Another year, another Baselworld, and always more watches to look forward to. Not unlike for SIHH 2018, watch brands have been building on their assets at Baselworld 2018, looking at the past to create the watches of today. From redesigns to tribute to past watches, this year was high on icons and classics. While Rolex snatched three of the top five spots, close behind were also two impressive timepieces: the Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740G, which received for the first time a QP, and the Nomos Autobahn Neomatik 41, who teamed up with product designer Werner Aisslinger on this big and bold new timepiece.
Methodology: As the hashtag has been used more than 185,000 times and each image must be reviewed individually we will be taking a sample size of 2,500 images calculating the percentage from this, to decide which watch is the most popular across the whole hashtag. So, here they are, in descending order, the most popular watches from #baselworld on Instagram.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II "pepsi"
Percentage of total: 18.33
History: The Rolex GMT-Master was originally designed to aid airline pilots in their navigation. Launched in 1955, the GMT witnessed the rapid expansion of the intercontinental travel in the second half of the 20th century. It quickly became the watch of the most prominent American intercontinental airline of the time: Pan Am, becoming a key player in a major airline event in 1959, the first non-stop Pan Am Jet Clipper flight from New York to Moscow. Today, this two-time zone display watch has made a name for itself on land as well.
Why: This remastering of the GMT-Master II was one of the most anticipated releases of the year, with a graduated two-colour Cerachrom insert in red and blue ceramic. The red and blue is reminiscent of the original GMT-Master launched in 1955, which was divided into two halves, with red corresponding to daylight hours and blue to night-time hours. With 10 new patents filed on the movement, the result is a more efficient calibre with a 70-hour power reserve. With a new stainless steel (or Oystersteel) bracelet, this watch comes at a much more affordable price point than its predecessor of white gold. What’s more, this is the first time Rolex decided to put their Jubilee bracelet, usually reserved to the Datejust models, on a GMT.
Omega Speedmaster "Dark Side of the Moon" Apollo 8
Percentage of total: 11.66
History: Omega has been a brand associated with space programs and lunar landings since the 1960s. Launched in 1957, the Speedmaster started its space exploration adventure in 1965 when NASA qualified it for use on its piloted missions. It then became the first watch worn on the Moon, in July 1969 and has been worn on six lunar landings since then. No wonder it’s nicknamed “the Moonwatch”.
Why: Anniversaries often lead to a lot of online talk. It was no exception here. In honour of the 50 years since the Apollo 8 mission, Omega released a new version of its Speedmaster in the “Dark Side of the Moon” line. Remaining true to the Apollo 8 spirit, the watch has a skeletonised dial, and a movement that has been laser-ablated to produce a realistic rendition of the lunar surface. Shown in avant-première at Baselworld, the watch will not be available in stores until August.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner
Percentage of total: 8
History: While Omega watches are associated with space, Rolex’s thing is dive watches. The Submariner was specifically designed for underwater exploration and diving. In fact, it became the first watch in the world to resist underwater down to 100 metres, and subsequent advances pushed that limit to 300 metres. First released in 1953, the Submariner as it is today remains very close to its original design – only slightly restyled in 2008. While rumours flew high this year that the watch would be getting a makeover at Baselworld, these turned out to be wrong. That didn’t stop the watch from making waves online.
Why: Despite no makeover, a classic remains a classic, and a classic will always perform well on social media. The robust and functional Submariner is probably one of the most popular Rolex out there –if not the most popular– so it’s no surprise that we find it here in our top three.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Daytona Rainbow in Everose
Percentage of total: 6.66
History: Created in 1963, the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona quickly became an icon, first on the race tracks and then on the streets. But in 2012, the classic watch received a luxurious makeover. Same waterproofness, same robust calibre, but with 36 rainbow sapphires, 56 diamonds, 18K gold crystal counters and a white or yellow gold bracelet. Although popular, especially among Hollywood, the Daytona Rainbow was discontinued a few years later, only to be released once more this year, this time with an Everose bracelet.
Why: When released in 2012, the Rolex Rainbow became one of the brand’s most collectible modern watches. The original editions in white or yellow gold have become prized timepieces, selling for three times the original retail price on the second-hand market. Difficult to get your hands on, it’s no surprise people jumped on the occasion to see the timepiece in person (and take a photograph) at Baselworld.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
Percentage of total: 6
History: At last year’s Baselworld, Bulgari introduced a new watch, a true luxury sports watch with a bold design and what was back then the thinnest automatic movement. So the battle to produce the thinnest watch in the world was back on track. Beat by Piaget at SIHH 2018 (4.30mm), Bulgari has taken the crown once again with the Octo Finissimo Automatic Tourbillon, both for thinnest movement and thinnest tourbillon at 3.95mm thin.
Why: It is not often that a watch breaks two records, so the Octo Finissimo, regardless of anything else, has already established itself as a worth-seeing timepiece. With a very sleek case and sandblasted titanium finish, this watch may divide watch fans for its looks, but its impressive mechanics are indisputable.
This is the first time a brand has taken three spots within our top five, but it is no surprise that brand is Rolex, who remain powerhouse, both online and offline. On top of making the most of their online presence and big social media following at Baselworld, Rolex have strategically placed themselves within a few trends already important at SIHH –the comeback of vintage pieces, with the remastering of the GMT-Master II, and the growing interest in jewellery timepieces with “aesthetic complications”, with the Daytona RBOW. Rolex has played its cards right, and people have responded accordingly.