The best watches from BaselWorld Day 1: Chopard, Jaquet Droz, Corum, and TAG Heuer
CHOPARD: FLORAL BEAUTY
Overall theme: Chopard presented a wide range of new products including a Happy Ocean dive watch, Mille Miglia models that hark back to the vintage era, four ultra-thin L.U.C timepieces, and two complicated watches in platinum cases. The stars of the show are the L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer and the L.U.C Esprit de Fleurier Peony. The maison has also released new fine jewellery collections like the Happy Hearts and new creations for the Green Carpet high jewellery line.
Star watch: Chopard L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony
Did you know: The 35mm L.U.C XP was specifically created for women. This year's piece, the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony, contains both artisanal and technical value. Even its movement has been duly decorated.
The X factor: This watch takes Fleurisanne engraving to a whole new level, as the artist removes all of the surrounding material, leaving only the floral motif behind. To further highlight this craft, the background is done in hand-chased dot by dot, resulting in a finely grained surface that is beautifully juxtaposed with the florals.
Flashback: Earlier pieces done by Chopard in the same spirit include the L.U.C XPS 35mm Esprit de Fleurier and the L.U.C XP 35mm Esprit de Fleurier Peony, both of which place the spotlight on the elegance of Fleurisanne engraving
JAQUET DROZ: ASTONISHING CREATIONS
Overall theme: The 2017 watch year for Jaquet Droz comes down to three main pillars: The Grande Seconde, the Atelier d'Art, and Automatons. The manufacture introduced a new moon phase for the Grande Seconde line, which is done in an extra large aperture featuring a hyper-realistic golden moon. There is also a new Grande Seconde Tourbillon for women that has a white mother-of-pearl dial and a seven-day flying tourbillon. But the pieces that got everyone talking were metiers d'art watches like the Petite Heure Minute Black Enamel, which has miniature impressions of a lion, a flamingo, and a pond of carps painted on black enamel. Also worth a mention is the Petite Heure Minute Relief Seasons, as Jaquet Droz released a variation for the Spring. The crème de la crème is, unequivocally, the Loving Butterfly Automaton.
Star watch: Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton
Flashback: In 2015, Jaquet Droz released a Petite Heure Minute Loving Butterfly featuring a miniature painting of a butterfly that pulls a chariot on which sits a cherub. This whimsical and slightly peculiar motif is a sketch drawn by Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz in 1775. Now, in the Loving Butterfly Automaton, the butterfly and chariot has come to life.
The X factor: Jaquet Droz is one of the very few watch companies today capable of making watches featuring automatons. Once the button on the crown is pushed, the butterfly begins to flap its wings and the wheels of the chariot begin to spin. Admire this gold hand-carved component under a loupe to really see how intricate the work is. Specifically, consider the butterfly's legs which are completely filigreed yet almost lifelike.
Did you know: The trees flanking both sides of the dial are inspired by the forests of the Vallée de Joux and are also expertly crafted and layered to achieve a three dimensional effect.
TAG HEUER: TECHNICAL APPEAL
Overall theme: TAG Heuer has done an amazing job consolidating its collections and updating the designs of its watches to appeal to the trendy set. Key novelties this year include the new Autavia (a racing icon born in the 1960s), the Aquaracer in exciting camo and khaki straps, a new Link for men, and the Heuer-02T set with baguette diamonds. The brand also made social media headlines when it welcomed Patrick Dempsey to the fair — way to up your cool factor, TAG Heuer!
Star watch: TAG Heuer Autavia
Did you know: Autavia is a contraction of two words, automobile and aviation.
The X factor: Look above the date aperture and you'll see 'Heuer-02' and this means that the watch comes with the TAG Heuer proprietary chronograph movement. Look through the watch's sapphire case back to see it. It is the reason why this timepiece comes with perfectly balanced and well-spaced sub-dials. The reverse panda colour scheme is also stylishly on point.
Flashback: The Heuer watch company designed the first dash counter for racing cars and aircraft in 1933. It was the Autavia chronograph. Then in 1962, fourth generation head of the company, Jack Heuer, created his first wrist sports chronograph. Till this day, the Autavia is among the most sought-after TAG Heuer chronographs.
CORUM: FUN TIMES
Overall theme: Corum showed off its flair for comedy and fun this year, by going full force with the Bubble watches, one of which is a collaboration with French-Senegalese rapper and entrepreneur, Booba, and others designed with photographers like Juliette Jourdain, Matt Barnes, and DJ-music producer Matteo Ceccarini. But they have not forgotten their classic icon, the Golden Bridge, now with two new variations: Rectangle and stream. The latter, in particular, is especially stunning to admire because of its three-dimensional architecture.
Star watch: Corum Golden Bridge Stream
Did you know: To create the delicate intersecting curves of the Golden Bridge Stream, Corum drew inspiration from a major currect in contemporary architecture: streamlining. Spanning the 1930s to the 1960s, it originated in the United States at the same time as objects began to be mass-produced. The style is distinguished by its flowing, extremely dynamic curves.
The X factor: This timepiece is inspired by San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge. The clear sapphire crystal reveals meticulous craftsmanship, where you'll find a perfect miniaturisation of the structure of the Californian suspension bridge.
Achievement unlocked: Made entirely from gold, the piece is powered by an automatic movement that is wound by two parallel linear weights. Spanning 42 mm, it presents carefully considered and balanced lines, be they straight or curved, long or broken, to create a unique architecture. The case of the Golden Bridge Stream highlights this balance by playing with the tensions between clean-cut edges, sharp horns and a curved sapphire crystal.
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