Baselworld 2018 has come and gone in the blink of an eye, no? Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you were swamped with new watch releases and announcements. After all, this is (arguably) the largest watch show on the calendar. As a result, I’ve decided to make a list of what I think were the true standout models to help put things in order. However, do note that this is more of a summary as opposed to a list of all the watches launched at Baselworld 2018. So without further ado, here is my recap of Baselword 2018.
Obviously, I’ll have to start with the proverbial king. For 2018, Rolex has decided to unveil a slew of new variants from their ever-popular Oyster lineup. Kicking things off is the introduction of the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II in Oystersteel on a Jubilee bracelet (reference 126710BLRO). Yes, you read that right. The five-piece link bracelet features the Oysterlock safety clasp with Easylink 5 mm extensions.
Aside from that, what else is new? Well, the case, crown guard and lugs have been subtly redesigned which, reportedly, allows Rolex to perform a better finishing when it comes to polishing the case. On the other hand, the bezel is the same Cerachrom, two-toned ‘Pepsi’ affair.
There are also slight changes to the dial with the addition of the Rolex crown in between the ‘Swiss’ and ‘Made’ text at the 6 o’clock position. However, the biggest change is one that you can’t see. The new 3285 movement features the new Chronergy escapement which is said to increase efficiency by 15%. For this reason, the watch now features a healthy 70-hour power reserve as opposed to the 48 hours provided by the older 3186 calibre.
Besides that model, Rolex has also introduced two more GMT-Master II variants. Dubbed ‘Root Beer’, the pair feature a black and brown Cerachrome bezel. One of them comes in an Oystersteel-Everose ‘Rolesor’ combination (reference 126711CHNR) while the other is a full-on Everose gold model (reference 126715CHNR).
Next up, we have another major player from the other side of the world. While Seiko showcased plenty of solid options, I personally felt that the standout has to be this. The (deep breath) Seiko 1968 Automatic Diver’s Commemorative Limited Edition, reference SLA019.
Limited to only 1,968 units, the SLA019 can be seen as an updated version of the SBDX017 with the main alterations being that lush green dial and bezel. Seiko says that the colour scheme was inspired by the “lush tones of the ancient cedar trees on the island of Yakushima at the southern end of the Japanese archipelago.” Said location is supposedly a well-known dive spot. Oh, it’s also a World Natural Heritage site. I feel inspired already.
Moving on, the 44.3 mm-wide SLA019 features a zirconia ceramic bezel for improved scratch resistance. The 5, 10, 15 and 20-minute markers also receive a special treatment of LumiBrite for heightened visibility. The stainless steel case and bracelet have been treated to a “super-hard” Diashield coating for extra durability.
Additionally, the SLA019 possesses a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating both on the inside and out. Powering the SLA019 is Seiko’s 8L35 automatic movement with 50 hours of power reserve. Prices are estimated to fall around the RM12k to RM15k mark when the watch goes on sale in July.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. These?! Not the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M?! Yes, these. The other Seamasters at this year’s Baselworld. Besides, there are already over 100 different articles on the Seamaster Diver 300M so might as well focus on the Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions. If it’s not obvious enough, I have a soft spot for dress watches and simple-looking timepieces (think field watches and such).
The pair you see before you were introduced to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Seamaster line – and what better way to do so than to turn back to the model’s earlier aesthetic cues. Both variants have a 38 mm case with domed silver dials and applied markers. Also, none of them feature a date window which, in my opinion, is all the better for it. Where they both differ from each other is the placement of the seconds hand.
On the centre seconds model, the hands have a dauphine motif with a thin line of lume running in between them. Small lume dots can also be found at the base of the arrow hour markers with the minute markers running closer to the centre of the dial. The model with the seconds sub-dial features a slightly dressier approach. The hands here are presented in a leaf-style with no lume. Also, the minute markers run in a track on the outer edge of the dial.
Case size measures in at a pleasant 38 mm on both models – a blessing for people like me with insanely skinny wrists. In the case of the centre seconds model, it is powered by Omega’s 8806 movement with 55 hours of power reserve. The small seconds model gets the 8804 calibre with 60 hours of juice. Annoyingly, both models are limited to 1,948 units.
Remember when I said I prefer dress and field watches to other styles? Well, the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight may be an exception to that point. Don’t get me wrong, the regular 41 mm variants are nice but to all of us out there with skinny wrists, it’s a bit of a risk to lust after them. Nothing hurts more than plonking down your hard-earned cash for a watch that ends up looking a tad too large with a longer-than-acceptable lug to lug measurement.
Now, back to the watch. The greatest thing about the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight is definitely the more approachable 39 mm case size. As it is inspired by the vintage Tudor reference 7924, the new Fifty-Eight employs gilt accents on a black dial along with the trademark snowflake hands. The same gilt treatment can be found on the bezel with the familiar red triangle at the top of it.
Inside the Fifty-Eight beats Tudor’s MT5402 in-house calibre. The movement boasts a 70-hour power reserve, COSC certification and a silicon hairspring. Oh, it’s also quite thin. As a result, the overall thickness of the watch is just 11.9 mm. Finally, Tudor is offering the watch with three strap options. You can choose between a riveted steel bracelet, a black fabric strap or a brown leather strap with a folding clasp. I’ll have one with the leather, thanks.
Last but most definitely not least, the Longines Military Watch. I’ll be straight with all of you – I’d buy this in a heartbeat. No questions asked. Of all the new watches at Baselworld 2018, it is the Longines Military Watch that sealed the deal for me. I guess that’s one of the main reasons why we love watches, right? It transcends logic. You can’t explain it. When you stumble upon that one watch that makes you feel, well, good, it just feels right.
To make things even more tempting, I realised most of the mainstream media had missed out on this watch except for the folks at Hodinkee. Even Longines themselves have yet to place any info about it on their website. All this adds up to make it the kind of sleeper watch I adore.
Now, on to this beauty. The simply-named Longines Military Watch measures in at 38.5 mm which, in my opinion, is close to the perfect size. Furthermore, the tapered lugs should allow it to hug the wrist nicely. Plus, would you just look at that dial?! Aside from having the right shade of beige, the faux patina and dots combine to give it that perfect balance of style and simplicity.
Other fantastic details include the blued hands, the railroad chapter ring marking the minutes and the lack of text save for the Longines wording. With that said, the movement inside is pretty modern. The automatic L888 calibre ticks at an odd 3.5 Hz (25,200 vph) and has a power reserve of 65 hours. Lastly, this watch is expected to go on sale in the second half of 2018 at around the RM8k mark.
That’s my list of favourites from Baselworld 2018, then! I think it’s pretty obvious by now that the Longines is my new grail watch. What are your top picks from this year’s event? Do you think there were better choices from the brands above? Let me know what you guys think in the comments below.