Baselworld watches: the best of the best men’s timepieces

Part III of our round-up explores how watchmakers Breguet, Patek, Chopard and Hermès revisit historical complications with uncontested elegance

Breguet watches Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097 is inspired by Abraham-Louis Breguet's tact watches, which allowed the wearer to read the time by touch alone. With its openworked dial, nothing is left to the imagination, and the bridges, whe

By Rebecca Doulton

Breguet watches invests as much in its movements as it does in the classic aesthetic codes of its watches passed down by founder Abraham-Louis Breguet. In order to showcase the virtuosity of the movement, and as homage to Breguet's first tact watches (watches that allowed the wearer to tell the time by touch alone), the Swiss brand unveiled its Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097 at Baselworld watches last week. With its openworked dial, nothing is left to the imagination, and the bridges, wheels, escapement, barrel and other components of the movements, which are usually hidden beneath the baseplate, are all revealed. Perfect for gifting as best men's watches, the silvered gold hour and minute dial is intersected by a retrograde seconds arc at 10 o'clock. With its austere 18th century spirit, the 40mm white gold case houses an automatic movement tuned with the latest silicon technology and a good 50-hour power reserve.

The refined taste that permeates every corner of Hermès watches' universe, triumphs once again with a new watch collection, Slim d'Hermès. With its minimalist design showcased at Baselworld watches, it is surprising how elegantly the information relating to the perpetual calendar - days, months and leap years - has been consolidated on the dial without maiming its aesthetic purity. The Moon phase function is particularly attractive in milky mother-of-pearl set against an aventurine glass sky. The typography of the numerals - reminiscent of the numbers on a stencil - is particularly striking and lends the watch an airy lightness, which is accentuated by the new ultra-thin automatic movement measuring just 2.6mm, lending a lean profile to the 39.5mm rose gold case.

Regulator clocks were high-precision devices used by watchmakers in the 19th century to verify and set the rate of other clocks - the master timekeepers so to speak - usually with a prominent minutes track, and subsidiary hours and seconds dials. Chopard watches has revisited this ancestor with its new L.U.C Regulator model in a thoroughly modern way. The central minute track circles the perimeter of the dial, and the hours counter has been placed strategically at 3 o'clock, peeking out from under your shirt cuff. Perfect for gifting as best men's watches, the dial is packed with useful information including a date window, a small seconds counter, a power reserve indicator at 12 o'clock, and a GMT function at 9 o'clock. Exceptionally easy to read, Chopard watches L.U.C Regulator comes in a 43mm rose gold case and is powered by an in-house, hand-wound movement with a whopping 216 hours (nine days) of power reserve.

Split-seconds chronographs are another feat of horological engineering, allowing lap times to be measured without interrupting an ongoing event time. Imagine being at Ascot and wanting to time two different horses running the same race. This is where a rattrapante or split-seconds chronograph would come in handy, and Patek Philippe watches is probably one of the finest producers of this complication. The new Ref. 5370 is a true black beauty with an inky enamel dial, and legible chronograph counters and hands that seem to be the definition of pure bred elegance and distinction. The 41mm platinum case is equipped with calibre CHR 29-535 PS, which tolerates deviations of only +2/-3 seconds a day. I can live with that, can't you?

View more Baselworld 2015 watch launches

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