Watch heaven: The coolest timepieces from Baselworld 2015
From a robot named Melchior to one of Patek Philippe’s greatest ever watches, here’s what you missed in Basel last week.Neil Churchill March 29, 2015
Sarpaneva Korona K01 Northern Lights (above)
Rarely at the big Swiss watch shows is a timepiece unveiled that is genuinely new - completely different from all that has come before it. But thanks to a Nordic pairing, last week's Baselworld witnessed just that. Finnish company Stepan Sarpaneva has collaborated with a Swedish firm that specialises in luminous materials to produce the eye-catching Sarpaneva Korona Northern Lights. To say the incredibly bright watch face glows in the dark would be an understatement.
A concave-convex 12-sided steel case houses a moon phase disc made of 18k gold, while the rotor is inlaid with a somewhat evil looking moon face. Only eight pieces in each colour - green, blue and purple - will be made, priced at AED 58,000.
Ressence Type 3
Following up on its 2013 model which won the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genéve for Best Horological Revelation, the Ressence Type 3 comes with a temperature gauge to add to its list of technological wizardry. Just to remind you, that includes magnetic fields transmitting the movement to the time-keeping mechanism, no hands, no crown and a dial immersed in oil.
The Type 3's dial is submerged in 35 ml of oil, giving the appearance the indications are floating while the temperature sub-dial uses a mechanical thermal gauge to indicate the watch's optimal performance. No one expects you to be able to understand this watch, but on its appearance and ability, it's undoubtedly one of the coolest timepieces on the market today. Price on request.
Breitling B55 Connected
Instead of ignoring Silicon Valley's smartwatches, the Swiss elite continues to embrace modern-day tech into their timepieces, and none more so than Breitling. Known for pushing the boundaries with quirky add-ons and features, the B55 Connected is no different, combining both analogue and digital displays.
More than that though, the watch can be synced through a Breitling app to the user's smartphone, meaning you can carry out an array of functions from your handset including calibration, setting alarms, changing time zones, adjusting the display and activating the night mode. Just a concept for now, but it's coming.
Longines Pulsometer Chronograph
Back to something a little more traditional to the Basel masses. With its automatic monopusher chronograph inside a 40 mm steel case, the Longines Pulsometer Chronograph is every inch a classic gentleman's wristwatch, with more than a dash of technological modernity.
Embodying a retro style, the white lacquer dial uses a red pulsometer scale on two thirds of the perimeter, with a date indicator at the 6 o'clock position. A sapphire crystal caseback allows the wearer to view the caliber, while a self-winding movement offers 54 hours of power reserve and uses a column-wheel monopusher chronograph mechanism. Price: AED 15,400.
Hermès Slim d'Hermès
Fashion watches are no longer sniffed at. In the last year or so, Hermès has fast become one of our more favoured watch brands, and not just because their timepieces always look super stylish. At Baselworld, the French fashion brand showed these two editions from its Slim d'Hermès collection, one a time-only automatic and the other a dual-time perpetual calendar (pictured).
Both use thin automatic movements that are made in-house by the company itself - proof if any was needed that Hermès is a serious watchmaker to contend with. The time-only automatic is a bargain at AED 28,000 while the perpetual calendar is unsurprisingly dearer: AED 143,000.
H. Moser Funky Blue Perpetual Calendar
For its retro cool blue fumé dial and distressed brown leather strap alone, H. Moser's Funky Blue Perpetual Calendar may just be our favourite watch from Baselworld 2015. Stripping down the typical perpetual face of cluttered sub-dials and numerous hands, this timepiece puts the leap-year indicator on the reverse, does away with the day-of-the-week indicator altogether, and does something clever with its monthly indicator.
A tiny arrow buried beneath the hour and minute hands counts out the months, using the hour markers as monthly indicators, beginning at '6' for January. The gorgeous blue dial with its bold date window will not fail to catch the attention - and envy - of those around you. Price: AED 228,000.
Patek Philippe 5370P
A 'best of' watch list would not be so without a Patek Philippe somewhere in the ranks. The 5370P is not here by default however, it's here because some are calling it one of the greatest Patek timepieces ever made. The dial is made in-house and despite its appearance is actually white gold. After being baked in an oven however at 850 degrees, it turns into an intense black colour that does not fade over time. Despite its rich, white gold/black enamel dial and Breguet numerals, the reverse is every inch as stunning as the face.
The glass caseback offers a view of one of the greatest ever chronograph calibers, the CHR 29-535 PS. The 5370P is also the first chronograph by Patek to have a split-seconds function since the 1970s. All of that goes some way to explaining the eye-watering price of AED 916,000. (It's also worth noting the legendary Swiss watch house finally answered customer demand at Baselworld and released its classic Nautilus in rose gold - you'll either love it or hate it.)
Laurent Ferrier Traveller Black
Here at EDGAR, we've never kept our love for travel watches a secret. And while Laurent Ferrier's Traveller Black is not strictly speaking a traveller timepiece, the map on its dial is enough to pique our interest.
With the window at 3 o'clock displaying the date, the adjacent window at 9 o'clock shows the hour in your second time zone - though that's not offering a fraction of the accuracy that comes with a fully-fledged travel watch - such as these. But it is the two-tone map on the dial that we love, which is actually a silver dome covered in black enamel, that when worn away reveals the continents. Price: AED 282,000.
Less of a timepiece, more of a time-telling robot. No prizes for guessing which company this belongs to. Melchior, as it is named, is the latest blue-skied idea to have come from the creative genius of MB&F, Maximilian Büsser. The 15-pound robot is a table clock with a 40-day power reserve - the metre is in his belly - and retrograde seconds in his eyes.
The domed sapphire head has a view of his brain - or movement, in the clock's case - and time telling can be done via separate discs in his breastplate. The coolest aspect though - or certainly the one that will bring out the child in you - is the Gatling gun on Melchior's left arm, which houses the key needed to wind him. Only 99 pieces will be made.
Laurent Ferrier image credit: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business