My official Baselworld stats: 15 hours of flying roundtrip New York to Zurich; three 14-hour days at the trade fair; two hours of commuting from Zurich to Basel each day; 47 individual watch brand appointments; three lunchtime street sausages; 12 Coke Zeros; 63 business cards given out; 24 USB press kits collected; and more than 1,900 iPhone photographs taken.
Good lord, what to make of it all? After letting all this collected data sink in for the past couple days, some thoughts about the world's top watch and jewellery show are starting to become clear. I'm usually pretty objective when it comes to reporting on watches, not letting my own personal taste influence my coverage of what might be this year's most important and newsworthy timepieces. Yet somehow Baselworld 2016 felt different. A stiff breeze of reality seems to have blown through the Messeplatz, with key words like "quality," "value," and "wearability" mentioned at almost every appointment.
I often get asked for personal watch recommendations and realised what I often write about and what I recommend to friends are usually quite different. So, this post is a fresh way of looking at the show. For the regular watch-buyer out there who might be thinking about taking a leap into higher end horology, this is what I loved. The highlights this year are the watches that I keep coming back to: my personal favourites, the watches that I would like to wear myself. Yes, there are many amazing horological inventions and dazzling high- jewellery watches to dream about (see my last post). But, at the end of the day, what would I actually like to see on my wrist? Here are eight timepieces that fit the bill.
Longines Railroad (RM7,230)*
Nomos Tetra Neomatik (RM16,534)*
Using the company's own super-thin movement, the distinctive square shape of the Nomos Tetra returns this year in a slightly larger 33MM case. Bigger than original version, guys might find the new Tetra a bit more wearable with either a white silver-plated dial or this handsome deep navy one. Plus, the unique square shape is just so damn cool—which is to be expected from a brand that takes aesthetics as seriously as its own innovative movements.
Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition (RM26,085)*
A limited edition based on a classic, the CK2998 keeps many of the details of the original, updated for this year in an eye-catching, blue-and-white colour combination. An iconic watch style proven to stand the test of time? I'm sold.
Rolex Air King (RM24,881)*
Seiko Presage With Black Lacquer Dial (RM10,434)*
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Seiko's first automatic wristwatch, two new Presage automatic chronographs have been introduced, one with a white enamel dial, the other in handsome black lacquer. You get a lot of watch here for the money—a very attractive timepiece with great history, made in a limited edition of just 1,000 pieces.
Tudor Black Bay 36 With Steel Bracelet (RM11,437)*
The most instantly desirable watch of the show, the Tudor Black Bay 36 on a steel bracelet (plus bonus camouflage strap) was the watch I immediately wanted on my wrist. The 36MM case size is perfect for smaller wrists, and the simple, sporty dial gets my vote as the watch you put on once and never take off ever again.
Zenith Elite 6150 With Blue Dial (RM26,888)*
The retro appeal and the super-clean lines make the Zenith Elite 6150 a very attractive and versatile watch. This year Zenith updates the vintage look of the timepiece with a modern blue dial. It's a simply beautiful watch, and you can get a lot of wear out of, be it at the office or out on the weekend.
Shinola The Canfield Chronograph (RM3,411)*