Westime President Greg Simonian’s Top Basel Launches of 2013

Baselworld is nothing short of the world’s largest watch fair, where watchmakers from every corner of the globe gather to reveal their newest creations and receive valuable feedback from watch collectors, retailers and journalists. This annual pilgrimage to Switzerland is very important for us at Westime, because it’s where we first lay eyes on the new timepieces that we’ll offer for sale in our three stores, in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and La Jolla. The following five watches are each unique in their own ways, and represent the most exciting developments revealed in Basel this year. Come to our stores in the months ahead for your own first look at these top novelties.


Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

The Fifty Fathoms line of dive watches has been a tremendous success for Blancpain, and this year the Bathyscaphe model joins the line. This vintageinspired design, available in men’s and women’s models, features such historic details as vintage hands and one luminescent dot on the rotating bezel to ensure underwater readability. But the Bathyscaphe is run by a most modern automatic movement, which features a nonmagnetic silicon balance-spring. One of my favorite features of the Bathyscaphe is the unique triple-loop NATO strap, a durable material first used by the British Ministry of Defense. $10,500-$12,000.


Bulgari’s Bulgari Bulgari Catene

With this elegant timepiece, Bulgari reminds us of its world-famous achievements as a jeweler, and proves its commitment to creating watches expressly for women. With its sculpted 18K pink gold chain links that coil twice around the wrist, the Catene is as much a piece of fine jewelry as it is a watch. The 31-mm pink gold case encloses a quartz movement, white mother-of-pearl dial, and 12 diamond hour markers. Its bezel is engraved with the Bvlgari Bvlgari name. An additional showering of white diamonds around the bracelet links is available, for that added touch of glamour. $55,000.


Breitling’s Emergency II

Breitling’s original Emergency was always one of my favorite watches at Westime. Sporty, functional and high-tech—it was ever at the ready for adventure. So I am especially excited to see the Emergency II follow that original model, and this one is even more impressive. Emergency II is the first wristwatch with a builtin personal locator beacon—a dual frequency transmitter that works through the international satellite alert system to both issue alerts and guide search and rescue missions. This advanced safety feature is powered by a rechargeable battery. And the watch also contains a termocompensated SuperQuartz-powered chronograph movement that has attained COSC certification for accuracy. Approximately $15,000.


Hublot’s King Power Black Mamba.

I must confess, I knew this exciting new limited edition was on its way prior to the Basel fair, but the watch made its worldwide debut at the Swiss event. The King Power Black Mamba is made in collaboration with Hublot’s newest sports ambassador, Los Angeles Lakers’ own Kobe Bryant. I love it because it is a powerful black ceramic sports watch featuring Hublot’s sleek style codes. But it also subtly weaves in Kobe Bryant’s personal symbols, including a silver snake around the counter at 9 o’clock and his jersey number 24 at 6 o’clock. Only 250 pieces will be made. $25,200.


Girard-Perregaux’s Constant Escapement.

The scourge of mechanical watches, historically, has been waning power which results in time-keeping getting less and less accurate as the power reserve runs down. After many years of research and development, Girard- Perregaux watchmakers have found the holy grail of sorts, and developed a patented movement that delivers a constant force. The impressive new development will power all of Girard-Perregaux’s Haute Horlogerie watches going forward, including this spectacular new avant-garde design in a 48- mm white gold case. $123,500.