Were you hoping for jaw-dropping releases at Baselworld 2018? Sorry to disappoint you. There were few horological heavy-hitters or unexpected drops. But that’s okay. If there was an overall theme at this year’s show, it was “evolution, not revolution,” and most watchmakers focused on making their existing offerings better by refining designs, updating movements, adding new dial options and downsizing cases. These are all things watch enthusiasts have been clamoring for, so having watchmakers take note — and in many cases take direct advice from enthusiasts and collectors — means that in the end, we all win big time.
Rolex GMT-Master II
Why It Matters: Rolex has taken to revising its tool watches in the mold of their iconic forbareres (look at last year’s Sea-Dweller and 2016’s Daytona for proof) and now the GMT finally gets its due. In doing so, Rolex offers what enthusiasts have been wishing for a long time: a return of the steel GMT with a red-and-blue Pepsi bezel. In addition to the new color scheme, the case has been slightly refined and the movement upgraded. While the addition of the Jubilee bracelet has been contentious, we think it’s a great addition to a fantastic travel watch.
Who It’s For: Die-hard Rolex enthusiasts for one, assuming they’re pro-Jubilee. Otherwise, the GMT-Master II has always been a phenomenal travel watch for those who could afford it. We don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Key Specs: GMT function. Chronometer accuracy. Water resistant to 100 meters.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
Why It Matters: While Tudor’s GMT got the most headlines, it was the Black Bay Fifty-Eight that thoroughly impressed on the wrist. This homage to the Tudor Submariner reference 7924 (released in 1958), certainly takes on the look of its source of inspiration with a black dial and gold accents, but it really cinches the look in size: it’s just 39mm in diameter and 11.9mm thick. That gives this a feel much more in line with a vintage Submariner of the 7924’s era, and its indicative of the industry’s current shift to downsize (especially in the case of dive watches).Who It’s For: Vintage diehards will love the slim case and the gold gilt-style printing, but just about anyone in search of a refined diver for desk duty will appreciate the Fifty-Eight, too.
Key Specs: Chronometer accuracy. 11.9mm thick. Water resistant to 200 meters.