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The Luxury Sports Watch Wins Big This Year

The Gerald Charles Masterlink looks incredible as a dress and sports watch.

It does feel like we’ve been here before, but the number of new sports luxe watches presented this year felt like a record.

Sports luxe, luxury sports watch, luxury sports watch, integrated bracelet watch, or sports chic watch, whatever you wish to call it, it’s never been clearer that commercial success in watchmaking today requires one. In fact, we’ve noticed a continuing wave of new models from grand maisons and boutique watch firms this year. The diversification of this market segment is excellent news for those who desire iconic references as well as something more atypical. Here are some of the new competitors in this category and fresh updates from the power players.

The Gerald Charles Masterlink in steel case and bracelet with two dial options in deep blue and silver opaline, both with sunray brushed finishes.
The Gerald Charles Masterlink in steel case and bracelet with two dial options in deep blue and silver opaline, both with sunray brushed finishes.

Gerald Charles

The Masterlink gives the watch brand bearing Gérald Genta’s heritage its own sports luxe watch. Genta was the prolific designer of numerous luxury sports watch designs. Now, one based on his Maestro design is dedicated to him by Octavio Garcia, a man who is, in some ways, his successor. There are subtle differences from the eccentric design of the Maestro in the Masterlink. The case is square, not rectangular, and the angles are sharper, with less of the rounded and stepped detail of the Maestro. The bracelet is truly marvellous and perhaps only possible with modern machinery and engineering. The lower end-link has a convex shape that follows the case. The dial is both contemporary and retro-chic, taking us back to the chromed grilles of automobiles in the 1920s and modern industrial design today. It’s certainly a favourite among collectors and CROWN editors.

The Zenith Defy Skyline Tourbillon is housed in steel and features a high-frequency movement.
The Zenith Defy Skyline Tourbillon is housed in steel and features a high-frequency movement.

Zenith Defy Skyline Tourbillon

A surprise addition to the Defy Skyline collection is the new automatic tourbillon, which takes the sporty and elegant watch line into high watchmaking. Playing up the high-low mix is the choice of a steel or black ceramic case for the tourbillon movement. What’s impressive is that this movement is based on the El Primero, giving us a high-frequency, high-tech tourbillon movement with a dial that’s equally expressive as its movement. The four-point star cutouts on the dial are sized standard close to the tourbillon and increase as they radiate away from it. It’s high watchmaking made fun and whimsical and definitely a welcome addition.

The Longitude from Arnold & Son is distinctively different from its other watches, and comes in a titanium case with bracelet or strap options and three dial choices of blue, green or champagne gold.
The Longitude from Arnold & Son is distinctively different from its other watches and comes in a titanium case with bracelet or strap options and three dial choices of blue, green, or champagne gold.

Arnold & Son Longitude

A luxury sports watch certainly was not what we expected to see at Arnold & Son, but the Longitude is a handsome timepiece that would have been great for the seafarers of yesteryear. Housed in a slim brushed 42.5mm titanium case with polished sides, rounded edges on the back and a grooved bezel, it’s a little larger than we would have liked. The size is a necessary limitation to house its chronometer-standard movement with a large balance and full-sized anchor-style skeleton rotor. Brushed dials in olive green, deep blue, and champagne gold elevate its look. A great detail is the power reserve indication at 12, in an arc presented through markings cut out from the dial. In the tapered bracelet, the dial stands out even more.

The ceramic Hublot Big Bang Integrated Time Only watches are light, robust and stylish.
The ceramic Hublot Big Bang Integrated Time Only watches are light, robust, and stylish.

Hublot Big Bang Integrated Time Only

It’s hard to believe that this is technically Hublot’s first integrated bracelet timepiece, but it is, and it’s the only one that doesn’t abide by its ‘Art of Fusion’ tagline. Small loophole: there’s a titanium insert between the bezel and the case middle. The ceramic models are honestly stunning and effortlessly elegant while standing out in typical Hublot fashion, and we love that there are titanium and gold options to select from as well. The only negligible issue we have with the Big Bang Integrated Time Only is that its movement is a modified standard issue Sellita; a longer power reserve that sees the watch through the weekend would be incredible.

The Bremont Terra Nova 40.5 Turning Bezel Power Reserve is a field watch and luxury sports timepiece.
The Bremont Terra Nova 40.5 Turning Bezel Power Reserve is a field watch and luxury sports timepiece.

Bremont Terra Nova 40.5

Although it’s more of a field watch than a sports chic timepiece, Davide Cerrato certainly wants you to feel that the Terra Nova can do double duty on the wrist. We love how the cushion-style case angles into the lugs sharply, with bracelet links that have a similar design. The oversized Arabic numerals in Super-LumiNova PMMA dominate the dial, while a mirror-polished bezel is a point of contrast against the brushed case. It’s a pity that they aren’t equipped with Bremont’s chronometer movement, but perhaps that is a development for the future.

The Hermes Cut series has braceleted and strapped options and references its equestrian heritage with handsome details.
The Hermès Cut series has braceleted and strapped options and references its equestrian heritage with handsome details.

Hermès Cut

It’s always fascinating to see how Hermès translates its heritage in leather, couture, and equestrian culture into a wristwatch. The Cut’s cushion-and-round design feels like someone merged the H08 and Arceau and created something totally new. The indents on the sides and horseshoe-styled lugs reference its history, and the H-links of the bracelet, of course, celebrate the brand. In fact, join the two lugs together, and you get an ‘H’, not unlike the one emblazoned on its crown. The excellent pricing of the line also means those who love the brand will be able to have an Hermès on their arms, just perhaps not a Birkin.

Alpina’s Alpiner Extreme Quartz is slim, elegant, and with gorgeous dials to boot. What’s not to like?
Alpina’s Alpiner Extreme Quartz is slim, elegant, and has gorgeous dials to boot. What’s not to like?

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Quartz

The Alpiner Extreme sports watch in a steel cushion case with integrated lugs and bracelet first appeared at Watches and Wonders 2023 in a bulkier form. This year adds a smaller model at 34mm by 35.2mm. The gender-neutral novelty with a high-precision quartz movement also has a slim profile, making it that much more elegant. Unlike most, which have interchangeable bracelets and rubber straps, three have bracelets, and one has a rubber strap. The dials are fresh and bright, with a shot-blasted finish on the patterned dial. It hits all the highlights: closed caseback, visible screws on the bezel, time-and-date display, and a great fit for all.

The standard-bearer of the luxury sports watch, Audemars Piguet, brings back a mini version in three frosted gold options.
The standard-bearer of the luxury sports watch, Audemars Piguet, brings back a mini version in three frosted gold options.

Audemars Piguet Mini Royal Oak

The mini watch trend, like the mini-It bag trend, is making a return to watchmaking. Another design trend that emerged during the era of quartz around the 1980s, it was a way for luxury watchmakers to fuse their iconic creations with tiny battery-powered quartz movements while mechanical watchmaking made a slow recovery. As luxury quartz watches are becoming mainstream today, mini watches are similarly basking in their afterglow and are now seen as unisex. Cartier presented Mini Tanks, while Audemars Piguet brought back the Mini Royal Oaks this year.

Would you wear your Mini Royal Oaks stacked?
Would you wear your Mini Royal Oaks stacked?

The new watches are 23mm in size and sit between the first miniaturised Royal Oak IIs in 1976 (29mm) and the first Mini in 1997 at 20mm. Available in three gold options, the surfaces of these watches have a frosted gold finishing. That’s a Florentine technique which uses a diamond-tipped tool to hammer the material repeatedly, giving it a mixed sandblasted and polished glittering effect. Audemars Piguet’s campaigns have the watches worn stacked; buying one isn’t enough, it seems.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.