The “Les Atelier” hall at Baselworld, the watch fair that takes place annually in Switzerland, is home to all kinds of weird, wonderful, and outrageously expensive watches. However, while they attract attention, most are not watches you’d wear every day. Or ever.
The thing is, these small art studios make a range of beautiful timepieces, usually in limited numbers, that are just as visually striking; but suitable for wearing on a regular basis. Don’t believe us? We went walking through Baselworld’s Les Atelier hall to try on our five favorite pieces to prove it.
Rebellion Re-Volt – 20,000 Swiss francs ($21,100)
Rebellion feeds our desire for sporty watches mixed with racing heritage, with a twist of design madness that we can’t help but love. The Re-Volt is actually Rebellion being sensible, in that it’s a smaller, more manageable case that could potentially be worn more often and with various outfits. Very different to many other Rebellion timepieces. However, Rebellion being sensible is still way more over-the-top than many other watchmakers at their most bold — and we adore the titanium body and the skeletonized movement. It’s surprisingly light, comfortable, and highly wearable.
Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph – 25,000 Swiss Francs ($26,500)
It’s the blue, handcrafted Guilloché dial design that made this beautiful Czapek chronograph catch our eye. Effortlessly stylish, it feels like strapping fine art to your wrist (with the engineering to match). This is the Swiss watchmaker’s first chronograph, but you wouldn’t know it from the automatic movement that has a 65 hour power reserve hidden inside the 41.5mm stainless steel case. It was an honor to wear such a stunning watch and putting it on was just as much of an occasion as closely examining all the details. It’ll be available in June.
Strom HR Giger Watch – 16,000 Swiss Francs ($17,000)
Just 99 of these amazing sculptures-for-the-wrist are being made by Strom Watches and have been officially sanctioned by the late HR Giger’s wife. Giger is best known for his work on the art for the Alien films and this solid silver watch features designs from the movies and from Giger’s Biomechanoid creation. Despite its size and steampunk style, the watch is highly wearable; it was light, comfortable, and slim enough to fit under a shirt cuff.
Graham Chronofighter Superlight – 9,000 Swiss Francs ($9,500)
Made from carbon, the Graham Chronofighter Superlight takes its name very seriously. It weighs about 100 grams, making it supremely comfortable to wear. The trigger on the left side starts and stops the chronograph and makes Graham’s watches instantly recognizable. We tried on the 2018 range in new colors, all representing the color-coded tires used in Formula One racing. Exciting to look at, superbly built, and a pleasure to wear, if they’d have let us, we’d have walked away with a Chronofighter then and there.
Schwarz Etienne Roswell 08 – 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,500)
Schwarz Etienne’s love of all things sci-fi shines through in this new model. It’s presented in a box shaped like a UFO, the name comes from the date of the supposed alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, New Mexico, and the case back has the cascading text effect seen in The Matrix movie. Outside of this, the 45mm steel watch is beautiful to behold, with a stunning movement — including a new date mechanism, which can be altered in one press of the button below the crown — on display under the sapphire crystal. This automatic watch has a power reserve of more than 80 hours and comes with either green or orange accent colors. Available later this year.
Yes, you’re going to have to splash out for one of these, but if they’re a little out of reach for your budget, maybe one on this list of our favorites under $500 will suffice.