Baselworld 2019: Watch Case Developments

Five striking selections with unusual shapes and materials

There’s no guarantee in the watch world quite like a case—the portion of the timepiece that holds it all together. It’s a protective container for the movement within (regardless of whether it’s automatic or Quartz). Most frequently, cases are simple circular, square or rectangular shapes designed to prevent damage to the innards first and foremost. But these five watches, seen at this year’s Baselworld watch and jewelry fair, go above and beyond their protective role. In some instances, there’s a futuristic material in use; in others, it’s an unusual shape. There’s a digital entry from a beloved brand, and two examples of time told in unexpected ways.

Zenith DEFY Inventor

A masterwork of innovation inside and out, Zenith‘s limited run DEFY Inventor wristwatch features a high-frequency, patented “Zenith Oscillator” component that replaces traditional spring balances (an attribute of watchmaking used for three centuries). And then there’s the case, which is composed of lightweight titanium and Aeronith. That last material is purportedly the lightest aluminum composite in the world and composed of open-pore aluminum foam that’s been stiffened with a polymer. It appears where one would expect a traditional bezel—growing out of the lower portion of the case. Its strange texture presents a stark contrast to the architectural dial it encapsulates.

Gucci Grip

For their latest release, the Grip, Gucci devised several iterations of a watch with a rounded-square case with three windows. These unisex Quartz timepiece balance vintage sophistication with future-forward time-telling. The cases have been crafted in steel and yellow gold PVD—and come with either leather straps or bracelets. There’s also easy legibility here—with one window dedicated to hour, another to minutes and the last to the date.

Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori

Bulgari‘s Serpenti happens to be one of the most famous watches ever made. Inspired by a serpent wrapped around the wrist, the watch case represents an elegant, snake-like head. With the brand new Serpenti Seduttoi—released in six different variations—the Italian luxury brand has connected the head and tail for the first time ever, much like an Ouroboros. Here, Bulgari has taken their own iconic case shape and changed the way it’s long been used.

Bulova Computron

A new addition to Bulova‘s Archive Series, this Computron reissue harks back to the brand’s days of retro-futurism. The trapezoidal, ribbed case comes together at a screen—that’s now all LED. This model, unlike the original, can also shift between time, date, day and a dual time zone with the push of the crown.

Konstantin Chaykin Watch & Clock Atelier Lunokhod Prime

Independent Russian watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin‘s marvelous moonphase centers around a large saltwater pearl at the heart of the dial. The 18-karat gold case—including two lugs that define its structure—bulge outward. While it’s a rounded case, it’s unlike others. Inside, Chaykin provides an entirely in-house development mechanical movement.

Images courtesy of respective brands