Every year we delight in finding amazing timepieces at Baselworld. This year was no exception. True, due to global economic downturns and investment-shy retailers, there was not as much newness (in terms of quantity) unveiled at the exhibition as we may have liked, but what was introduced was quality timepieces. In fact, this could be the year that the “less is more” mantra, or “quality over quantity” played out the strongest.
Among those quality watch unveilings this year were several “world firsts.” In fact, we counted nearly a dozen that are worthy of discussion, but that is far too many for this article, so we are planning installments. Here we bring you the first four world-first or world-record-setting watches unveiled at BaselWorld 2016.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater:
We broke the news about this watch here on Haute Time on the opening night of the show, but it is so spectacular that it warrants further attention. In fact, this watch lays claim to the title of the worlds’ thinnest hand-wound Minute Repeater. While the movement consists of 362 parts, the all-new Caliber 362 is just 3/12mm thin. Additionally, when cased, the entire watch measures just 6.85mm in thickness. Built in titanium to better carry the sound, the watch also features cutout designs on the dial to further resonate the sound. Just 50 pieces will be built, each retailing for about $165,000.
Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck:
Again, during the fair we brought you news of this watch here, but the incredible scope of its individuality and record-setting status can’t be understated. The approximately $300,000 limited-edition watch is not only a nautically inspired timepiece with a hand-crafted wood marquetry dial, but also it is the first watch in history to utilize fiber Nano-threads (thinner than a strand of hair and borrowed from the ship-rigging industry) on the dial to resemble a ship’s rigging and to play a role in displaying the time. The watch is also the first to use a “boom” to indicate time (and that boom is controlled in part by the rigging). The watch features a patented system with a flying tourbillon escapement and complicated movement comprised of 469 parts including two barrels. Just 18 pieces will be made.
Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto:
This incredible piece warrants a world-first status for a few reasons. While it is not the first watch brand to team up with a bespoke 120-year-old menswear and leather house, it is the first to team up to design a watch with a bespoke leather dial from the Maison. Since its founding 120 years ago, the Parisian-born Berluti has created some of the most sumptuous leather shoes and treasures in the world – accomplishing an unparalleled patina via hand massaging with specialty oils and waxes. The brand utilizes that same art of patina when it comes to the making of the Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto watch dials and straps. Each dial is a unique piece of art. As such just 250 pieces will be made in the Scritto 18-karat King Gold version (approximately $30,000). There is also an all-black Classic Fusion Berluti with black ceramic case that is being built in a limited edition of 500 pieces (approximately $15,000). The matching straps are also made of the brand’s signature Venezia leather and the Scritto version is engraved with 18th century calligraphy. The watches are sold in a Berluti Scritto shoeshine box.
De Grisogono Samsung Gear S2:
Embodying the epitome of what a haute Joaillerie Smart watch should be, the new de Grisogono, Samsung Gear S2 blew most Baselworld 2016 fair goers away with its beauty and its high-jeweled price tag. It may well be the most expensive, fully engaged Smart watch to date – making it one of our top world first watches.
Granted there have been other top-level brands unveiling watches with smart applications of sorts, but this is the first traditional brand joining forces with a tech company to release a high-jeweled fully interactive Smart watch that has both brains and beauty. The de Grisogono Samsung Gear S2, doubles as a traditional watch (albeit with typical de Grisogono glitz) and as a smart watch. Designed by de Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi, the elegant watch is also the first round watch in the brand’s repertoire. The watch is incredibly user friendly, as the diamond-set gold bezel activates the “smart” functions. As the bezel is turned, parts of it disappear beneath two black Diamond Like Carbon coated (DLC) arches that protect the smart watch technology. Two different digital “traditional” dials are offered (black or white), each of which features the brand’s design codes and each of which is chocked with timekeeping functions and also digital abilities. Versions include a two-hand dual-time display (with day/night indicator), and a two-hand with central seconds counter, power reserve and moonphase display.
The digital aspect of the watch offers notifications, activity logs and more. The watch – except for the electronic module for the “smarts” is assembled in the de Grisogono workshops. It offers a long battery life (up to three days), and, because it can double as either a mechanical or digital Smart watch, a long wrist life, as well. It will retail for $15,000.
Stay tuned for more information about world-first watches coming soon. Follow Haute Time on Instagram to catch all of the new releases as they happen.