Basel 2017 has finally come to an end. So much hype and anticipation was put into this event, especially after the stunning pieces coming out of SIHH 2017. Now it was the turn of the non-Richemont manufactures to really strut their stuff and show off what has been hiding under their hoods. We explore some of the fantastic pieces coming from the likes of Blancpain and Rolex, but also the ones that have caused much controversy in social media.

Rolex Sky-Dweller (new variants)

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The blue dialled Sky-dweller (courtesy of Hodinkee)

One of the most anticipated manufactures for Basel is without a doubt, the new releases from Rolex. Known for the incremental changes to their production range, they certainly sueprised everyone with the new metal variants to the Sky Dweller. The star of the show would have to be the 42mm blue sunburst dial in steel and white gold variant. Priced at AU$18,250, it surely will be the next model sought after the ceramic Daytona. Prospective buyers will now find this heavily patented model in much more realistic reach. It is a very compelling proposition from Rolex, a little bit of previous metal, a true sports watch, a dazzling deep blue dial and unique dual time zone complication. This is a great recipe for success.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase

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The delightful Cellini Moonphase from Rolex

The Cellini range has undergone a much welcome range. For a manufacture that is widely known for its sports pieces, the Cellini range goes largely unnoticed. Until this year. The Cellini Moonphae is a Everose gold piece with a white lacquer dial and a superb blue enamelled moonphase complication. Furthermore, it also has a day complciation surrounding the edge of the dial. The combination of the sweet Rolex rose gold and black strap makes for a stunning dress piece. To add an extra touch of luxury, the moon on the moonphase disc is actually made from a meteorite. Accurate for 122 years, the caliber 3195 comes with a fantastic 5-year guarantee. At 39mm, it is a great modern but still conservative dress size.

TAG Heuer Autavia

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The Autavia re-edition from TAG

Vintage re-editions have been all the rage for the past couple years. It drums up mixed emotions from fans and collectors. On one hand, it’s a great way for a collector to buy a sense of tradition and DNA from the manufacture, but on the other hand, critics feel that the vintage re-editions are overdone. The Autavia’s rebirth was driven by a vote from collectors and fans. A prototype was originally crafted and shown and this year they have taken it through to production. At 42mm it has been modernised compared to the original’s 39mm. With a black dial and offsetting white subdials, the caliber H02 self powered piece is certainly one that collectors will be fighting for. The Autavia is proof that TAG is now becoming a formidable player outside of its usual market.

Patek Philippe 5320G Perpetual Calendar

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Another vintage inspired piece from Patek Philippe, the 5320 PC.

From the shadows of the Patek 5140 comes a new Perpetual Calendar from the manufacture that is best known for this complication. The 5140 was a piece that atttracted some criticism around its use of staggered fonts on its calendar subdial. The 5320 has corrected this but more importantly, in very vintage style. The cream coloured dial with syringe hands definitely adds a touch of nostalgia to the watch. At 40mm it is an attractive piece although not vintage in size. Perhaps one of the more controversial qualities of this piece is the case is stamped from one piece of white gold. In a way this feels somewhat robotic, not a reflection of the kind of casework mastery that we would expect for a watch at this price point. It is a very captivating case nonetheless with its stepped lugs. We are pretty certain this will be a popular piece amongst collectors, however for us, the original 3940 Perpetual Calendar or even the 5327 would be our first choice

Breitling Superocean Heritage II

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The original Breitling Superocean (left) and the re-edition (right)

We don’t cover Breitling much but this Baselworld 2017 piece is definitely worth a mention. The Superocean is Breitling’s dive watch which was released back in 1957. Breitling has continually released pieces since then but this one is extra special, it celebrates the Superocean’s 60th birthday. The Superocean Heritage II has a 4Hz COSC caliber (based on the Tudor MT5612 from the Black Bay Steel but with some fancier decoration) and is offered in both a 46mm and 42mm version. Obviously the 42mm being the better choice here. There are several colours for the ceramic bezel, dial and strap options but black is the most striking. The dial is clean and simple, however the rotating bezel doesn’t come marked with the minute indication, you have to look to the outer ring of the dial for that.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 126600

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The Sea-Dweller 

Arguably the most talked about Baselworld 2017 release from Rolex would have to the the new Sea-Dweller. The Sea-Dweller has always been a cult classic. Suited to those wanting more than a run-of-the-mill Submariner, but gasp at the heft and size of the Deepsea.  Beefed up to 43mm, the new Sea-Dweller has the signature red “Sea-Dweller” text on the dial that many collectors are extremely happy to see, a tribute to the very first 1967 Sea-Dweller, of which even fewer had the single red line. In order to differentiate the Sea-Dweller further from the Submariner, the increased case and bracelet size does make sense, however it is larger than what many are used to. The addition of the cyclops is also a surprise to many, largely an unwanted surprise. This would probably be the most talked about “feature” of the new Sea-Dweller. The Sea-Dweller was always the black swan of the family that never had the magnification window for the date. The main reason was to avoid it separating from the crystal at deep depths. With improved manufacturing  processes, Rolex didn’t need to worry about this anymore and hence brought this piece in line with its other sports models. Powered by the Caliber 3235 which has many new parts, Rolex have focussed on efficiency, high performance and stability. Rated within +2/-2 seconds per day and coming with a five year warranty, the Rolex Sea-Dweller has undergone alot of change from a manufacture that moves very slowly.

 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Milspec

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Another great vintage inspired piece, the Fifthy Fathoms Milspec

The Fifty Fathoms pieces from Blancpain have always been a favourite for dive watch connoisseurs. We at Watchonado have always been great admirers but with the 2017 Milspec release, we have been won over. With an self winding caliber 1151 (with a solid gold rotor with platinum allow coating and silicon hairspring) that has four day power reserve, the 40.3mm piece looks fantastic. The iconic black dial and gloss scratch resistant bezel with Super Luminova is a piece that commemorates the Milspec 1 from 1957. The circle dial at 6 o’clock is a water tightness indiator. The coloured disc will turn red in the event water resistance is compromised. Limited to 500 pieces, it is sure to be hot favourite.