From Bulgari to Rolex: the new replica watches from Baselworld 2018

If you know watches, you know that Baselworld is one the best weeks of the year for horology enthusiasts, for this is when almost the entire watch industry descends on Basel in Switzerland, to reveal the big new releases from the high-value brands such as Bulgari, Rolex, Omega to more affordable pieces from Nomos, Swatch and Longines. Here is WIRED’s pick from this year’s show.

Rolex GMT Master

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It’s reasonable to say that this has been the most eagerly anticipated – and in some ways, least expected – watch in the world for a number of years. Rolex invented the “GMT” dual time-zone function back in the 1950s, its most famous iteration being the blue/red “Pepsi” versions that divided the bezel into separate hemispheres. Once Rolex adopted ceramic for its bezels, it reserved the Pepsi combo for a version in white gold, to the frustration of collectors who saw the GMT Master as a travel tool that’s always at its purest in steel. Finally, this year Rolex has acknowledged the demands of its loyal audience, and brought the Pepsi GMT back in steel, with a magnificent Jubilee bracelet to boot. A classic reborn, and then some. £6,800 rolex.com

Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar

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Another much-demanded but unexpected move comes from Baselworld’s other most important brand, in bringing a perpetual calendar complication to Patek Philippe’s iconic modern watch, the Nautilus. Cased in white gold and containing the brand’s exceptional 240 Q automatic perpetual calendar movement with micro-rotor, it’s a natural fit with the ultra-luxurious surrounds of the famous Nautilus “porthole” design, and simply begs the question: what took them so long? This will immediately become one of the most sought-after replica watches in the Patek catalogue. £91,150 patek.com

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic

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Out of nowhere – well, OK, almost 30 years of investment, development, R&D and gradual improvement – Bulgari has become one of the most exciting forces in watchmaking. The last four years certainly has seen an incredible blossoming in its technical and creative vision, based around it’s spectacularly thin, wonderfully designed Finissimo watches, of which this is the latest. It’s not just the thinnest self-winding tourbillon watch in the world – just under 4mm thick, with a movement that’s a mere 1.95mm thick; it’s also the thinnest automatic watch of any kind, ever. That is a quite phenomenal achievement. The latest in a slew of replica watches across the industry to use a peripheral rotor – rotating around the outside of the movement – to achieve thinness, its case of sandblasted titanium and open-worked dial lend the Tourbillon Automatic an inescapably contemporary style. £108,000 bulgari.com

MB&F The Fifth Element

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MB&F’s latest adventure fusing clockmaking, high-concept sculptural design and retro sci-fi is titled the Fifth Element, and is at least as complex and entertainingly brilliant as that oddball flick of the same name. Described by MB&F as an “intergalactic horological weathers station”, it’s a desk-top clock that has spaceship-like pods for a barometer, hygrometer and thermometer. Rotating beneath these is a tiny silver “alien” – a recurring MB&F figure – known as Ross, who’s name may or may not be a reference to Rosswell. Made in collaboration with top-end traditional clockmaker L’Epee, there are 500 individual, hand-finished components. Limited to 18 pieces, each will be made with black, silver or blue highlights. £46,800 mbandf.com

TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford

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Having named British firm Bamford Watch Department as its official partner for customisation last year, TAG Heuer has unveiled its first full collaboration with Bamford, and it’s a doozy. A new interpretation of its 1970s classic, the Monaco (made before the company gained its TAG prefix, hence the retro logo), it features a carbon-fibre case and a spooky dial of black and luminous turquoise. £6,600 tagheuer.com

Nomos Glashutte Autobahn

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It seems entirely appropriate that Germany’s bastion of methodical brilliance and cool design, Nomos Glashutte, should have a watch that shares its name with a Kraftwerk album – though if we’re getting into the techno pioneers’ oeuvre, to WIRED this watch, with its white/blue/red livery, has more of the Tour de France to it than Autobahn. Ostensibly Nomos’s first sports watch, it’s the result of a creative collaboration with Berlin-based designer Werner Aisslinger. The speedometer-esque, semi-circular markings glow brightly in the dark, while the dial is also notable for its bowl-like curve. £3,800 nomos-glashuette.com

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8

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Omega continues its ceramic-cased Dark Side of the Moon series of Speedmaster chronos with a boldly open-worked edition to mark the 50th anniversary of Nasa’s Apollo 8 mission – in which the astronauts circled the moon for the first time and became the first humans to see the “dark side” itself. Omega has laser-etched the movement bridges to resemble the lunar surface itself, while the case-back is engraved with astronaut Jim Lovell’s words as spoken to ground control: “We’ll see you on the other side”. £7,200 omegawatches.com

Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Magic

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Whether you love Hublot’s unashamed flamboyance or not, its sheer rate of creativity is undeniable, and this piece is also just sheer fun. Cased entirely in red ceramic – a material that could only be made for replica watches in white or black not very long ago – this has taken a huge effort in R&D, with Hublot claiming a patent in the development and industrialisation of the magnificently vibrant red ceramic used. In the brand’s hallmark “Big Bang” style, the watch contains an in-house Unico chronograph movement. No doubt similarly bold colourways will follow. £21,700 hublot.com

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