All of you here might know the story behind the creation of the “Luxury-Sports Watch”, a long-lasting trend that started back in 1972 when a certain Gerald Genta designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The idea began with a thin, integrated watch in stainless steel, featuring attributes from haute-Horlogerie and sports watches, and priced over most of the gold watches at that time… Who could have imagined, back in the 1970s, that these watches would have become so popular today? Well, as a demonstration that the Luxury Sports Watch is fully alive, here are 5 of them, all introduced in 2017.
The definition of a “Luxury Sports Watch” is not that simple and must rely on strict rules. A Luxury Sports Watch is a watch that, in most of its attributes, refers to the original 1970s concept, best defined by 5 watches: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the IWC Ingenieur SL, the Vacheron Constantin 222 and the Girard-Perregaux Laureato. This means: stainless steel watches, with an integrated bracelet, a case strong enough to be qualified for being a sports watch, enough water resistance, yet all of this must be combined with an outstanding execution, a thin movement with luxurious decoration and dials that show some traditional manufacturing techniques. While IWC doesn’t qualify anymore here, some other took the lead and some others came into the game. 2017 was rich in such watches, and here are 5 of the best examples of Luxury Sports Watches we recommend.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic
While the concept of a Perpetual Calendar movement on the Royal Oak isn’t new, this 2017 edition brought something unprecedented for the brand. Indeed, this version is the first Royal Oak fully crafted from ceramic, bracelet included. Knowing the complex process required to craft these case and bracelet, we can tell you that having them done in black ceramic was not an easy task. Yet, the result is entirely equal to what AP usually does on steel and gold versions, even if ceramic is much harder to polish or brush. In addition, the QP module attached to the ultra-thin movement has been updated and now features an unusual but practical display of the week of the year. Bold, complex, ultra-luxurious, innovative… Everything that a Royal Oak should be.
Quick facts – 41mm x 9.5mm case in black ceramic – full ceramic bracelet – calibre AP5134 – automatic winding – hours, minutes, perpetual calendar – non-limited but boutique exclusive – CHF 85,000 – more details on www.audemarspiguet.com.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
This piece was certainly one of the biggest surprises of the year – and not only because of its superb design. The main piece of interest here sits in one number: 2.23mm. This is the thickness of the automatic movement that ticks inside the case… And if you know a bit about watches, you’ll understand that this makes the movement of this Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic simply the thinnest automatic movement ever created. Quite impressive, to say the least. This allows this watch to be extremely thin on the wrist (5.15mm) but no less powerful, with its signature Octo design. Fully made out of titanium, dial included, it looks simply brilliant and wears with style and boldness. It has everything of a Luxury-Sports Watch, mechanical pedigree included. And even if not cheap, its price is quite friendly.
Quick facts – 40mm x 5.15mm case in titanium – titanium bracelet – calibre BLV138, in-house – automatic winding – 2.23mm thick – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds – CHF 12,900 on titanium bracelet – More details on www.bulgari.com.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Skeleton
Revived at the SIHH 2017, the Laureato by Girard-Perregaux brings back most of the attributes of its vintage ancestor, which includes the great design, combining octagonal and round shapes. Thin, powerful, very well executed, GP added the mechanical noblesse they are known for later this year, with a modernly executed skeletonized automatic movement. Angular bridges, flat surfaces, beautiful decoration of the movement and overall design totally in the vein of the “Luxury Sports Watch” trend, it is a highly interesting alternative to more established models. Available in both steel or pink gold, we recommend the first option, for an even nicer contrast between the luxurious movement and the sportiness of the case.
Quick Facts – 42mm x 10.88mm steel case – integrated steel bracelet – Calibre GP01800-0006 – automatic – 54h power reserve – hours, minutes, small second, skeletonized – CHF 32,400 in steel – more details on girard-perregaux.com.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Jumbo White Gold 5168g
We could have chosen the Nautilus… This would have been quite natural. However, as none of the present watches is “classical“, we decided to bring another watch from the Patek Philippe collection, a watch that also combines all the attributes of sportiness and luxury: the Aquanaut. For 2017, Patek answered the demand for a larger version of its aquatic watch, as the time-and-date Aquanaut is now available in a 42.2mm “Jumbo” case, instead of the standard 40mm version. Larger but not overly large either, the case of this 5168g is made out of white gold and combined with a superb gradient blue dial. The result is not as cheap as some would love it to be, but still extremely nice on the wrist. No bracelet available here, but a rubber strap matching the dial in colour and texture.
Quick Facts – 42.2mm x 8.25mm white gold case – integrated rubber strap – calibre 324 SC – automatic – 40h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date – CHF 34,000 – more details on Patek.com.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual-Time
In 2016, Vacheron entirely redesigned its vision of the Luxury Sports watch, the Overseas. More modern, more luxurious, more nicely shaped, with greatly conceived movement and featuring a steel bracelet of exceptional quality, it really was a great surprise. Derived in many variations, from chronograph to world-time, this year we’ll have a slightly simpler but highly practical version. As part of the SIHH 2018 collection, the brand unveiled a Dual-Time Overseas, as the perfect companion for regular travellers. Available in steel or gold, our preference goes for the steel / blue dial edition you can see below. A classic that has nothing to envy to the two other members of the “Holy Trinity”.
Quick Facts – 41mm x 12.8mm steel case – integrated steel bracelet and additional leather and rubber strap – calibre 5110 DT, in-house – automatic – 60h power reserve – EUR 25,600 – More details on www.vacheron-constantin.com.