Walking the halls of the Baselworld, the sheer number of watches can be dizzying. However, some manage to rise above the chaos and stand you against the rest. Yesterday we brought you our picks for the best everyday watches of Baselworld 2018, and today we’re back with a very different selection of new timepieces – these are the watches that stopped us in our tracks and inspired double-takes. Here are six true grail watches that we’ll be talking about for years to come.
Cara Barrett – Rolex Rainbow Daytona
Well, if you follow me on Instagram, it is already no secret what my favorite watch of the show was: the Rainbow Daytona. Much like real, true love, I cannot explain why I’m obsessed with this watch, I just am. Period. First of all, it’s a Daytona, which is maybe the best watch in production by Rolex today. Second of all, it’s beautifully set with colored gemstones with the perfect rainbow gradient. And have you seen the matching indexes? Come on! If you don’t love this watch, then you must have a heart of stone.
Jon Bues – Patek Philippe Ref. 5270P With Salmon Dial
In the case of Patek Philippe’s 5270P, we have neither a new movement nor a new reference, but that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm that many people attending Baselworld had for this watch. That’s because this Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph now comes with a beautifully-paired platinum case and salmon dial. As Ben noted when he introduced this piece on the site, platinum is the ultimate metal for Patek Philippe. What can I really say beyond the fact that I would gladly trade my first-born child (if I had one) in order to own this watch?
Benjamin Clymer – Patek Philippe Ref. 5740 Nautilus Perpetual Calendar
The Nautilus has been around for 42 years, the caliber 240 in its various guises has been around for 41. And yet it took this long for them to get together?? A perpetual calendar Nautilus was essentially a forgone conclusion, but the fact that the family Stern gave us one in an ultra-thin case (thinnest use of the 240Q in the collection!) that happens to be full 18k white gold? Yup, it makes a cool, if expected, watch downright sick.
Jack Forster – Grand Seiko SBGH265 VFA Limited Edition
The Grand Seiko SBGH265 VFA Limited Edition represents Grand Seiko at the very high end in just about every respect imaginable. VFA stands for Very Fine Adjusted, and the VFA watches are just that – their movements have been fine-tuned, one at a time, to an accuracy significantly above the already-better-than-COSC Grand Seiko standard. Each one of the VFA movements is expected to show a maximum deviation of just +3/-1 seconds per day. In a platinum case and limited to 20 pieces, it is manifestly not your average Grand Seiko (and certainly the price tag isn’t the average Grand Seiko price) but if you’re a Grand Seiko fan with deep pockets and a serious interest in chronometry, this is a watch worth seeking out.
James Stacey – Voutilainen 217QRS
In the most lofty examples of my personal “a fella can dream” moments, I’m never far from thinking of Voutilainen. After seeing the simply amazing GMR back in 2015, I’ve come to really love their aesthetic, the insane finishing, and their traditional but slightly eccentric take on legit watchmaking. Though the new 217QRS was launched at SIHH, I got my first chance to see it at Baselworld this past week and it’s a stunner. With a retrograde date that advances with a push of the crown, the date hand softly flies back to the first when each month is though. Beyond the fun and fanciful date display and the wonderful dial finishing, the QRS also boasts a revised 39mm case with slimmer and more direct lugs. All of this comes together in an entirely unforgettable and grail-worthy watch.
CHF 118,000 (rose or white gold), CHF 128,000 (platinum); voutilainen.ch
Stephen Pulvirent – Akrivia Chronomètre Contemporaine
This is a watch that, for me, came completely out of nowhere. I’ve heard of Akrivia and watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi before, but I’ve never really identified with tourbillon-centric designs. The Chronomètre Contemporaine is a whole other thing though. This 38mm, time-only watch boasts a stop-second/zero-reset function, so when you pull the crown you can set the watch exactly to the second, and the somewhat modern dial conceals the best-finished movement I saw all week. The architecture is entirely symmetrical and each bevel and countersink is a work of art – that I saw Philippe Dufour himself admiring it should give you a pretty good sense of what I mean here. Stay tuned, I’ll have a lot more for you on this beauty very, very soon.
CHF 55,500 (rose gold), CHF 58,000 (platinum); @akrivia