Design Tuesday: the 6 craziest watches of Baselworld 2014

Beautiful and ridiculously expensive, these timepieces are made from solid sapphire, moon dust, and everything in between

Baselworld, the premier watch show in Switzerland, is where the chief cog-botherers gather to show off their intricate wares and share stories about where they've been impaled on micro-screwdrivers. 

Then, late into the night, after a few glasses of schnapps and one too many slices of Emmental, the real showdown begins – they break out the timepieces that show off the might of their horological powers. 

Here are this year's big guns...

Romain-Jerome Moon Orbiter Speed Metal

When Neil Armstrong took his one small step, little did he realise that, over 40 years later, parts of Apollo 11 would be used to flog zany watches to overly minted aficionados.

The Moon Orbiter's PVD-coated 49mm case is made from steel salvaged from NASA's legendary lunar capsule, while moon dust has been sprinkled on the dial. Five sapphire crystals mean you can see almost every moving part of the automatic movement with its flying tourbillon, and a 42-hour power reserve dial completes a space-age package. The cost is a bargain £74,000 (RM402,793) and it's a limited edition of just 25 pieces – moon dust doesn't grow on trees, y'know.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu

You, boy! Take this shiny sixpence and place a deposit on yonder timepiece for Victorian gents. And have this eighth of a turnip and a pickled egg for your troubles.

But while the Grand Feu looks like a faux-antique pocket watch conversion, it's far more ostentatious than that. The massive 60mm case has been hewn from a solid block of sapphire before being fitted with white-gold strap lugs, bezel and crown, as well as a delicate enamel dial. Zenith has limited production to 10 pieces – presumably because only 10 people can actually afford a solid sapphire watch. 

Breva Genie 02 Air

We'll let you in on a secret – not all flyboys wear Breitlings. They might have screamed “I'M A PILOT!” once upon a time, but they just don't cut it in the aviation talisman stakes any more. 

The 02 Air, on the other hand (or wrist), features a fine-scale altimeter at the 2 o'clock position, allowing Top Guns to check their altitude up to 5000m. That's pretty low for a flight ceiling, but should help you keep above the hard deck so you don't have a run-in with Viper about the rules of engagement. Maverick watch fans will need around £80,000 (RM435,078) for this one.

More after the break...

Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Firmament

Watchsmiths love rare materials. Moondust (see Romain-Jerome, above), rust from the hull of the Titanic, toenail clippings from the Indonesian sandscrobbler, crystals from the Godforsaken land of Swarovski... And Hublot has chosen to coat the dial of its latest tourbillon timepiece with ultra-rare osmium crystal.

How rare, you say? There are an estimated 13,000 tonnes of platinum in the world's reserves, while there are a mere 200 tonnes of osmium. In steak terms, that's as rare as a live cow on a boozy night out with the prize bull.

De Bethune DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon

De Bethune's timepieces are typically off-the-wall aesthetically, but the DB29 is more of a technical tour de force. Beneath the imposing rose-gold case and concentric chronograph rings lies a titanium skeleton housing one of the most complex, lightest tourbillons around, oscillating at 36,000A/h. 

The 5 craziest watches of Baselworld 2014

A push button flips open the invisible-hinged case back, revealing the high-tech mechanical heart under a protective sapphire crystal. Beautiful and clever – a winning combination.

HYT H2 Blue

The watch wizards at HYT are bonkers. Utterly, brilliantly bonkers. While everyone else was still worrying about springs, cogs and quartz, HYT's sorcerous tinkerers unleashed the world's first hydro-mechanical watch. 

It must be witchcraft, because we can't understand how it can possibly work - especially the liquid time indicator that's pushed around the face by a pair of pistons. This latest version has blue unicorn blood (or something) pumping around inside its white gold case. It costs just shy of £100,000 (RM544,315). But come on, it's a kind of magic.

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