Baselworld 2010

Chopard Engine One Tourbillon

Hublot King Power Unico All Black

Since cars and watches go together like a horse and carriage, it is little wonder that Baselworld – the biggest watch show on the planet – is THE place to go in order to discover the latest drivers’ timepieces that are about to hit the market.

Having just returned from this week-long extravaganza of horological over-indulgence at which around 600 watch firms display their wares, Classic Driver can report that Formula One now has an official watch partner in the form of Hublot, which will shortly release a limited series of ‘F1 King’ watches, based on its top-selling Big Bang model. Two designs will initially be available, one series carrying the F1 logo and the other being dedicated to some of the top GP locations.

TAG Heuer, meanwhile, has chosen its 150th anniversary year to join forces with electric car maker Tesla, to create a one-off Tesla Roadster with a stopwatch, Meridiist mobile ’phone and TAG’s new concept watch, the Pendulum, all built in to the centre console. The Pendulum watch houses the first mechanical movement to work without a hairspring. Instead, it uses magnets to create a ‘harmonic oscillator’ that keeps the balance wheel moving, in order to power the watch. Look out, too, for a limited edition of Carrera 300 SLR watches dedicated to Fangio.

TAG Heuer Pendulum

Breitling ‘Masterpiece’

Also celebrating 150 years in the business is Chopard, the privately owned brand co-run by old-car enthusiast and Mille Miglia entrant Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. Among several impressive launches from the house was the Engine One tourbillon that bristles with automotive inspiration – the dial looks like the top of a V8 engine block and sits on tiny shock absorbers, the power reserve indicator mimics a fuel gauge and the bridges are designed to resemble race circuits. Even the strap recalls the well-stuffed upholstery of a vintage motor.

Swinging by the Breitling stand revealed a new model in the Bentley range, a hefty 48.7mm-diameter chronograph named after the 621bhp Supersports. It’s chronometer certified and features a central scale graduated to show hundredths of an hour or hundredths of a minute, while Breitling’s own variable tachometer and circular slide rule is marked around the edge of the ebony-coloured dial. There is also a one-off ‘Masterpiece’ pocket watch dedicated to W.O. Bentley and priced at CHF 300,000.

Breitling Supersports

Porsche Design Heritage P’6530

The underlying theme of the show, however, was about returning to classic designs: even Bell & Ross, which has enjoyed huge success in recent years with its imposing, square-cased ‘Instrument’ watches, has sought inspiration from the past with its traditional-looking BR123 (three hander) and BR126 (chronograph) models that are based on military pieces from the 1940s. These are excellent value at £1800 and £2800 respectively, while Porsche Design has revived its delicious titanium-cased P’6530 that first saw the light of day in 1980. Predictably, it will be limited to a predictable 911 examples.

Bell & Ross BR123

Bell & Ross BR126

Text - Simon de Burton
Photos - The brands

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