Basel and time

Conventions and trade shows are big business these days; so much so that even the most random things can attract crowds in the thousands. In the world of watches, the big event is Baselworld, which takes place every spring in Basel, Switzerland. Hundreds of watches get launched at Baselworld, but this week we pick three of the highlights.

Baselworld is feted for giving the smaller manufacturers the chance to glory in the spotlight usually reserved for the billion-dollar brands. However, that isn't to dismiss the watches coming from the big names, as the Omega Speedmaster "First Omega in Space" Numbered Edition Chronograph (top left) proves. Priced at an extremely attractive HK$41,200, this Omega may lay claim to being one of the most stunning re-imaginings of a classic watch launched this year, as well as the watch with the longest name.

A refashioning of the 1962 Omega Speedmaster that astronaut Walter Schirra took into space on the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, this 50th anniversary watch retains the overall shape and bezel design of the original, with the same compliment of chronograph counters on the dial face.

In another nod to the past, the back of the case features the original seahorse emblem that adorned Speedmaster watches. The bezel itself has a tachymeter and frames the 39.7mm steel case. Every Speedmaster "First Omega in Space" Numbered Edition Chronograph is, as the name suggests, numbered, and comes with a brown leather strap.

To get noticed at Baselworld, a watchmaker has to create something exceptional, whether in design or technology. And when a maker comes up with a watch that combines beautiful design with innovation then they're onto a sure-fire winner.

The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open Grande Date Moon & Sunphase is a watch with looks that could stop traffic and a mighty fine engine at its heart. It's a grand complication watch, which means it has three or more complications. In this case, there is a chronograph, date indicator, moon phase indicator, and day/night indicator, on top of a gorgeously designed, open-worked view of the movement.

The wealth of complications is accentuated by classic styling housed by a 45mm case, as well as the great use of colour for the intricately designed moon phase indicator, in particular. The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open Grande Date Moon & Sunphase is available with either a rose gold (HK$220,500) or steel case (HK$90,400), both coming with a refined leather strap.

Among the hundreds of watches that make their debuts at Baselworld, there are always a few that get top marks for quirkiness. The Bremont Victory (top right) deserves praise, not just for its looks, but its unique story, which gives the wearer a chance to adorn their wrist with a bit of history. The watch is a tribute to HMS Victory, the warship that helped Lord Nelson defeat Napoleon at Trafalgar and which today is a floating museum in Portsmouth, England. But the watch is not merely the ship's namesake; the components of the movement of the Bremont Victory are made of copper from the original HMS Victory, while the wonderfully ornate caseback features oak from the hull.

The design of the watch echoes old maritime clocks found on sail ships, with the dial face a symmetrical marriage of seconds and hour counters at 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock, as well as pleasingly refined day and date indicators at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. The Bremont Victory is limited to 250 pieces and is not yet priced for Hong Kong.

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