Top 10 Existing Watch Updates Debuted At Baselworld 2016

10This is the second of two “top 10 watches” lists aBlogtoWatch has prepared after the Baselworld 2016 watch trade show. This year, we decided to dedicate one top 10 list to totally new watches and another top 10 list to exciting updated watches. This list is the latter, focusing on existing watch models that have been updated well for 2016, or that have new variations which are noteworthy and help emphasize particular themes.
Given that so much of the watch industry looks to Rolex for direction and validation, I want to say that a very core theme of Baselworld 2016 was doing things “The Rolex Way.” This statement debuted last year in 2015, I believe, as the famous Swiss watch brand’s new overall slogan. Each decision the brand makes is said to be the result of a process that the company refers to as “The Rolex Way,” and I’ll be the first to say that they aren’t making it up. When it comes to product design and enhancement, The Rolex Way is about offering subtle, yet continual updates to its core collection of products. Rolex rarely releases brand new models, but rather updates existing models with new technology, case shapes, dial details, movements, and executions. So many other competitor brands engaged in this strategy at Baselworld 2016 that we could easily summarize the show as being “Baselworld 2016: Doing Things The Rolex Way.”

I had promised to also cover some design and product trends in this article that we saw at Baselworld 2016, which I will briefly discuss now. Brands are still excited about blue-colored watches and titanium seems to be the primary “non-steel” metal of focus. It is part of a larger trend of weight reduction because brands and consumers are getting very excited about timepieces that don’t weigh a lot. Over the last few years, we saw watch brands experimenting with various types of carbon and resins to produce watch cases. These materials are inherently not luxurious, but the particular way they are formulated and machined can vary greatly. If you can forgive brands for charging premium prices for these new materials, then the market continues to grow with a fascinating variety of watches that weigh a lot less than you’d expect. Titanium, of course, is the classic lightweight watch case material, so it makes sense to see a lot of it this year.

The push for brands to go “in-house” is stronger than ever. Regardless of whether there is true value for consumers in having watches with in-house-made movements, the consumers have spoken with their wallets, and brands understand that offering watches with in-house, exclusive, or modified base movements is increasingly important. Tudor, for example, included in-house movements in their champion-seller which is the Black Bay. Moreover, you’ll notice that only two of the watches on this list of the top 10 existing watch updates from Baselworld 2016 have sourced movements – the rest being in-house or calibers produced totally exclusively for the brand.

Sport watches are still the best sellers in established markets. Asia still sells a lot of dress watches, but the nature of sport watches makes them more enjoyable to purchase in any variety. Most watch collectors who own a dress watch only have one or a few of them. Most people buy a limited amount of dress watches because the modern watch collector tends to have less use for them. Sport watches further offer more visual and technical variety, which helps them be more popular, and regular sellers. Thus, it is sporty or design-driven watches which we see as being the most popular, with dress watches coming out regularly, but with all the excitement of a new suit. They feel more necessary than fun most of the time.

The vintage watch craze is slowly leveling out to simply mean an industry which has rediscovered the value of watches for people who want comfort, legibility, and clear design focus. We see very few (but some) “retro re-issue” watches, but a lot of timepieces with design cues learned as a result of an industry that has spent about five years rediscovering what makes a timepiece worth wearing. A better term for describing this is perhaps “timeless,” which, for me, means that a watch looks good when you bought it, and remains looking good and working well for years to come. Timeless watches are probably the opposite of novelty watches – but that doesn’t mean a novelty watch can’t become timeless.

Baselworld 2016 did have a huge amount of variety, as always, and it is difficult to summarize broad themes because each brand has its own personality and goals. With that said, I would say that expensive watches tended to feel expensive and worthwhile, and that budget watches seemed to be more appealing in design and value overall. Brands are sobering up from an era of being able to sell frivolous designs and illogically priced goods – embracing the values that helped make wrist watches great items to own and collect to begin with.

I’ll end on the topic of smartwatches and other connected wearables that continue to be a major part of the industry’s contemporary experience. TAG Heuer reports excellent sales for its Connected smartwatch, and brands like Tissot have marked a serious entrance by The Swatch Group into the smartwatch segment. The Japanese are still slow to the smartwatch game, but I think for good reason as they continue to test how new technology and consumer expectations meld with their core strengths and brand values. Casio showed their new Android Wear-powered smartwatch that will ship at the end of March 2016 and will be an interesting competitor to the TAG Heuer Connected, albeit at a much lower price.

Many brands eager to get into the technology wearables space are finally realizing that traditional watch consumers (unlike those who currently have empty wrists) are interestrd in technology but don’t want to replace their beloved timepieces with something new. We thus see a focus on various types of smart straps, bracelets, attachments, and other accessories which complement rather than replace the traditional watch wearing experience. Many of these products are not yet ready for prime time – such as the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Cybertool, but are eagerly anticipated by the market. Perhaps the most serious contender when it comes to the activity tracker space is Misfit, which is now part of the watch industry thanks to its parent company, the Fossil Group. Interestingly enough, the new Misfit Ray is a small cylinder-style item with small spring bars attached to either end designed to incorporate various straps – a lot like a watch. It is further meant to be worn along with a watch on either the same or opposite wrist.

Smartwatches will continue to slowly but surely invade the traditional watch industry as the major luxury timepiece makers understand the available technology as well as consumer preferences more in the future. I believe that the enduring sentiment among traditional watch brands when it comes to smartwatches is that if the smart wearable industry is as big as everyone says it is going to be, then there is little reason to rush to market since there will be ample time to design and test the right product for them.

In our list of top 10 existing watch updates from Baselworld 2016, you’ll see a few themes, and we aren’t bashful that at least one brand has as many as three positions on the list. Updated existing watches are those which aren’t a new family, but rather have exceptional new versions or important across-the-board updates which make them even better. Rolex, Omega, and Tudor aren’t here with new concepts, but rather refinements on popular ones. Better cases, dials, and movements are how to make something good even better. Omega is finally understanding that they don’t always need to release brand new product families, but rather give existing fans new reasons to buy models they don’t already have. Moreover, many of these updates represent little or no added cost to the previous generation model – which is a practice I really hope becomes more the norm in the industry. Too often, watch brands act as though their current products are so perfect, that any added improvements should immediately come with higher costs. I reject this notion and suggest that when a brand produces a particular product in a high volume over time, they should automatically include regular updates to new versions without adding additional retail cost.

Cartier, Breitling, Beater Watches, & More

1Now, we know that many “watch people” know the ins and outs of how to buy, sell, and trade watches online. However, more casual or beginning people who don’t have the confidence of experience can find themselves overwhelmed, intimidated, and plain stressed out about the process. We hope our guides, which are designed to answer broader questions about watch buying as well as provide watch brand- and model-specific guides, provide a good frame of reference for anyone on the hunt for a timepiece. Click on the images to view the articles on eBay

The world of watches can be a little alienating if you’re not in the position to expend the substantial amount of money it takes to buy a nice mechanical watch, let alone have a collection. We figured we’d really challenge ourselves by asking if you can get a truly quality watch for less than $100. We’ve visited this topic of ways to achieve affordability before by looking at surprisingly affordable watches, buying watches that may need some servicing, looking for good deals on vintage timepieces, going for a Japanese watch rather than Swiss, and even (gasp) quartz watches rather than mechanical.

We also have “What’s the Deal? The Cartier Tank.” If you’ll recall, we previously looked at the Omega Speedmaster Automatic in our series dedicated to buying some more affordable (and yes, with compromises) models of costlier watches. And for the real beginner, we present an introductory guide to Breitling.

A question a lot of people have been asking themselves during graduation season is what is a good watch to get that special grad in your life? It’s a nearly impossible question to answer since so much can vary, but take a look at our guide to get some ideas going. And if you’re going to have a watch that needs to be tougher than just a watch ideal for a college graduate starting in the work world, we explore what are some of the best “beater” watches out there.

Watch Advice

9It was brought to my attention that this week’s column is the 100th of its kind here, as if I’m to pop the cork on the Moët. No, I can think of more fitting ways to mark the occasion, most of which involve self-flagellation or deep introspection. Despite the burden that I bear, answering the same inane questions week after week, I have not been scratching Xs on my wall, so I had no idea how many there have been. Frankly, it has felt more like 500.
Still, duty is duty, and given this dubious milestone, I thought it appropriate to revisit some key points from past columns, not so much for your benefit as for mine. Please pay heed to this advice and think twice before you send me yet another question about a $1,900, 46 mm, Chinese-made bargain watch with which you’re rewarding yourself for making it out of the mail room.

It will be my birthday (18 years) and i need some advice.Do you think it s ok to wear black shirt and jacket with grey pants and vest?
Answer Now >
Beware of watch companies that have so-called “ambassadors”
What is more important to you: the watch or which flavor-of-the-month actor is wearing it? When the marketers elbow out the watchmakers, it’s time to look elsewhere. I’d rather have a watch brand spend more money on creating innovative works of mechanical art than buying ad space for George Clooney’s smug smile. It is no coincidence that the two brands I speak most highly of, Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne, don’t have Scientologists and philandering golfers flaunting their timepieces. They’re busy building fusee-and-chain perpetual chronographs. Sure, the vaunted Audemars Piguet has its rap stars, disgraced governors and basketball players, but its watches are also getting bigger and uglier every year. Coincidence? I think not.
The devil is in the details
I am often asked what the difference is between a $2,000 watch and a $20,000 watch. The fact of the matter is, other than telling time, they have little else in common. Fine timepieces have a combination of three key elements: innovation, fine finishing and the quality of being hand built. Read that again carefully before you wave your $50 Seiko in my face. An in-house movement is important, yes, but if it’s stamped out by machines in a Malaysian factory, it’s no better than a quartz Casio. The best watches are those that solve problems — better timekeeping or a more accurate moon phase complication, for instance — and are built by craftsmen who value decoration as much as they do mechanics. And they do it by hand.
There are few, if any, good watches between $1,000 and $3,000
I’ve said it before and hope I never have need to say it again: the vast majority of watches that fall in this price range are pure, unadulterated rubbish. Even the best of the lot put a polish on a $100 machine-made stock movement and drop it into a Chinese-made case and then, since the back was tightened by a Swiss housewife earning some part-time money, they put “Swiss Made” on the dial and mark it up 400%. If you just want something to tell time and match your last season’s Kenneth Cole shoes, go right ahead. But don’t have any illusion that you’re getting a fine watch.

Why Automatics Set The Standard

6A lot of it comes down to one phrase: “The least important thing a watch does is tell the time.” People like mechanical watches for the same reason they might prefer a classic Jaguar E-Type over a modern-day Toyota or vinyl records over MP3s. It’s not just what something does but how it does it. And for many of us men, that’s pretty important (after all this is a very male world we’re in: one leading watch manufacturer told us that 95 per cent of its customers were men).
An automatic watch is a living thing, as you soon discover when you hold one for the first time. One of the beauties of them is that the seconds hand travels in a smooth “sweep”, while on quartz watches it just ticks depressingly once a second. As soon as you notice this, it becomes a surprisingly big deal-breaker.

One final thing to bear in mind: if you take off your automatic watch, it’ll eventually stop. How long it can run without being on your wrist depends on the individual timepiece, but many tend to work for 38-48 hours before they need rewinding, while some can go on for a full five days.

Consistent Pricing

5One figure attached to new watches that doesn’t tend to mean a lot is the retail price. Why? Because you are a sucker for paying retail price most of the time. After those of you from the watch companies stop cursing me, let me explain a bit. Retail prices are just a number set so that even authorized retailers can show to the consumer that they are giving you a discount. It is true that some watches are discounted only a bit or not at all, but the vast majority of watches, especially at these prices levels, are sold below retail prices. That is good to know, but not my final point. Due to the fact that prices are often below retail, you want to pay the “actual,” consistent street price. Let’s say, for example, a watch has a retail price of $500, but most retailers actually sell it for $400. You want to make sure you shop around to pay $400 as opposed to $450. Here is the kicker, though, when it comes to assessing value of an entry level luxury watch: If a watch is being sold by authorized dealers for $400, but the unauthorized dealers (everyone else) is charging $250, then you know there is something wrong with the value of the watch. This is what I call “inconsistent pricing.” What you want to look for is consistency among retailers so that prices don’t vary wildly from seller-to-seller.

To be fair, the guy had really good hair.

8You could technically call this the most expensive haircut in history.
Over the weekend, a tiny lock of the late singer David Bowie’s infamous orange hair sold at auction for an eye-blistering $18,750. The lock was snipped in 1983 by a then-employee of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London. The employee, a woman named Wendy Farrier, needed some of the Thin White Duke’s hair to use as a reference when making the wig for his wax figure.
The framed lock, a part of Heritage Auction’s recent celebrity memorabilia sale, was initially expected to sell for around $4,000. But even though the end result more than quadruples that amount, it’s not the most expensive item that went under the hammer. Pitchfork reports that Prince’s Yellow Cloud guitar, which the late musician used to record and perform until his symbol guitar was created, went for $137,500.

The Diving Watch

7Designed to function in the depths of the ocean, the diving watch is characterised by its rugged construction, luminous dials and hands, and unidirectional bezel. This device sits on top of the case, and can be used to tell the wearer how much immersion time he has left. Most diving watches owe their design cues to the 1953 Rolex Submariner, the first watch to work at a depth of 100m. A great all-rounder and a versatile choice you won’t regret.

The Best Diving Watches

Blancpain Ultra-Slim

The Dress Watch
The most jewellery-like of timepieces, a dress watch tends to be understated – think Roman numerals, simple face and a lack of adornments. Usually attached to a leather strap, the ideal dress watch is super-thin so it can rest unnoticed under the wearer’s cuff until he needs it. Also, as dress watches don’t perform any specific function bar telling the time, they’re also the most likely to be made from a precious metal.

The Best Dress Watches

Longines 24-Hours Single Push-Piece Chronograph

The Aviator Watch
Wristwatches took off back in 1911 when Cartier made one for pioneering pilot Alberto Santos Dumont, so it’s no surprise aviation watches are still a key sector of the market. Thanks to its bezel and slide rule, Breitling’s Navitimer, can convey large amounts of information, vital for pilots in the days before electronic navigation. Most aviation timepieces have a black face with luminous numerals and dials – a relic of the need to use them in the dark.

The Best Aviator Watches

Watch weight


Watch weight is a polarizing concept. Some people (like myself) love heavy watches. Others want something very light. On more expensive watches, you start to see materials such as titanium which are lighter than steel, but in this price segment, weight is often times a sign of quality. Even though titanium is available at this price level, it most likely is not the higher (grade 5) quality titanium that is what you’ll want. At this price level, you are only going to get that nice crisp quality look with steel. Like I said, weight often signifies solid construction using a high quality steel. So feel the weight of a case and bracelet to make sure it is substantial enough to justify your investment.

Signed Crown And Buckle Or Clasp

A good watch maker is more often than not a proud watch maker, and is fully invested in each watch they design. This means there are typically four places that you’ll watch to see the name of the watch makers. This is on the face of the watch, the caseback, on the crown, and on the deployant clasp or strap buckle. These are also known as “signed crowns or buckles/deployant clasps.” The manner of “signing” can vary, but at this price level are usually some type of light laser engraving. Higher priced watches have logos and graphics done in relief (raised, versus etched into the metal). Cheaper watches have bare crowns and deployants which make it too clear that these parts are taken from a parts bin and have no personal touch.

Good Dial Lumination

Not all watches are expected to have dials that illuminate in the dark for low light viewing – these are typically the more classic or formal watches. However, almost all sport and causal watches have some type of luminant that is applied on the hands as well as somewhere on the dial. The quality of luminant greatly varies. Some is so impractical that it should not even be there. An example being that you need to shine a bright light directly to the face of the watch for a minute or so, and then the dial dimly glows for a few minutes. Alternatively, you have luminant that charges easily when exposed to room or sun light and glows for hours. The Japanese tend to make the best luminant, but you get Japanese luminant on watches from all over (watches will never indicate the source of the luminant, but look for LumiNova, or better yet SuperLumiNova when possible). An alternative to luminant are watches that use tritium gas tubes. These tubes are made by just one company in Switzerland and glow by themselves for about 25-30 years. Tritium gas tubes are not tough to find, as a few watch brands almost exclusively use them, and they can be had for reasonable prices. Still, most watches will have applied luminant. Look for large surface areas of luminant that is applied richly (looks raised up a bit).

Solid Feeling Construction


You want your watch to feel well put together and solid. Check to see how well the strap or bracelet fits to the case. There should little to no wiggle room. Put the watch on your wrist and see how well the clasp or buckle operates, they should be smooth with a nice action. They should further not feel flimsy or poorly sized. If the watch has a rotating diver’s bezel, again, twist it around and see how much movement it gives in a resting position. A good watch should not make too much or any noise when shifting around briskly on your wrist, and it goes without saying that it should feel like it is all assembled in a tight-fitting manner. It is also the case that a lot of the time, Swiss companies (even at these lower price points), make better metal bracelets than other countries, even Japan. It is true that a Swiss designed bracelet might actually be manufactured elsewhere, but they take great pride in refinement of these areas.

Designed By Actual Watch Makers

Consider that two types of people are designing watches. Those that care about how well a watch functions as a timepiece, and others that just care about how they look. The best watches are designed using fundamental watch design principles that value function AND form. The alternative are “fashion” watches that might look nice, but actually have superfluous or vestigial design cues. Worst case scenario is a watch that is so poorly designed, it does not even function properly. Examples of this are missing chronograph subdials, erroneous markers on dial, inoperable measuring scales just placed for show, and my all time biggest pet peeve – hands that are too short or the wrong size. The last thing you want is your nice looking watch to function like a movie prop. So do yourself a favor and really take a good long look at the dial and all its features, figuring out what each and every function does, along with making a decision of whether it is usable given your standards. This is one of the biggest problems in the watch market today, and you’ll be proud that you took the time to find a watch that was actually designed to be a highly functional instrument.

Locking Deployant Clasp If On A Metal Bracelet

Cheaper watches with metal bracelets still have what is called a single locking clasp. This is the type of bracelet that literally just snaps or clicks into place. The best metal bracelets have what are know as “double or triple locking clasps.” The image below has a bracelet with a double locking clasp (deployment). The piece on the left “locks” via clicking down when it attaches to the bottom segment. That is the first “lock.” The second is the little metal flap that “locks” again over the first piece to secure it being closed. A triple lock often features a push-button in the mix, or there are also “double locking clasps” with a push button instead of a fold over flap. The bottom line is that you want a watch bracelet that will stay secure on your wrist no matter what you are doing or if you accidentally hit the bracelet on something.

Top Things To Look For In A Luxury Watch Part 1: Entry Level Luxury

2Welcome to the first of three articles that offer an overview for watch newbies on what to look for when getting a new watch. Esteemed watch expert readers are going to be familiar with much of what I am talking about, and I encourage your personal additions to the list. For others, I hope to help guide your watch purchase decisions and discuss information that many of us take for granted. Too often am I presented with questions about what watch people should buy, or what makes a watch good. I simply cannot review the hundreds of watch brands and thousands of styles with each person – what I can give people is a general overview of what to look for and ask about, given your budget.
Let me first say, these lists will not discuss complications (functions) that watches have. It doesn’t matter to me whether you are looking for a chronograph (stopwatch), perpetual calendar (does not need to be adjusted very often), GMT (24-hour hand for a second time zone), or otherwise… These three lists will mention aspects of the watch or its construction that are often function agnostic. Plus, these items are overall things to look for. There is no “perfect” watch, so just make sure the watches you are looking for satisfy as many of the items below as possible.

In “Part 1,” I will discuss features you should look for in what I call an “entry level luxury” watch. This is going to be the $300 and above price point. I will not cap it because different watches simply give you more for the money and these features are certainly things you’ll want in upper range watches as well. The next price point will be $1000 and up, and finally we will have the price point of about $20,000 and up. This latter price point will include things at the $20,000 level as well as the $200,000 level.

For $300-and-up watches:
This is a broad range of watches with probably the largest selection of watches in it. For some of you, $300 is a huge sum for a watch, while for others of you, this is a paltry amount barely worth your attention. If you are in the former category, you’ll want to listen up as these are important things to look for. Again, this is just one partial list, and there are, of course, other things that go into a good watch.

1. Sapphire Crystal

A watch crystal is the transparent cover over the face of the watch. Crystals have been made using different materials over the years, but only a few major materials dominate the market today. Most of the watches you’ll look at have one of two types of crystals; mineral glass or synthetic sapphire crystals. Mineral crystals are cheaper and offer one benefit over sapphire – they don’t tend to shatter if struck hard. Meaning they will crack, but not shatter. Shattered sapphire crystals are relatively rare and typically occur with a very harsh impact. The better the watch, the thicker the sapphire crystal will be, and thus, less likely to break. Sapphire crystals are incredibly scratch-resistant though. You often see well-worn watches with beat-up cases, but a “flawless” crystal. Thus, sapphire crystals are more desirable compared to mineral crystals and should be preferred the majority of the time.

2. Solid Metal Construction

To some people, it might be obvious to get a watch out of solid metal, but you’d be surprised at how some cheaper watches cut costs. Steel watches should be made from grade 316L stainless steel almost all the time. Plus, the watch case and bracelet links should be solid pieces of metal, rather than folded metal or anything hollow. It is easy to tell if a bracelet is solid by inspecting the side of it and noticing if looks like one solid piece. In watches at this level, cases are best made from the fewest number of pieces and using the most metal possible. This means the least (or no) amount of materials such as plastic or otherwise.

3. Swiss Movement Or Japanese Movement (if it is a Japanese watch)

Switzerland is known for making high quality watch movements – you knew that. Japan also makes good movements, but not all movements are created equally. Most of the the time, Swiss movements come from ETA – or Ronda, especially if they are quartz movements (though this is not always the case). Japanese quartz movements typically come from makers such as Seiko, Citizen, and Casio. While these countries are not the only makers of movements, at these price points try to get movements from these regions as much as possible. Plus, if a watch is not Japanese, try to find one with a Swiss movement. You generally want to stay away from Chinese movements, though, this is not always a signal of low quality. Japanese watches probably utilize Japanese movements the best, though you’ll find Japanese movements (often Miyota, which is part of Citizen) in timepieces from all over the world. Lastly, at this price point, don’t worry too much about finding mechanical watches – you are just fine with a quartz movement – even though there are plenty of mechanical movements available.