In recent times, many collectors seem to be attracted to watches that are sporty. By implication, sporty sometimes seem to equate to watches which are large and chunky. But this need not necessarily be so. A Sports Watch needs only be hardy and rugged to withstand the grunt of physical activity. It needs to be tougher than a dress watch which can stay nestled up within one’s sleeves, protected from a harsh environment. We muse over this topic of Sports Watches, and offer a few recommendations for the collector to consider.
The popularity of Sports Watches can probably be attributed to the modern casual lifestyle. As society becomes less formal, men’s business dress started to move away from the traditional suit and tie as daily wear to a more relaxed, casual dress code. During the Dot.Com era, tech companies, which were the vogue then, adopted a laissez faire dress code of t-shirt and jeans for business. The imagery of Steve Jobs in his trademark black t-shirt and jeans addressing the crowd is a strong sign of the demise of formal wear. That imagery is still strong today. More relaxed. More casual. It is no surprise that Sports Watches fit into this environment particularly well.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
Audemars Piguet is perhaps one of the pioneers behind the genre of luxury sports watches. When the original Royal Oak was presented to the public in 1972, it caught the entire watch industry by surprise. Sure there have been sports watches before it, but never has one which was billed as a luxury watch, with a luxury price tag. And a haute horlogerie piece in stainless steel? Unprecedented! The Royal Oak was built like a tank, and carried an unusual shape which we have come to recognize as the signature of the great designer Gerald Genta. It went on to be a roaring success, perhaps changing the face of the sports watch market.
Following the success of the original Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet attempted to “break the rules” once again by producing the Royal Oak Offshore (ROO). The ROO was basically a “upsized” version of the Royal Oak. It was much more outrageous and outlandish than anything that seen back then. But history tells us that after the initial shock, it was déjà vu once again. The ROO was (and is still currently) a commercial success.
Thus, our recommendation of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver series. Possibly one of the most recognized Sports Watches in today’s era. It features the iconic hexagonal bezel, an extremely robust watch case, and the interesting tapisserie dial. In terms of aesthetics, the watch appears to be very solid and sturdy. The hallmarks of a desirable Sports Watch. It exists in many variations, from simple 3 hand watches, to complications like chronographs, perpetual calendars and even several tourbillon models. As an example check out our review on the Royal Oak Offshore Diver.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
Soon to follow, in 1976, the grand dame of Patek Philippe announced their entry into the haute horlogie sports watch with the Nautilus. Also designed by Gerald Genta. Also in stainless steel. And carrying an exclusive Patek Philippe movement, with a luxury price tag. It too quickly became the icon of the luxury Sports Watch sector.
The Nautilus, being a Patek Philippe is certainly very beautiful. Truly a magnificent specimen, and possibly one of the best sports watches that money can buy. Finishing is impeccable, and the watches feel extremely sturdy. The Nautilus exists as many variants. One of the most interesting is the Travel Time Chronograph we recently reviewed. We also feel that the basic Nautilus (Reference 5711) is a good choice. We like the 5711 for its resemblance to the original “Jumbo” from whence comes its rugged good looks, but also that it is simple and uncluttered. Reminds us of a quote often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Concord is perhaps one of the lesser known watch brands, but that does not mean that the watchmaker should neglected by the collectors. In fact, we rather fancy the Concord C1 as a good sports watch.
The C1, particularly the Nightracer, encapsulates the genre of “Sport Watches” nicely. It features a rather sporty watch dial, a nice strap, and a chronograph function. The chronograph is synonymous with racing and sports. Additionally, the red accents and the use of carbon gives the watch a racing pedigree. It definitely adds a nice touch.
For more information, read our conversation with Mr Flavio Pellegrini (the President of Concord Watches) where he shared insights on the C1.
Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Regatta
While the chronograph is one of the hallmark of a Sports Watches, the Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Regatta is a tad special. It is indeed equipped with a chronograph, but instead of the regular chronograph or a pulsimeter or tachymeter function, it comes equipped with a Regatta function. A bit unusual, but this Regatta funciton is specifically designed for timing yachting races.
Not only is the watch functionally interesting, the Pontos S Regatta is also aesthetically pleasing. Cased in forged carbon for a strong, robust watch in a very lightweight package, each piece is as unique as the carbon patterns on the case.
Find our more about the Regatta function and what we think of the watch in our review on the Pontos S Regatta.
Jeanrichard, like Maurice Lacroix, is also another watchmaker that is often overlooked by many collectors. As sister-brand of the glamorous Girard-Perregaux, it continues to delivery value for money watches, but often under the radar.
In recent years, as mentioned in this article, Jeanrichard has been trying to alleviate the stigma that they are the “cheaper alternative” to Girard-Perregaux. This determination had led them to a new design language and to create their own in-house movements like the JR66 and the JR1000.
The Aquascope, which we are recommending, is actually a rather well-made dive watch. This 44mm tool watch actually feels very robust, thanks to its wrist presence and heft of the watch itself. Another interesting point to note would be this particular dial that we have pictured above, in which it was inspired by the famous woodcut Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. The choice of dial gives the watch a neat touch, and making it much more interesting than an ordinary tool watch.
We feel that Jeanrichard, like the Maurice Lacroix would be good alternatives to the much more ubiquitous Submariners and Seamasters. The Aquascope, in our opinion, is solid and relatively affordable. This is definitely another nice sports watch to have in one’s collection.
Richard Mille RM28
When it comes to sports watches, Richard Mille is perhaps one of the biggest names that comes to mind. In recent years, the brand has gained tremendous exposure in both social media and sporting events. It enjoys a strong following, to the extent that some observers are calling it the Richard Mille cult.
The RM28 is perhaps one of the more accessible watches from the watchmaker, since many of their offerings are special editions pieces that are extremely limited in production. The RM28 is also one of the more basic models that are currently offered.
While the Richard Mille RM28 ticks the boxes in ruggedness, toughness and ability to be abused, we particularly like for the way it looks. The aesthetics is very powerful. The RM28, with its large, strong case design, big lugs and huge rubber clad crown appears to be very sporty and rugged. The inimitable icon of a rugged Sports Watch.
Many may remember the case of a high ranking government minister, who was being derided for wearing a high priced Richard Mille while leading a country where many live below the poverty line. He promptly took it off, and threw it on the floor, exclaiming that it is a fake he was wearing. But the cognoscenti know that Richard Mille watches are indeed designed to take that kind of abuse. Richard himself was known to throw a RM Tourbillon across the table in a Press Conference to demonstrate its ruggedness. See our watchscape feature on the Richard Mille RM28 for more pictures of this wach.
Bonus: Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso
The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso is perhaps one of the first sports watches that was created with that purpose in mind. The Reverso was conceived after Cesar de Trey was challenged to create a watch that is able to withstand knocks and damages from polo matches.The solution was brilliant. Build a watch, which can be flipped over, and there is little danger that a misplaced blow to the case will shatter the crystal.
The Reverso is an iconic timepiece, and it is finished very beautifully.
We believe every collector should have a Reverso in his or her collection. Although there are many Reverso variants in the market, we like and can recommend the ones that resembles the original variants. The Jaeger LeCoultre 1948 Ultra Thin is one fine example, for its uncluttered and simple design is simply mesmerizing. You would not really go wrong with this one.
The informed reader might realize that for this week’s Throwback Sunday, we have intentionally featured some lower profile watchmakers. Yes, the usual suspects for a recommendation for a Sports Watch will include the likes of Rolex, Panerai and Omega. These are certainly excellent choices. However, our aim this week was to also showcase some of the hidden gems for your consideration.
We have come to an end to this week’s Throwback Sundays. Did we call out your favourites? Tell us if you agree with our selection or tell us what we missed.