We’re about a month away from Baselworld 2019, and that means speculation is in high gear, even hear at StockX. Such is the case every year, but this time it’s a little different. This is due to SWATCH Group announcing their departure from the show from 2019 on, meaning their many brands will leave an Omega shaped hole in the show’s main exhibition hall. There are myriad reasons for this, and that’s a story for another time, suffice to say their absence will be noticeable. This means we’ll have to wait to see what Omega has in store for the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing (for which they’ve resumed production of the cal. 321), but we still have releases from LVMH brands alongside powerhouses like Tudor, Patek Philippe, and of course, Rolex to look forward to.
What do we expect to see? What do we hope to see? Each member of the StockX Watch team weighs in below, along with some general themes we expect to play out this year. We’d love to hear what you think, tag us on Instagram or Twitter (@stockxwatches) with your own hopes and expectations.
Recent years have a seen a return to more traditional watch sizing, and we think that will continue this year with more non-gendered watches falling in the 40mm and under category. There will still be the outliers to this (looking at you, Breitling), but by and large brands looking to sell steel sport watches in the sub $10k range have made headway in being more considerate when it comes to case height and diameter, with buyers becoming more sensitive to overall wearability. To wit, the Tudor Black Bay 58 is still a difficult find in retailers across the country, and we would be none too surprised to see more more flavors of the 58 from Tudor this year.
Another, perhaps more subtle trend is the inclusion of color. Meaning options other than black, grey and white. OK, so blue has been a staple for a long time, but seeing red dials, green dials, kinda green dials, and salmon dials adds a ton of variety in otherwise ‘safe’ watches. We hope to see this continue this year, especially from otherwise conservative brands.
Next up, innovation. We need to see more of it, and we’d love to see it making its way into commercially available watches, preferably at reasonable prices. It’s been too long since we’ve had real excitement from watches like Opus series from Harry Winston, the Mikrogirder from TAG Heuer, the Horological Machines of MB&F, the 1000 year pocket watch from Urwerk, or even the Defy Lab from Zenith, which offered a novel take on the oscillator. Last month at SIHH we had a taste of this with the Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar from Vacheron Constantin, and we hope that’s a leading indicator of more to come at Basel.
Moving to specific brands, things get a little fuzzier. Let’s start with LVMH, and Bulgari specifically. The ultra-thin (and GPHG winner) Octo Finissimo has given the brand ample leverage to take a fresh swing at other collections, and a new Bulgari Bulgari could add even more appeal to a broader market, we’ll be looking for a more modern take on that watch come March.
Zenith has (thankfully) pivoted into a redesign of their Defy watches, and while the new look have been well received, we think they still have a lot of untapped potential. We hope to see an evolution of last year’s design, alongside a complication or two, as well as a range topper featuring that slick vibrating oscillator we saw in the aforementioned Defy Lab.
Last year, TAG Heuer introduced a new Carrera with their Heuer 02 movement, which we’ve seen branch into ultra modern watches like the Nanograph Tourbillon, to classic throwbacks like the Fragment Carrera collaboration. This is a brand on two parallel paths, one looking to push the envelope with design and materials (Jean Claude Biver hallmarks), while calling up more of their back catalog for throwbacks. There’s promise in each category, but we feel their still a few edits away from having real winners in each category.
Crossing the aisle, we arrive at Patek Philippe. 2018 was a banner year for the Swiss powerhouse, with releases like the Perpetual Calendar Nautilus ref 5740 (which certainly didn’t help the situation for those looking for any reference of the Nautilus), a salmon dialed ref 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph (a move that salmon dial 5970 owners were less than thrilled about), and finally a new Aquanaut reference 5968A which, like all of the above, has proven elusive to many a potential buyer. Where do they go from here? With so much attention placed on sport models and grand complications, a move toward the Calatrava references might make sense (of the 18 new references introduced last year, none were a Calatrava), or will we see something new from the Advanced Research division?
Taking a step further away from the shadow of Rolex, Tudor made headlines last year with the release of a pepsi bezel Black Bay GMT, and a trimmed up Black Bay 58. Each were met with considerable praise, and the 58 is a tough catch even today. We’d be more surprised to not see a follow up on the 58 with additional color schemes this year, but there’s something else we’re even more excited about. Tudor has teased what may be a new watch all together. The teaser shows a single hour marker of applied lume, which looks a lot like the older reference 79090 Tudor Submariner. We don’t expect Tudor to bring back the Submariner name, but it does make us think the Mercedes hand (or lollipop?) will make an appearance. We’d love to see the chunky sawtooth bezel edge make a comeback as well. More than anything, we just hope it’s in a 58 sized case.
Finally, we have the elephant in the room, what will Rolex release, and how hard will it be to get? A cursory glance at all the collector communities out there on the internet will yield predictions all over the map. One thing we do know, is the official Rolex Instagram account has featured the Milgauss in 11 consecutive posts (see pic above, notice the inclusion of the ref 6541 at center right). We also know this is a model that’s languished in recent years. Will we see a new Milguass, perhaps with a black ceramic bezel ala 6541? The first Submariner with a date, the ref 1680 was released in 1969, will we see a 50th anniversary model with a red ‘Submariner’ on the dial? Ok, so that one may be a bit of a stretch, but other, more plausible guesses we’ve seen are a white dial on the Explorer I, a Coke bezel GMT (with the discontinuation of the Batman), and a new colorway for the Submariner. Take these guesses with a big grain of salt, as Rolex are not known for their predictability at Basel.
To get a sense of what we hope to see, each member of the StockX Watch team has given their predictions, along with a pie-in-the-sky wish for the show.
Prediction: Tudor coming in hot with more 36-38mm models. The release of the BB58 opened doors for smaller models.
Hope: Blue Dial SS Submariner from Rolex using the cal. 3235.
Prediction: Updated Sub date caliber to the 3235. Rolex has been slowly adding the movement to their catalog.
Hope: Matte dial Submariner from Rolex.
Prediction: We’ll see a new Milgauss with a bezel.
Hope: I’m with Jim, a matte dial on the Sub, along with slim lugs, would make it a must have (but likely impossible to get).
Prediction: Coke GMT on an oyster bracelet.
Hope: Red Bezel Submariner in Steel.
New Green/Red bezel Rolex “Xmas” GMT.
Patek Philippe 5170A Chronograph in Steel.
Patek’s new steel entry level watch, the Patek Philippe Seafarer, priced at $14,500.
I could go on and on….
So I don’t have much to offer with watch predictions, but I will say what I would like to see more of from watchmakers
Whenever I’m on the site, I am always looking for watches that resemble an IWC Spitfire, but with a smaller case, almost resembling a Longines Master. Yes there are a lot of watches that have that look, but they are never in the price range that I want them to be in. If certain brands created more affordable options that would expand their pool of customers, I would greatly appreciate the inclusion. And not just very bulky models, but introduce more slimmer profiled timepieces. Those are the watches that really grab my attention for their versatility.
Baselworld 2019 runs from March 21st to the 26th. We’ll keep you updated with the latest releases and reactions from the show as they come in.