Best Luxury Watches for Men – Top 10 Sport-Focused List for 2019
Another year chimes in, and it’s time for another Groom+Style top ten list – this time we are looking at some ‘big boy’ luxury toys. When you mix style and a hefty credit limit, the effects can be disastrous for your bank account, especially when you are talking about luxury watches.
Yet life occasionally needs something that isn’t perfectly sensible and can be really savored. Every so often, you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. A beautiful, mechanical watch might be just what you need.
Expressing yourself through a watch is almost mandatory if you want to leisurely mix and mingle with the right crowd.
What you will find on this list is the cream of the crop of a new trend of luxury watch, the sports-focused luxury watch. They are timepieces you can wear any day, for any kind of occasion. They generally show that assertive, “bad boy” attitude mixed with a bit of class. This renders them and their wearers unique and perfectly at ease in every kind of situation.
Groom+Style’s Top 10 Best Luxury Sports Watch List is a summary of the best that the world of horology has to offer.
What Is a Luxury Sports Watch?
First of all, let’s clear up some misunderstandings about what a sports luxury watch is.
Lots of people just assume that a luxury sports watch must be made with some esoteric metal or studded with gemstones. This is not true. You can and will find some seemingly modest models that you can still classify as sporty luxury watches. What makes the real difference, apart from the materials used, is their movement – this is the place where all the watch wizardry happens. Expressing its beauty through a fine aesthetic display is the next step. It’s this unique combination of movement and design that will define the mechanical luxury sports watch.
The Top Ten Sports Luxury Watch List
Watches are available in every shape and style. People can select something bold or something more conservative, bombastic or even elegant. In this list, Groom+Style have tried to include a wide variety of styles so everyone can find their perfect timepiece.
If you are still new to the timepiece tradition, it may be a good idea to check Groom+Style’s article on how to service, maintain and care for your luxury mechanical watch. Yes, watches must be well-groomed too, if you pardon the wordplay.
Also, we have not felt too bound by the year when those beauties were released: you will find some novelties as well as some timeless classics.
10. Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL
We start our list with a German vibe by means of Glashütte. While the company was founded in 1994, the roots of this German watchmaking Maison run very, very deep – its sister company Lange und Sohne dates back to 1845. And the lovely city of Glashütte is the place whence this elegant item comes from. These Germans watchmakers are one of the few companies which manufacture their own movements and are held in high regard among watch aficionados, providing 10 proprietary movement innovations.
If you’re serious about what you put on your wrist, this Glashütte Chrono will not be a delusion. Everyone will notice the 44 mm tri-compax fly-back chronograph dial and 16 mm thickness, as well as the steel, black, white and red elements skillfully blending in its fascinating graphic style which mixes old and new inspirations – with a deliciously useless (but oh-so-sexy) complication at “nine” – a counter.
The voyeurs could instead check its beautiful movement and its distinguishing blued screws through the sapphire crystal case back.
The watch is water resistant up to five atm and comes with a black crocodile wristband.
All things considered, this Glashutte looks perfect for the meetings in the city, yet it could be at ease in the most demanding exclusive dinner.
9. Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Automatic Steel
Italians do it better? This saying – while popular in Italy – was not totally justified in the field of luxury watches – until Panerai stepped into the fray.
And the results of combining the precision mechanical skills of Italy with the proverbial Italian creativity have produced some amazing results.
This model from the Florence Maison looks decisively smart and sexy in an almost understated way – but you are bound to notice its 45 mm size and imposing lugs. Its lovely waffle-style dial looks modest yet elegant, with its cream-colored accents over the black, textured surface, and you can behold the beauty of its impeccably finished movement through the sapphire glass back.
What puts this watch apart from others is its movement: the new Caliber P.4001 self-winding movement is based on their tried and true Caliber P.4000. It offers an off-centered micro-rotor design and stores the energy in two different barrels to keep the watch running for a whole two days.
The indicator of the power reserve is viewable through the glass back.
8. Richard Mille RM 033 Extra Flat Automatic in Titanium
How could we talk about luxury watches and not cite Richard Mille? He has taken the whole industry by storm offering rugged, powerful, bad-ass looking luxury sports watches in distinctive tonneau shapes.
That being said, instead of the usual, we are including in this list something a bit out of the company’s typical offerings: an ultra-slim automatic skeleton-movement layered titanium watch.
You may find this model in red-gold and white-gold versions, but Groom+Style think that this titanium version looks the sportiest.
The RM 033 is not small by any count with its 45 mm dimension and does look like it was taken straight from the wrist of Darth Vader himself, but has a striking character that is unapologetically elegant within its masculine ruggedness. Also, it is as light as a feather, thanks to its titanium construction and 6.3 mm height.
Inside the beautiful shell is the amazingly-thin RMXP1 self-winding movement equipped with a monobloc platinum micro-rotor, which, while extensively skeletonized, is only 2.60 mm thick. Additionally, the power reserve for this watch arrives at 42 hours, so no problems for those of you looking to leave it on your bedstand.
As usual for the Maison, the sapphire crystal is etched directly with the Roman numerals. Legibility is not one of its best traits, but a generous use of superluminova on the hands and markings makes them readable if you care to switch off the light.
7. Zenith Pilot Montre D’Aeronef Type 20 Annual Calendar in Rose Gold and Titanium
If you like to style yourself as an adventurous gentleman, this delicious watch from Zenith seems like it could come from the wrist of Indiana Jones himself. Everything in this watch is deliciously retro, from the styling of the numerals (straight from the Art Deco twenties) to the frameworked hands, to the small hands of the chronometer, to the beefy, onion-like crown which dominates the right side. Additionally, the back of the case shows a very fitting image of a trusty wood and fabric flying machine (which looks like a Bleriot monoplane).
First of all, to render it justice, you should be a pilot with big wrists: this beefy watch has a full 48 mm diameter case which is 15.80 mm thick (and water resistant to 100 meters). As such, this is not a watch for everyone, even if its finishings and comfort are top-notch, as expected from the tradition of this Maison.
Despite its lovingly old-style looks, with masterfully combined elements of titanium and rose gold, the Montre d’Aeronef mounts inside it a legendary movement of the company – the El Primero caliber 4054 chronograph, along with an annual calendar module designed by master watch movement designer Ludwig Oechslin, and counting for over 340 elements.
The watch stores a remarkable 50-hour power reserve, so it could faithfully accompany you even on your most challenging enterprises. And there are no problems with legibility: Zenith has done a great job in putting the dial elements at the right size, so everything is visible and in perfect view.
6. Jaeger-Le Coultre Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea Automatic Alarm Diver
As rare as a white fly, Groom+Style suggest to you this esoteric – and almost unique – piece from JLC, the “watchmaker of the watchmakers.” A homage – with only 1318 units available in two different models – to their 1959 masterpiece, an alarm diving watch that is beloved by collectors to this day.
A little bit larger than the original, with its 40.5 mm case, the Memovox Tribute houses the Maison’s 956 automatic movement, which gives it a beefy 45-hour power reserve.
The distinguishing mark of this watch is its signature two-part dial, with a rotating disk replacing the usual “second” central hour hand – a really peculiar feature which will certainly get the attention of fellow watch addicts.
The two versions – one made for Europe and the other for the US – are slightly different, but both bear a very close reference to the original Deep Sea Alarm diver watch, especially in its signature, mechanical alarm system.
Even if the watch is certified as water resistant up to 100 meters, we guess that almost no-one would bring it underwater: fish are unlikely to be interested in such a beauty, while instead, it would gain much more attention in a meeting room downtown.
5. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht Master in Rolesium – Ref. 16622
Rolex is a paragon in the world of luxury watches, but this model from the Maison looks subtly different from its siblings – and far more upscale.
The main feature of this beautiful timepiece is its alloy, called “Rolesium” – a mix of platinum and steel, sporting a handsome dark blue dial.
The presence of platinum, even in a blind test, makes it acquire a sense of depth which is less noticeable on plain steel models and makes the watch much more imposing than it actually is, with its respectable, but very average (especially by today’s standards) dimensions of 40 mm.
A striking, three-dimensional bi-rotating bezel with raised figures, made in solid titanium which is brushed and then polished, circles the beautiful blue dial, showing its well-known hour markers and signature hands covered with proprietary Chromalight that glow in the dark.
The core of the watch is the well-known Caliber 3155 self-winding movement from the end of the eighties, a real Rolex workhorse, so well-made and honed to perfection that this beauty is COSC-certified as a chronometer.
4. Hublot Big Bang Meca 10 King Gold
We confess to having a weakness for masculine, assertive watches – and this Hublot puts itself right in the middle of this trend.
Everything about this watch is imposing, starting from the 45 mm size down to the microblasted 18K king gold case and bezel, with six H-shaped titanium screws and fully visible skeleton movement, which is exalted by the structured rubber wristband with gold and titanium clasp.
The watch mounts the HUB1201 manufacture manual-winding movement which, due to its skeleton construction, can be fully appreciated through the sapphire glass on the front and back. This feat of micro-engineering has required two full years of development; its main feature, apart from its amazing looks, is the ten-day power reserve, measured by a handy indicator positioned at three and six.
For the more sporty enthusiasts, this timepiece is indeed a diver watch, certified as water resistant up to 100 meters.
3. Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-010
If we search for the definition of “luxury watch,” Patek Philippe could easily come out as a synonym. Indeed, a perpetual calendar watch belonging to this Maison has been sold at auction for 11 million USD, making it the former Guinness record holder of the most expensive watch on earth.
Yet don’t worry about that. The Groom+Style team will instead direct you to a more affordable – but always beautiful – Nautilus model, which has been and still is a real icon of horology since its debut in 1975.
Its striking shape, comprised of exquisitely designed straight and curved lines creating a unique blend of old and new, comes from the pen of Gérald Genta, and still enriches the wrist of the lucky ones who can afford its charm.
Groom+Style recommends the simplest but, in our opinion, the most beautiful variation: the time-and-date only grey-blue dial, with its pure, immaculate, minimal appearance characterized by the horizontal beveled stripes, framed by the distinguishing octagonal case. Its dimensions do not seem so big today at 42 mm – but back in that time, they were something really out of the ordinary: very in line with the tradition of a Maison which has always been forward-thinking.
The Nautilus is based on the historical 920 JLC movement, which has been mounted in two of the Big Three watchmakers (Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe) and Jaeger Le Coultre watches.
A very wearable watch, the Nautilus was one of the pioneers of contrasting the finishings on the steel case with a sleek wristband, making it a real attention-getter at social events, and a pleasure to behold.
For the more commercially-minded, this is one of the most sought-after watches in the world, so your money (and your style) are in very safe hands.
2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo reference 15202 in Yellow Gold
If you have the impression you have stumbled upon a twin-sister to the Nautilus (shown above), you are not mistaken: the Royal Oak provided by Audemars Piguet, which is one of the most iconic models of the Maison, has been designed by the same Gérald Genta who has created the Nautilus.
The traits of this watch reveal the influence of the designer: an octagonal, imposing bevel affixed to the case through eight screws and encasing its sapphire glass, the textured dial in a distinctive “petite tapisserie” design, and the clean lines of the hour markers make it instantly recognizable – and a timeless classic.
The 15202 mounts an automatic caliber 2121 movement, encased in a solid yellow gold case, with a very traditional and almost small (by today’s standards) size at 39 mm. The whole effect is a show of ultimate luxury in a most elegant way.
And the wonderful wristband, originally designed for the original Royal Oak by Gay Frères, has been slightly remodeled to make it a little bit more sturdy and eminently wearable – offering the same impeccable finishings that you would expect from the Swiss Maison.
This watch is so perfect and balanced that it makes a wonderful everyday watch, which seems like nonsense for a timepiece which costs more than several high-end cars on the market. Yet it just feels so good at the wrist that you could imagine wearing it all day.
Not bad for a timeless classic that will never go out of style.
1. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
And the gold medal goes to this amazing timepiece from Piaget.
Sadly, this incredible thing is not on sale (for the moment) – it has just been announced and will be shown in its full glory at the next SIHH. So why is it on this list? It is being shown here because it paves the way for future horological developments and shows you how the field continues to strive for excellence.
Piaget has always been one of the leaders of the pack for ultra-thin watches, but in this particular case it has surpassed itself: the whole watch is just 2 mm thick.
To achieve this amazing feat of technology that looks like wizardry, the Piaget engineers have reworked almost every element of the watch itself to render the package compact, as well as researching a new kind of cobalt-based alloy, specifically developed for its extreme rigidity (as any kind of axial torsion would destroy the minute elements of the movement). Despite those immense hurdles, the team has managed to pull out some impressive stats such as 44 hours of reserve power and water resistance up to 30 meters.
The movement, in full sight, looks glorious, with its steel and black elements masterfully combined.
The watch comes with a special 1.1 mm thick kevlar-reinforced alligator wristband.
So, What to Choose?
Suppose that you have come into some extra cash and want to indulge yourself. This top ten list will definitely give you some food for thought. Yet before spending that kind of money, you should ask yourself what style really fits you. Wearing a watch is exactly like wearing a suit: it has to fit you well.
If your watch is too big or too small, it shows. Like an ill-fitting garment, it would not flatter your appearance and will keep you from getting noticed in a positive light you desire.
A handy way of understanding if a watch is right for your wrist is to check the lugs – if you place it horizontally, the lugs of the watch should arrive right next to the border of the wrist. If they go over, then it would be better for you to choose something a tad smaller.
Also, as the perfect gentleman that you are, remember the other half of the apple: make sure your significant other gets the same attention. You have an ample choice between these models (some of them are also available in ladies’ sizes), but you may also want to check Groom+Style’s article on luxury watches for women.
About the Author: Franz Rivoira is a Chartered Journalist and Marcomm Professional operating internationally in the world of high-end and luxury products, mainly watches and design objects.
He lives in Italy, but frequently travels the world, especially to Asia. He is a regular contributor to www.ddnblog.it, a reference for everything design-oriented. He is also very active on Quora, the most read Q&A portal in the world, where he has been nominated as one of the Top Writers for 2018.