Best of Baselworld: Part Two

By Jonathan Bues and Courtney Kenefick


Our second day in Basel included visits to haute horloger Blancpain, the high fashion house Chanel, and Movado, known for its mid-20th-century design heritage. The wide range of metiers and features presented illustrates the diversity of know-how at the world’s largest watch and jewelry show. 

Blancpain presented one of our favorite timepieces of the day as an update to its iconic Fifty Fathoms range, originally created for the French Navy and worn by the famed French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. The vintage trend that has captivated watchmaking for more than a few years continues and this year has been expressed in watches sized in and around 38 mm. Aimed at both men and women, the 38 mm Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe represents a significant size reduction from the previous version’s 43 mm width. Like its larger brother, which remains in the collection, this addition is a sturdy and serviceable option for casual and weekend wear, an ISO-compliant deep-diver with a depth rating of 30 bar, or 300 meters. One needn’t look very hard for signs of quality: The movement at the heart of the Bathyscaphe is an in-house Blancpain caliber with a lengthy 100 hours of power reserve, visible through a window on the screw down caseback. An easy-to-read dial and a proprietary Liquid Metal bezel ensure that the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe looks good near and far, and is legible during underwater pursuits.

The 38 mm Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape.
The 38 mm Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.

Chanel does not shy away from referencing its rich history in its designs, and the fashion house’s watch collection is no exception. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Chanel’s first watch—appropriately called the Première—comes the introduction of the Première Camélia Skeleton. The timepiece mimics the label’s iconic flower motif and features the second Calibre 2 in-house movement from the brand. (The first was last year’s Monsieur de Chanel.) The Première Rock, a more familiar version of the style, has also been updated, this time with its triple-wrap strap available in red leather. From the sportier J12 line comes a playful limited edition timepiece; it displays a caricature of the brand’s iconic founder, Coco Chanel, whose hands and arms function as hour and minute indicators. The summation of the timepieces proves that whether experimenting with new movements or updating existing styles, the brand continues to create watches that are undeniably Chanel.

The Chanel Première Camélia Skeleton.
The Chanel Première Camélia Skeleton.

Meanwhile, at Movado, the Movado Connect ushers in one of watchmaking’s most identifiable creations, the Nathan George Horwitt’s Museum Dial, into the digital age. Powered by the recently released Android Wear 2.0 operating system, the Movado Connect will come with more than 100 dial options that owners can easily toggle between, but Horwitt’s stark black dial, with its lone dot at 12 o’clock, is the standout. Care was taken to retain the sleekness and minimalistic dimensions of the Movado Connect’s lugs and case, a rarity among smartwatches, which sometimes tend toward the clunkiness of tuna cans. But perhaps the best aspect of this new release is its entry price, an easy-to-justify $495.

The new Movado Connected.
The new Movado Connected.

Click here to read Part One of our Baselworld coverage.

Click here to read Part Three of our Baselworld coverage.