When portable watches were introduced in the early 16th century, they were delicate devices that were carried in the pockets of wealthy men. Powered by springs, cogs, and wheels, they were incredibly popular until the First World War, when soldiers discovered pocket watches were not made for the outdoors. Most were smashed, crushed, or lost in the mud and the muck of the Western Front. By the time armistice agreements had been reached, most men were wearing wristwatches. But they were far from perfect.
The first issue horologists felt they had to address was water resistance. Even if they were less fragile than pocket models, wristwatches still couldn’t be exposed to water, which meant they had to be removed before swimming or bathing. That was a problem. Water sports had grown increasing popular, and underwater exploration was seen as the next frontier for adventurers everywhere. Scuba gear gave them the ability to examine marine life up close and personal.
Watertight watches are now tested by the International Organization for Standardization. They make sure timepieces can safely be submerged in water. Not only do they test the actual watch, they also examine the material in the watchcase to make certain it is truly water resistant. Most of the top watchmakers now offer models that appeal to outdoor adventurers and sportsmen alike. In fact, the sport watch segment is one of the fastest growing areas of the entire watch industry. What exactly is a sport watch?
There is no standard, accepted definition, but most of them have similar features and attributes. As a general rule, they should be extremely easy to read. Whether you enjoy scuba diving or spelunking (cave diving), chances are you will find yourself in a lot of dark places. Luminous watch hands can be read in low-light conditions, which is why they are often found in sport watches.
Many sport watches are also chronographs, which mean they have subdials that act as tiny stopwatches. Most measure time in 30-second, 60-second, and 1-hour intervals. They are perfect for runners, swimmers, and other amateur or professional athletes. Let us take a moment to review a few of our favorite sport watches.
Invicta Men’s 8932 Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Watch
As we mentioned, sport watches are supposed to be easy to read. This model from Invicta features a big, bold watch dial with luminous white hour markers against a midnight black background. The watch is powered by reliable Japanese Quartz movement and is protected by a mineral crystal watch cover. With a water resistance of 200 meters (660 feet), it meets the requirements of a professional diving watch. Other features include luminous white watch hands, a date window by the three o’clock hour marker, and a unidirectional black bezel. The watchband is made of polished stainless steel and closes comfortably with an adjustable diver buckle complete with safety clasp.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Chronograph Watch
As in any industry, watchmakers tend to focus on different things. Some prefer fancy dress watches and others like more casual models. TAG Heuer was one of the first watchmakers to design luxury sport watches. Their early chronographs were worn by famous racecar drivers and aviators. Since they also doubled as dress watches, many of these models included precious metals like gold. Contemporary TAG Heuer watches are typically made of sterner stuff. The Aquaracer Chronograph Watch has a stainless steel watch case and band. The display is black with luminous white hour markers that are easy to read in low-light conditions. An antireflective-sapphire crystal dial window protects the watch in up to 1000 feet (300 meters) of water. The three subdials function as stopwatches that keep time in 30-second, 1-minute, and 1-hour intervals. There is even an attractive date window below the 12 o’clock hour marker. This durable timepiece is powered by accurate and reliable Quartz movement.
Movado ESQ Sport Classic Chrono Stainless-Steel Silicone Strap Watch
Famous for their classic Museum Watch dial, Movado only recently started making watches for the outdoors. Their ESQ line features timepiece with stainless steel cases and silicone watch bands. The dial display is blue with white hour markers and watch hands, including a second hand. As a chronograph, it offers stopwatch functions for athletes and weekend warriors alike. The scratch-resistant mineral crystal watch cover protects the timepiece in up to 99 feet (30 meters) of water. There is also an attractive date window by the four o’clock hour marker.