Fratello Classics: My Top 5 Watches from Baselworld 2014


Tudor Heritage Black Bay - blue bezel - black dialFratello Classics takes a look back at the many Baselworld 2014 appointments, and in this article, I will show you the five watches that impressed me the most during the show. Actually, it is virtually impossible to come up with just five, as there were 1,500 exhibitors showing their goods. So, my selection is taken only from the brands that we (Fratellowatches) actually visited this year. The watches have now hit the shelves and are widely available.

1. Omega Seamaster 300

It was a bit difficult to pick just one of the new Omega watches; I liked quite a few of them. In order to prevent Omega from dominating the Top 5, I picked only this one. Although Omega had already done some teasing about it before Baselworld (which it shouldn’t do, in my humble opinion), the watch is a stunning timepiece indeed. It might sound easy to just grab a watch from the archives/museum and rebuild it up to modern standards, but a lot can go wrong and you can easily do more harm than good. The impressive thing about Omega is that it knows how to please people looking for new watches as well as the (more difficult) people who focus on vintage Omega watches. The new Seamaster 300 is based on the original Seamaster 300 from 1957 and uses a lot of ingredients from that very first model: broad-arrow hands, straight-lug case, creamish hour markers and lume in the hands, and so on. Although some criticized the bracelet’s polished center links, they should remember that the original bracelet of the 1957 also had this feature. You can always wear it on a nice vintage looking strap, of course, or on one of the NATOs Omega is selling as spare straps from now on. The movement is Caliber 8400 with the co-axial escapement and protected to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. Price? $6,000 USD for the stainless-steel version with black dial and black bezel.  More detailed information can be found here.

Omega Seamaster 300 - black bezel - black dial

 

2. Tudor Heritage Black Bay

After just a few years, Tudor seems to have found a prominent place on the list of most popular big brands. Sales are going crazy, and I feel that Tudor, like Omega, is really putting effort into coming up with great products for both fans of modern watches only as well as collectors of vintage watches. Although Rolex is still the brand that most people run to as soon as the doors of Baselworld open, Tudor is just one booth further down the aisle, and gets a lot of attention as well. Well-deserved attention, I might add. This year, besides the new Ranger collection, Tudor introduced a Heritage Black Bay model with a blue bezel and black dial. The Heritage Black Bay is a combination of historical Tudor Submariners from the period when they were first introduced (1954’s reference 7922) and the later Tudor Submariners from 1969 and onward. For these Heritage Black Bay watches, Tudor combined characteristics, such as the dial and bezel, from the first series with the typical “Snowflake” hands from the second generation.  The new Tudor Heritage Black Bay comes on either a stainless steel bracelet or a leather strap, but both come with a blue NATO strap as well. Although I am aware of the fact that this is technically the same watch the brand released a while ago, with the burgundy bezel and patina-ish hour markers, I actually like this one better. More detailed information about the Tudor Heritage Black Bay can be found here.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay - blue bezel - black dial

3. Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000

Remember when Rolex decided to stop the production of the Rolex Sea-Dweller in 2008 and replaced it with the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller?  For some, the latter was a welcome novelty with its larger case (43 mm) and tougher appearance, but the Sea-Dweller purists threw up a little in their mouths when they heard that this would be the Sea-Dweller from now on. Although Rolex fans really wanted a new GMT-Master II with a pepsi bezel, which they got (albeit in white gold), it seems that the most welcome surprise was the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000. This new model is the true successor of the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 that was discontinued in 2008. I am just wondering whether the release of this new Sea-Dweller 4000 is some sort of admittance that Rolex was wrong with the Deepsea Sea-Dweller or that these two models will be in the collection together for the years (decades?) to come. In any case, the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 is a beautiful divers’ watch that comes very close to perfection, at least according to the first responses on our blog and on various social media channels. Some commented that the minute markers on the bezel might be a bit “too much,” but that’s about the only negative comment we received on this new Sea-Dweller (Reference 116600). Besides the price that is, because it’s steep. Roughly $11.500 USD (including VAT). More detailed information about the new Rolex Sea-Dweller can be found here.

Rolex Sea-Dweller

4. Ressence Type 1

This small, independent watch company, founded by Benoit Mintiens of Belgium, introduced its interesting Type 1 timepiece in Basel. It is a watch that has basically no hands or crown but still indicates time (of course). It uses rotating disks to indicate hours, minutes, seconds and day, by means of a special module consisting of 18 gears and 28 jewels on top of the base movement. The movement consists of 208 components in total, of which the module with the rotating disks represents 107. The whole system of displaying time with the rotating disks make the watch appear to be constantly in motion and changing its appearance. You can observe its motion yourself by watching the video on the official Ressence website. The watch has a very futuristic design, because of the use of disks instead of hands and the lack of a crown. It almost resembles a pebble with an almost cartoonish two-dimensional dial. Setting and winding the Ressence Type 1 is done by turning the sapphire caseback. Turning the caseback in both directions sets the time. The price of the Ressence Type 1 is approximately $20,000.

Ressence Type 1

5. Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon

Before I’d seen this Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon piece, I would have said “meh” to all watches with a tourbillon. Not because I don’t respect the watchmaking craftsmanship or underestimate the complexity of making the tourbillon, but simply because the market is overwhelmed with this type of watch, and they exist mainly to meet the demand for them by the rich and famous, most of whom can barely spell the word “tourbillon” and only want one for the sake of having one. This Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon is different, though. The tri-axial tourbillon is visible through a large aperture on the dial, which has its own domed sapphire crystal on top of the main one to give enough room for the tourbillon to move. The wonderful, decentralized subdial at 1:30, with a Clous de Paris motif, indicating hours and minutes, and the round power reserve indicator make this watch both an aesthetic masterpiece as well as a technical one. The use of rose gold for the tourbillon construction, hour and minute hands, GP logo at 11 o’clock, and power reserve indicator all perfectly match the 48-mm rose-gold case  of the Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon. There is a lot to see on this dial, yet it never becomes cluttered. Perhaps the use of the wonderful grain in the dial’s open space secures the serenity of the watch. The back of the Tri-Axial Tourbillon is just as impressive, though, allowing a view of the famous Three Bridges shaped arrows used for some of the bridges and other parts in the movement. The mirror-polished surfaces and perfect chamfering is all finished by hand, as it should be on a haute horlogerie piece like this. This exceptional finished movement consists of 317 components. Only 10 pieces will be made of the Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon, priced around half a million U.S. dollars. More detailed information can be found here.

Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon - rose gold case

(All photos by Fratellowatches.com)

This article was originally posted on April 04, 2014, and has since been updated with new information.

10 Responses to “Fratello Classics: My Top 5 Watches from Baselworld 2014”

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  1. David P. Rose

    I just get very annoyed when, amidst watches priced in the c $10,000 range –hard enough to justify buying, for many average people –all of a sudden, without warning, we have a specimen in the half-million dollar bracket. Maybe there should be a separate blog for “real world” as opposed to “fantasy dream” watches.

    Reply
    • WatchTime

      What would be your recommendation for the best watch under $10,000, David?

      Reply
  2. MrTissot

    These watches are all great, but WOW!! That Tudor Heritage Black Bay is a standout knockout for me. I’ve gotta see this in the flesh because once again it’s a stunner!!

    Reply
  3. Leo Sitorus

    Agree with the first three. I really like the new Omega Seamaster 300, new Blue Bezel Tudor Heritage Black Bay, and the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ceramic Bezel.

    Reply
  4. Colin Agar-Rea

    If that Sea Dweller was 48mm it would be the must have Rolex..please get them to make one!?!?

    Reply
  5. Severo Velez

    I love the look of the new sea dweller especially the minutes in the basel I like see if they glow in dark. The deep sea dweller will be perfect without the inscriptions original valve escapement

    Reply
  6. MrTissot

    The Tudor Heritage Black Bay is a very classy looking dive watch. Love it!

    Reply
  7. mohamed shartouh

    The first three watches are sport watches ok that is your top 5 with one unknown watch Ressence Type 1 and high end wirth watch Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon.

    But what about dress watch in this year in basel 2014, most of new wathces this year are complicatet. means with high complkations.

    Reply
  8. You maybe didn’t see the Breguet ultra thin 4 Hz automatic tourbillion. 3mm movement with platinum periferal rotor. 2 patents, one for tourbillion and one for barrel. Given ‘watch of the fair’ statement by many.

    Reply
  9. I love the new Tudor Black Bay. The blue bezel and nato strap combo looks great. I also liked the burgandy option.

    I was impressed by the new Tresor from Omega. A very simple and elegant hand wound watch.

    I liked the new Rolex Pepsi, but would have preferred it in SS rather than white gold for affordability reasons.

    The new calatreva from PP is nice looking. The new Nautilus Chrono was well done, but I prefer the old blue dial.

    Reply
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