Baselworld 2019 is finally over, and with the show now behind us, we can look back and analyze the new watch releases. The general consensus throughout the industry was that 2019 wasn’t the most exciting year for Baselworld. A lot of watch manufacturers (including all of the Swatch Group brands) did not attend the show at all; and although there were some noteworthy new releases, many of the exhibitors had a relatively quiet year.
With that in mind, here is a quick office round-up of our favorite new watches, least favorite releases, and biggest surprises of Baselworld 2019.
Stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II watches are now only available with bi-color bezels and on Jubilee bracelets.
Paul Altieri – Founder and CEO
- Favorite new release: I’m not sure that I could call this my absolute favorite new release of Baselworld 2019, but I do like the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar ref. 5212A. Given that nearly every single stainless steel Patek Philippe watch has a waitlist at authorized retailers, I think it was a smart move for the brand to release another steel model that was separate from their already-successful Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.
- Least favorite release: As a whole, this year’s new Baselworld releases were rather lackluster. It’s hard to pick just one watch that was my flat-out least favorite; however like most years, there were far more watches that didn’t quite speak to me than those that I would consider adding to my personal collection.
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: For me, I’m most surprised that Rolex is no longer manufacturing stainless steel GMT-Master II watches on Oyster bracelets; nor are they offering a version of the Rolex GMT-Master with an all-black bezel insert (something that they have done since the early 1970s). At least for now, Rolex is only selling GMT-Master II watches on Jubilee bracelets, and with the option of either the black/blue “Batman” or red/blue “Pepsi” bezel insert.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar ref. 5212A is one of the best new releases from Baselworld 2019.
Sam Berger – Vintage Rolex Specialist
- Favorite new release: My favorite release for Baselworld 2019 is the Rolex Yacht-Master 42. The upgraded case size is going to draw a lot of attention, and it also helps give the watch an even more masculine and sporty look. Additionally, the monochromatic aesthetic is downright beautiful; it’s essentially pure wrist candy.
- Least favorite release: I’m least excited by the new 43mm Rolesor Sea-Dweller. I get why Rolex would want another two-tone watch larger than 40mm in its lineup; however as a whole, it is very redundant – it is just too similar to the two-tone Submariner. Overall, it’s not a bad watch, but there’s just not a lot to write home about with this release.
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: I can’t believe that the GMT-Master “Batman” is coming back, and only on a Jubilee! Omg why! (Lol) It does give a little flash, but I can’t help but feel that it’s very counterintuitive for a sports watch to only be available with a dressier bracelet.
The new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 is one of the fan-favorites from Baselworld 2019.
Josh Islas – Director of Digital Marketing
- Favorite new release: My favorite release of Baselworld 2019 surprisingly came from a brand within the Fossil Inc. umbrella in the form of the Zodiac Aerospace GMT Limited Edition. The colors are a bit bold (if this was your only watch), but they got just about everything right with this release.
- Least favorite release: I’m not going to try to defend Tudor on this one, the Black Bay P01 is straight up ugly. There is a reason why this design originally did not move past the prototype stage during the 1960s. Even if you are one of the few people who actually like this watch, you cannot honestly say that the Black Bay P01 was the exact timepiece that you had been asking for from Tudor.
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: There is a $70,000 Doxa… a watch made by Doxa costs SEVENTY-THOUSAND dollars. Need I say more?
The Tudor Black Bay P01 was easily one of the biggest surprises of the show.
Ripley Sellers – Senior Editor
- Favorite new release: If I could only take one watch home from the show, it would be the Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G. I’ve always been a fan of the Aquanaut, green is my favorite color, and who doesn’t love a white gold Patek?
- Least favorite release: My least favorite release of the show was the new Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon Carbon watches. I don’t mind their highly-extroverted styling (it kind of comes with the territory for Hublot); however their appearance is highly derivative. They just look like bootleg Richard Mille watches (which isn’t a good thing).
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: I’m not at all surprised that Doxa released a solid-gold Sub T. Graph. However I am surprised that they are asking more than twice the price that Rolex asks for a solid yellow gold Daytona…
This solid-gold Doxa Sub T. Graph costs more than twice the price of a solid gold Rolex Daytona.
Larry Mendel – Service Manager
- Favorite new release: My favorite watch of Baselworld 2019 was the Rolex “Yacht-Mariner” – AKA the Rolex Yacht-Master 42. I’ve always liked that ceramic bezel insert and the Oysterflex strap (I’m also a fan of the original version in Everose), and I just really like the overall cleanliness of the design on this release.
- Least favorite release: My least favorite new release was the Rolesor Rolex Sea-Dweller reference 126603. There really isn’t a reason for a highly-specialized tool watch like the Sea-Dweller to be made from precious metals. If you really needed its capabilities, you would get it in stainless steel. The use of gold is just a bit contradictory to the whole spirit and heritage of the Sea-Dweller collection.
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: For me, the biggest surprise of the show is also my least favorite new watch. I’m shocked that Rolex is now making a two-tone Sea-Dweller.
The two-tone Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126603 was one of the more controversial releases from Baselworld 2019.
Celine Simon – Writer and Contributor
- Favorite new release: It’s difficult to pick just one because I thought the ladies’ watch releases at this year’s show were solid! For me, it’s a toss-up between the casual chic (yet ultra-lavish) rose gold ladies’ Nautilus with the ivory dial and the magnificent Legacy Machine FlyingT, which was MB&F’s first women’s watch.
- Least favorite release: The gimmicky solid gold Doxa Sub 200 T. Graph for $70,000.
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: I was shocked and dismayed at all the leaks on Instagram revealing the Patek, Rolex, and Tudor novelties prior to Baselworld. It’s unfair to all the people who not only worked so hard to develop these new watches but who also prepared for an entire year for the big reveal. And their big moment was selfishly stolen by a few social media posts. #boo
The new TAG Heuer Autavia collection (Image: TAG Heuer).
Justin Morton – Photographer
- Favorite new release: My favorite release of the show is actually the new TAG Heuer Autavia collection. I know these watches have been getting a lot of hate and seem somewhat unconnected to the Autavia line, but I kind of like them. Their dial treatment is cool, the strap changing system is innovative, plus you get TAG’s new Isograph carbon hairspring.
- Least favorite release: I’m not a fan of the new two-tone Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126603. Not only do I not really like the look of the watch, but I think the whole concept of it is just kind of pointless.
- Biggest surprise of Baselworld 2019: For me, the biggest surprise of the show wasn’t a new release at all. I’m most surprised that there was no new Rolex Milgauss this year.
The ref. 126719 BLRO Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi” with meteorite dial was one of the most-discussed watches of the show.