Baselworld 2011: A Selected Preview

March 2nd, 2011

By Christopher Scapelliti

If it’s March, it must be Baselworld. The annual watch and jewelry show takes place this year from March 24–31. With more than 2,000 exhibitors, the Basel, Switzerland expo promises to be both extravagant and overwhelming. We’ve picked through some of the watches making their debut at this year’s event and come up with more than a few noteworthy highlights.

Ulysse Nardin will debut its long-awaited Freak Diavolo, a devilish incarnation of its ultra-unique Freak tourbillion carrousel. Introduced in 2001, the Freak was the utmost in modern, minimalist design, featuring no traditional dial, crown or hands. In particular, the Freak was revolutionary in its use of materials, such as escapement wheels constructed of silicon, which has greater stiffness and capacity for stored energy, allowing a maximum power reserve. Silicon also has a low friction coefficient and low density, allowing greater accuracy in timekeeping and lighter parts, while silicon machining techniques, such as photolithography, permit the creation of high-precision parts of greater complexity than can be created with steel.

With the Freak Diavolo, Ulysee Nardin takes the original Freak to extremes that go beyond the watch’s attention-getting red “horns.” The Freak Diavolo employs silicon in its hairspring and throughout the majority of its escapement. Most stunning is its flying tourbillon to indicate seconds. Developed entirely in-house, the tourbillon carrousel makes one complete rotation around the center in 60 minutes. A powerful oscillator allows the tourbillion to provide a power reserve of more than eight days while delivering a superior level of accuracy on the level of a mechanical chronometer. All of this comes in a watch that is supremely stylish, featuring an 18-karat white gold case and crocodile strap.

Following the trend in thin timepieces we reported on here last month, Obaku is introducing its V140G, a model that many are calling the slimmest sports watch yet. The company is keeping mum on many details (including just exactly how thin it actually is), but judging from photos, the V140G is truly waferlike. The clean design features barely visible Arabic numerals and five-minute markers engraved on the bezel, undersized luminous indices, and a tiny date window.

Longines will introduce a reissue of its classic Twenty-Four Hours timepiece. The watch is based on a model commissioned by Swissair for its pilots from 1953 to 1956. The matte-black vintage dial and oversized crown point to the watch’s heritage, and a tiny button below the crown pops open the caseback, where you’ll find an engraved legend and watch number. The Twenty-Four Hours features a stainless-steel 47.5mm case, white Arabic numerals coated with Super-LumiNova, and a railway-track minute circle. The watch is set on a black alligator strap and is water-resistant to 30 meters.

And while we’re on the subject of travel, two notable watch lines making their Baselworld debut this year include the Aerowatch Hommage 1910 Chrono-Auto collection and Hanhart’s Primus Pilot, Racer and Diver watches. Aerowatch’s Hommage 1910 collection recalls the vintage age of aviation, while Hanhart’s Primus collection takes a cool, modern spin on the chronograph, with cases coated in black ADLC (Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon).

Watch this spot for additional highlights from Baselworld 2011 and for a more in-depth look at some of these featured timepieces.

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