistant), Super-LumiNova, and a brand spanking new movement: Caliber B09, a COSC-certified hand-cranker based on the B01. Per the Breitling website, the B09 was “developed specifically for historical re-editions.” I take that as a hint that we’ll be seeing siblings joining the 806 1959 Re-Edition.

All well and good — everybody’s doing it — but for me, the 806 Re-Edition would be enough. The original 806 was a great watch and 1959 was a great year. Not quite my birth year, but my wife pointed out it’s hers, so of course this is a great watch!

The Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition comes equipped with a black leather strap, is limited to 1959 numbered pieces, and is priced at $8,600.

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Brad Homes – Tudor Black Bay P01
$3,950

For many reasons, my top pick of Baselworld 2019 is the Tudor Black Bay P01. From the Instagram flood on the first morning of Basel, right through the disparaging memes that followed soon after, I found myself rooting for the outcast. But it’s not just that. I like the dial, love the bezel, and I even think the snowflake hands work well here — and I’m no fan of snowflake hands. The asymmetrical case with the 4:00 crown is the kind of design feature that I’m naturally drawn to, so that ticks another box for me.

And then there’s the lug/end-link/bezel-locking apparatus. I like the fact that the design serves a particular purpose, even if that purpose is almost completely redundant to me and my desk-diving lifestyle. 

In the wake of the show, the consensus has slowly moved around to appreciating that the watch is well made and really has to be seen in the metal to appreciate. I’m picking it as my favorite watch of Basel 2019 even though I haven’t yet had the chance to strap it to my wrist, and accepting that when I do it will likely be a complete mismatch. Nevertheless, I appreciate the P01 because it’s not safe, because it’s not for everyone, and because Tudor went through with it knowing full well (I assume) it would never be a universal hit.

Read more about this watch here

Ed Jelley – Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT
$17,600

Bulgari is known for breaking records at Basel and this year’s new Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is no exception. It’s currently the thinnest mechanical chronograph (with s GMT function to boot) at a minuscule 6.9mm thick. I kid you not, I’ve opened up a tab in my browser to search for this watch every day since it’s been announced.

It’s super futuristic, something I’d probably look foolish wearing given my lack of sci-fi super-villain wardrobe, and it’s quite expensive. I’m generally not a fan of watches like this, but there’s so much cool tech and design in this one that it’s going to be hard to ignore. 

The case is crafted from brushed titanium with hard angles galore. You have to look really hard to see the chronograph pushers, and I straight up didn’t even see the jumping GMT pusher on the left side of the case until watching a hands- on video. A clean grey dial with black markings and skeletonized hands makes the watch legible and refined. I particularly enjoy the typeface chosen for the large “12” up top. 

Flip the watch over, and you might have to do a double take. At first, the peripheral rotor isn’t so obvious, but once you realize what you’re looking for, you’ll wonder why this isn’t seen in more watches. Ah, here’s why. At $17,600, this watch isn’t cheap, but the price feels like a value when compared to other watches in the category. I could go on and on about it, but the takeaway for me is that the design of this watch truly feels like it’s looking into the future of watchmaking. I hope it inspires other brands to do the same. 

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Zach Kazan – Zodiac Aerospace GMT
$1,695

If you had told me a few months ago that my honest to goodness favorite watch of Baselworld 2019 would be the incredibly practical Zodiac reissue of a classic Aerospace GMT in a color variant that many have dubbed “creamsicle,” and not, I don’t know, a solid gold Doxa Sub that sells for $70,000 or a Hublot Big Bang Rainbow, I would have said “but you’re missing the whole point of Baselworld!”

See, I’m a sucker for the wild and crazy novelties that brands use in a kind of ongoing “can you top this” competition. This year, however, the watch that sang to me was a humble and useful retro GMT in a killer colorway. I wasn’t the only one who was smitten by this thing, though, as all 182 pieces were spoken for by the end of the show. If, like me, you weren’t quick enough in pulling the trigger on the perfectly summery orange and blue bezeled watch, remember that there’s always hope for a “watermelon” variant next year.

Read more about this watch here

Christoph McNeill – Bulova Computron
$295

While Baselworld 2019 may have been a disappointment for some, there were still a lot of interesting releases this year, and several that I really liked. But when I was asked what my favorite was from the show, one watch popped into my head immediately before any other: the Bulova Computron from the brand’s archive series. I’m a “vintage” guy through and through, and I always lean to the heritage releases, of which there were quite a few of this year. But the Computron is so well executed and totally unexpected that it was love at first sight.

As I noted in my initial write up, the LED Computron harkens back to my childhood and brings back a warm, nostalgic feeling for me. It’s not often (pretty much never really) that a battery-powered watch evokes any kind of reaction for me other than indifference. The Computron is retro-cool, while still being as futuristic today as it was in the late 1970s. It is available in three colors: gold and black (with red LED), and steel (with blue LED). The gold version is decidedly more true to the original, but the steel version with its brilliant blue LED display is simply sublime. And for $295, how can you go wrong? 

Read more about this watch here

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Ilya Ryvin – Grand Seiko Elegance Ref. SBGY003
$7,600

On the last episode of The Worn & Wound Podcast, I had mentioned that while Baselword was a bit lacking in show-stopping pieces, the fair was actually rich with watches that you or I may actually want to go out and buy. Sure, there were hifalutin gems like that Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Ed (who, by the way, I wholeheartedly agree with) wrote about above. But generally, I tend to prefer something a touch simpler and more classic, and the watch that most caught my eye was the new Grand Seiko Elegance Ref. SBGY003. 

I had the chance to try out the new Elegance case a few months before Baselworld, and then and there I determined that the case was a winner. It was perfectly sized at around 39mm, and the softer case lines made it supremely wearable. But the case is only a fraction of the story with the SBGY003. 

There’s also the dial, with its dramatic, ridged starburst pattern reminiscent of Seiko’s “Cocktail Time,” but much more refined. And then there’s the movement: Grand Seiko’s new Cal. 9R31, a hand-winding Spring Drive caliber with the time up front, the power reserve indicator around back, and 72 hours of power reserve. Thanks to the new 9R31 caliber inside, the watch is only 10.2mm thick.

This one comes in at $7,600 and is limited to just 700 units, which is a damn shame, because this is, in my opinion, one of the best Grand Seikos in recent years. 

Read more about this watch here

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