Baselworld 2017: Highlights from Day Three, Part Two
Last year we saw an overall trend of many watch brands focusing on their value proposition, either by adjusting pricing or adding features or complications to give consumers more bang for their buck. We saw that a lot this year as well, so here are some pieces that we think provide some incredible value for the price, even though a couple of them might not be something I would describe as "affordable". The first big piece of news from Seiko was that Grand Seiko is now its own entity. While this probably means a lot of changes behind the scenes, what it means for you and me as people who constantly ogle their watch dials is that the additional Seiko above the Grand Seiko logo will no longer appear on the dial. As part of this change, Grand Seiko introduced three watches that are a re-creation of the first Grand Seiko. Available in steel, yellow gold, and platinum, they take design cues from the original with a size update to 38mm.
There's also a modern reinterpretation of the first Grand Seiko in Brilliant Hard Titanium, which is a titanium alloy that is twice as hard as stainless steel but as light as regular titanium. It also features the addition of a date and a textured dial. Our photographer is a bit smitten with this one.
Moving along to Seiko, we saw the Presage Enamel collection that was announced pre-Basel in the metal, and they look even better in person. These are beautifully done enamel dials that start with a steel base dial that is treated with a rust-resistant layer, then painted and baked multiple times to achieve the appropriate depth for the various dial elements to fit correctly in the case. The hour markers are then painted and baked at least 10 times. The visual effect is beautiful and comparable to enamel dials that are much more expensive. My favorite is the tonneau case, but they're all pretty great, and with the chronograph topping out at under $2,500, you're getting a lot of watch for the price.
We were excited to visit Frederique Constant after we heard that they had a flyback chronograph on offer this year. This is the first chronograph movement for Frederique Constant and is a brand new manufacture caliber for them. The price varies per case and dial options, but with the top end of the steel and plated options ringing in at under $4,500, it's a pretty solid value. There will also be a solid gold version in the future, which will of course be more expensive, but given their pricing track record, I am sure it will be competitive.
For the record, our photographer, Atom, says the pusher activation is "very nice". You heard it here first, folks.
At Alpina, we got a look at the four new additions to their Startimer Automatic pilot's line. There are a few new case and dial options, of which the "titanium-colored" steel version with matte gray dial was our favorite. The bang-for-your-buck factor is really the story here, as all of the new Startimer Automatic models are priced at under $1,000.
Stay tuned for our next installment as we pay a visit to some more brands that focus on value: Oris, Nomos, and Longines.