The first day of the 2013 Baselworld watch fair is in the books, and I’ve already seen a number of interesting new timepieces. Yesterday’s highlights included a clever yacht-timer watch from Alpina, a world horological first from Blancpain, and some quality time with one of this year’s most talked-about pieces, Hublot’s La Ferrari.
Sports-watch maker Alpina, like its more elegant sister brand Frédérique Constant, is a company that takes pride in producing horological value for reasonable prices. This year’s new releases include the Heritage Pilot, a model inspired by a 1930s aviators’ watch from the brand’s history. It’s got an old-fashioned “escargot” tachymeter scale on the dial and a telemetry scale around it. Another historical Alpina watch has been reborn as the Vintage Start Timer, a military-aviator-style chronograph with a quartz movement. The model with the beige dial and beige canvas strap was a perfect match for the suit I was wearing, so I was inspired to try it on (below).
The most interesting new Alpina is the Extreme Sailing Yacht Timer, a new take on the brand’s existing Yacht-Timer model. As its countdown function reaches the last five minutes before the start of a regatta, the numerals recede to reveal the five letters of the word “START.” This innovative sailing watch will retail for 3,150 euros.
Blancpain has produced yet another tribute piece for the 60th anniversary of its famed Fifty Fathoms divers’ watch. The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (below) is a three-hand model based on a vintage watch, in a titanium or steel case, with the decidedly modern touch of a bezel made of the Swatch Group’s proprietary “Liquidmetal.” Men’s and ladies sizes will be available.
From Blancpain’s elegant Le Brassus collection comes the Tourbillon Carrousel (front and back, below), an ultra-complicated timepiece that is the first to feature both a tourbillon and a carrousel, two horological inventions that are often confused for each other. This piece, with a breathtakingly detailed manufacture movement, will retail for nearly 300,000 euros.
I got a glimpse of Hublot‘s headliner pieces on Baselworld press day, but yesterday was my first opportunity to see them up close and handle them. I was fortunate enough to be among the few to get a hold of the watch that is already a big conversation piece here at the fair, the 11-barrel La Ferrari (below), with a five-day power reserve. Away from the crowds of press day and with the watch out of its presentation case, I was able to glean a bit more about how to read it: the rotating, numbered columns on the right of the watch indicate the hours and minutes, while the ones on the right count down the days and minutes of the remaining power reserve. The barrels are stacked in the center. I also learned the watch comes with a special power-drill-like tool that is used to wind the watch via a crown at the top, which makes sense, since manually winding a timekeeper with a 50-day power reserve would be a daunting task. I also managed to snap a photo of the back of the La Ferrari, which is just as eye-catching as the front.
Graham released a number of new models in its sporty Chronofighter and Silverstone collections, as well as a few significant pieces in its recently established Geo. Graham line of elegant, complicated watches. Notable here was the Silverstone Skeleton RS, the first skeletonized watch in the Silverstone collection (the watch and its movement are pictured below). There are three models, with red, green or blue highlights, each limited to 250 pieces.
Onward to Baselworld Day Two. Keep checking WatchTime.com for my updates as well as reports from our sister blog, Alexander Linz’s Watch Insider, throughout the week of the show.