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The men always have it good at Baselworld Fair and this year’s no exception. Plenty of exciting timepieces vied hard for our attention. Vintage-inspired watches paying tributes to rich heritages, innovative record-breakers, long-awaited complications, and wholly new lines – you name it, they’ve made it. It was tough to pick favourites, but we managed to narrow it down to five men’s watches to invest in from Baselworld 2017.
1. Cellini Moonphase
When the Cellini dress watch made its debut in 2014, it enjoyed the obligatory fanfare. But “regular programming" resumed quickly – perhaps a little too quickly – at Rolex, as its better known sporty launches reclaimed the spotlight every year after that, while the Cellini had to be content with minor updates and playing wallflower. Not anymore. This year, the Cellini is back, and carrying a complication that has not been seen in Rolex’s line-up since the 1950’s – the moonphase. It’s no ordinary moonphase, either. Powered by the chronometer-certified automatic calibre 3195, which comes with a five-year guarantee, it promises to be accurate for the next 122 years. The moonphase disc is beautifully finished with a blue enamel and a full moon in meteorite.
Grand Seiko’s finally free of Seiko’s apron strings. The brand announced this year that Grand Seiko will no longer be a sub-brand under its umbrella, but an autonomous brand. Celebrating this new status is the Grand Seiko SBGR305, a contemporary interpretation of the first Grand Seiko from 1960 that gives a peek into the line’s future direction. Powered by the new automatic calibre 9S68, the watch has a 72-hour power reserve and a large date at three o’clock. The movement can be admired through the exhibition case back, where in older Grand Seikos the practice was to have a closed engraved case back. Protecting it all is a case in Brilliant Hard Titanium, Seiko’s proprietary alloy with the lightness of titanium but double the hardness of stainless steel, polished to a high shine with the zaratsu technique Seiko is renowned for, and in a bigger, more modern 40.5mm size. Only 968 pieces will be made available worldwide.
3. Monsieur de Chanel
Not quite tall, but definitely dark and handsome – this is this year’s Monsieur de Chanel in a nutshell. It has shed the ivory dial it made its debut in last year for one in sleek black grand feu enamel, and the beige gold case for a hardier one in platinum. Everything else remains the same: the now iconic 240-degree retrograde minute display, the seconds in a smaller sub dial, and the jumping hour at six o’clock. Turn it over, and Caliber 1, Chanel’s first in-house movement for men, can be admired in all its glory through the exhibition case back. And as if the timepiece needs any more help with upping its desirability, this year’s version is limited to just 100 pieces compared to last year’s 300.
4. Octo Finissimo Automatic
How close to paper-thin can a timepiece be, without actually being cut out of paper? Bulgari seems to be on a mission to answer this question. Following the success of the Octo Finissimo Toubillon in 2014 (with a movement just 1.95mm thick), and the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in 2016 (with a movement 3.12 mm thick), the Italian brand is back with the world’s thinnest self-winding watch. Powered by the ultra-thin 2.23mm Calibre BVL 138, the whole watch is only 5.15mm thick. To say it easily slips under the cuff would be an understatement. Its presence on the wrist is barely noticeable – not because its looks leave much to be desired, but because on top of its waif-like proportions, it’s also feather-light, thanks to a thoroughly modern sandblasted titanium case.
5. LUC XPS 1860 Officer
A covered case back on a timepiece is not usually considered a good thing. It’s a sign that the movement within isn’t worth showing off with a transparent sapphire crystal glass – read: quartz, outsourced, or undecorated movements. On this timepiece, however, the officer case back is a stylish throwback to the era when pocket watches were still common, and came with protective back covers often personalised with engraving. Press the crown and the cover opens – smoothly and into a perfect 90-degree position that it holds – to reveal the COSC and Poincon de Geneve-certified ultra-thin LUC 96.01-L movement that certainly shouldn’t be hidden, yet deserves the drama of being unveiled with such flourish. At just 3.3mm thick, the movement keeps the timepiece sitting at an elegant 7.7mm tall on the wrist, even with the added volume from the officer case back.