12 must-have watches from Baselworld 2016

With inspiration from ejector seats, railways and meteorites, the watches at this year's Baselworld did not disappoint. 

March 31, 2016

After an SIHH in January this year filled with anniversary models, corporate partnerships and carbon treatments, we were anticipating more of the same at Baselworld. If you're new to watches, the two events are mecca for timepiece enthusiasts. 

After flying to the Swiss city to try on the watches first-hand, EDGAR left feeling excited for the horology world's future. Here are 12 reasons why: 

Monsieur de Chanel

We’ve been waiting five years for Chanel to reveal their first men’s watch. And, after all the hoopla, we can safely say it was most definitely worth the wait. The first thing to notice is the octagonal box, which holds the jumping hour figure. The eight-sided shape is a reference to Paris’ Place Vendôme but also a wink to the bottle stopper of the French house’s iconic Chanel No. 5 fragrance.

Inside the Monsieur is the Calibre 1, Chanel’s first in-house high-watchmaking movement that has been constructed by independent Swiss watchmaker Romain Gauthier. The movement has 170 components, some of which can be seen through the back of the watch. This sophisticated and masculine watch is a limited edition of 300 (half in beige gold and half in white gold) and signals a major new landmark in the French house’s history. chanel.com

MBII White

The British brand has strengthened its relationship with the ejector seat manufacturers Martin-Baker via the introduction of this new watch that features a first for the collection: a white face. Tested in the same extreme crash conditions endured by the ejector seats themselves, the sturdy watch is immune to magnetic fields.

Key features of the watch’s appearance are a nod to ejector seats: the knurling on the barrel and side of the case, plus the black and yellow loop at the end of the second hand that echoes the pull strap that a pilot reaches for when in need of a lifeline. bremont.com

Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater

The jewellery brand’s surge into the highly complicated watch world continues with the world record breaking Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater. The BVL Calibre 362 movement that has been developed and produced in-house, is just 3.12mm thick, nestled in a case that measures only 6.85mm, making it the world’s thinnest minute repeater (Vacheron Constantin held the previous record at 8.09mm).

With an understated sandblasted titanium dial this limited edition piece of just 50 shows that Bulgari’s impressive watch work continues. bulgari.com

Sirius Flying Regulator

The most striking aspect of this new watch unveiled at Baselworld is the midnight blue guilloche dial (it’s also available in silver or black) that has been designed especially for this range. Coupled with the plaited strap, there’s a nice relaxed feel to this piece.

The sub-dials showing seconds and hours also lend a sportiness that blends well with the elegance of the dark blue dial. The movement, meanwhile, can be seen through the glass back of the watch, and the 40mm case comes in either solid red gold or stainless steel. chronoswiss.com

Speedmaster Grey Side Of The Moon Meteorite

If you liked Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey’s philosophical sci-fi adventure movie about space and time, this watch is for you. With a dial made from slices of the Gibeon meteorite that fell in prehistoric times in Namibia, it’ll make you ponder why we’re all here and what could be out there. The 44.25mm case holds a piece of meteorite that has been acid etched to reveal its beautiful structure.

It’s thought that between 2,000 and 5,000 meteorites weighing more than 1kg fall to Earth every year. Three quarters disappear in the ocean or the desert but some are found. Thanks to the flecked Widmanstätten pattern, named after the Austrian scientist who discovered it, no watch in this collection will look the same. omegawatches.com

Heritage Pilot Café Racer Spirit

Weathered, worn, and faded: Zenith’s new pilot watch looks like it’s seen some action in more than a few warzones. Bold khaki numbers in a retro font stand out on the faded, military green dial set in a beefy 45mm case. A nubuck strap adds to the vintage look of the watch.

The curious name, Café Racer, comes from the motorbike clubs of Britain in the 1920s that used to speed up and down the motorways from café to café. zenith-watches.com

Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black

Ten years after All Black concept was launched, Hublot has marked the decade with a new watch that forgot to put its clothes on. The 45mm case of this limited edition piece (500 watches) is made from smoked sapphire crystal, allowing you to see the movement inside. Even the strap is transparent.

There’s no question about its durability as the scratch-resistant sapphire is the second toughest material after diamond. Jean-Claude Biver, Chairman of Hublot, says that the brand is ‘playing with received ideas’. We have to say he’s got a point. hublot.com

Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu

The old art of grand feu enamelling has been paired with the modern skills of award-winning graphic designer and typographer Philippe Apeloig for this beautifully clear and understated watch from Hermès. Limited to 100 pieces only, Apeloig said he was inspired by musical notes for the highly-legible numbers. The dial is a 0.2mm thick copper disc that sits inside a 39.5mm rose gold case.

In the eight-hour grand feu process, the disc is covered with a secret liquid and then dusted with enamel powder before being blasted in an 830 degrees Celsius kiln five or six times. The result, as you can see, is magnificent. hermes.com

Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

After the hugely positive reaction to its original Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, Blancpain listened to the plaudits and have now released a version of the watch in satin brushed plasma grey ceramic. A unidirectional bezel grey surrounds a beautiful blue dial, embedded in a chunky 43.6mm case that’s 13.83mm thick and water resistant to 300 meters.

The vintage feel of this diver’s watch, a range that began in the 1950s, is reinforced by a sporty navy blue NATO strap. blancpain.com

L.U.C Perpetual Chronograph

It’s been 20 years since Chopard first picked up tools at its manufacture in Fleurier in Switzerland. To celebrate the landmark, Chopard now release this manual flyback chronograph and perpetual calendar. Made with Fairmined 18 carat gold from mines in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, the 45mm case is 15mm thick.

The dial is coated with grey ruthenium and packed with information: seconds, date, months, a 12-hour counter, a 30-minute counter, day and night indicator and moon phase display. chopard.com

Avenger Hurricane 

The luxury Swiss brand released a beast at Baselworld in the form of the Avenger Hurricane (which would make a great name for a superhero or a jet fighter. Or pretty much anything actually).

Measuring a wrist-weakening 50mm in diameter the case of this masculine piece is made from the tough yet light new material called Breitlight, which is three times lighter than titanium and much harder. The fabric/rubber strap, chunky push-pieces and 24-hour numerals add to the rugged military feel of this stop-and-stare watch. breitling.com

The Longines RailRoad

The link between Longines and railways goes back a long way and, with this new watch unveiled at Baselworld, the relationship looks set to continue. This RailRoad watch has been inspired by a piece from the 1960s. Set in a 40mm steel case, the watch has a power reserve of 64 hours and holds the L888.2 automatic winding calibre, produced exclusively for Longines. 

Longines have produced watches for employees of railway companies in countries such as Canada, Chile, Italy, Romania and the United States. On the back is an engraving inspired from the original decorations that were put onto pocket watches in the 1920s. longines.com