Sports watches are the Swiss Army knives of the watch industry. They are do-anything timepieces, able to take just about anything you can dish out, yet still look good. With a quality sports watch, you can go to the gym in the morning, go the office, go out to dinner and then take a dip in your hot tub, all without having to change your watch. At the same time, however, there are specialist timepieces that are designed for one particular activity, like diving or racing, which requires a specific set of features and capabilities.
Built to take a beating Sports watches, in general, are built to take the appropriate amount of abuse. Unlike other kinds of timepieces, sports watches are designed and tested to withstand shocks, tension and torsion, changes in temperature, exposure to the elements, perspiration and corrosion, water resistance and more. Most sports watch manufacturers test their watches to destruction and engineer their timepieces to withstand as much as possible. One sports watch manufacture, Bremont, based in the UK, designed a watch to withstand being ejected from a fighter plane, for ejector seat manufacturer Martin-Baker. This technology has made its way into their normal line of watches. TAG Heuer has a “torture room” where watches are smashed and crashed, dunked and destroyed – all with the goal of making sure nothing goes wrong when it is on your wrist. Water resistance is a key part of a sports watch. No watch can be completely waterproof, but watches are tested to a certain depth limit, displayed in metres, bar (one bar is 10 metres) or ATM (which stands for atmosphere, again 10 metres). The minimum water resistance for a sports watch is 100 metres, to ensure that the customer can do a little swimming, go into the hot tub, take a shower with it on and more. If the wearers plan to do any diving or swim a great deal with their watches on, they should choose timepieces that are water resistant to 200 metres or more. So, the bottom line is that if customers choose their sports watches correctly, they don’t have to “baby” them. They can just put them on and forget about them – they can take anything customers can dish out. Here is a look at the latest specialist/professional sports watches introduced at BaselWorld this year.
This year, there were some ultra capable watches designed for activities on land. Many people want a reliable chronograph for what they are doing on land, whether it is timing their run, their sets at the gym, or their kids as they clean up their rooms.
- Victorinox CHRONO CLASSIC 1/100th
- OK, it’s not really a professional watch, but it is way too cool to not be mentioned. The Chrono Classic 1/100th, using an innovative quartz movement, transforms itself from a basic watch to a central chronograph, able to display 1/100ths of a second, all at the push of a button. The hundredths of a second are displayed by two rotating discs at the bottom of the dial, which double as the perpetual calendar date display in non-chronograph mode. Pushing the crown twice turns the hour, minute and second hands into chronograph hands, all aligning at 12 o’clock. The chronograph starts, stops and resets with the normal pushers, but the user can go back to the display the time while the chronograph is running by pushing twice on the crown. The beating heart of this watch is a new Swiss Made quartz movement developed by Soprod for Victorinox. This new chronograph is designed to hark back to the brand’s iconic Officer’s Knife, with distinctive guilloché decoration on both discs, and the indexes and the counterweight of the red central second hand that take their design cues from the knife. The flexibility of this new watch, and its functionality, make a perfect link to the brand’s iconic and versatile pocket knife.
- Graham CHRONOFIGHTER OVERSIZE SUPERLIGHT TT
- Graham is the official timekeeper of the Isle of Man TT, the most exciting motorcycle race on the planet. In honour of this race, Graham has long been doing special TT watches. This year, Graham introduced the Chronofighter Oversize Superlight TT. Made from black carbon nanotube composite, the 47mm case has a total weight of under 100 grams. The exhibition sapphire crystal case back allows a great view of the Isle of Man triskelion (the island’s emblem with 3 legs), superlight inscription and limited edition serial number. The tachymeter scale with white graduation is based on the length of TT circuit — 37.73 miles (60.7 km). A yellow inscription at 3 o’clock indicates the lap record (131.578 mph/211.75 km/h), while a yellow painted indicator on the minutes counter shows the lap record time — 17 minutes.
- THE TAG Heuer CARRERA CALIBRE 36 CHRONOGRAPH FLYBACK "RACING" (43MM)
- This 43mm timepiece is housed in a super-light titanium Grade 2 case, sandblasted and treated with a black titanium carbide coating. The movement inside, the Calibre 36, has a very practical flyback complication – meaning that you can reset the chronograph with one push, perfect for racing drivers.
Under the water, dive watches have been popular, even among non-divers, because of their oversize design, high legibility and extreme toughness. Dive watches may have started the big watch trend — in order to be visible underwater, they have to be bigger and the dial has to be easy to read, including in low light or darkness. There is even an ISO standard, ISO 6425, that defines the requirements for a divers’ watch. As far as water resistance is concerned, most divers’ watches are water resistant to a depth of 300 metres, though there are watches that can go as low as 1500 metres and more (the world record, held by Rolex, is 15,000 metres). Though no human being can live at these depths, it’s a real technical accomplishment to design a watch that can go this low, due to the extreme pressure on the case and crystal of the watch. The thinking is that if the watch can survive at such depths, it can easily handle a dunk in the pool. This year at BaselWorld, there were several impressive new dive watches, including:
- Blancpain FIFTY FATHOMS BATHYSCAPE
- This year, the famous Fifty Fathoms is 60 years old, and Blancpain is celebrating by introducing the vintage-inspired Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in both men’s and women’s versions. Inspired by the deepwater exploration of Swiss adventurer Jacques Piccard, Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe divers’ watches were introduced in the late 1950s. Today’s Fifty Fathoms are being worn by National Geographic Society’s Explorers-in-Residence, as Blancpain is a partner with National Geographic. The Bathyscaphe is powered by a Blancpain mechanical self-winding movement using a non-magnetic silicon balance-spring, and the unidirectional ceramic bezel features a graduated scale in Liquidmetal®, an alloy that doesn’t deform and bonds perfectly with the ceramic, making the bezel even more scratch resistant.
- Linde Werdelin OKTOPUS II DOUBLE DATE
- Linde Werdelin’s professional diving watch, the Oktopus II Double Date comes in two series of 88 pieces each - Oktopus II Double Date titanium, ceramic with blue accents and Oktopus II Double Date titanium, titanium DLC, ceramic with yellow accents. The Oktopus II Double Date rose gold and titanium will be coming in September. Inspired by the air-tight pressure chamber used for deep-sea simulations, the Oktopus II - Double Date has been developed to optimise the Reef, Linde Werdelin’s proprietary diving instrument. The Oktopus II - Double Date’s innovative five-part case construction ensures 300 metres water resistance.
- Hamilton KHAKI NAVY SUB AUTO CHRONO
- Hamilton has a long history of diving watches, and this year the brand introduced the Khaki Navy Sub Auto Chrono. Using the iconic Piping Rock from 1928 as inspiration, the Khaki Navy Sub Auto Chrono features a round dial in a tonneau case, resulting in open corners that are unique and very distinctive. Water resistant to 30 bar (300m), the Khaki Navy Sub Auto Chrono features an embossed illustration of a manta ray on the case back and a rubber-enhanced bezel which offers excellent grip, even with gloves on. The chronograph’s easy-to-grip, screw-down crown and pushers are inspired by diving bottle valves.
- Omega SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN 600M GOODPLANET
- A tribute to the GoodPlanet Foundation and the positive work it does for the environment and underwater ecosystems, the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet is water resistant to 600 metres and continues Omega’s dive watch tradition that was started with its first true dive watch introduced in 1932. Omega began cooperating with GoodPlanet in 2011, and with this special timepiece a portion of the proceeds will fully fund a project to preserve the mangroves and seagrasses in Southeast Asia and educate the local population about the conservation of these important natural resources that are such a critical part of a balanced ecosystem. In addition to being a professional dive watch, the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet is also a GMT timepiece, able to show the time in two timezones simultaneously. Powered by the famous Co-Axial calibre 8605, Omega’s self-winding movement with a three-level Co-Axial escapement and Si14 silicon balance spring, this timepiece is backed by a full four-year warranty.
- Alpina SAILING YACHTIMER COUNTDOWN
- Designed to be used in yacht racing, this new Yachttimer Countdown has a countdown window from 0 to 4 that runs into a fluorescent START indicator, so that the timer counts up when the action begins. Because it’s the seconds that count when racing, the triangular seconds hand stands out in fluorescent orange. The 44mm stainless steel case is equipped with a unidirectional rotating bezel.
- Nixon 48-20
- On top of the water, there are specific watches here too, including surfing, boating and fishing. In surfing, Nixon has led the way by designing watches with the crown on the left side (it’s usually on the right), so that when surfers “duck dive” under a wave as they are paddling out, the crown doesn’t dig into their wrists. Modelled after Nixon’s extremely popular 51-30 Chrono, the 48-20 is just the right size and proportion. Inspired by speed and torque measuring instruments, this wide-eye chronograph is water resistant to 200 metres / 20 ATM.
- Girard-Perregaux SEA HAWK CERAMIC
- The Hawk collection was created to hold Girard-Perregaux’s sports watches, and this year its dedicated diver, the Sea Hawk, comes in a new version in black ceramic. The original Sea Hawk was introduced in the 1940s and this new version in ceramic incorporates zirconium oxide powder to achieve a hardness of 1400 HV on the Vickers scale – as compared to 180 HV for stainless steel, making the new 44mm Sea Hawk Ceramic extremely scratch-resistant, as well as water resistant to 300 metres.
Source: Europa Star June - July 2013 Magazine Issue