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Basel Through a Telescope, Part 1

Some of you may recall that I managed to miss last year’s BaselWorld (I was off trying to capture the Northern Lights in the Lappish Arctic Circle). Never a man to learn from his mistakes, I almost completely failed to reach Switzerland this year as well. I say “almost completely” as I’ll arrive there on Thursday. Exactly a week late.

Mondaine Vintage**

So it will come as no surprise that I’ve had to rely on press photos, Twitter, various internet fora and other sources to track down some highlights to share with you. My thoughts on the new Rolex Sky Dweller are stuck on a laptop with no internet connection, so I’ll have to start somewhere else. There are some excellent round-ups over on Hodinkee, the Sydney Tarts***, the Prodigal Guide***, etc, so I’ll try and keep out of their hair and look at some of the things that have interested me over the past few days.

The “Vintage” model from Mondaine is a case in point. While the dial will be familiar to most, this is their first watch in recent memory to contain a manual movement – an ETA 2801-2 – that venerable progenitor of the later range of automatic calibres. With its display back, 41mm case and sub-GBP 500 price tag, Mondaine may be about to introduce a new generation to manually wound watches. The 2801-2 is almost 30 years old now, and is a seventeen jewel movement beating at 28,800 vph. It might not set the world alight, but it might just open up this strange, anachronistic hobby of ours to a few more people.

(C) Breguet

And so from one manually-wound calibre, to another: the anthracite-coloured, 43 jewel fusee tourbillon from Breguet. Yes, this is a re-issue of the Tradition 7047PT in rose gold, a watch that combined cutting edge technology (silicon balance and escapement) with classical design. But it’s also (in my eyes) a piece of horological art. A watch that draws on the past by referencing Breguet’s earliest tourbillon movements (fusee and chain transmission), while at the same time appearing almost entirely modern.  By the way, if you want extra #watchnerd points, I believe you can visit the British Museum and arrange to see a few of the actual souscription watches made by Abraham-Louis Breguet on which this movement is somewhat based (click for a photo of one of the souscription watches in the British Museum).

Next up: some divers, the Antikythera Watch and the #watchnerd finally gets to write about the Sky Dweller

**Photo borrowed from Jorge Merino on, as I can’t seem to find the official Press Release from Mondaine.
***In the spirit of full disclosure, I have written (and may continue to write) for both these ‘blogs

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