Kiss Drummer And Passionate Watch Collector Eric Singer’s Baselworld 2018 Top 10
If you’ve attended Baselworld over the last four years, you’ve likely heard tell of “Eric Singer sightings” – catching a quick glimpse of the watch-crazy rock drummer from Kiss as he hurries from booth to booth checking out new watches. Singer’s now-annual presence at the fair has become something of a Baselworld legend.
I had a chance to catch up with the horophile musician as Baselworld 2018 was drawing to a close, and he shared with me his personal list of the top ten watches he saw at the fair.
Stressing elements of his taste, he explained that he very much likes symmetry on a dial, evenness, and that his favorite style is a diver’s watch with no date.
That said, he was wowed by the ingenuity of the Jaquet Droz Signing Machine (see the original prototype in The Evolution Of Traditional Automata) and joked that it looked much like a VHS cassette to him at the beginning of the demonstration. “The fact that people make things like that, such unique engineering, is amazing,” Singer remarked.
He also commented on enjoying the currently booming retro trend, singling out the Longines Heritage Military, whose faux age spots on the dial “look too forced.”
“But in general I like the look of the watch, its shape and blue hands,” he explained. “I love old Longines.”
Singer expressed some regret at only having ten watches to list as favorites and wanted to give an honorable mention to the two-tone Rolex GMT-Master II with “root beer” bezel (which our GaryG also singled out in our team’s post-Baselworld round table). “I’m not usually a two-tone guy,” he said, “but I love this color scheme.”
So without further ado, let’s move on to Eric Singer’s 2018 Baselworld Top 10 list, which ranges all the way from watches priced from about $700 up to those costing $130,000.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date 70s
This timepiece follows the design of the 1970s Bathyscaphe models with a bold new dial and day-date windows at 3 o’clock.
“It’s like Blancpain is slowly acknowledging its own history with features from older watches,” Singer says. “These are not yet full-out complete re-editions – though last year’s Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC was close – but rather a tip of the hat.”
Singer says he wishes Blancpain would go further into the re-editions. “I think people would really like it.”
He points out that this particular original watch never had a day-date window, but that the dial is otherwise an accurate re-creation and he very much likes that design. “I would wish for it without a day-date window, though,” he added. “Though I do understand that design decisions must appeal to a larger market.”
Singer loves the color and smoky design of the dial emulating an early 1970s look, “I loved it when the dials were a little more funky; I love this time period of diver’s watches when there were more colorful dials.”
Collecting-wise, Singer feels that he “shows his age” – just like in the music he listens to – by preferring “the stuff I grew up on.” And the 43 mm size falls very much within his wrist’s sweet spot.
Quick Facts Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date 70s
Case: 43 x 14.25 mm, stainless steel, water-resistance to 300 m (30 bar)
Movement: automatic Blancpain Caliber 1315DD with 120-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, weekday
Limitation: 500 pieces
Price: 11,900 Swiss francs
Glashütte Original Sixties Panorama Date
“I loved this one,” Singer, whose birthstone is emerald, said. “I love green so I guess I am a little biased toward it anyway.”
Green was one of the prominent colors seen at the fair (which Ian noted in Blue Vs. Green At Baselworld 2018: Green Isn’t The New Blue). “This is the best green dial I saw, it’s so unique,” said Singer of the metal blank stamped with one of the original 1960s dies. It graces both a date and non-date version of the Sixties.
Why did Singer like the version featuring the Panorama Date better than the no-date version? Simply because the watch was bigger and fit his wrist better.
See more on both versions in Glashütte Original Sixties: Retro Chic Returns In A Stylish New Green.
Quick Facts Glashütte Original Sixties Panorama Date
Case: 42 x 12.4 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 39-47, power reserve 40 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; large date
Limitation: will be produced for only one year in this color scheme
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 for 20th Anniversary of Caliber 9S (Reference SBGH267)
“This watch had a cool dial; it was perhaps its best feature,” Singer remarked on his favorable view of this particular blue hue that nonetheless leaned heavily toward grey. “I love the almost hidden details of the dial: you have to look closely to see the wallpaper-like engravings that spiral around the dial.”
These engravings intertwine the letters of the Grand Seiko logo as well as the Daini Seikosha mark: Daini Seikosha is the Seiko factory that developed the first Hi-Beat movement (today it is known as Seiko Instruments). The Seiko Hi-Beat celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Singer also says he is enamored of the shape and Zaratsu-polished finishing of the case, the latter a proprietary feature of the Japanese brand.
For more on the celebratory line, see Seiko Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Caliber 9S With 4 New Models.
Quick Facts Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 (Reference SBGH267)
Case: 39.5 x 13 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 9S85, 5 Hz/36,000 vph frequency, accuracy +5 to -3 seconds per day, magnetic resistance 4,800 A/m, power reserve 55 hours; tungsten-and-anodized-titanium rotor
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 1,500 pieces
Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition
At Baselworld 2018, Glashütte Original re-released its Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar in a modern new style, and it amazed me just how different it looked (compare this with the “normal” version in Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual: Subtle Mashups)! In our team’s post-Baselworld 2018 round table, I even singled this version out myself.
“This one is just right in every way,” Singer apparently agreed with me. “Everything’s just right: size, height, materials, finish, coloring. And it is a different take on what most brands do.”
In addition to the watch itself, Singer praises its clasp, which he considers a great detail with its micro adjustment achieved by pushing on a button hidden by the brand logo. “It’s so easy to use, you don’t even have to the take the watch off to adjust it,” he said. “This is especially important in the warm climate of southern California [where he lives], where weather makes the wrist expand and contract most days.”
Quick Facts Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar
Case: 42 x 12.8 mm, white gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 36-02; 100 hours power reserve (just over four days), free-sprung, adjustable mass balance with silicon hairspring
Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year, moon phase
Limitation: 100 pieces
Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time (Reference 5524R-001)
A tool watch in gold? That’s the question many asked when Patek Philippe launched its Calatrava Pilot Travel Time on its brand-new Instagram account a few days before Baselworld opened. This is a new version of the Reference 5524 in white gold that was originally launched in 2015 (see Lighting Up With Lume At Baselworld 2015).
“Why do a tool watch in pink gold?” Singer rhetorically asked before providing the answer. “Because you can.” (This is a view our Chris Malburg also shares in The Tool Watch Revolution: Utilitarian Goes Upmarket.)
“It doesn’t matter, it works; it even looks more beautiful in pink gold [than it did in white gold], more Patek, more appealing.”
Singer did remark that he might like it even better in stainless steel. “But they don’t do it,” he said of Patek Philippe’s love of releasing most of its collection watches in precious metals.
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time (Reference 5524R-001)
Case: 42 x 10.78 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber CH 324 S C FUS with Gyromax balance and Spiromax (silicon) balance spring; Patek Philippe seal
Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds; date, second time zone, day/night indicators for both local and home time
Zenith Defy Zero G
Here, too, Singer prefers a full pink gold version over the titanium also offered for this new watch. “I like pink gold on bracelets sometimes – it does really depend on the watch.”
But, of course, the big news with this timepiece is that it contains a slimmed-down version of Zenith’s Zero G, a complicated escapement set within a gimbaled cage that ensures the most accurate rate no matter the position of the wrist. See one of the original versions of this in The Zenith Christophe Colomb Tribute To The Rolling Stones Is A Limited Edition Of The Highest Order.
To accomplish this miniaturization, the escapement was reengineered to be 70 percent smaller than the original, meaning that the bubbles on either side of it in the sapphire crystals have also disappeared. This was a big step toward making the case much thinner – in fact the movement now fits into the Defy Classic case.
The escapement also now features silicon components.
“This is a much more modern and wearable version of this watch,” Singer confirmed. “It looks more refined and cooler in its slimmer case. I feel like some manufacturers make watches like the previous version of this one because they can. It is better to make this wearable; it wasn’t even practical to wear the size of the previous version!”
I agree wholeheartedly with Singer: the original versions of the Zero G are likely all safe queens; this one is emphatically made to be worn.
Quick Facts Zenith Defy Zero G
Case: 44 x 14.85 mm, pink gold
Movement: manual winding Caliber El Primero 8812 S with gyroscopic, cardanically suspended escapement beating at 5 Hz /36,000 vph with a 50-hour power reserve; 324 components (139 in escapement plus carriage); 41 jewels
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; power reserve indication
Price: 130,000 Swiss francs
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition
This colorful diver’s watch is one that Singer himself co-designed (get the full story at Kiss Drummer Eric Singer Co-Designs Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition).
“This is a lot of watch for the money!” Singer exclaimed before adding how much he loves its Jubilee-style bracelet, an elegant detail that he says is a rarity in diver’s watches.
Quick Facts Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition
Case: 40 x 11 mm, stainless steel, screw-down crown, water-resistant to 200 m
Movement: automatic Caliber STP 3-13-3 with 44-hour power reserve and official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 20 pieces each in silver and black dials
Hublot Big Bang MP-11
“Like the Zenith Defy Zero G, I love the reconfiguration of this piece taking the MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire and putting it into a more wearable case,” Singer explained.
The new Big Bang MP-11 is available in both a sapphire crystal case and a polymer matrix composite carbon fiber case with a three-dimensional weave; the latter is Singer’s choice with its rock-and-roll feel and light weight of only 90 grams.
But its reconfiguration is much more than that: the seven serially operating spring barrels have also been rearranged on a perpendicular plane to allow the new movement shape. The barrels are connected using a 90-degree helical worm gear.
“I want a watch to look like a watch,” Singer said. And this new Big Bang version is just the ticket to achieve that while retaining the extreme technology of the original version.
Quick Facts Hublot Big Bang MP-11
Case: 45 x 14.4 mm, polymer matrix composite carbon fiber
Movement: manual winding Caliber HUB9011 with two-week power reserve; 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency; 270 components
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
Limitation: 200 pieces
Carl F. Bucherer Dual Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral
“I like watches that are a little unknown, off the beaten path . . . like a rare-breed dog, something that’s not common,” Singer said when I asked him about Carl F. Bucherer’s showpiece for Baselworld 2018.
As usual, he was quite struck by the design. “Something about this watch is very 1950s, very big and very clean, almost with an Omega pie pan feel to it. Once you hold this one, you fall in love with it.”
There is quite a bit more to this watch than meets the eye at first glance, though. For starters, it is automatically wound by the unique peripheral rotor this brand introduced in 2008 as the world’s first to put peripheral winding into a serial timepiece.
Caliber CFB T3000 goes one further, though, adding a peripherally mounted tourbillon at the 12 o’clock position, which is aided by a carriage making its rounds on three ceramic ball bearings. The effect is that of a floating tourbillon taking up the upper half of the dial.
“It looks like a beautiful, large dress watch with lots of technology, but in a simplified way,” Singer summed this watch up.
Quick Facts Carl F. Bucherer Dual Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral
Case: 43.1 x 11.57 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic manufacture movement CFB T3000 with peripheral rotor, C.O.S.C. chronometer-certified, one-minute tourbillon with peripherally mounted carriage on three ceramic ball bearings, pallet fork and escape wheel in silicon, 65-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds
Certina DS PH200M
This Certina model is a straight-up re-edition of a historical diver’s watch from the 1960s that was used in expeditions and research projects taking place both in high altitudes and underneath the waves of the oceans through the 1970s.
The similarity to the original is also recreated in the boxed Hesalite crystal coated with NEX Scratchguard – an element most modern luxury watch manufacturers now replace with a boxed sapphire crystal.
The only visible concession to modern technology is the movement: ETA’s fantastic Powermatic 80, introduced in 2013 and used in watches by Swatch Group siblings Hamilton and Tissot as well as Certina.
“This is the steal deal of the whole show!” Singer raved. “It looks like an old Omega, even though it is a re-edition of an old Certina watch, but I still love the look – I’m loving the retro trend of the last years.
“And the bang for the buck can’t be beat. It’s just killer.”
Quick Facts Certina DS PH200M
Case: 42.8 mm, stainless steel with unidirectionally rotating bezel, water resistant to 20 bar
Movement: automatic Caliber ETA Powermatic 80.111 with a power reserve of 80 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Price: CHF 695/€695