Do you know the history behind today's top luxury sports watches? Great horological inventions during the 18th century forever changed the face of time. When the waterproof wristwatch came on the scene in the 1930s, a new chapter in the history of watchmaking was written. Since then, the sports watch has become a force to be reckoned with, generating high volume sales and impressive industry profits.
Audemars Piguet paved the way in the 1970s, creating the world’s first ever luxury sports watch – the Royal Oak. Conceptualized by renowned designer Gérald Genta, the watch introduced an octagonal bezel, with every edge and corner beautifully polished using jewellery-making techniques. The international press was enthralled when the Royal Oak first debuted at Baselworld in 1972. No one thought that steel could look this well-made.
Another attractive element the Royal Oak is the bracelet’s superb fit. At 3,300 Swiss Francs, the Royal Oak was then the most expensive sports watch on the market. Today, it is widely recognized not only as an exemplary piece amongst luxury sports watches, but also Audemars Piguet’s icon and above all, a pioneer of the haute horlogerie world. Audemars Piguet continues to update the Royal Oak’s materials and functions.
One of the recent groundbreaking new Royal Oak references has perpetual calendar, equation of time, moon phase and sunrise and sunset display functions. It is powered by the in-house Cal. 2120 automatic winding movement that is just 2.45 millimetres thick, and is the world's thinnest mechanical, selfwinding movement with a central rotor. This watch combines Swiss high watchmaking and the meticulous craftsmanship of decoration throughout its whole design.
Today, a lot of brands are competing to manufacture luxury sports watches. F.P. Journe has created a new Centigraphe Sport timepiece. With its case, bracelet and movement made of an aluminium alloy, the watch weighs an astonishingly light 55 grams. The independent watchmaker has specially treated the aluminium with a special process in order to make the metal scratch-resistant and anti-corrosive. The Calibre 1506 can calculate a 100th of a second and the revolutionary ergonomic design of the chronograph, which can be started, stopped and zeroed by a rocker, is patented. Both have been developed in-house.
Innovations like this are pushing the boundaries of luxury sports watches that no longer depend on precious metals and gemstones to establish their level of sophistication. Nowadays, truly innovative luxury sports watches are few and far between so they have become a must-have for collectors and watch enthusiasts. Are you one of them?
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