14 Absolutely Beautiful Watches to Have Now and Keep Forever
There's something of a revolution happening in the watch world. With a whole generation of potential customers who can't even wrap their heads around the idea wearing a high-end mechanical timepiece, something has to give. And at this year's most important industry event, important clues to its survival started to emerge.
Unlike the fashion industry—which can reflect the changing times by turning on a dime—the careful watch world works at a slightly slower pace. At Baselworld 2017, it became clear that the industry now has a greater understanding of consumers' shifting priorities and a willingness to look thoughtfully and respond their desires.
This year's winning timepieces showcase the distinguished history of watchmaking while incorporating ingenious modern updates as well as wild advances in materials, manufacturing, and technology. They're also achingly beautiful.
From the "holy grail" pieces featuring major complications that each serve a unique purpose to affordable knock-around weekend watches, here's a roundup of the most memorable timepieces, straight from the fair. Each offers vital proof that while your phone may do a perfectly serviceable job of telling you the time, watches still matter.
From the jet-black dial to the 50mm case made from the exclusive "Breitlight" material (harder than steel yet lighter than titanium), the 1,000-piece limited edition Avenger Hurricane Military chronograph is simply too cool for words.
Avenger Hurricane Military ($8,840) by Breitling, breitling.com; available April 1st.
From a company best known for dazzling red carpet diamonds, the L.U.C. XP—named for founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard—introduces an ultra-thin, self-winding 40mm steel watch with contemporary good looks, unlike anything the brand has done before. A deluxe cashmere strap lined with brown alligator (!) looks and feels like your favorite pair of jeans, yet is unmistakably Chopard in its eye-catching style.
L.U.C. XP ($9,250) by Chopard, chopard.com
A column wheel chronograph with exceptional precision and performance, the stainless steel case with black dial and bright blue Super-LumiNova has a fresh, modern appeal. And while it's created by a German watch brand in business since 1845, there's nothing old-fashioned about Glashütte's newest timepiece.
Senator Chronograph Panorama Date with pin buckle ($14,600) by Glashütte, glashuette-original.com; available September 2017.
Continuing the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hermès Cape Cod watch, the latest iteration of the classic has evolved with a brand new color dial and strap and a Manufacture Hermès mechanical self-winding movement. Shown here in blue, the 33mm x 33mm watch also comes in black, anthracite gray, or an attractive opaline silver.
Cape Cod TGM Manufacture Blue ($6,200) by Hermès, hermes.com
A new store on the Place Vendôme in Paris inspired Hublot's latest version of the Classic Fusion timepiece. Replicating the bronze color of the Vendôme Column, the oxidized look of the dial gives the watch a casual, well-worn appeal.
Classic Fusion Place Vendome Titanium ($10,400) by Hublot, hublot.com
Swiss brand Longines always successfully returns to its historical roots, season after season, with its Heritage Collection, making small tweaks along the way. The company, has been successfully looking to its biggest fans on Instagram for inspiration, and this year Ben Clymer of Hodinkee was the winning muse. The Heritage 1945 shown here is almost a perfect replica of a vintage Longines style that Clymer wears himself and posted online.
Heritage 1945 ($1,800) by Longines, longines.com
German brand Nomos introduced a new watch with gift-giving in mind. The manual-wind Club Campus with a California dial (half Arabic and half Roman Numerals) is available at an accessible price, with an added bonus of space on the caseback for personal engraving.
Club 38 Campus ($1,650) by Nomos, nomos-glashuette.com
For watch collectors with means, a limited-edition box set celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster, the Seamaster, and the Railmaster containing almost exact replicas of all three watches is now available. And, in even better news, all three watches will be sold separately, too, with four additional variations of the antimagnetic Railmaster coming soon.
Railmaster ($6,800) by Omega, omegawatches.com
Ref.5960 is an annual calendar chronograph of which many different versions have come and gone over the years. Various metals and dial colors change the look of this versatile watch: The white gold version with a sporty blue dial and vintage brown leather strap is new for 2017, and offers an unusually stealthy visual combination that makes Patek, Patek.
Ref. 5960/01G-001 ($65,774) by Patek Philippe, patek.com
A favorite Rolex created for frequent flyers, the Sky-Dweller is new this year in white Rolesor, a proprietary combination of steel and white gold with a bright blue sunray dial. Complex information is displayed and set easily, indicating dual time zones, month, and day on this elegant piece that had previously only been available in gold and now comes at a much more appealing price point.
Sky-Dweller ($14,400) by Rolex, rolex.com
Beloved by watch enthusiasts, a new logo appears on the dial of a re-interpretation of the 1960 Grand Seiko (which is soon to become a separate independent brand within the Seiko Group). This fresh 40.5 mm model, made of a new material called "brilliant hard titanium," is super light and super sturdy, making the 968-piece limited edition perfect for everyday wear.
Grand Seiko SBGR305 ($7,200) by Seiko, seikousa.com; available July 2017
Crowdsourcing the details of the new Autavia Chronograph from the TAG Heuer collector fan base, the 2017 re-issue from 1960s original hits all the right notes. The 42mm dial with contemporary proportions is just the right size, and the black and white "panda" dial with the vintage leather strap couldn't look more modern.
Autavia Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic Chronograph ($5,150) by TAG Heuer, tagheuer.com; available in March
The Heritage Black Bay Chronograph is part of a collaboration between two big brands: Tudor and Breitling. The new steel chrono (with multiple strap and bracelet options) is a terrific watch at a pretty terrific price.
Heritage Black Bay Chrono ($4,725) by Tudor, tudorwatch.com
The Pilot Type 20 in "aged" steel takes what was once an oversize watch and re-proportions it in a new 40mm case size. The classic automatic watch will be available in four new vintage-inspired colors, mustard, khaki, blue (shown here), and red.
Type 20 Pilot ($5,700) by Zenith, zenith-watches.com
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.