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Timely showcase

The year saw new watch lines launched, prices kept low and more growth in women’s timepieces

Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar.

VISITORS to this year’s Baselworld watch fair in Switzerland could have thought that they were visiting a watch museum. Many of the new timepieces rolled out at the exhibition – still the world’s biggest showcase of the latest creations in horology, despite its much-diminished size – were classic models, given some minor tweaks.

But look closer and inside the timepieces – and it’s clear that the revamp is more than just a facelift. In many cases, it is the equivalent to giving these timepieces a new heart. They have been installed with new movements to measure time more accurately and tick longer.

Among those which went through the “heart transplant” is Rolex’s “Pepsi” Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II. The two-time­zone watch, first launched in 1955, has re-emerged anew with a modern high-precision movement that guarantees 70 hours of power reserve – 20 hours longer than the most recent models.

Omega’s 1948 Seamaster watch is reincarnated in two versions with a new movement, while staying true to the original post-war design. Both timepieces are powered by Omega’s new Master Chronometer movements, supposedly the most accurate and magnetic-resistant in the market.

Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Aquanaut didn’t get a new movement, but these two casual and sporty models are re-issued with more sophisticated functions. The Nautilus, which traces its origins back to 1976, is now fitted with a perpetual calendar.

The new Nautilus Perpetual Calendar is not only the first grand complication in the Nautilus line, but it’s also Patek Philippe’s thinnest perpetual calendar watch.

The Aquanaut, which made its debut in 1997, acquired a flyback chronograph in its latest guise, along with orange chronograph displays and a matching strap.

Cartier, which launched its new models at the other major watch fair in Geneva, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar (SIHH), introduced a new strap and bracelet mechanism in its classic Santos. This renders the strap or bracelet to be easily detached by just a press of a tab.

Jaeger-LeCoultre revived its classic Polaris Memovox at SIHH to celebrate the diving watch’s 50th anniversary. A limited edition of the timepiece was presented. The occasion was also used to unveil a new Jaeger-LeCoultre sporty line.

It wasn’t the only new watch collection rolled out this year. Zenith presented a new futuristic line, Defy Classic, which offers a “gateway” into tomorrow’s universe of watch-making. Vacheron Constantin surprised the market when it introduced a new FiftySix line. The watches, even though they take after a 1956 model of the brand, are priced far lower than what a top name like Vacheron Constantin normally charges.

But the entry-level collection is noteworthy, for it lends further support to the belief that the trend towards affordable luxury in the watch world in recent years is here to stay.

Smart watches are also not going away, as another big name in mechanical timepieces jumps on the digital bandwagon. Hublot unleashed the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, its first-ever connected timepiece, before the big kick-off in June – joining TAG Heuer and Montblanc in a growing list of established watch brands that are producing both mechanical and digital timepieces.

Then there are the women’s watches, which show no sign of stopping their march forward. Bulgari, which spent the past few years in building its masculine Octo watch line, unveiled two new stunning models which are a reminder of the brand’s heritage as jeweller – and that it’s still a serious watchmaker for women.

Meanwhile, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Chopard and Chanel continue to roll out not just pretty but also more complicated timepieces for the fairer sex. The BT Watch Supplement 2018 strives to keep tabs on these trends and happenings in the watch business. Enjoy your read!

Supplement editor: Chuang Peck Ming Sub-editor: Naveen Verghese Cover design: Gareth Chung Advertising sales: Christopher Chan 9627 7672; Vivien Cham 9746 0379; Calista Ang 8188 1471; Chen Huiyi 9488 9854; Jason Hoon 9339 0656; Tan Rou Xi 8265 7532