Minutes & Seconds

Headturning luxury watches coming your way

New technology, re-issues and competitive prices take the spotlight

The luxury watch industry has not been ticking quite so smoothly in the last couple of years.

Swiss watch exports, for instance, tumbled nearly 10 per cent last year compared with 2015.

Among the reasons for the sluggishness? Smart watches gaining ground in the battle of the wrists; China's clampdown on corruption putting a brake on exuberant and conspicuous gifting; and a generally less-than-perky global economy.

Watchmakers are starting to react to the threat to their survival.

This was evident at this year's Baselworld, which took place in March. Many of the attention-grabbing pieces at the world's biggest and most important horological trade show boast good looks, muscular materials, practical functions, advanced technology and, more importantly, competitive prices.

Some pay homage to the past. Others celebrate the illustrious craft of watchmaking. All build the case that nothing defines personal style better than a solidly constructed timepiece.

Here is a selection of headturners at this year's Baselworld.

•Minutes&Seconds is a new fortnightly page about timepieces.



PHOTOS: BULGARI, LONGINES, OMEGA, ROLEX, ,SEIKO, TAG HEUER

OMEGA 1957 TRILOGY LIMITED EDITIONS 

Sixty years ago, Omega released three models - (from far left) The Seamaster 300, The Railmaster and The Speedmaster - which became instant classics. Each was designed for a specific user: the Seamaster for professional divers, the Railmaster for scientists or those working in magnetic environments and the Speedmaster for pilots and racing drivers.

As a tribute, the brand has issued 60th-anniversary editions of each model, sold separately or as a collector's set.

Designed from digital scans of the originals, the new watches come with modern updates and revisions, but retain the looks of the 1957 iconic pieces.

The new trio are all cased in brushed and polished stainless steel and have a black "tropical" dial, coloured to look as though it has been aged by prolonged and direct exposure to sunlight.

The stainless steel bracelets have been strengthened and come with a retro-style Omega logo on the clasp.

The box sets, limited to 557 pieces and priced at $30,000, are sold out in Singapore. However, the individual watches, limited to 3,557 pieces, are available from July, ranging in price from $9,450 to $10,050.

Each comes in a special box, inspired by the original packaging, with two spare straps - in leather and Nato (a military-style, pass-through strap) - and a tool to change them. 

BULGARI OCTO FINISSIMO AUTOMATIC

This Octo Finissimo is another triumph in ultra-thin watchmaking - the third - for Bulgari.

The slimmest self-winding watch on the market to date, this new beauty has a self-winding movement of just 2.23mm for a 40mm diameter.

Previously, Bulgari made headlines for its Tourbillon in 2014 with a movement only 1.95mm thick, and last year's Finissimo Minute Repeater, which boasts the in-house Bulgari calibre BVL 362 manually wound movement that is just 3.12mm thick.

It looks futuristic, with a sandblasted titanium case that is light as a feather, but extremely tough.

It is available in a black alligator strap ($17,700) or titanium bracelet ($19,100) at Bulgari boutiques. 

TAG HEUER AUTAVIA

Another anniversary-edition watch, this is the rebirth of the Autavia (a contraction of AUTomobile and AVIAtion), which was first created in 1962.

Worn by some of the best-known racing drivers of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Jochen Rindt and Mario Andretti, this chronograph is distinguished by its rotating bezel and large snailed counters.

The Autavia reissue was voted by Web users from among 16 historic models during the Autavia Cup, an interactive online campaign held last year.

The updates include a larger 42mm diameter (compared with 39mm in the 1960s) and a new Heuer-02 calibre proprietary chronograph movement, water-resistance to 100m, a power reserve of 80 hours and the addition of a date aperture.

TAG is already touting it as a future collector's item. It is available in a distressed brown calfskin leather strap with ecru stitching ($7,000) or a retro steel "beads of rice" bracelet ($7,250). 

TUDOR HERITAGE BLACK BAY CHRONOGRAPH

This "diver chronograph" is the latest addition to Tudor's Heritage Black Bay collection.

It comes in a 41mm stainless steel case and a matte black dial. What makes this timepiece unique is the new MT5813 calibre, based on the Breitling B01, because of a collaboration between Tudor and rival Breitling.

Unlike others in the Black Bay collection, the tachymetre bezel is fixed and does not rotate. It has water-resistance of up to 200m. When fully wound, the movement boasts a power reserve of 70 hours. It is available with a leather strap ($6,480) or a bracelet ($6,912).

LONGINES HERITAGE 1945

This timepiece harks back to an era of classic and elegant watch design with its beautiful period markers and fonts.

Based on a 1945 design called Calatrava, this dress watch has a gorgeous curved case profile, a brushed copper convex dial and long leaf hands in steel in an arresting shade of blue.

The original version measured 37mm in diameter and was manually wound; this new one is 40mm and is automatically powered by the calibre L609.

It comes in a beige nubuck leather strap with steel buckle and retails for $2,700.

GRAND SEIKO SBGW253

Seiko is calling this a "re-creation" of the first Grand Seiko watch, released in 1960.

This reissue has dual curved sapphire crystal, comes in a 38mm stainless steel case which is 11.2mm thick, due to an 18k gold medallion - depicting the Grand Seiko lion logo in relief - set in the back of the case.

Featuring a beautiful second hand in blue tempered steel and a logo embossed on the dial, it has a hand-wound movement, the Caliber 9S64, with a 4Hz frequency and 72 hours of power reserve.

Besides the SBGW253, there are two other re-creations which are not available in Singapore. The SBGW252 has an 18k yellow gold case, gold hour markers and gold hands, while the SBGW251 comes with a 999 platinum case and 18k white gold markers.

Assembled by hand in Japan, the SBGW253 is limited to 1,960 pieces and retails at $8,988.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'Hot watches from Baselworld'. Print Edition | Subscribe