February 8, 2023

Please join our traditional Quill & Pad round table discussion on Baselworld 2017, where we discuss what we did and didn’t like at at the world’s largest annual watch exhibition.

Our participants are:

IS Ian Skellern, co-founder of Quill & Pad
ED Elizabeth Doerr, co-founder of Quill & Pad
JM Joshua Munchow, resident nerd at Quill & Pad
GG GaryG, resident collector at Quill & Pad
SC Simon Cudd, Quill & Pad’s resident visual enchanter
NM Nola Martin, Quill & Pad’s resident lifestyle guru

ED: Once again, Baselworld was extremely interesting from every viewpoint. Perhaps even the fact that the century-old fair (see 1917-2017: A Brief Retrospective Of 100 Years Of Baselworld) itself is beginning to feel the crunch in the same way as the watch brands: Baselworld’s closing press release only mentions the number of buyers (down 4 percent over 2016), but does not mention the number of exhibitors or attendees as it usually would – which also points to a downward trend if you read between the lines.

Reflecting this, Baselworld will be two days shorter in 2018 – this is a first since I have been attending the show. Managing director of Baselworld Sylvie Ritter said, “The industry is currently going through a challenging phase, which particularly affects smaller companies. Listening to our exhibitors and in agreement with the members of the different committees, we have decided to reduce the duration of the show and adjust the prices accordingly.”

Baselworld 2018 now takes place from March 22 through March 27, 2018.

Baselworld 2017

A look inside Hall 1.0 at Baselworld 2017

Not only will the upcoming fair will be two days shorter, it will see a handful of important brands exiting following the departure of Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux for the SIHH after Baselworld 2016: La Montre Hermès, for example, has already confirmed that it will exhibit at the SIHH in 2018.

Baselworld 2017

A view inside Hall 1.0 at Baselworld 2017

What we thought

IS: As I recently wrote in the verbosely titled Quill & Pad Team Members Each Pick Top 5 Watches From Baselworld 2017 Plus Special Mentions And Biggest Surprises. Warning: Modem Burning Photo Fest!, “After two economically difficult years for sales of high-end watches, I was expecting a fairly subdued Baselworld 2017. I could not have been more wrong as the sun was literally shining outside for most of the show and metaphorically inside. 2017 wasn’t just good for both interesting and exciting new wristwatches at Baselworld, I’d go so far to rate it as a vintage year.”

Les Ateliers at Baselworld 2017

Les Ateliers in Hall 1.2 at Baselworld 2017

ED: Yes, it was, which is surprising given the story that decline in numbers tells. I also found the mood surprisingly positive, and the Les Ateliers hall (which replaced The Palace) was absolutely buzzing!

JM: Oh, Baselworld, how I have missed you. After being unable to attend for the last two years, my schedule finally allowed me to return to where it all began for me, the hallowed halls of Messe Basel.

I found myself right back in the swing of things, seeing many great people and fantastic watches as if I had never left. The feeling among the brands we visited was rather optimistic, while also showing an understanding of the need to cater to the regular watch buyer by introducing very nice editions with matching price points.

Of course the incredible high-end horology was also top notch this year, not missing a beat thanks to offerings from both the independents and the established brands. But while there were many amazing watches, some of course stood out from the pack.

ED: We also saw price point adjustments continuing to dominate, bringing a number of luxury watches into the realm of affordable and realistic, independent watchmaker Beat Haldimann being a prime example (see Beat Haldimann Introduces H11 & H12, His First Stainless Steel (Relatively Affordable) Wristwatches).

JM: I found myself saying “oh no” time and time again as I added yet another watch to my “I really want to buy this” list as I actually could see saving up the cash to make some purchases thanks to this fact, Elizabeth.

This, to me, was the biggest takeaway from the fair (aside from chocolate): brands are once again focusing on expanding options for the average buyer, the place where they will probably make a majority of sales and develop a loyal fan base. I can only hope this continues so that I can have some great choices when I go to purchase my next timepiece.

NM: Not only that, guys, I felt there was a shift in case sizes with a downward trend toward thinner and smaller dimensions, creating more tailored measurements for the wrist.

ED: Enough chit-chat, let’s get to the good stuff: the watch picks!

GG: Before we go there, I just wanted to mention that once again I ended the Basel week with dinner with a group of fanatic watch friends, who supplied some answers to some of the questions posed here. I’ll include their picks as appropriate.

Best of show: a watch of exceptional merit

IS: For me this is any easy choice: the Akrivia AK-06.

It was with some trepidation that I visited Akriva to see the AK-06 as I had been smitten since seeing the very first photos and was worried that in the flesh/metal it might disappoint. If anything, it exceeded my expectations.

Akrivia AK-06

Akrivia AK-06

The Akrivia AK-06 is the sublimation of everything I like about horology in one watch: crafted by an excellent independent, superbly designed and executed, comfortably wearable, not overly complicated so servicing isn’t too exorbitant, eye-catching but not ostentatious, and interesting visible mechanics.

As far as I’m concerned it’s hard to imagine a more desirable wristwatch than the Akrivia AK-06. I’m still drooling and am fighting the urge to Google the latest offers for a semi-healthy kidney.

Akrivia AK-06

Akrivia AK-06

GG: For me, the best watch of the week was also the Akrivia AK-06 with its open dial, clever power reserve display, and phenomenal finishing, Ian. Rexhep Rexhepi and his small team seem to move from strength to strength, and my reservation on some of Akrivia’s prior models – the chunky case – is made small and slim enough in the AK-06 to be more harmonious with the rest of the design.

H. Moser & Cie.’s Concept Cosmic Green

H. Moser & Cie.’s Concept Cosmic Green

The views of the rest of our collector group were quite diverse: one member also opted for the Akrivia, while others went for the Patek Philippe Reference 5320G, H. Moser & Cie.’s Concept Cosmic Green, and the latest color combination of the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual.

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G

And there was one vote for the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch as the “most important” piece shown [privately] at the fair.

JM: The list of lustworthy watches seen at Baselworld 2017 is very long, but the best of the show, in my eyes, can only go to a watch that has literally redefined its own category. With that in mind, it can be none other than the incredible Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph taking the top honors. At its heart, the Visionnaire Chronograph is powered by the best new movement to come out this year – and perhaps this decade: the AgenGraphe.

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

As revealed by Ian in The AgenGraphe By Agenhor: The Most Significant Chronograph Since . . . Since The Invention Of The Chronograph, the AgenGraphe has created a new standard for chronograph construction. The innovative ideas inside are mechanically genius, and any watch that houses this movement is on the cutting edge of chronograph history. The innovation of that movement cannot be under reported, and as such my best in show goes to the very first watch to house the movement (and quite fantastically I might add).

ED: My top 5 can be found in our modem-burning photo fest, and any of those could be the best in show for me. But for the top of the heap it has to be the Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph as Joshua said or the playful Hermès Slim d’Hermès L’Heure Impatiente, which is both gorgeously elegant and includes a brand-new complication.

Hermés Slim d’Hermès L’Heure Impatiente

Hermés Slim d’Hermès L’Heure Impatiente

SC: This is like asking which is your favorite child or cuisine from a particular country! I don’t think I can reply with just one, but perhaps a chosen few . . .

Andreas Strehler’s blue-dialed Sauterelle à Heure Mondiale

Andreas Strehler’s blue-dialed Sauterelle à Heure Mondiale

There is of course Andreas Strehler’s blue-dialed Sauterelle à Heure Mondiale, which I had the pleasure of photographing in a cool but dark bar in Basel the night before the fair kicked off. Indeed, anything Andreas makes includes a touch of pure genius.

Romain Gauthier's Logical One Engraged Orange

Romain Gauthier’s Logical One Engraged Orange

And then there is Romain Gauthier’s “Enraged” Logical One, which is one of the coolest high-end haute horology pieces. I’m not sure whether that is influenced by the fact that he is a great person too. His finish on the Enraged is like a pumice stone, and orange highlights with the black/grey finish just do it for me.

ED: This was obviously the first time you have seen the finalized Enraged pieces, Simon. We had the pleasure late last year once they were ready (Romain had previewed them at Baselworld 2016). I also really liked them, which you can see in Fast And Furious: Logical One Enraged By Romain Gauthier.

Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton

Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton

NM: The Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton certifies as the best of show for me with its outstanding engineering and artisanal execution. One glance at this timepiece draws you in with its exquisite beauty and hand-engraved sculptures. The motion of the automat only has you falling deeper in love (see Awesome Aphidae: Jaquet Droz’s Loving Butterfly Returns As An Exquisite Automaton).

This mechanical masterpiece is brought to life using smooth and fluid movements of a flying butterfly and a rolling chariot. Sourcing energy from the three spring barrels, the butterfly can flutter its wings up to 300 times over the course of two minutes.

Not to be overlooked by the captivating motion on the dial, this watch is also a precision time-teller thanks to Jaquet Droz Caliber 2653 AT1. Drawing on the brand’s history, the whimsical scene of a cherub riding in a butterfly-drawn chariot originates in a sketch drawn by The Draughtsman, an original Jaquet Droz automat from the late 1700s.

Most disappointing watch given its potential

IS: It’s not that there was anything inherently wrong with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono, it just didn’t look like a Black Bay to me.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph

Yes, the Heritage Black Bay Chronograph has both the Black Bay case shape and Black Bay hands, but without the Black Bay’s distinctive coin-edge bezel, this chronograph just looks too different to me to be a fully fledged member of one of my favorite model families. This is a superb chronograph at a very competitive price, but I just don’t see it as a Black Bay.

GG: This was a pretty easy call for me: the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono with its teensy subdial registers, clunky styling, and blah-looking satin-finished bezel. Tudor has clearly done some things right in re-emerging as an interesting brand over the past few years, but this one is all wrong for me.

Hublot fared poorly with my pals, with two votes for the Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph and one for the MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis that reminded some of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis

Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis

Other “winners” in this category included the updated Patek Philippe Reference 6000, the TAG Heuer Connected 45, and (over my strenuous objections) two votes for the Konstantin Chaykin Joker.

Finally, one member wrung his hands over the Armin Strom Watch Configurator as evidence that the brand has abdicated its responsibility for designing compelling watches to sell.

ED: I personally find the Armin Strom Configurator to be an excellent idea as it takes staples of the brand’s design arsenal and allows consumers to create a bespoke piece using their favorite color schemes and elements. I think it’s genius, actually. And it’s bound to make fans of the brand very happy!

IS: Agreed, Elizabeth, I also thought that the Armin Strom Configurator was an industry-leading initiative and was only surprised that it was a small brand leading the way. Car companies have been offering this service for years.

JM: I love the Rebellion, the Weap-One, let me just get that out of the way. I have always loved what Rebellion does, and even though the watches are so extreme it might be hard to wear them in some places, the mechanical awesomeness makes my knees weak.

Rebellion Weap-One

Rebellion Weap-One

But I was extremely disappointed to hear that at $450,000, the radical Weap-One would be drastically out of my price range. Forever. I simply could never save up the capital to be able to purchase one of the just 20 pieces being produced. Dang.

ED: Though I will admit that the Tudor chronograph was not my favorite either, I have to say that I was wowed in other areas by Tudor, in particular the two-tone Heritage Black Bay S&G, a gorgeous representation of this line with an aged-looking gold.

I think for me the most disappointing timepiece was also the Weap-One simply because it is absolutely unwearable as a wristwatch. I liked the idea and cool mechanics, but I can’t ever see anyone wearing it as it sits up so high off the wrist! (But I am happy to be proven wrong.)

Watch you would buy with your own money

IS: The interesting watches this year were not all at the astronomical end of the price scale: I could easily (and well may be) enticed to open my own wallet for a Nomos Club neomatik (€2,420), Beat Haldimann H12 (31,000 CHF), Lang & Heyne Georg (€26,400), Konstantin Chaykin Joker ($7,550), or Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver ($3,700).

Nomos Club Neomatik

Nomos Club neomatik

While at $7,550 the Konstantin Chaykin Joker is relatively affordable, making people smile is priceless.

Konstantin Chaykin Joker

Konstantin Chaykin Joker

ED: Ooooh, I have a long shopping list from Baselworld 2017. Now I just need to find the funds to fulfill it! (laughter)

Tutima Tempostopp

Tutima Tempostopp

This starts with my everloving craving for German watches as evidenced in the incredible Tutima Tempostopp ($29,500), a reverse-engineered chronograph based on the original UROFA Caliber 59 in honor of Tutima’s 90-year anniversary, and the Lang & Heyne Georg (€26,400), which is without doubt the most beautiful rectangular watch I’ve ever seen.

Lang & Heyne Georg

Lang & Heyne Georg

I am also sorely tempted by the Beat Haldimann H11 in steel at 30,000 Swiss francs. Unlike Ian, who chose the H12 model with small seconds, if I’m going to go pure, it will be all the way.

Beat Haldimann H11 with blue dial

Beat Haldimann H11 with blue dial

GoS Ladies

GoS Ladies Sarek

As I already mentioned last year after having seen the prototype at Basel 2016 (see our Baselworld 2016 Round Table), I could imagine purchasing the GoS Sarek Ladies at $7,800.

Moritz Grossmann Tefnut Twist

Moritz Grossmann Tefnut Twist

But another ladies’ watch, the Moritz Grossmann Tefnut Twist, also caught my eye this year, though its starting price of €29,900 might deter me somewhat. Despite that, the clever winding system, which uses a mechanism attached to the lower half of the strap, might just tempt me to look at it seriously again.

GG: I just loved the new Patek Philippe Reference 5170P with its deep blue dial, tachymeter scale, and baton markers (rather than Breguet numerals of the other 5170 variants).

Patek Philippe Reference 5170P

Patek Philippe Reference 5170P

What’s that you say, the batons are really baguette-cut diamonds? Yes, indeed, and darned beautiful at that as in person they look like brightly polished platinum indices.

As a runner-up, I’d like to give a tip of the hat to the two lovely Haldimann steel pieces with blue dials that also captured the hearts of Elizabeth and Ian: one with small seconds and one without.

H11 (left) and H12 (small seconds) by Beat Haldimann

H11 (left) and H12 (small seconds) in stainless steel by Beat Haldimann

Other 2017 introductions picked as “own money” watches by my friends included the Sarpaneva Korona moon phase with green guilloché dial by Kari Voutilainen’s Comblèmene dial-making operation, the Moser Concept Cosmic Green, and the Laurent Ferrier Montre École watch shown earlier this year at SIHH but on display at the Three Kings in Basel as well.

Sarpaneva Moon Phase with green dial

Sarpaneva Korona moon phase with green guilloché dial

NM: The Nomos Club neomatik, an automatic watch that has it all for everyday wear, including a super comfortable textile strap and subtle touches of playful color on the dial and the in-house DUW 3001 caliber featuring the Nomos Swing System escapement (see Bravo, Nomos Glashütte! How The Metro Will Change The Watch Game).

As an added bonus, the retail price is $3,040. I literally would have walked out of the booth with it on my wrist if that had been possible.

JM: This year is a stellar year for collectors of more modest means; there are tons of great options at reasonable price points from nearly every brand. For me, it represents a great opportunity to fill holes in an underwhelming collection with standout pieces.

Nomos Ahoi neomatik signalblau

Nomos Ahoi neomatik signalblau

Since the prices are so great, I actually picked three that represent similar value for what you are getting. The Nomos Ahoi Neomatik Signalblau is an awesome colorized version of the previous Ahoi Neomatik, though the choice of Nomos is cheating a bit as this brand has always represented fantastic value.

Re-Creation of First Grand Seiko Reference SBGW253

Re-Creation of First Grand Seiko Reference SBGW253

Next are two recreations of vintage models, both staying extremely faithful to the originals. The First Grand Seiko Re-Creation is spectacular, and being available in steel (my favorite metal) means that at $5,700 it is an incredible price for such a sharp-looking Grand Seiko.

Omega Speedmaster 1957 Chronograph

Omega Speedmaster 1957 Chronograph

Follow that up with the 60th Anniversary edition of the Omega Speedmaster ’57 Chronograph, which looks exactly like the now-famous original, and you have yourself some tough choices.

SC: Well, given my love for design and aesthetics over movement and precision, I have narrowed it down to two.

Porsche Design Monobloc Actuator

Porsche Design Monobloc Actuator

Porsche Design’s Monobloc Actuator is a marvel (see Porsche Design’s New Monobloc Actuator Wristwatch Is Modeled On Porsche 911 RSR): this is a cool German watch with an amazing chronograph concept, which doesn’t use pushers as such, but rather a rocking bezel on either side of the crown to operate the chronograph. This piece of bezel narrowly misses the sapphire crystal coated with eight layers of anti-reflection in case sand or dirt gets between the surfaces. Plus, it is classic Porsche Design that emulates the look of the early 1980s titanium icon. And that bracelet!

Sinn EZM 12

Sinn EZM 12

And then there is Sinn, another cool German: the EZM 12 designed for the Air Rescue Service comes apart quickly by hand to clean and disinfect. And the second hand allows for 15-second timing for reading a rescued person’s pulse . . . well, hey, I’m now an ARS doctor, but the fact I can do all that and stare lovingly at the orange highlighted bezel and tactile pushers in that cool tegimented steel is enough for me! I’ve reserved one, given that there will be a limited number of them produced.

Object of desire: the watch you would buy if money were no object

IS: If money was no object I wouldn’t limit myself to one watch; in fact I’m even struggling to limit myself to three, but here goes:

1. The aforementioned Akrivia AK-06 because it’s one of the most desirable watches I’ve ever seen.

Bulgari Serpenti

Bulgari Serpenti

2. A Bulgari Serpenti that I’d buy ostensibly for my wife, but surreptitiously sneak it out just to run it through my hands. Bulgari’s Serpentis are among the most tactile objects I’ve ever had the pleasure of handling. Photos do not do them justice; they really need to be played with to be fully appreciated.

Kari Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO

Kari Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO

3. I could close my eyes and pick any watch by Kari Voutilainen and be content.

Voutilainen art watch inside back cover

Voutilainen Aki-No-Kure art watch inside back cover

GG: Since I get to pick an “investment” watch in the next section, I’ll depart from my call at our group’s Saturday dinner and pick Kari Voutilainen’s unreal Aki-No-Kure art watch with its four separate-yet-linked works of art on dial, movement, and case back interior and exterior. At 385,000 Swiss francs, though, I’m very glad that it’s your money allowing me to take this one home!

We must have been getting into the wine by this point in our group dinner as several of the picks were not new for 2017; those included were the Patek Philippe Reference 5078G and 5178G minute repeaters, the MB&F HM7 Aquapod first revealed at SIHH, and the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Advanced Research Reference 5950G.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5650 Advanced Research Aquanaut

Patek Philippe Ref. 5650 Advanced Research Aquanaut

NM: There is a long lineup of fabulous watches I could name! However, for this exercise I imagine I already have an extremely large collection filled with a wide assortment of timepieces to which I could add a piece like the Rolex Yacht Master II 40 in Everose without hesitation. I am drawn to the brilliant bezel decked out with 32 colorful sapphires, eight tsavorites, and one diamond on an actual sports timepiece.

Colorful Rolex Yacht-Master II in Everose gold

Colorful Rolex Yacht-Master II in Everose gold

JM: Of course, I would choose the one watch that is so avant-garde and pricey that it was my biggest disappointment simply due to my sadness of knowing I would never own one. Of course, if someone else was picking up the check I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to choose the Rebellion Weap-One with its asymmetrical tourbillon and bad-ass ergonomics.

Rebellion Weap-One

Rebellion Weap-One

But since this is fantasy I had to pick a second choice as well, the MCT Dodekal One D110, which is much more reasonable for whoever will be paying for my watch as it starts at 55,000 Swiss francs. The watch is no less amazing with its digital display for the hours based on seven-segment displays. It also is more reasonable as a wristwatch, being able to fit under a cuff, something the Weap-One can’t claim.

MCT Dodekal One D110

MCT Dodekal One D110

Since this is the fantasy category, I’ll be happy if my anonymous benefactor decides I deserve both pieces.

ED: Jaquet Droz’s Loving Butterfly Automaton . . . I could watch that little gold insect flap its wings for an eternity and just forget the time altogether!

HYT H0 Black

HYT H0 Black

SC: I love unconventional time-telling from independent brands and I have to say that the HYT H0 in black with fluorescent green liquid killed it completely! Such cool styling!

An investment watch

IS: I find it hard to look at any wristwatch as an investment, but few timepieces have a better chance of at least holding their value than a Patek Philippe minute repeater. And when said repeater is as good-looking at the Reference 5178 then so much the better. Investment, though? Gentlemen, place your bets.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5178 Minute Repeater

Patek Philippe Reference 5178 Minute Repeater

JM: Like I’ve said before and I will say again, invest in stocks, commodities, game-changing companies, and ideas; don’t invest in watches. Well, don’t unless you have the means to invest big. Most watches lose value, it’s the simple truth.

But if you do plan on using watches as investments, there are safe bets out there, and Patek Philippe is one of them. That’s why I would choose the new 5320G perpetual calendar in white gold.

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G

It not only has the charm of many vintage pieces, it also has a precious metal case, a complicated perpetual calendar movement, and the provenance to maintain value over time. Not to mention it just looks so dang good with the box sapphire crystal, cream-colored dial, and Arabic numerals with lume on the numerals and hands. I think you probably couldn’t go wrong with this piece.

GG: Here I’ll revert to my original “money no object” choice from our group dinner and agree with Ian on the Patek Philippe Reference 5178G repeater with cathedral chimes. As I previously wrote in my review of Patek Philippe’s Reference 5074P, I’m an immense fan of the cathedral sound, and including it in a watch in which it stands alone rather than being surrounded by other complications such as the 5074’s perpetual calendar is, for me, a masterstroke.

Rolex Sea Dweller

The new-for-2017 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller in a 43 mm case

SC: The fiftieth-anniversary Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller is bound to be worth loads in the future, don’t you think?

Rolex Skydweller in steel

Rolex Sky-Dweller in stainless steel

ED: Rolex does generally hold value, Simon, and this one is a good choice. As is the new version of the Sky-Dweller in stainless steel, which is priced at about 25 percent less than the previously released precious metal models (see Spending Time With The Most Complicated In-House Rolex: The Sky-Dweller). This is Rolex’s most complex movement, and it is now being offered at a more aggressive price ($17,150 in Rolesor and $14,400 in stainless steel) adjusting to current market conditions. This will certainly behoove anyone looking to purchase this watch right now in the future.

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G lume shot

Patek Philippe Reference 5320G lume shot

However, I will admit to also being more than a little taken with the beautiful vintage style and sly lume of the Patek Philippe Reference 5320 as well as the Aquanaut Advanced Research Reference 5950G.

A patronage watch

IS: For a large brand to develop a brand new fully integrated (not a module) chronograph is a serious undertaking, because while the chronograph is one of the most ubiquitous complications, it is also an incredibly complex complication. Japanese A.H.C.I. candidate Hajime Asaoka has not only developed and created a truly superb chronograph, he epitomizes true excellence in independent watchmaking.

Close up look dial side of the Hajime Asaoka Chronograph

A close look dial-side of the Hajime Asaoka Chronograph

GG: Asaoka’s Chronograph is really an attractive piece as far as I’m concerned, Ian, as seen both from front and back and the pusher feel is absolutely remarkable, especially for a watch that was completed only a couple of days prior to the fair!

Hajime Asaoka Chronograph on the wrist of its creator

Hajime Asaoka Chronograph on the wrist of Hajime Asaoka

There’s a reason why there are so few new chronograph calibers introduced: it’s very hard to balance all of the competing demands that adding a stopwatch imposes upon a movement, and something as simple-sounding as making the springs within the chronograph the right strength can be a nightmare in the real world. Asaoka has done a great job here, and I hope that the three examples of this watch that he plans to produce find good homes very quickly.

JM: Again, I make it harder by choosing two instead of one, but I couldn’t value one over the other. Hajime Asaoka and Rexhep Rexhepi come from two very different backgrounds and create very different pieces, but both are extremely talented and would deserve every penny I could give to purchase their incredible watches.

Akrivia AK-06 on the wrist

Akrivia AK-06 on the wrist

The Akrivia AK-06 is the latest creation from Rexhepi, and it provides ample horological cred with resettable stop-seconds and an energy recovery system attached to the power reserve mechanism – all on full display.

Asaoka has created his own version of a chronograph, and the result is nothing short of stupendous. The movement architecture is also on full display, and provides a glimpse into the mind of the Japanese watchmaker and his creative process. I couldn’t possibly choose which one deserves patronage more than the other, so I choose both.

Fabergé Lady Libertine III

Fabergé Lady Libertine III

ED: I’m going to go with the Fabergé Lady Libertine III or the Lang & Heyne Georg. As I stated above, I have never seen a more attractive rectangular watch than this one.

Louis Moinet Space Mystery with hand engraved case

Louis Moinet Space Mystery with hand-engraved case

NM: Louis Moinet fits this profile especially well with its Space Mystery piece featuring a satellite tourbillon. The use of unique materials such as fragments of a meteorite containing traces of amino acids and a secret formula for the Magic Blue dial paired with the impressive hand-engraving has this watch earning high rankings.

March LA.B AM69 GRALL Automatic

March LA.B AM69 GRALL Automatic

SC: I re-discovered March LA.B, a cool affordable French brand with design inspiration from Californian surf style and vehicle heritage from the 1970s, which struck a cord with me.

A fun watch

IS: As far as I’m concerned, putting a smile on people’s faces is a grand complication, and Konstantin Chaykin’s Joker does that effortlessly. Chaykin added a much-needed and appreciated element of fun into an otherwise serious horological exhibition. This watch was understandably one of the most talked about at Baselworld 2017. I loved it.

Chanel J12 Mademoiselle

Chanel J12 Mademoiselle

And one more watch from a completely unexpected corner that put a smile on my face was the Chanel J12 Mademoiselle. The design is playfully perfect!

SC: All the watches I wear are fun watches, for me anyway! Konstantin Chaykin nailed it though with his Joker: fun, easy to wear, and an amazing dial that uses the eyes as the time indication!

Konstantin Chaykin Joker

Konstantin Chaykin Joker

GG: Haters (including some of my best friends) are going to hate, but I loved the Joker from Konstantin Chaykin! As evidenced by his earlier Cinema watch and his remarkable Moscow Comptus Easter Clock, Chaykin is a brilliant innovator and serious talent; but with the Joker he also shows his lighter side and, I think, encourages us all to smile a bit during times that are less than optimal for the watch business.

For those of you who don’t like the watch, all that I can say is that Philippe Dufour loved it!

ED: After unofficially polling people I talked to during the fair, I think that the Joker polarizes in a weird way: most men I talked to loved it, while most women were left fairly unmoved by it. I definitely fell into that latter category, though I do appreciate on an intellectual level everything that has been said here.

Fiona Krüger Celebration Skull gem-set lume shot

Fiona Krüger Petit Skull (Celebration) Eternity

But I did really appreciate Fiona Krüger’s latest, Petit Skull (Celebration) Eternity, with the tiny multicolored gemstones around the bezel and lume outlining the facial features on an emotional level.

Sarpaneva Korona K0 Daredevil lume shot

Sarpaneva Korona K0 Daredevil

Also, the Sarpaneva Daredevil caught my eye as a fun watch. I can’t get enough lume right now! And if I’m going to be really whimsical, that Chanel J12 Mademoiselle will fit the bill.

Fiona Krüger, Elizabeth Doerr and Nola Martin at Baslelworld 2017

Fiona Krüger, Elizabeth Doerr, and Nola Martin immensely enjoying Baselworld 2017

NM: Fiona’s Petit Skull (Celebration) Eternity checks all the boxes for a fun watch for me, too, Elizabeth! This edition adds seven colors of precious stones and diamonds around the skull-shaped bezel representing each day of the week and a reminder of infinite time, everlasting love, and everything it can endure. It is a creative watch that that truly brings a smile to my face when it is on my wrist.

Hermès L’Heure Impatiente on the wrist

Hermès L’Heure Impatiente on the wrist

Hermès explores time in a new way with the Hermès Slim d’Hermès L’Heure Impatiente and I love this playful interpretation. The wearer can set an alarm for a period under 12 hours via the crown at 4 o’clock. The hour before the event the mechanical hourglass feature at 6 o’clock starts up. As the last hour counts, one eagerly awaits the striking mechanism to chime with a soft and smooth sound.

JM: This was the easiest category to pick, though of course I end up with two choices yet again. Both are extremely obvious as to why they are fun, and each hits something different in the wearer.

Konstantin Chaykin Joker wristshot

Konstantin Chaykin Joker on the wrist

The Konstantin Chaykin Joker watch is purposefully not a serious watch. The layout of the hours and minutes combined with a moon phase have created the silly face of a joker that is constantly changing and repeatedly makes me laugh. It is the only watch that everyone will smile at.

The Hautlence Playground Pinball is a continuation of the Playground collection that began with the Labyrinth, but this time includes a much more visually interesting game of pinball.

Hautlence Playground Pinball

Hautlence Playground Pinball

Repurposing a minute repeater winding and governing mechanism, the Playground Pinball allows you to spend hours trying to hit the jackpot for the big points (I managed to get it after about 20 tries).

Both of these watches help remind us that we are in a world of overly serious issues and a corporate culture that sometimes frowns on fun. With either of these watches on your wrist, however, you won’t be worrying about anything but how much fun you are having!

IS: I wasn’t at all a fan of the Hautlence Labyrinth, Joshua, as it just wasn’t mechanical enough for me to take seriously, but I have to admit that I also thought that the Playground Pinball was fun.

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