March 31, 2017
by Ariel Adams
With a relatively affordable price from the celebrated AHCI independent watch maker, the Moscow-made Joker is a limited edition “fun” watch fueled by personality and prestige. Konstantin Chaykin offers up a comfortable and elegantly casual timepiece whose dial is meant to look like a Joker face (roughly of Batman universe origin). The eyes are the hour and minute dials, while the pupils are the indicators. For the mouth, Chaykin redesigned the moon phase indicator – which still happens to be a fully functioning moon phase indicator. What you get is a serious high-end timepiece with a fun theme and a silly face on the dial guaranteed to make you smile each time you look at it. It is easily one of the top watches of the show from an independent watch maker, with a price of 6,990 euros.
With record-setting thinness and a new micro-rotor automatic movement, the 2017 Bulgari Octo Finissimo might be the watch that really puts the modern Octo collection on the map. The automatic movement is added to the Octo Finissimo’s manually wound and tourbillon movement family. It offers practicality and a lovely form in a thin profile that you must put on your wrist to appreciate. Buglari introduces this new watch in a novel way, eschewing the dial and case finishing that people were previously familiar with.
On a matte alligator strap or a matching slim new bracelet, the Buglari Octo Finissimo Automatic is 39mm wide in a sandblasted titanium case with a true to the Octo collection dial with black hands and hour markers. Sexy on the wrist, this is nevertheless a fresh way of appreciating the Octo watch collection, and in future forms is sure to become a staple of what people consider when they think of Bulgari’s men’s watches. These are priced at 11,900 CHF on a leather strap and 12,900 CHF on a full titanium bracelet.
I’ve never been to a Baselworld that hasn’t introduced a new Speedmaster collection timepiece – and there were certainly more than a couple for 2017 as it is the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster family’s beginning. While the Apollo Moon missions made the Speedmaster famous, the origins of the collection are actually in motorsports (hence the name). The 2017 Omega Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial Master Chronometer introduces refinements more than novelty, but refinements that make good watches even better.
The big news is the introduction of the in-house-made caliber 9900 family of movements which are now given full METAS certification. The 44.25mm-wide modern Speedmaster case is refined to be thinner, and some versions have exciting new technology such as enamel-baked printing for the bezel. Aesthetic, technical, and comfort refinements all around (as well as some updated colors and slightly reduced pricing) make the 2017 Omega Speedmaster Racing watch family a winner. These are priced at 7,800 CHF (steel on leather strap), 7,900 CHF (steel bracelet), 10,300 CHF (gray dial with two-tone steel and 18k Sedna gold on leather strap), 22,750 CHF (blue dial with full 18k Sedna gold case).
Designed in honor of early Heuer Autavia watches, the TAG Heuer 2017 Autavia Caliber Heuer 02 combines a design TAG Heuer collectors asked for with a movement they have been eagerly awaiting. The Heuer 02 was introduced, then delayed, and now reintroduced for the TAG Heuer Autavia, offering one of the best modern chronographs on the Swiss watch market (at these prices). The classic “panda dial” looks are a handsome crowd-pleaser, and fans of the brand will appreciate both the direct nod to history as well as to the tastes of the people buying the watches. The TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02 is priced at $5,150 on a leather strap and $5,300 on a steel bracelet.
While it might not be suitable for daily wear (given the massive size of its case) the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Professional Diver 1000m is both capable and coherent – making it an ideal example of what those who appreciate “tool” watches should be looking for. This is the deepest diving “Eco-Drive” light-powered watch Japanese Citizen has produced and is an ideal example of what Promaster collection watches are good at. It also aesthetically builds on a long history of Citizen diving watches, coming together in what (for now) is the “big poppa” of professionally-themed dive watches from the brand.
Designed like a serious instrument, legibility (in both light and dark conditions) is fantastic, while the dial has an important power reserve indicator (you don’t want your watch not working underwater). The large, 52.5mm-wide and very thick case is produced from specially treated for durability “Super Titanium,” and the rotating bezel has a new locking system. Despite the size, wearing comfort is pretty good thanks to the diver’s style rubber strap. It isn’t cheap, but you really do feel as though you get what you pay for at $2,300.
With a price that won’t make eyes (of seasoned watch lover’s) bulge, the new movement inside of the Zenith Defy El Primero 21 is a sophisticated blend of contemporary skeletonized aesthetics and technology. Building on the iconic 5Hz El Primero automatic chronograph, the El Primero 21 adds a 50Hz second regulation system to control a 1/100th-of-a-second chronograph. This timing mechanism is essentially an added element which features some compelling new technology. With a new modern and masculine case, this is truly the Zenith watch of today, that ideally contains what people loved about the Zenith of yesterday. The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 comes in a few styles, priced at $10,600 in non-skeltonized titanium, $11,600 in skeletonized titanium, and $12,600 for skeletonized black titanium.
We love Casio for its ceaseless focus on pushing the limits of wristwatch technology, as well as dedication to besting their previous achievements. The culture of “never standing still” is alive and well at Casio that for 2017 introduced a new concept called “Casio Connected.” In a basic sense, this helps refine one distinct personality of the “smartwatch” that Casio has been working on for years. With Bluetooth-connectivity, the GPW2000 collection G-Shock Gravitymaster updates its time using your smartphone, and also has a companion app that allows your smartphone to easily operate various features of the watch as well as learn important statistics about the watch’s performance. Gone are the days that Bluetooth in a more traditionally analog watch was there to give you missed call notifications. The watch also includes GPS, as well as a beautiful high-tech design that is very fitting for the concept. All of this in a more wearable package that is about 20% smaller than the previous generation G-Shock Gravitymaster (that didn’t have all this tech) with a price of $800.
What is impressive here is design and value proposition. Swiss Maurice Lacroix isn’t shy about the fact that, at times, other brands may inspire them. That is appropriate for Maurice Lacroix to admit because they have plenty of totally unique designs. The Masterpiece Double Retrograde Moonphase is akin to a “baby Breguet,” in my eyes, which is total something the market wants. Maurice Lacroix includes an in-house movement and a price that is very aggressive given previous generation Masterpiece models. At the end of the day, this watch is both classically handsome, modern in wearing size, and includes a value proposition that even the most seasoned watch collectors can stand behind with a price of 4,900 CHF.
Building on its historic and important KonTiki collection of dive watches, for 2017 Swiss Eterna debuts a new model in a bronze case with their in-house Caliber 39 automatic movement. What is interesting is that, also this year, the brand launched a steel (versus bronze) version of the watch that is very different. Not only does the steel model have a different case thickness but also a different dial. Really attractive on the wrist – and a truly modern approach to a classic dive watch design – the Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Diver in Bronze has a number of features collectors are looking for at a price they can immediately appreciate, at $2,650.
After 20 years in the shadow of the Nautilus, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut luxury sports watch literally grows up a bit to include a 42mm-wide case version. Yes, this is an 18k white gold watch, but for the money, you get a wonderfully finished case and immaculate movement that screams prestige as well as style. The smaller models of the Aquanaut left something to be desired in the boldness department, and with the new larger 42mm-wide model, this is the Aquanaut watch for everyone who didn’t know they wanted one. The proportions of the case and highly legible dial adopt themselves nicely to the larger size, and for 2017 it comes with a lovely blue dial on a matching blue rubber strap priced at $38,557.