It’s only the third day of the fair (read about the first two here) and we’ve already added just about ten watches on our Holy Grail lists. We’ll be frank – we’re quite used to do the constant “colour change” of luxury watch brands so it’s nice to see this year that even if it were just dial colour or case material changes (looking at you, Rolex), they were done with some form of acknowledgement to what the fans have been craving for.
Here are some of our top picks of the day. Let us know what you think of the pieces on our social media pages.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatique
The ultra-thin race in luxury mechanical timepieces may have started with the old guard but we can assure you, it’s going to end with Bulgari. The brand’s new Octo Finissimo Automatique’s movement holds the new world record for the thinnest self-winding calibre, edging out Vacheron Constantin’s caliber 1120 and Piaget’s 12P. At a ridiculous 2.23mm thick, the BVL 138 joins Bulgari’s two other record holders – the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (from 2014) and the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater (from last year).
As fanciful as the race may have been over the years, Bulgari has found a way to create an ultra-thin watch that will no doubt pique the interest of newcomers to the watch world. Unlike the other brands who have held records, the Octo Finissimo trilogy have all been constructed in a contemporary fashion that a novice enthusiast can get behind. Built in titanium, this year’s Automatique will go down in the annals of watchmaking not just for the record it holds but for how cool it is in design alone.
Its pricing may well be another factor in the watch’s successful future. Coming in at 11,900 CHF, the piece isn’t exactly out of reach for the general watch community. We’re looking forward to seeing it become another icon in itself.
Omega Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition 38.6mm
Speaking of icons, the 60th birthday of the Omega Speedmaster (as well as the Railmaster and Seamaster) sees our favourite moonwatch in the limelight again. Well, not that it ever left but this year, Omega is going back to the start of it all. In a limited production of 3,557 pieces for all three models, the brand has remade the watches almost line for line, exactly the same as it first came out. You can check the whole trilogy out here but the star (or moon, heh) of the collection is most definitely the Speedy, based on the original reference CK2915-1.
From its case size (38.6mm) to the tropicalised indices for that vintage feel, it’s a watch that just screams old school. We wouldn’t have imagined Omega celebrating the Speedy’s 60th this way but we must say, we’re floored. From what we’ve heard, it’s going to be an absolute bloodbath trying to get a piece and it’ll probably fly off the shelves (if any get to them) faster than Omega’s Speedy Tuesday experiment. Who can blame the retailers though?
For fans of vintage timepieces, this is as real as it gets.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller 50th Anniversary
When we first heard that Rolex was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic Sea-Dweller by increasing its case size, we were disappointed. In true Singaporean fashion, we started complaining that 43mm would feel like a pocket watch on the wrist. “Why would Rolex do this?” we asked. And then we tried the watch.
If the camera quality on the Huawei P10+ that we’re using could be any better, you might be able to make out the watch-lust that burned in our eyes. We had forgotten (even though it has happened to us every single year) Rolex’s uncanny ability to create timepieces that transcend the boundaries of measurements. Sure, it sounds like a load of bulls*** but the honest truth is that, even on our wrists, the new Sea-Dweller felt right at home.
With other updates such as the Sea-Dweller text finally being in red (a heartfelt thank you, Rolex), the brand’s cyclops date magnifier and a Cerachrom bezel to accompany Rolex’s best movement, the calibre 3235, we fell very much in love.
Casio G-Shock GPW-2000 Gravitymaster
It’s an interesting year ahead for Casio. The Japanese brand recently made a breakthrough in the module of its Hybrid Wave-Ceptor chips, shrinking them down. Across a lot of Casio’s new releases the “2000” suffix in the name will refer to the new Bluetooth-enabled Connected movement inside. Despite the module’s smaller size however, Casio’s G-Shock GPW-2000 Gravitymaster has increased in size. When asked why, a brand representative revealed that Casio had sat down with pilots and discussed what real life situations they encountered.
In learning more from the audience they were looking at, Casio found out a clear readout and visibility in the dark were important, alongside other more specific desires such as UTC-enabling and compass functions. Casio also got the pilots to test out its new Casio Connected app that in the Gravitymaster, lets you record flight data in a mode called Timestamp. Essentially while connected via Bluetooth to his phone, a pilot can easily take note off different locations that he flown to in a night with the timing, coordinates all recorded in the app – all by activating a button on his watch. While there are a million and one watch brands that insist they are made for pilots, there’s only one brand we know that makes timepieces as actual cockpit instruments.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref 5168G-001
Much like Rolex’s Sea-Dweller, Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut celebrates an anniversary this year. At just 20 years old (an icon younger than the average age of our team), the Aquanaut remains one of the most well-loved Patek pieces for its close resemblance to the Nautilus, with a touch more sport. The tribute piece this year has already had its fair share of detractors, bemoaning the fact that Patek Philippe has increased its size.
To be honest, the increase (from 40.8mm to 42.2mm) is barely noticeable. What is more noticeable is the fact that the watch is in full white gold and now showcases a graduated dial that slowly changes from a dark navy blue to a deep black closer to the bezel. The tropical composite strap also boasts anti-bacterial properties, making sure that the rubber doesn’t give off an odor in the long run. Perhaps the criticism comes after Patek Philippe’s choice in enlarging last year’s 40th anniversary Nautilus as well. All we know is that the watch sits perfectly fine on the wrist and is still a shining example of Patek Philippe’s undeniable legacy in the sports luxe segment.
Zenith Defy El Primero 21
Now that Jean-Claude Biver is holding on to the reins of Zenith, the watch community is starting to sit up and pay attention to Zenith once again. A well-loved brand for its innovation during the ’50s (the first automatic chronograph was the El Primero calibre), the consensus that Zenith has been too quiet over the past few years is one that is shared by many. This year however, signs of the brand starting to put a little more edge in their products are showing. Take the new Defy El Primero 21 for example.
Named as such for a 21st century movement, the watch showcases a dual barrel and escapement system that allows for 50 hours of power reserve for time only while the second barrel supplies 55 minutes of power reserve for the chronograph function. Why so little? Because Zenith has gone the extra mile in precision, producing a new 1/100th of a second chronograph that beats at a ridiculous 360,000 vibrations per hour or 50Hz. Interestingly enough, both hairsprings in each escapement system are made of a carbon nanotube composite that makes it lighter and resistant to magnetism.
The Defy El Primero 21 will come in three different versions – titanium with openworked dial, titanium with a closed silvered dial and our favourite, the ceramised aluminium case with an openworked dial. It’s the start of a new generation for Zenith and we’re sure the watch community stands with us in anticipation.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G
Objectively speaking, we might actually shed tears if we don’t have this watch by the end of the year. It might be an exaggeration on associate editor Sean Mossadeg’s part but one that he will fight anyone over. What we’re loving so much about Tudor’s new two-tone Black Bay is just the cool factor of it. The movement hasn’t been changed and while the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono is obviously a much more technically-skewed piece, the Black Bay S&G (stands for steel and gold) just reminds us of an edgier version of Rolex’s famous Rolesor pieces. If our fathers wore the two-tone Rolexes (and the many variants produced by the industry), Tudor’s Black Bay S&G is this generation’s stepping stone into that aesthetic.