Inside Baselworld 2019 – special watches, with Antonio Cecere

We continue our interview with industry insider Antonio Cecere, President of Geneva Diamond Exchange and founder of Monaco Diamond Exchange, about his experience at Baselword 2019.

ML: Baselworld is the place where historical watch manufacturers unveil their grand complications horlogerie. Which models captured your attention this year?

AC: Chopard presented its first calibre equipped with a flying tourbillon, L.U.C Flying T Twin, a sophisticated timekeeper both from a technical and visual perspective with two guilloché patterns and an ultra-thin case measuring a mere 7.2 mm in height. It is a 50 pieces limited edition and the flying tourbillon can be admired through the skeleted dial. The self-winding movement is a Calibre 96.24-L that delivers, through two barrels, a 65-hour power reserve.

Photo: Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin
Photo: Chopard L.U.C Flying T Twin

Jacob & Co. partnership with Bugatti was announced by Jacob Arabo and Stephan Winkelmann, presidents of the two companies during the show. To celebrate this the watch manufacturer redesigned the Twin Turbo Furious, a twin triple-axis tourbillons, column-wheel chronograph and decimal repeater timepiece that we observed last year. The Bugatti Edition, limited to 39 pieces, features turquois around the dial that pays homage to Bugatti’s 110 year anniversary Chiron.

Photo: Jacob & Co Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti Edition
Photo: Jacob & Co Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti Edition

ML: What are the highlights in haute horlogerie?

AC: Patek Philippe presented the Calatrava Weekly Calendar showcasing two central hands to indicate the days of the week, the calendar week and the month. The new self-winding movement is a Calibre 26-330 S C J SE made of 304 components that can be seen through the skeleted back of the 40 millimetre diameter case. The numerals on the dial are made to look as if they were handwritten adding a handcraft feel to this sublime timekeeper.

Photo: Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar Reference 5212A
Photo: Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar Reference 5212A

In terms of ground-breaking watch making, it is Bulgari this year to break a record with the slimmest mechanical chronograph ever produced in watchmaking history. It is the Octo Finissimo Chronograph with 3.3 millimetres calibre BVL 318, a GMT function and a 55-hour power reserve. The 42-mm case surrounds a sand-blasted titanium dial with a skeleted back. The total height of this watch is a staggering 6.9 millimetres.

Photo: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph
Photo: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph

ML: In terms of jewellery watches, which you think stood out from the rest?

AC: This year I think that Graff deserves a mention. Each of Graff’s secret watches unveils a clever and charming way of tell the time, devised by their master craftsmen and watchmakers. A 24.37 carats intricately carved emerald covers the dial of this elegant secret watch and allows its wearer to read its dial by peering through the depths of the gemstone complemented by a delicate bracelet of white diamonds.

Photo: Graff Carved Emerald Secret Watch (Emeralds 24.37 carats, Diamonds 23.38 carats)
Photo: Graff Carved Emerald Secret Watch (Emeralds 24.37 carats, Diamonds 23.38 carats)

The most important anniversary this year was Zenith’ El Primero. The history of the El Primero is fascinating as after conception in 1969, Zenith was acquired by an American company that decided to destroy all the tools and plans in order to move on to Quartz. One of the watchmakers, Charles Vermot, decided to secretly hide the tools and plans into the factory attic rather than destroying them. Once under Swiss ownership again in 1978, the production of El Primero started again after Rolex purchased the movements to be placed in the casings of the Daytona watch. For the 50th anniversary Zenith produced a set of three watches: an original reproduction of the 1969 El Primero, the Chronomaster 2 El Primero, and the Zenith El Primero Defy 21.

Photo: Zenith El Primero 50th Anniversary Collection Trilogy
Photo: Zenith El Primero 50th Anniversary Collection Trilogy

In honour of artist and sculptor Richard Orlinski., Hublot unveils the new Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski Red Ceramic watch. To date, Hublot is the only brand that has been able to perfect such a vibrant red ceramic presented by the brand last year with the Big Bang Unico Red Magic. The Aerofusion watch is a self-winding chronograph calibre HUB 1155 and it is a limited edition of 200.

TAG Heuer revamps the Autavia collection with the Isograph chronometer, a 42 mm three-hand watch with Super-LumiNova hands and numerals on a rich blue dial. The automatic Calibre 5 housed within the new Autavia watch beats at 4 Hz and offers 38 hours of power reserve. The chronometer-certified watch has a date indication and a bi-directional bezel of blue ceramic.

Photo: Antonio Cecere at TAG Heuer Baselworld with Autavia Isograph Chronograph
Photo: Antonio Cecere at TAG Heuer Baselworld with Autavia Isograph Chronograph
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