The Bold & Beautiful at Basel 2003

April 2, 2003

The Bold & Beautiful at Basel 2003

When Basel World 2003 opens its doors April 3, visitors will see a more invigorating collection of eye-catching watches than last year. Joining Basel exhibitors this year after displaying elsewhere previously are Bulgari, Gerald Genta, Daniel Roth, Chanel and H. Stern.

Rather than the largely traditional watch shapes and treatments shown during the cautious show last year, this year's debuts are more sporty and technically innovative.

Also more evident this year is a swing toward the bold for many exhibitors. After several years of introducing dressier men's diamond watches, exhibitors are showing larger designs with function and fun built in. For instance, several companies have deepened their dive watch selections (Oris, Tissot and Hermes are just three of many), while others place black, rubberized straps on chronographs that had none in the past.

Jorg Hysek and Ventura debuted steel watches with attitude. Hysek's V-King, with a tonneau-shaped case, allows the wearer to remove the dial, movement and case from its place in the bezel. The watch essentially slides out of an external bezel that holds it in place on the wrist. Swiss company Voltime also debuts a removable modular case that can be flipped to display the engraved back.

Ventura's new v-tec digital allows the wearer to scroll through timing functions using a roller located above the LCD dial.

Horoswiss joins several other companies with a new compass watch, and Jean d'Eve reintroduces its famed autoquartz Samara, this time placing the rotor visibly under the dial. It's called Samara 2.

Classically designed pieces for men this year also include more functions, including minute repeaters, flybacks, power reserve indicators and big date displays. Look for tonneau and cushion shapes to dominate the dress watch category, at least for new models. Again, large cases dominate. More rose gold cases are evident for men and women.

Limited editions

We're seeing notably more limited editions this year. Jorg Hysek will create only 10 tourbillon models - one for each of its global distributors. Hysek himself will deliver the watches to the buyers as part of the price.

Patek Philippe's new tourbillon adds a 10-day power reserve to its already substantial design.

At Ebel, only five Golden Five models from its 1911 series are for sale. The five symbolizes Ebel's new five-year unconditional warranty for all its watches. The company will make 1,500 in steel.

Longines and Tissot debut limited editions based on classic designs from the 1930s and 1940s, and Tissot celebrates its 150th anniversary with a limited-edition Heritage model.

Breitling marks the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk with 100 gold Montbrilliant chronographs with flyback function.

Coming up: The Latest Jewelry Designs Debuting in Basel

- by Michael Thompson

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