Breaking Down Baselworld 2019
Each season, Baselworld seems to be shifting just as quickly as the industry at large. In 2018, the Swiss watch powerhouse The Swatch Group announced their exit from the show. In addition, there were a number of brands who opted to exhibit at the SIHH in Geneva earlier this year. As a result, Baselworld 2019 was certainly a bit smaller than past seasons. However, this presented both the exhibition and the exhibitors a unique opportunity to hone their focus.
Despite the constant flux in the industry, there’s no shortage of fantastic watches debuting. At the end of the day, the watches are what really matter, right? We were excited to see some of our favorite watchmakers continuing to up the ante with their latest creations. Here, we’ve rounded up a few of our top brands and the exciting new offerings they’ve presented for 2019.
Rolex introduced an astounding number of new releases at Baselworld this year. Here, we saw updated additions to their fan favorite lines: the Yacht-Master, Sea-Dweller, GMT-Master II, Day-Date, Datejust, and Daytona. First, the brand launched a new sailing watch: the Yacht-Master 42, Reference 226659. The model is the first 42mm time and date Yacht-Master to join the family of watches. It also comes complete with an all-new matte black Cerachrom bezel.
Next up is the Sea-Dweller introduced in a two-tone steel and yellow gold Rolesor variation. The Reference 126603 is essentially the same as the Reference 126600 released in 2017 but in a brand new colorway. Then we have two new iterations of the GMT-Master II. The Reference 126710 offers a new style combination with a two-tone blue and black “Batman” bezel and a Jubilee bracelet. There’s also the Reference 126719, which features a totally new look for the collection. It boasts a white gold construction and a unique Meteorite dial, appearing for the first time on the GMT. This model showcases the beloved, two-tone red and blue “Pepsi” bezel and comes equipped with an Oyster bracelet.
Rolex also unveiled several new iterations of the Day-Date. The next generation is available in either 18-karat yellow or everose gold with distinctive green or brown ombre dials respectively. In addition, there’s a new Rainbow Day-Date, Reference 128345. Next, we have three new versions of the Datejust. First, there are two variants of the 36mm. They come in a choice of white gold or Rolesor and a black sunray finish dial or white mother of pearl dial with diamond hour markers. Finally, Rolex takes a fresh spin on the 31mm Datejust, also in two options. You can select from an olive-green sunray finish dial with contrasting yellow gold hour markers. Or, there’s a rose sunray finish dial with monochromatic rose gold hour markers. Last but not least is the latest variation of the Cosmograph Daytona. This ornate model features an elaborate dial with pave diamonds and black lacquer.
Unlike Rolex, OMEGA focused their energy on presenting one showstopper at Baselworld 2019. Here, they debuted the Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary Limited Edition. The model pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the mission. Gold traditionally corresponds to the celebration of a 50th anniversary. So, it was only fitting the brand make the commemorative model in a new gold alloy they’ve dubbed “Moonshine Gold.” The metal uses additional palladium, which can help to combat the discoloration that sometimes occurs in typical yellow gold. Gold continues to be a theme on the dial, which is also solid gold. Inside, this Speedy is equally impressive. You’ll find the brand’s in-house, hand-wound Master Chronometer 3861 with METAS certification. You can view it in all its glory through the sapphire caseback. Surrounding it is commemorative text along with proportionate renderings of the Earth and Moon orbiting the movement.
Breitling also showcased a diverse lineup at Baselworld with new additions to three of their collections. First, they released five new iterations of the iconic Navitimer. The Navitimer 1 Automatic 41 is available in four new references and varieties. Overall, the model has the same aesthetic as the 38mm Navitimer the brand debuted in 2018. However, this time it’s on a larger scale and available in a ton of style options.
You can choose from stainless steel or two-tone stainless steel and rose gold. There are also silver, blue, black, and carbon dial options in addition to a bracelet or alligator strap in a number of colors. Then, there’s the limited edition Reference 806 1959 Re-Edition. As the name suggests, this re-issue echoes the design of the model from 1959. Here, the devil is in the details. Elements like the Plexiglas crystal and beaded bezel closely mimic the original. However, there are some modern updates, like the COSC certified chronograph movement and increased water resistance.
Next, Breitling launches five new variations of the Superocean. In addition to a similar array of style options, the most notable feature is the range of sizes. The brand is offering the latest Superocean in 36, 42, 44, 46, and 48mm versions. Finally, Breitling commemorates their partnership with the British motorcycle company Norton with the Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition. The 42mm model is the flagship of the brand’s new Premier collection. It features a two-register chronograph dial and transparent caseback showcasing the self-winding Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01.
TAG Heuer displayed a nice balance at this year’s exhibition, from a vintage reissue to an updated smartwatch. The brand also celebrates a 50th anniversary this year for the Monaco with a reissue. In addition, TAG Heuer has built out the Autavia line with a whopping seven new references. The all-new Autavia Isograph collection taps into the model’s aviation roots. It proves the collection is equally capable as a pilot’s watch as it is a racing chronograph.
You’ll notice updates like the addition of a seconds hand and the traditional indices swapped out for Arabic numerals. More aviation-inspired features include a bi-directional 60-minute bezel, an oversized crown, and sword-shaped hands. A plethora of style options make up the seven references. You can choose from stainless steel or bronze and a blue, black, or grey dial as well as bracelet, leather, or NATO straps in a variety of colors. Finally, TAG Heuer expands its connected line with the Golf Edition. As the name suggests, the brand has optimized this model for the fairway.
Today, the watch industry is changing more rapidly than ever before. In a fast-paced world, watchmakers must keep the pace and keep up with the times to stay relevant and interesting. The annual Baselworld exhibition in Geneva presents a crucial moment at the start of each year. One for us to check in and get a sense of where the industry is heading.