While I couldn’t be more impressed by the timepieces presented by the major players this Baselworld, some of the most surprising horological creations were the result of weird and wonderful encounters with people who took me off the beaten track.

ITAY NOY

The first encounter was an Israeli watchmaker called Itay Noy. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I posted a picture on Instagram of the medieval tunnel that leads to the Revolution office in the old town of Nyon, Switzerland. Itay remarked on how it looked just like his office in Old Jaffa. Intrigued, I asked him for a photo, and blow me down, our respective places of work, although 2,600 miles apart, did look uncannily similar. A few messages later and I had an appointment booked at Baselworld to see his creations.

I went into the appointment with absolutely no idea what to expect, but what I discovered was a watchmaker with boundless creativity (I’ll come back to him later in the year), but for now, check out this unique creation where each owner can choose which colored disc he or she wants to be the hour hand, keeping the reading of the time totally secret — I just love it!

AKRIVIA

Another social media appointment booking came from AkriviA. I follow the brand’s sales and marketing director, Naomi Barokas, on Instagram (we have a common passion for horses and watches!) and she invited me to come and discover AkriviA’s timepieces and meet Rexhep Rexhepi, the young and dynamic watchmaker behind the brand. Even though I had been impressed by the timepieces in their square-Instagram-format, the real thing was something else! Rexhepi started his career as an apprentice at Patek Philippe, before moving to BNB Concept and F. P. Journe, where he worked on some serious complications. Now owner of his own brand, this talented, and yet rather shy, watchmaker looked like he would much rather be behind his bench than promoting his brand in Basel. But the minute I remarked on the incredible mirror polishing on his components, his eyes lit up and his passion came pouring out—definitely a watchmaker to follow!

MOVADO

I haven’t been to see Movado for a number of years now, but the charming Stefan Zueger from Gretz Communication managed to twist my arm, and I am so glad he did! I have fallen in love with this Movado Edge piece in dusty mauve that has a concave aluminum dial with a raised tonal dot that has been sandblasted. It also perfectly matched my handbag, which I know is a really girly, un-journalistic, thing to say, but horological style is also about marrying accessories too, right?

GUCCI

I almost missed seeing Gucci due to a scheduling mix-up, but the delightful PR Manager, Sara Jandrlic, managed to squeeze me in between other appointments on the very last day, a surprise in itself! But the real surprise at Gucci came from a whole new creative vision in watchmaking. There wasn’t a watch on the booth that compared to last year. The brand’s creative director Alessandro Michele has been working relentlessly on synchronizing Gucci’s creative vision across all product categories. The result—a whole new range of watches designed totally out-of-the-horological-box. They are fun, colorful, refreshing and are just what the industry needs to get young people interested in timepieces.

REBELLION

After seeing Rebellion briefly at the Geneva International Car Show, I decided to stop by and see the brand’s CEO Philippe Dubois to discover these masculine, racing-inspired timepieces in greater detail. One piece that really caught my eye this year was the all-new Twenty-One with its automatic movement and second time zone. It looks totally different from anything the brand has done in the past. When asked to the guess the price, I was reluctant to play the game (last year’s star of the show was four million Swiss Francs!) If I aimed too high, I would look like an idiot, and if I went too low I would insult the brand. I politely abstained and I am glad I did, at only 4,000 Swiss Francs, I almost fell off my stool!

Stay tuned for more surprise watches from Baselworld…coming soon.