A conservative estimate is that I saw 600 watches in my 3½ days at BaselWorld. When asked to choose my three favourites, all I could do was groan, “Impossible!” There were so many spectacular new pieces – and I don’t mean just the silly-priced stuff – that I can’t even devise a mental “filter”. Do I ignore the fabulous Tudors because they’re on everyone’s list, along with the Hamilton Pan Europ? Do I use a price cut-off? No, I’m just gonna be selfish:
LUST OBJECT No 1: The De Bethune DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon
Two reasons I adore this, the first being that I am a huge fan of the brand. The second is that my fave watch of last year is the Peter Roberts Concentrique with five hands from the center, a rare feature shared with De Bethune’s new take on chronographs. Careful attention to detail, like employing five different hand lengths and shapes, plus highly-legible chapter rings enable this watch to tell you five things at once. It’s gorgeous in a classical manner, but rare and expensive. If, however, chronographs are your thing, this one rises straight to the top of the Lust List. And that’s without mentioning that it’s a tourbillon ….
LUST OBJECT No 2: The Longines Heritage 1935
Back in the day, when I used to buy and sell vintage watches, a Czech Air Force Longines would turn up, find a quick home, and I would then forget about it, assuming another would come along swiftly. Silly me: They dried up around 10 years ago. Armed with 20/20 hindsight, I should have kept one. This reissue, a millimetre larger, automatic, with date, but missing the rotating bezel with arrow marker, will never be mistaken for an original, but it surely would satisfy me. But move quickly: those who hesitated about buying the reissued Longines W.W.W. know that it’s now out of production and climbing in value. This will, too.
LUST OBJECT No. 3: Hamilton Khaki Pilot Takeoff Automatic Chronograph Limited Edition
I collect Hamiltons, so this is a no-brainer. Equally, I may love it because of the packaging. Like Bell & Ross models, it resembles a cockpit instrument, so much that the box it comes in is a militaristic-looking case with the watch itself mounted as if in an instrument panel. The watch module locks into the watch case-back and strap with a mechanism offering the feel of a fine camera lens. It boasts a bi-directional rotating flange, activated by the bezel, so you can record a countdown. It is the wildest pilot’s watch I have ever seen.