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Best of Baselworld 2017: New Watches From Blancpain, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Bulgari and more

Baselworld 2017 opening day.

New introductions at Baselworld this year tended to fit one of two categories. 1. Trends that reflect the times – and by “times” I mean an industry that is entering its third straight year of decline (see my story on that here) – with watches that are smaller, less complicated and more realistically designed and priced. And 2. Watches that reflect the fact that Baselworld is also about showmanship and haute horology, with high complications (like the Breguet Equation of Time) and metiers masterpieces (like the Dior VIII Grand Bal). Here are my top five men’s and top five ladies’ introductions for Baselworld 2017. Click on each link to find more pictures and detailed descriptions. Read more

Baselworld 2017: The Flirty Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase

Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase

Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase

The moon phase indicator on the Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase is small, but very special: it is feminized.  If you look closely, you will see that the moon has eyelashes and, what’s that? – a beauty spot. The latter is a historical reference to ladies of the aristocracy, whose placement of beauty marks conveyed secret messages at royal court – the watch is part of the historically inspired Villeret collection after all. The artificial mole or beauty spot (known as a mouche for its similarity to a fly) was regarded in 18th century France as symbolizing a playfully teasing attitude. Mouches were used by ladies of the Court as messages to their suitors that differed according to where these coquettish signs were placed. The caliber 913QL, with a 40-hour power reserve, is based on an ultra-slim automatic movement introduced last year specifically for ladies’ watches. It is fitted this year with a moon phase module, a wheel with 59 cogs covering two complete 29.5 day lunar cycles. The moon phase is a signature complication of the Blancpain brand.

Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase

Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase

The movement has a glucydur balance wheel with gold micrometric regulating screws as well as a silicon balance spring, which contribute to accuracy and reduce the need for maintenance. Silicon’s low density makes it lighter and thus more shock-resistant, as well as impervious to magnetic fields. The sapphire caseback reveals a red gold oscillating weight with a snailed bevel, polished chamfers and straight and circular côtes de Genève patterns. This is a very small watch (29.20mm) considering there is a moon phase plus a seconds hand, evidence of Blancpain’s commitment to producing size-appropriate high-grade calibers dedicated to ladies’ watches in its elite collections. The bezel is set with 48 diamonds. There are two references, one in 18k gold, priced at $19,900, and in steel at $16,600. It is delivered with five different straps.

Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase

The Blancpain Villeret Date Moonphase has a feminized look, including eyelashes and a beauty mole.

If this is week 12, we must be at Baselworld 2017: Blancpain Semainier resurrects the least measured unit of time

Blancpain Semanier Baselworld 2017

Blancpain Semainier Grande Date 8 Jours Ref.6637.

Watches routinely track hours, minutes and seconds; they also tell us the day, date, month, leap year and moon phase, as well as sidereal time, solar time, and even 1000th’s of a seconds. Rarely, however, do watchmakers alert us to the week of the year. Blancpain’s Semainier Grande Date 8 Jours Ref.6637, from the historically inspired Villeret collection, gives some face time to this neglected unit of measurement. Aside from hours, minutes, day and date, it tracks week of the year on an index along the outer edge of the dial, using an a blued serpentine central hand that has a little crook at the end to indicate the week – it is a gradual movement rather than a jump. In an interesting historical reference, the shape of the serpentine week-of-the-year hand is reminiscent of hands on Medieval clock towers. The 1-53 numbering on the index allows for the fact that certain years have 53 weeks. The concave day-of-the-week counter is a gorgeous element on the dial.

Blancpain Semanier Baselworld 2017

Blancpain Semainier Grande Date 8 Jours Ref.6637.

It contains the automatic caliber 3738G2 with a titanium variable-inertia balance with gold micrometric regulation screws. The silicon balance spring means it is anti-magnetic, even with an open caseback. It has an eight-day power reserve thanks to three mainspring barrels. The dial is classic, with Roman numerals on a grand feu background and gold leaf-shaped hands. The chapter ring and Blancpain logo are enamel painted, so the dial goes through several high-temperature firings. The 18k rose gold case is 32mm wide and 13.40mm thick, with the Villeret signature rounded double-stepped bezel. Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors keep the case sleek and uncluttered. Correctors at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock adjust the day of the week and week of the year respectively. The large date is set via the crown. It is an unlimited edition priced at $10,900 in steel and $36,300 in red gold.