Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

The Nine Ugliest Watches of Baselworld 2015

These are some expensive disasters. Here’s what you should buy instead

A lot of great new watches were shown at Baselworld this year, but also a lot of terrible ones. Whether it’s a case of too much bling, anachronistic design, or a bout of flat-out ugliness, bad timepieces were out in full effect.

Here are the worst offenders (and what you should be looking at instead):

Blancpain L-evolution Tourbillon Carrousel

It's a shame Blancpain took an amazing movement and made this.

It’s a shame Blancpain took an amazing movement and made this.

Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

This is as good a place to start as any. Technically speaking, the movement is exciting, with two types of rotating escapements packed in side-by-side. But the brushed platinum case feels blobby and unrefined, and the movement finishing, hands, and luminous numerals feel like something out of a failed Michael Bay movie. The best thing about this watch is that only 50 will be made. Oh, also it costs $373,130.

Instead, reach for the more refined Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Carrousel. It’s the same impressive mechanism in a properly detailed package.

Rolex Datejust Pearlmaster 39

A Rolex through and through, but without the best qualities.
A Rolex through and through, but without the best qualities.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Oof. This watch takes everything great about Rolex—understatement, tool-watch credibility, versatility—and throws it out the window. Sure, it’s still built like a tank, and crafting colors to match those gemstones is harder than it looks, but please check yourself before asking your local Rolex dealer to let you try this one on. One color scheme apparently wasn’t enough, so Rolex is offering green, orange, and purple variations. Pass on all three. Price is on request, but like we said: Don’t even ask.

Instead, check out the Everose gold Yacht-Master on the funky new Oysterflex rubber bracelet. It’s a little weird, but darn cool.

Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater Geneva

The birds stretch their wings and the egg hatches when activated.

The birds stretch their wings, and the egg hatches when activated.

Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

You can talk to me all you want about craftsmanship, tradition, and dying arts, but I still can’t get behind this one. Jaquet Droz specializes in automata and repeaters, but this execution feels like a copy of something from a museum instead of a wearable timepiece for 2015. Also, I’m sorry, but watching tiny enamel birds feed one another isn’t the most appealing thing I can do with half a million dollars. Cost is 500,000 Swiss francs (about $520,000).

Instead, grab Jaquet Droz’s Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel, with its tiered enamel dial and simple layout.

Omega White Side of the Moon

Just because you can make a white ceramic watch doesn't mean you should.

Just because you can make a white ceramic watch doesn’t mean you should.

Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

This watch is the perfect example of “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” Omega, we know you’re really awesome at making ceramic watches and that white ceramic requires extreme levels of expertise. The Dark and Grey Side of the Moon watches (especially the latest releases) are killer, but this has none of the cool-guy cachet. It’s more Ed Hardy T-shirt than Balmain jacket, and the only blemish on an otherwise impressive collection from Omega. Price is $12,000.

Instead, snatch up one of Omega’s other Dark Side of the Moon watches, especially the distressed vintage edition. More Fonzie, less Sonny Crockett.

Ulysse Nardin Erotica Hour Striker

It's a shame the tradition of erotic automata and watches hasn't already died out.

It’s too bad the tradition of erotic automata and watches hasn’t died out by now.

Photography: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. And yes, those figures do exactly what you think they do when you press the pushers. It’s really hard to have any reaction to this watch other than “Seriously?!” It’s crass, it’s tacky, and it will set you back more than a new Maserati. There’s actually a long tradition of erotic automata and watches, but some traditions die out for a reason. This should probably be one of those traditions. Price given upon request.

Instead, check out Ulysse Nardin’s Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon, which has a traditional chronometer dial and a technologically advanced escapement. It’s pretty much the opposite of the Erotica.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Cristiano Ronaldo

Great soccer player, terrible watch.
Great soccer player, terrible watch.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

He might be one of the world’s greatest soccer players (if not the greatest), but Cristiano Ronaldo’s watch falls shorter than the U.S. World Cup team. The shade of green was chosen because it’s the color of a soccer field. I’m not kidding—I wouldn’t have been able to make that up. From the matte black case to the carbon dial to the CR7 logo at 3 o’clock, the whole thing looks like a promotional toy. It’s a far cry from the other awesome chronographs TAG showed this year. This one costs $1,450.

Instead, skip right to the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 18, which looks almost exactly like the original 1962 Carrera. There’s nothing more fun than fooling vintage watch collectors.

Louis Moinet Derrick Tourbillon

You can add

You can add “oil derrick” to the list of things you don’t need on your wrist.

Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

There are lots of things you don’t need on your wrist. A moving replica of an oil derrick is definitely one of those things. Chronograph maker Louis Moinet has connected the escapement to a rotating system that moves the derrick at 12 o’clock up and down as the tourbillon spins. It’s as cheesy as a dueling bear and bull automaton would be, and if you’re caught sporting one, everyone will know you just need better work/life balance. Price is 300,000 Swiss francs (about $312,000).

Instead, look to the 1770 MicroMegas double tourbillon from fellow independent brand Manufacture Royale. It’s still plenty adventurous but with some easy-to-appreciate panache, too.

Big Bang Unico “10 Years” Haute Joaillerie

Maybe a little too much Bang.
Maybe a little too much Bang.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

For the 10th anniversary of its Big Bang collection, Hublot went a little too big and made 10 different gem-set Big Bang watches, each a single unique piece priced at $1 million, for a $10 million collection. This version, covered head-to-toe in black diamonds (including the strap's buckle), is a dust-and-fingerprint magnet that screams “I swear I’m really cool, just look at my watch!” loud enough to drown out a full house at Madison Square Garden. If you can believe it, the ruby edition is even worse.

Instead, steer clear of the diamonds and go for the Big Bang Unico Full Magic Gold, made of Hublot’s proprietary scratch-proof gold. It’s twice as hard as what Apple’s come up with.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Hero Terminator

I'll be find a better watch.

I’ll be back … to find a better watch.

Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

I don’t know how Arnold Schwarzenegger finds the space to include “body builder, actor, governor, and watch designer” all on his business card. Good problem to have, I guess? You would think the seasoned collector of watches from the likes of Panerai and Audemars Piguet could come up with better designs than Terminator skulls and barbell motifs, but apparently not. That said, I can’t help but chuckle when I look at them, which is something, I guess. Still, Arnold should probably stick to workout tapes. Prices range from $565 to $2,790.

Instead, just don’t buy a watch. Seriously.

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