Watch Nerds Win

The Best Watches of Baselworld 2017

March 29, 2017 Watches By
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This year’s Baselworld was a win for enthusiasts. The headlining pieces all seemed to resonate with what watch geeks have always been asking for: case sizes seemed to shrink; reissues were practically spot-on reproductions of original pieces; prices were competitive. There were lots of chronographs, divers and homages to the past. We’d argue there weren’t very many jaw-dropping, mind-blowing and show-stopping pieces, but that’s okay. The best watches we saw this year are nice and reserved — the kind of thing you’d want to wear every single day.

Omega “Trilogy”


In 1957 Omega released three of its most iconic tool watches — the Speedmaster, Seamaster and Railmaster — and after a 60-year span of serious legacy, Omega didn’t pull any punches with this series of limited editions. For example, the brand used digital scans and blueprints of the original dials to create the most authentic dials they could (cinched by a “tropical” color and faded lume), and all three models have the genuine look, feel and size of an actual vintage piece. As a bonus, Omega also breathed much-needed life into the standard Railmaster.

Rolex Sea-Dweller


Yet another anniversary beauty. But even though it’s been 50 years since the first Sea-Dweller launched, this is no Limited Edition, and Rolex isn’t interested in making the Sea-Dweller a rehash of the original. Rolex upped the depth rating to a whopping 4,000 feet and increased the case size to 43mm, making it the biggest Sea-Dweller to date. Diehard Rolex fans might also find the addition of the “cyclops” date magnifier (yet another first for the model) controversial, but it’s definitely a handsome touch.

More New Watches from Baselworld 2017

We’re covering all the best new watch goodies coming out of Switzerland’s top watch show. Read the Stories

TAG Heuer Autavia

What makes the Autavia different from other vintage reissues this year? It’s the only watch for enthusiasts, chosen by enthusiasts. Letting Heuer fans vote on which reference would make a comeback was an inspired move, and the payoff confirmed it. The reverse-panda dial scheme and black rotating bezel are sharp. Though vintage purists might scoff at the larger, thicker case size, inside ticks TAG’s latest movement: the Heuer 02, an in-house automatic chronograph with a 75-hour power reserve, a column wheel and a vertical clutch.

Sinn 1736 St I 4N


Though known for its tough tool watches, German watch brand Sinn showed this year that it can do dressy, too. The Sinn 1736 is reserved at 36mm in diamater and 9mm thick, and comes with a silver sunburst dial and gold-plated hands and hour markers. Even with an automatic movement, it’s competitively priced at under $1,800.

Grand Seiko SGBW Series

Grand Seiko is now its own brand (rather than a Seiko sub-brand). As the first order of business, the brand re-created its first watch as a series of limited editions; aside from the increased case size, they’re identical to the original. It’ll also be the first of independent Grand Seiko’s new branding scheme, with the Grand Seiko logo at 12 o’clock (instead of the standard Seiko logo). Don’t be surprised if it becomes a huge collectors’ piece down the road.

Seiko SLA017

In Seiko’s “standard” Prospex sub-brand, you’ll find the same dedication to recreating a classic. The SLA017 is a dead ringer for the original 6217, Seiko’s first dive watch — the hands, the markers, the dial, the case shape, all spot on. Seiko is unfortunately only making 2,000 and they’ll retail at a hefty (for Seiko) $3,400. No matter — if that’s too much, you can also buy the re-interpretation (which isn’t limited) for a far more reasonable $800.

Zenith Defy El Primero 21

When Jean-Claude Biver took over as acting CEO the Defy was a priority; it only took only six months to bring to production. That’s astounding, but so is the watch itself: it’s built on the old Primero platform but has a second escapement running at a frequency of 360,000 bph, ten times faster than the standard escapement that’s running the time function. For a movement that’s remained largely unchanged since it was unveiled in 1969, this is a good indicator that Zenith’s new management is willing to push boundaries.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante


Using its stalwart Navitimer as a vehicle, Breitling has launched its first-ever in-house rattrapante chronograph movement, making it one of just a very small number of watchmakers to offer up the rare complication. Not only that, it’s $11,090 — which, though pricy, is a fairly incredible price given the movement’s complexity and in-house status.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph


Continuing its push away from a reliance on ETA ebauches, Tudor launched a new Chronograph — the first in its ever-expanding Black Bay lineup — with the help of Breitling. Tudor used Breitling’s B01 movement but added its own spin: the movement has a new rotor, Tudor finishings, a Tudor regulating system and a silicon balance spring. The partnership will also bestow Breitling with a new movement, and, as ETA seeks to stop supplying movements to third-parties, it’s possible that partnerships such as these could become more commonplace.

Oris Chronoris Date

The Oris Chronoris was the watchmaker’s first chronograph when it launched in 1970. This version actually isn’t a chronograph, but by syncing the internal rotating bezel with the minute hand you can use it as a timer of sorts. At $1,750 it’s reasonably priced, and with a great retro orange and silver color scheme, it’s a sign that ’70s watch design is continuing to come into vogue.

More New Watches from Baselworld 2017

We’re covering all the best new watch goodies coming out of Switzerland’s top watch show. Read the Stories

Andrew Connor

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