While steel chronographs have grabbed the lion’s share of attention this year, everyone had a new steel, time-only sports watch to show at Baselworld. Here we look at five you might have missed.
by James Buttery
With complications and precious metals thin on the ground at Baselworld this year, every brand seemed to unveil at least one new steel sports watch; rugged time-only designs intended (and priced) to sell.
These are watches for the weekend rather than practical all-rounders and as such tend towards the colourful and exuberant, perfect for impending summer holidays. We’ve already commented on how impressed we are with Sinn’s 2017 collection but with a multitude of brands cottoning on to the trend there’s a great selection out there.
Perhaps the reason Seiko still uses such anonymous model numbers is because it knows its legion of die-hard fans will instantly christen new models with boy’s own adventure-style nicknames the instant they’re revealed. This year Seiko unveiled two limited edition watches in this Blue Lagoon (nickname) colour scheme, the classic Turtle and this Samurai (both nicknames). The Turtle gets enough attention, with four references in the sporty Prospex line-up, so we’ll look at this 43.8mm Samurai, presumably named because of its sharp case lines. Somehow Seiko gets away with three shades of blue on the sunray brushed dial and rotating bezel as well as yellow highlights on the seconds hand and compass points. It should be overpowering but manages something close to harmonious. Inside is Seiko’s workhorse 4R35 hacking seconds automatic movement with 41 hour power reserve. The SRPB09 is water resistant to 200m but the best thing about the Seiko is the price. £399
Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Garde-Cotes
Bell & Ross is in the midst of a purple patch in terms of its design work, unveiling one strong proposition after another this year, from the BR126 Renault Sport 40th Anniversary to the BR 03 Horograph . In seeking to diversify and be seen as more than just an aviation-inspired watch brand, Bell & Ross’ design team seems to have struck upon a hitherto undiscovered flexibility in its familiar aesthetic. This latest 41mm satin-brushed stainless steel model, produced to honour the French coastguard, brings together the modernity of the BR 03-92 with the round cases used in the BR V series, proving that a Bell & Ross doesn’t have to be either square or faux vintage. The matte dark grey dial works exceedingly well with vivid orange chapter ring and second hand, whilst the black aluminium bezel ring serves to frame the look. Water resistant to 100m. £2,200
Muhle Glashutte Teutonia Sport II
German nautical specialist Muhle Glashutte is in danger of establishing a recognisable look following a couple of strong years, which included the Seebataillon GMT and the SAR Rescue-Timer. This 42mm Teutonia Sport 2 continues the trend for bold, bright designs and even changed my previously negative opinion of black and red watches. There’s a strength to everything here, from the lugs that jut arrogantly out of the caseband to those wonderfully weapon-like hands. The dial is also expertly realised with a perfect between matte and brushed finishes and just enough red highlights to set things off. However there’s no overlooking the waterproof leather and rubber strap though, with contrast stitching and a corrugated backing in bright red. The SW 290-1 automatic movement within offers 38 hours of power reserve and hacking seconds. £1,990
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto
Hamilton has a long history of producing dive watches, and even made its movie debut in the 1951 underwater thriller, The Frogmen. This new Navy Scuba screams summer watch with its instantly recognisable divers watch silhouette, NATO-style strap and orange-on-black contrast. With Hamilton benefiting from Swatch Group’s research and development you also get a 21,600vph Powermatic 80 automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve, here reworked as the H-10. Measuring a very neat 40mm across the Navy Scuba also answers the needs of those desk divers who would like to wear a modern divers watch but find most to be too large. £625
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53
Fossil-owned Zodiac has upped the ante in terms of channeling 60s cool and currently occupies that interesting ground between bold and downright crazy. You can (and probably will) completely overlook the case-shape and bracelet of this limited edition, retro-inspired diver, here colour is everything. The powder blue and orange combination used here is a less saturated take on the famed Gulf racing colours, but the strong matte black dial somehow holds everything together. A convex mineral glass bezel top-ring plays with the light in the same way a glassbox crystal will. The Super Sea Wolf is the only other 40mm watch featured here, but given the groovy choice of colours means it is certainly no shrinking violet. Inside is a chronometer-rated STP 3-13 automatic movement.