It used to be the case, not so long ago, that sports watches were reserved for weekends and racecar drivers. Sure, a man could wear a mechanical dive watch, but only if he actually dived on a regular basis. Nowadays, however, the humble luxury sport watch has been elevated to the level of daily wearer. In fact, choose wisely and you can wear your sport watch for just about all occasions. That’s why our list of the top 10 sports watches includes more than just chronographs and dive watches. These are not just sports watches in the traditional sense. No, these are watches that suit those who have an overall sporty/active life but who don’t want to compromise on quality or style. Read on to see if your watch made the cut.
It may not have been the first mechanical dive watch (read our article about the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms to understand why) but it is arguably the most iconic. The design hasn’t changed much in the six decades or so years since the Submariner was launched, and that’s a good thing. Clean, easy to read and instantly recognizable on the wrist, this model offers all the functionality you need with its 40mm Oyster case and matching, solid-link Oyster bracelet, complete with black Cerachrom unidirectional bezel. Inside is the self-winding caliber 3130, developed and manufactured entirely in-house by Rolex and certified as a Superlative Chronometer.
Tudor Black Bay
Not to be outdone by big brother Rolex, Tudor has seen a resurgence in its popularity over the last few years, largely thanks to this model; the Tudor Black Bay. Drawing on its own rich heritage, the Black Bay boasts sixty-years of Tudor diving history distilled into a single watch. Offered in a steel, 41mm case with matching steel unidirectional rotatable bezel with anodised aluminium insert in your choice of matt blue, matt black or matt burgundy, it has quickly become iconic in its own right. Snowflake hands and a screw-down winding crown engraved with the Tudor rose are all calling cards of the brand’s historic models. Inside is the COSC-certified Manufacture Calibre MT5602 offering 70-hours of power reserve.
Breitling Avenger II Chronograph
Classic Breitling at its best, the Avenger II chronograph is a chunky sports watch for those who like to feel a little heft on their wrist. The steel case measures 43mm round by 16.5mm thick and is rated water resistant to 300m (1,000 ft). It comes in several dial colors (black, blue and grey) with stencil-type numerals or hour-markers and can be worn on a matching steel bracelet, or a rubber strap if you’re feeling extra sporty. Hidden beneath the titanium caseback, which bears a conversion scale for Anglo-Saxon and metric measurements, is the self-winding chronograph movement Breitling 13, a COSC-certified chronometer.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300m was first introduced 25-years ago and has been a favourite with diving fans ever since. In 2018, Omega completely revamped the collection, introducing 14 different variations. The big news is the return of the familiar wave pattern on the dial, a signature design element that was absent from the collection for a while. These are laser-engraved in a polished ceramic dial and framed by a matching ceramic bezel. All of this is presented in a 42mm round case, which also houses the Omega manufacture caliber 8800, a Master Chronometer (METAS certified) movement that can withstand magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss.
IWC Mark XVIII
The ultimate minimalist pilot’s watch, the IWC Mark XVIII is a modern-day reinterpretation of the historic Mark 11 watch from the late 1940’s. It’s popularity with IWC-aficionados – and the general public, for that matter – can be largely attributed to its pared down good looks. This is a watch that can be worn with just about anything. The round case in steel is comfortable at 40mm x 10.8mm, whilst the dial has been designed for optimal legibility, with easy to read Arabic numerals for the hours and a date window at 3 o’clock. Providing the power is an automatic 35111-calibre movement, which offers a 42-hour power reserve.
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph
The Carrera collection has been a perennial favourite with racing car drivers and enthusiasts ever since Jack Heuer dreamed it up in 1963. One of the most popular modern iterations is the Carrera Calibre 16 Chronogaph, the Calibre 16 movement being based on the popular Valjoux 7750 movement, hence the familiar 6-9-12 layout for the chronograph dials. A thoroughly modern watch with some subtle vintage highlights, the Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph is offered in a 41mm steel case complete with easy-to-use prominent pushers and grippy crown. Of particular note is the black perforated leather strap found on the black dial version – very racing inspired.
Panerai Luminor Marina 8 Days
Another ocean-inspired watch rich with history, the Panerai Luminor Marina 8 Days is loved for its minimalist design and understated wrist appeal. A time-only piece, its subdued dial features luminous Arabic numerals and hour markers, framed by a polished steel bezel. The trademark crown protector ensures the crown can’t be accidentally pulled out whilst the watch is submerged, which is a good thing because the case is rated water resistant to 300m. The real story here though, is the movement, the in-house hand-wound P.5000 calibre, which uses two barrels to offer an impressive 8-day power reserve.
Seiko Prospex Turtle 200m Automatic Ref. SRP773J1
Considered by many to be the ultimate ‘accessible’ dive watch, the Seiko Prospex Turtle 200m Automatic SRP773J1, aka ‘the turtle’, offers a lot of bang for very little buck. A remake of sorts of the original Seiko 6309 (circa 1976-1988), the turtle is instantly recognizable on the wrist thanks to its distinctive stainless-steel case, which is rated water resistant to 200m. An aluminum bezel with large printed markings rotates smoothly in 120 positions, while short lugs guarantee a snug fit on just about any wrist size. Inside is Seiko’s automatic caliber, 4R36, oscillating at 21,600 BPH (3 Hertzs) with hacking and hand winding capabilities and offering a power reserve of 40 hours.
Longines HydroConquest Automatic
If you’re in the market for a Rolex Submariner-style watch but don’t have the budget to match, you might want to take a closer look at the new Longines HydroConquest Automatic, complete with ceramic bezel insert. Rugged enough to wear in the water yet refined enough to wear with a suit and tie, the HydroConquest comes in stainless steel in 41mm and 43mm sizes, with three hands and a date window at 3 o’clock. A screw-down crown and case back help guarantee water resistance to 300m (1,000ft) and the new automatic L888 calibre offers 64 hours of power reserve. As a final touch, the new HydroConquest Automatic boasts an updated stainless-steel bracelet, which features a double security folding clasp and an integrated diving extension.
Oris Aquis Date
The Oris Aquis Date is the ultimate, no-fuss diving watch for those who value quality and consistency at a reasonable price. Don’t be fooled by its utilitarian façade, however. Yes, this is a tool watch through and through that has been designed to be the best dive watch possible for the money, but it’s also a versatile time-teller that can be dressed up for special occasions. Presented in a multi-piece stainless-steel case measuring either 43.5mm of 39.5mm, depending the model you choose, it is available in multiple dial colours, all framed by a ceramic bezel insert with diving scale inscribed. Time is displayed centrally, along with the date in a window just above six o’clock, all thanks to the Swiss made automatic movement inside.
By Tom Mulraney