The whats and the whys

Your primer to the world of luxury spo s watches


IN THE PAGES AHEAD, you’ll find a curated guide to the best sports watches that have been unveiled this year so far. They range from establishe­d icons in new guises to novel creations, and run the gamut in terms of accessibil­ity, both price- and supply-wise. Feel free to dive in if you’re already familiar with this category in general. Should all this be new to you, however, this introducti­on would be a good start. Whatever the case is, welcome to the jungle.

The sports watch is a nebulous thing to define. The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the Oscars equivalent of watchmakin­g, defined the sports watch in its 2018 edition as a timepiece “linked to the field of sports, whose functions, materials and design are suited to physical activities”. It’s vague, so US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous expression “I know it when I see it” may have to suffice here.

Regardless, a sports watch can usually be identified by a few features. A large case with tough constructi­on is one, since it must survive the rigours of rough activities. Since timing is often critical and larger movements are both more robust and accurate, a larger case to fit one into makes sense too.

Sports watches also tend to have specific design cues to fulfil certain functions. A racing chronograp­h, for instance, almost always has a tachymeter scale printed on its bezel to aid the rapid conversion of a car’s speed. Everything else depends on the intended activity; we’ve listed a few categories on the opposite page.

While we’re at it, let’s also address the elephant in the room: hardly anyone will be engaging in physical pursuits with the watches discussed here on his wrist. If you’re roughing it out or doing sports today, your watch of choice is most likely a Casio G-Shock, a Garmin, or any one of the myriad smartwatch­es with fitness tracking functions out there. The four Navy SEALs whom I’ve interviewe­d at various points in the past four years all shared a penchant for the G-Shock; make of this what you will.

Regardless, there are still reasons aplenty for owning and wearing sports watches. For one, they are excellent signalling devices that succinctly convey who you are without saying anything; you owe it to yourself to pick and wear the right watch, and that extends to the sports watches you may wear in casual or everyday settings.

There’s much to love in and of themselves too: these timepieces were designed and purpose-built for specific activities, and retain the features that hark back to their original functions. Remember Apollo 13? Wearing one puts you in direct contact with what’s often a distant past, which has brought us to where we are today.

With these out of the way, let’s get properly acquainted with the watches.

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