I thought I had already seen everything at Baselworld. After all, it was my third round through the halls of the fair. As it is so often though on first occasions we look but don’t see. And so as I was slandering past glittering watches, sparkling hostesses, and enchanting booths I suddenly almost tripped.
What was that?
I retraced my steps and found myself all alone in front of two big glass vitrines. My eyes widened as two lonely timepieces made my pupils dilate.
I needed to know more. I knocked on the door, exchanged some words, and entered a cave of treasures. I was met by two gentlemen in a dimly lit small room. Any lack of illumination was made up though by the glow in my eyes once several timepieces got lifted out of plastic storing boxes.
First I got introduced to the novelty of this year. In an effort to become more accessible for the first time the brand introduced watches in a steel case. This allows the H11 (2 hands, time only) and the H12 (time only with an off centre seconds hand) to be offered at CHF 30,000 and CHF 31,000 respectively.
I know that referring to a price point of that of brand new Gold GTI might seem abstract to some but there lies no doubt that you are getting your money’s worth. All watches are made by Mr Haldimann himself, void of electric aids, following traditional craftsmanship. The effort that goes into the watch though doesn’t seek attention but rewards the patient willing to indulge themselves in the depths of the design. The dial, for example, has an ever so slight glitter to it reminiscent of fresh snow in the morning sun, an effect created by applying silver dust to the dial. My highlight of the time only models where the hands. Inspired by an old pocket watch made by Mr Haldimanns relatives the elegance with which they glide across the dial sends a sense of composure that you just can’t find elsewhere.
Nothing could prepare me though for what came next. My fingers became cold, a tingling sensation spread from my tummy towards my limbs, and suddenly everything became quite. The H1 entered the scene.
I have seen a lot of watches in the past few years, but nothing could quite prepare me for this timepiece. More than just a sum of its parts, the H1 features, in my opinion, the single most beautiful tourbillon that money can buy you. Positioned right at the centre of the dial it beautifully portrays the passage of time, so good that you may end up forgetting to read the time as you helplessly lose yourself in the mesmerising pulse of the balance wheel.
Don’t be fooled into thinking though that the H1 is a one trick pony. It features the same beautiful dial of the H11 and H12 and the same hands, though shortened to hover around the edge of the tourbillon cage. What’s more an eye for the bigger picture is demonstrated by the subtle curves flowing from a protruding crystal into a slightly inverted curve along the edge of the case. Curved lugs and a classical case diameter help make the watch very wearable, so it can slide under your shirt with elegance.
I left the booth and walked out of fair, light on my feet and with a small grin on my face. And for the first time as I was walking through the halls of the fair I didn’t feel the urge to twist my neck left and right. I felt complete, and sure that nothing could reach the water to the experience I had with Haldimann.