The New Luxury Sports Watches of 2019
Four recently launched alternatives to the almost unattainable Royal Oak and Nautilus…
The Luxury Sports Watch category is dominated by iconic classics such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus – two watches that defined the genre back in the 1970s. It is also one of the most successful categories these days, with these two models being almost impossible to find at retailers. We all know that patience is a virtue, but when it comes to waiting years for your Nautilus 5711, this can become downright maddening. If you are sick of waiting or not ready to pay an insane premium on the secondary market, the good news is that there are cool alternatives out there.
Don’t want to pay an insane premium or be on an 8-year-long waiting list? Here are some new alternatives.
Almost all the brands in the luxury or high-end field have recently designed watches that fit in this category, and 2019 has got its share of new launches too. Here are four brand new takes on the Luxury Sports Watch genre – watches that are not just substitutes but excellent options with their own merits and personality (yes, they do, whatever Instagram comments might say).
Bell & Ross BR05
With the BR05, Bell & Ross is launching a full collection comprising no fewer than 10 references. The 40mm rounded square case retains the distinctive brand’s identity – meaning that you’ll still find the signature “round within a square” shape, which has made the brand successful for over 10 years now. The compact construction includes a bezel with 4 screws, slopped ergonomic lugs and a crown guard. The steel bracelet is flat, thin and tapered. Visible via the exhibition caseback, the automatic movement features an openworked full rotor. Overall, it is a cool alternative with its own style and a price tag that remains in B&R territories.
Quick Facts: 40mm steel case – water-resistant to 100m – automatic BR-CAL.321 calibre (base Sellita SW-300) – steel bracelet or rubber strap with triple folding clasp – EUR 4,500 on steel bracelet (available with 3 different dials) www.bellross.com
Chopard Alpine Eagle
To re-enter the Luxury Sports Watch category, Chopard did a great job revisiting one of its signature 1980s models, the St. Moritz. If the filiation is obvious, the facelift does give the watch a sleeker and more modern look. The Alpine Eagle stands out with its 8-screw bezel and its crown guard. The integrated bracelet is tapered with an ingot-shaped link featuring a polished and slightly raised centre part. The model comes in two sizes and different materials. The men’s model is 41mm and is powered by the in-house COSC-certified automatic calibre 01.01-C. The dial features a great texture that gives the watch its personality and the execution is pretty impressive.
Quick Facts: 41mm steel case – water-resistant to 100m – automatic 01.01-C calibre (in-house, COSC certified) – steel bracelet with triple folding clasp – EUR 12,200 (available in blue or grey, and also in steel-and-gold) – www.chopard.com
Urban Jürgensen One
With the One, Urban Jürgensen entered the Luxury Sports Watch category with a steel watch crafted according to the brand’s demanding standards and featuring meticulous attention to details. With no straight edges, the coherence and balance of the design are achieved by variations of circular shapes. The steel bracelet is seamlessly integrated into the case and owes its distinctive character to the original oval-shaped central links. Inside is the proprietary calibre P5, a large automatic movement with a healthy 72h power reserve. Overall, it feels like a Luxury Sports Watch but has a style of its own.
Quick Facts: 41mm steel case – water-resistant to 120m– automatic calibre P5 (proprietary movement) – steel bracelet on folding clasp – CHF 24,500 (available in silver, blue or black) – www.urbanjurgensen.com
Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport
Together with Urban Jürgensen, Laurent Ferrier is the other high-end independent watchmaker to have released a Luxury Sport Watch this year and it is… a tourbillon. The case does have some Nautilus vibes (Ferrier worked for 37 years at PP) but the Tourbillon Grand Sport has its own personality with its gradient smoky dial, highlighted by striking orange accents. Turning the watch over, the movement is state-of-the-art Laurent Ferrier. A feast for the eyes. The Tourbillon Grand Sport is a limited edition of 12 watches and comes on an integrated rubber strap. Certainly not the cheapest of the lot, however, it is a unique alternative in this field of watchmaking.
Quick Facts: 44mm steel case – water-resistant to 100m – hand-wound proprietary calibre – integrated rubber strap on folding clasp – limited edition of 12 pieces – CHF 172,000 – www.laurentferrier.ch
The UJ One is my favourite, but it needs an oval date window for continuity of design principle.
What EXACTLY is a sports watch?
For me, a mid-life crisis.
@JAGOTW – “luxury sports watch” concept introduced by AP, shaped case, thin profile, raised bezel, integrated metallic bracelet.
Can do things a dress watch can’t do, and can take a life long beating. Most don’t qualify on that last one. That’s me idea anyway, you know it all started with reverso so they say, and all that did was give one side to beat and the other side for the rest of the day.
OK, yes, but is there anyone who would actually play sport with any of these? Would it not be inviting ruin to have a game of football or to strongly swing a racquet for 90 minutes with a watch like this on your wrist? How many people have actually worn a Reverso while playing polo in the last 50 years?
Clare Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milf Haven.
A Divers watch is usually classed as a “tool” watch but I would see that as a sports watch. I wear a cheap casio for sailing , if it gets lost or damaged that ok, I certainly wouldn’t wear anything expensive. For racquet sports a watch is irritating to wear. I have seen a Richard Mille recently being worn by Rafa Nadal to play in , very light and able to withstand tremendous g forces, a sports watch except that you can’t easily tell the time with it. I think the crux of the matter is that everything has to fit into a pidgeon hole of some sort it would seem.
Yes, I think you’re right. They have to be called something, however inappropriate. Like the “Sports Jacket”, which is nothing of the kind. I wore a striped, short-sleeved Oxford shirt once and a young colleague asked me why I was dressed so “formally”.
How times have changed!
#JAGOTW – Let’s be realistic, who actually wears sports watches for sport nowadays? Who properly dives with a 5,000 Euros or more dive watch? Most people (like 99%) don’t buy sports watches for what they are capable of and to test them, but what they stand for, for the look, the style, the pleasure the watch gives to them. (there are exceptions of course, but not much)
In the present case, the general consensus was to name the concept introduced by AP, followed by PP, VC, IWC and many more back in the 1970s a “luxury sports watch”, since they were in opposition with the “luxury dress watch” (Calatrava-like gold watches) and with the tool watches (watches conceived with a true purpose – divers, chronos, pilots). These watches are named “luxury sports watch” because they often combine a high-end, ultra-thin movement with a more robust case/bracelet in steel, that can withstand a jump in a pool, go to a ski resort, be on a sailboat and so on… And also look good with a more formal, dressy attire.
We have to replace this name in the end-1960s, early 1970s context, when luxury watches were elegant gold (or gold plated) watches, and steel watches were tools. Genta/AP introduced a hybrid, named “luxury sports watch”.
Fair enough. We do have to make allowances for the inadequacies of mechanical watches.
‘Like the “Sports Jacket”,”
You’ve nailed it.
I’d really like to see some empirical data on the shock resistance of varying mechanical movements. It is common on fora for those querying their robustness to be told “Mechanical watches are stronger than you think. People went to war with mechanical watches. Don’t worry about it!”
Well yes, but people also used to go to war in short leather skirts.
Professional warships used to be provisioned with enough beer for each sailor to drink 8 pints a day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-mechanical. I take genuine pleasure from my mechanical watches. But I have damaged a couple of mechanical watches in everyday use and this article has piqued my interest.
I am confident that many readers would find an article exploring this subject interesting.