Best Watches of the World
The specter of the Apple Watch hung over this year’s BaselWorld like a Granny Smith-shaped cloud. Everyone was asking about its impact, often to carefully crafted official responses from the exhibiting brands. Will the smartwatch replace fine Swiss watches on the wrists of Millenials? Will the mechanical watch finally be exposed as the dinosaur it is? When will Patek release its smartwatch? The answer to all questions seems to be, “It’s too early to tell.”
REPORTS FROM BASELWORLDS PAST: | Best of Basel, 2013
It’s clear that while the Swiss watch industry isn’t quaking in its lederhosen over the coming smartwatch onslaught, it is paying attention and won’t be caught flat-footed like it was at the dawn of the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s. Big Swiss brands like TAG Heuer and Breitling scrambled to announce their own “connected” watch plans and align with tech companies. TAG even went so far as to hang Intel and Google logos proudly alongside its iconic shield just inside the entrance to the Basel Messe exhibit hall, a true sign of the times.
Despite all the smartwatch buzz, the talk of the show focused more on Patek Philippe‘s controversial introduction of a (gasp!) pilot’s watch. While this seemingly innocuous novelty from the Geneva brand isn’t as groundbreaking as one that, say, can display a text message, its significance was this most revered brand’s obvious move toward a new generation. Watching Patek flirt with a new demographic is akin to watching a battleship correct course, and it was indicative of industry trends in general. The old guard is courting younger buyers, ones that might have an Apple Watch on the other wrist.
During our three days at BaselWorld, we saw smaller, slimmer, more colorful and more affordable watches with lots of nylon, rubber and even paracord straps. Even Rolex, that model of conservative product development, trotted out its first in-house rubber strap. But none of this is to say that the traditional mechanical watch is no more. There were plenty of classically-styled watches to be seen, and for those of us for whom a connection with a watch doesn’t involve Bluetooth, it was a good year to be at BaselWorld. Here are nine of our favorite new watches from the show.