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Horology’s finest descend upon Basel every year to show what they’ve got. It’s a challenge standing out from the competition, but some manage. Here are five timepieces from Baselworld 2017 that each deserve five stars from us.
1. Octo Tourbillon Sappphire
Bulgari bares it all in an unusual timepiece reminiscent of 2015’s Tourbillon Sapphire. In this Octo version, it carries the collection’s distinctive design, which has a round bezel on an octagon. The Octo Tourbillon Sappphire’s dial, case back, and cross section of the case are made entirely of sapphire crystal glass, offering the viewer an unhindered view of the mechanism within. It’s a view that can even be enjoyed in the dark, as pillars, coated in green luminescence, surround the case’s cross section and come to life at night. And what a view it offers. The skeletonised BVL 206 caliber sits in the center of the dial, surrounded by 11 bridges that radiate out from it and glow in the dark like a stylised sun with the same green luminescence. At six o’clock, the flying tourbillon dances, cantilevered to the plate and bridge-less, so that its whirl can be admired unobstructed. At three o’clock is an aperture with a red dot that only appears when the crown is in time-setting mode.
2. Premiere Camelia Skeleton
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Chanel’s Premiere collection, the maison has stepped up its game with the Premiere Camelia Skeleton. Step up, because with this watch comes a significant milestone for the brand – it’s equipped with Calibre 2, the brand’s first ever in-house movement for women. It is also Chanel’s second in-house movement overall, the first being Calibre 1, housed in last year’s critically acclaimed Monsieur de Chanel. Conventionally, skeleton movements are made by removing unnecessary metal from a base movement, to the point just before the lack of structure compromises functionality. In Chanel, design reigns supreme, so the camellia-shaped bridges were conceived before any thought had been given to technical limitations. The technical team then fitted the barrel, gears, and balance wheel within the confines of the flower.
3. Histoire de Tourbillon 8
The iconic series is synonymous with fantastical complications, but for a long time, this also entailed a ‘signature look’ of bulbous sapphire crystal domes – sometimes with multiple ones packed onto a single dial – to house the aforementioned complications. In the past year, however, the approach taken has been a decidedly more wearable one. Like in last year’s seventh iteration, this year’s Histoire de tourbillon 8 has everything neatly arranged within the confines of a round 51mm white gold bezel. Two biaxial tourbillons occupy the left side of the dial in a synchronised dance of 75-second rotations, while on the right, the hours and minutes are simply displayed on two discs. Time telling is finally not a skill collectors have to relearn with this Histoire de Tourbillon timepiece.
4. Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph
The Hublot-Ferrari partnership is still going strong five years in – rather a rarity in collaborations of its type. Like the good friend it has proven itself to be, Hublot is celebrating the Italian’s carmaker’s 70th anniversary with the Hublot Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph, housing the new in-house HUB6311 movement and with the Ferrari name more prominently placed on the dial at nine o’clock than Hublot’s smaller one at five. The chronograph functions are elegantly controlled by a single pusher in Ferrari red at three o’clock. Measuring 45mm across and 14.8mm thick, the timepiece is quite small and wearable by Hublot’s standards and is available in titanium, carbon, and king gold, aptly limited to 70 pieces per version.
5. Loving Butterfly Automaton
The cherub and butterfly are recurring motifs in Jaquet Droz’s timepieces and in this year’s Loving Butterfly Automaton, the two come together for a jaunt through the woods. Powered by a patent-pending mechanism that took three years to develop, the butterfly flutters its wings more than 300 times over the span of the 90-second duration of the animation, while the wheel of the chariot turns. The scene is assembled from 40 hand-engraved parts, with the delicate trunks of the trees measuring just 0.2mm thick. The timepiece comes in white or red gold, with a black mother-of-pearl or black onyx dial respectively. Only 28 pieces of each version are available worldwide.