If you type ‘sports watch’ into your preferred internet search engine, you will be presented with a bewildering array of chunky plastic timepieces. All of them will do a perfectly decent job of providing no-nonsense timekeeping in difficult conditions, and many of them cost little more than a loaf of artisan bread. They exist so you can take off your delicate, dressy watch and leave it at home, sparing it from having to undergo any physical activity more vigorous than a light post-dinner foxtrot.
The problem is that a piece of cheap, injection-moulded plastic is the watch equivalent of a washing machine: it works perfectly well, but you can never fall in love with it. Luckily, not all sports watches are like this, and there is no reason raising your heart rate should mean lowering your standards. There are plenty of watches that combine the finest design and craftsmanship, while at the same time not being afraid of a little exertion.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, with its relatively slender, rectangular case, may not be everyone’s idea of a sports watch, but in fact it was a pioneer in the field.
It was created in 1931 after a polo-playing British cavalry officer complained that his watch had been smashed by an opposing player’s mallet. The result was an ingenious timepiece where the central part of the case flips over to protect the dial side. This year, the 85th anniversary of the Reverso has seen a number of new interpretations of the design classic, which is available from Watches of Switzerland. (www.watches-of-switzerland.co.uk)
If your sporting pursuits see you heading beyond the polo fields and into the ocean, you could take a dive into the Supermarine range from increasingly in-demand British brand Bremont. These supercool diving watches are chronometer-tested, anti-magnetic and anti-shock. They are water-resistant to a minimum of 500m, while the range-topping watch is water-resistant to an almost unfathomably deep 2,000m. (www.bremont.com).
IWC has been making diving watches for almost half a century, bringing out its first Aquatimer in 1967 when scuba diving was fast growing in popularity as a sport. The range has seen a number of redesigns and relaunches over the years, but has survived as one of the most successful watch families for the company from Schaffhausen. (www.watchfinder.co.uk)
Omega introduced a new Seamaster chronograph in 1969 called the Rallye, aimed at drivers. The unusual-looking watch, with its symmetrical case housing crowns at 12 and six o’clock and twin chronograph pushers on the top, was nicknamed ‘Bullhead’ – a moniker that was applied to the watch officially when it was relaunched in 2013. Now Omega has introduced a special edition to celebrate Rio 2016, complete with strap and dial markings in the colours of the Olympic rings. (www.omegawatches.com)
While these four watches were designed with sporting pursuits in mind, they also make stylish evening companions. And not a bit of plastic in sight.