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2019 Baselworld Controversies: Rolex, Tudor, Seiko, Grand Seiko, Breitling, Zenith Watches of Basel

Baselworld 2019 is only two days old, and already watch buyers are taking sides in support of and opposed to 2019 watches from Rolex, Tudor, Zenith, Breitling, Seiko, and Grand Seiko. Each luxury watch brand has enjoyed at least a moderately successful Basel fair to date, but certain models, business practices, pricing trends, and engineering decisions have caused watch collectors to second-guess watch brand product managers. Here is a breakdown of 2019 Baselworld controversies by brand. Rolex: After a storming Baselworld 2018 with the GMT-Master “Pepsi” leading a new GMT-Master II collection, a redesigned Deepsea, and a new Datejust, 2019 has seen the Rolex brand enter a refractory phase. The 42mm Yacht-Master in white gold is attractive, but it the price too dear for what is on offer? Rolex updated the GMT-Master 126710BLNR “Batman” with a new caliber 3285 and a Jubilee bracelet, but it wasn’t the “Coke” bezel for which many collectors had pined. The new 43mm Sea-Dweller in stainless steel and yellow gold has met a frosy reception from collectors; is this warranted? Seiko and Grand Seiko dramatically increased their pricing on watches of all styles. Seiko’s 2019 Prospex LX collection starts at $5,000 US and reaches as high as $6,000; even the 1970 Diver Re-Creation limited edition costs $4,250. Grand Seiko’s 20th anniversary Spring Drive Sport Collection models range from SBGA403 at $10,600 to the titanium chronograph GMT SBGC231 at $12,900 to the rose gold 100-piece SBGC230 at $42,000. Is this price escalation sustainable for the Japanese watch brands once celebrated for their value and accessible price points? Breitling is back at Baselworld for its second time under CVC Capital Partners ownership and the guidance of CEO Georges Kern. The 2019 Breitling Superocean collection is attractive and attractively priced; the Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition is an impressive vintage tribute watch; the Norton and Bentley variations on the Premier line are priced optimistically, but they are attractive products. The problem? Breitling released 73 new models at Baselworld 2019, and the sheer weight of new SKUs threatens to undo the model culling that simplified the company’s sprawling catalog in 2018. Zenith’s Defy Lab returns for 2019 as the Zenith Defy Inventor, a 44mm titanium sports watch that brings last year’s experimental Zenith Oscillator to consumer hands. For $18,000 US, a watch buyer can own the stunning Zenith caliber 9100 and its furious 18Hz (129,600 VpH) monoblock silicon resonator. This is a mechanical watch driven by a mainspring that can achieve accuracy of .3 seconds per day. But has Zenith’s zeal to introduce DRIE and similar industrial processes sapped the manufactures latest product of its human element? Is a less accurate watch built and finished by a person more desirable than a machine-made product impeccably replicated over endless iterations? Instagram: BUY WATCHES HERE: