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ANNIVERSARY models appear to have hogged the limelight at the Baselworld mega watch fair in March in Switzerland. Attention was focused especially on Rolex's Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller (50th anniversary), Patek Philippe's Aquanaut (20th anniversary) and Omega's Speedmaster (60th anniversary). There were also other notable timepieces launched at Baselworld 2017, but not given as much publicity. Here is a sample:
1. Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G
The two letters "S&G" say it all: Steel & Gold. The classic watch has gone gold - at least partially. The latest Heritage Black Bay is in stainless steel and gold, equipped with a Tudor-built movement. It is probably Tudor's first model to feature the precious yellow metal, and it is certainly the first Black Bay timepiece to have the date function.
2. Glashutte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar
Beating at the heart of this sophisticated complication is Calibre 36, Glashutte's latest movement which has an innovative silicon spiral providing extreme accuracy and a single spring barrel ensuring power reserve of more than 100 hours. This self-winding mechanism has redefined the perpetual calender, available in a 42 mm steel or red gold case, "in terms of precision, stability, running time and beauty".
The calendar function guarantees a precise presentation of the date, weekday and month - even taking leap years into account - with no need for manual correction for more than 100 years.
3. Patek Philippe Ref 5320G
It looks like one of those vintage Patek Philippe timepieces which regularly set record prices at auctions. Indeed, many details in this perpetual calendar watch hark back to past Patek models.
The applied gold Arabic numerals and sharp-tipped luminous hands, for instance, bring to mind the Ref 1463 chronograph from the 1950s; and the three-tier lugs came from the legendary Ref 2405 which also dates back to that period. Yet Ref 5320G has a modern-sized 40 mm white-gold case, though it looks 36 mm. Updated features also include, on the dial, a small day/night aperture and an aperture for the leap year cycle.
Still, the Ref 5320G overall looks like any of the perpetual calendars Patek has been making since 1941. Powered by a Patek-made self-winding movement, the timepiece automatically indicates months with 28, 30 and 31 days and every four years also recognises Feb 29 as a leap day. The moon phases are displayed with such precision that a correction by one day is required only every 122 years.
The watch goes for US$82,800 - apparently an attractive price for a Patek perpetual calendar.
4. Chopard Happy Ocean
The latest addition to Chopard's ladies' Happy Sport collection, Happy Ocean is a set of colourful timepieces which focuses on nautical adventures - exploring the ocean floor, relaxing on a yacht or strolling on the sand.
Powered by an in-house automatic movement nestled in a large (for ladies) 40 mm steel case rimmed by a unidirectional rotating bezel, the watch is water-resistant to 300 m. Encased and visible through the sapphire crystal are five mobile diamonds rolling on the dial - the Happy Sport line's signature feature. Its NATO strap is a first for Chopard's ladies' timepieces.
5. Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Sapphire
This spectacular timepiece with a 44 mm titanium case, treated with black diamond-like carbon, is covered front and back by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal for maximum transparency to showcase the working of the luminescent flying tourbillon within, while maintaining balance with beauty. The middle striking part of the case is also made of sapphire with green ITR2 and Superluminova cylinder.
The watch, retailing at 65,000 Swiss francs (S$91,000), is powered by a hand-winding movement with 64 hours' power reserve.
6. Rado DiaMaster Power Reserve
Fitted with a large 43 mm and a wide-open dial which is characteristic of the Radio DiaMaster family, the timepiece offers an easy-to-read format for telling time. True to Rado's hallmark, the DiaMaster Power Reserve is crafted in either polished black or plasma high-tech ceramic, making it five times more scratch resistant than a comparable steel watch while being 25 per cent lighter.
The timepiece is powered by a self-winding movement, which makes the DiaMaster last up to 80 hours between wear. The power reserve can be read off on the indicator, which tells the remaining run time. The indictor is found on the dial.
7. Longines Flagship Heritage - 60th Anniversary
The Flagship collection, one of Longines' most enduring lines, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with a timepiece inspired by a Flagship model kept at the Swiss watchmaker's headquarters. It is the same timepiece that British actress Kate Winslet and Longines' Ambassador of Elegance fell in love with when she visted the Longines headquarters recently.
This watch has provided the inspiration for the subdued and chic dial of the new anniversary edition, which is limited to 60 pieces in gold and 1,957 pieces in stainless steel.
The Flagship Heritage anniversary model is driven by an automatic movement housed in a 38.5 mm steel, yellow or rose gold case.
8. Breguet Marine Equation Marchante 5887
A L Breguet is best known as the inventor of the gravity-defying timepiece, the tourbillon. This equation of time-perpetual calendar-tourbillon watch pays homage to Breguet's lesser known but no less important contribution to the development of marine chronometers. The stand-out feature of the grand complication is its simpler presentation of the equation of time.
Standard timepieces tell the mean solar time - the civil or standard hours and minutes - not the true solar time, which is the actual solar hours and minutes. Most equation of time complications display mean solar time and the difference between it and true solar time (-16 to +14 minutes). The mean solar time is shown on the main dial, and the difference between mean and true solar time is shown on a sector or sub-dial. You would have to mentally calculate the true solar time from these two readings.
In Breguet's new Marine Equation Marchante, which comes in a 43.9 mm rose gold or titanium case housing an automatic movement, the mean solar and true solar time are simultaneously indicated by means of two separate minutes hands.
9. Hublot MP (Manufactured Piece) 09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis
This limited edition watch is built to provide maximum visibility. After all, it is Hublot's first multi-axis tourbillon, where the tourbillon moves around on more than one axis point, instead of the usual one - and that is something to show off.
The case, in titanium or gold, is not just huge (49 mm) but is also protruded at six o'clock to reveal as much as possible the double rotation of the tourbillon.
10. Omega Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer
There are stainless steel and red gold versions of this model, both equipped with Omega's most advanced Master Chronometer movement, which has passed the toughest tests for precision and anti-magnetism. A standout feature of the 44.25 mm watch is an "alternating" minute-track in a racing style, which also makes it easy to read the time. This feature first appears on a 1968 Speedmaster model.
11. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
Apart from the Cosmograph Daytona, its chronograph model, Rolex has produced only two complicated watches in recent years: the Yacht-Master II and Sky-Dweller. The most recent is the latter - and it is available only in gold.
The new Sky-Dweller will be more accessible to buyers, because the dual-time-zone travel watch with annual calendar now also comes in steel-gold (yellow and white) at prices only around half that of the full gold versions.