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aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

It’s never easy for a watch enthusiast to choose just one favorite (fine, Grail), so the fact that the most common question we’re asked at aBlogtoWatch is “what’s your favorite watch?” makes it tough. While such a broad question is impossible to answer, we did enjoy choosing a watch from a more specific category. Here, each aBlogtoWatch editor picked their favorite choice for a three-hand sports watch. “Three-hand” can be a little loosely defined, but I think there’s room to allow date windows and world time functions while (obviously) complications like the GMT, a Chronograph, or anything that takes away from the “three hand” definition, are all out. And while we all didn’t specifically pick a watch that’s new for 2018, we know that our picks can change, so this is where the team is as of summer 2018.

Without further ado, here are our editors’ picks for our favorite three-hand sports watches. Of course, weigh in with your own choices and let us know what you think of ours.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

Ariel Adams: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Grande Date

For 2018 Blancpain delighted us by introducing a few new members of the vaunted Fifty Fathoms collection – including the Fifty Fathoms 5050 Automatique Grande Date. This builds on the famed Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 5015 watch (reviewed on aBlogtoWatch here) by adding a new big date complication now at the 6 o’clock position on the dial. The 45mm wide case continues to use its durable and attractive curved sapphire crystal bezel ring, and now features titanium as the case material, making it lighter to wear. This is a true luxury dive watch with all the fixings you might expect in a professional mechanical diver’s watch, as well as a high-end timepiece whose movement and construction are designed to be as well-made as possible. The new Fifty Fathoms might not be a revolution, but it helps keep my desire high for this roughly $15,000 high-end tool watch.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

David Bredan: Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression ZO9265

I found this to be one of the more impactful 3-hand watches in a long, long time. When trying to pick just one, all I knew was that I wanted it to be something exotic, but also one that I’d see myself wearing all the time, anytime. The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression ZO9265 stands out from the rest and becomes a grail because it’s fun, cool, unique, colorful and never ever boring – and also because it, sadly, is rather rare. Too bad there aren’t many more 3-handers I could say all those positives about. It’ll set your everyday life alight as much as a watch can, but won’t let you down if you take it into its natural habitat either. Its colors are a nod to the ’80s aesthetic, something I’ve been saying for a few years will make a big come back across fashion – it’s fun to see a small brand’s limited edition as one of the front runners.

Comfortable, legible, well made and fun to wear. A real grail also in the sense that it’s an all-sold-out limited edition – but I’d strongly suggest hunting one of these down. Or just join my hoping that Zodiac will keep the ball rolling.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

Bilal Khan: Patek Philippe Aquanaut

While their Nautilus gets the lion’s share of attention and social media hype, Patek Philippe’s non-Genta sports watch has always had huge appeal to me. The signature “tropical” composite rubber strap of the Aquanaut instantly makes it one of the most wearable luxury sports watches because of both peace of mind when it comes to scratches as well as comfort. Pictured above is the reference 5168G white gold 20th anniversary model, but the classic steel 5167A is typically what I keep in mind when thinking about the Aquanaut (not to mention the new Aquanaut chronograph).

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is a slim 8.1mm thick everyday watch that I am totally enamored with. In fact, if I had to pick one single watch to wear, it would be the Aquanaut. It’s an “F-you” watch in the best way. And while it’s not trading for nearly double retail price like the Nautilus, the Aquanaut is still in tight demand and good luck walking into a boutique and finding one available.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

Zach Piña: Omega Aqua Terra Worldtimer Master Chronometer Platinum

Generally speaking, I cringe at the term ‘grail,’ as it’s about as subjective as it is woefully overused. Also because there are a lot of obvious, difficult-to-obtain choices when it comes to the sporty three-hander: Nautilus, Royal Oak. Less obvious: Overseas. Polo S. But perhaps far less obvious, and at the top of my list, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer in platinum. Stay with me on this one. Now, I already know this watch doesn’t fit me. I already know I can’t afford it. And I definitely know it’s far from the most handsome of the bunch (c’mon, even with an enamel dial, something here just looks… “off”), but the fact that it’s not only Omega’s first and only Worldtimer (my all-time favorite complication), but one with a state-of-the-art movement and 150m of water resistance gives me hope that if I do my part to help Omega sell them (there were only 87 made, each with a price of nearly $50k), maybe, just maybe, they’ll pare it back to stainless steel, ditch the art school project in the middle of the dial, collab with the Goodplanet foundation again, and keep all the rest. See you bozos at the front of the pre-order line.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

Michael Peñate: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST (Black Dial)

Like many up and coming watch collectors, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was not something I was immediately attracted to. But, after killing some time at the AP boutique in Vegas last year, something about the black dial 15400ST had me hooked – for good. The sacrilegious 41mm octagonal case is modern and superbly comfortable and the grand tapisserie dial links this contemporary version to the 1972 original that in many ways, redefined the very idea of a luxury sports watch. And if you ask me, I’d venture to say that there is practically no point in getting a modern Royal Oak unless you’re getting it with the bracelet.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick Their Top Three-Hand Sports Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

In person and on wrist, it almost feels like an unfathomable feat of engineering and design, with each individual link featuring a gradual, tapering construction in addition to chamfering, straight brushed surfaces, and subtle polishing. Finally, caliber 3120 delivers on AP’s original vision for the Royal Oak: “body of steel, heart of gold,” thanks to the beautifully finished 21k gold oscillating weight viewed from the caseback. The watch is painfully simple and even at the “lower end” of what the brand offers, but this is it for me – my exit watch.



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  • If I could wear just one watch for the rest of my life…it would be that Royal Oak (maybe in blue or white dial)

  • Norbs K

    Sign me up for the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf. It’s on my list anyway.

    When I think about sports/tool watches, I think about wearing them whilst doing sports and other activities as well. And for that kind of activity wearing 50K or even a 15K watch is just mind bending. That price point is fine for a nice dress watch, or a watch that is in one’s collection just for admiration.

    The Zodiac has everything. Nice and sporty looks, horological heritage and a price that is very much reasonable for a tool watch. I am grateful for the Fossil Group that they revived the brand. It was a good move, with which they’ve earned my respect.

    • Joe

      Despite my opinion above, out of the ones mentioned by the editors, perhaps the Zodiac is the most fun watch.

      Since selling my Ceramic Sub (for various reasons including not wanting to stand out in slightly dodgy areas), I’m far more comfortable wearing my Seiko diver and can therefore enjoy myself more.

      Like Tonis, I like the idea of PP ownership but maybe it should (and likely will because of unaffordability) stay a grail.
      David’s answer is a very honest one 🙂

  • Joe

    Bilal nailed it for me. The Patek Aquanaut.
    It’s a slightly played-down (if you can call a PP that) version of the Nautilus.

    Based on the price disparity between the choices, I’m assuming these would be the editors’ picks regardless of cost?

    If I couldn’t have the PP Aquanaut, it could be the Seiko SLA017, SLA025, a Doxa (Mission 31 or Sub 300). A JLC Polaris Memovox would be cool too…as would be a Blancpain FF Bathyscaphe in 38mm.

    Hmmm…so hard!

  • Joe

    Could it be that we think something might be “our grail” because it’s most people’s grail watch?

    A bit like the saying “the camera that you have on you is better than the one sitting at home”, maybe “the watch that gets most wrist time is the one that you enjoy”.


    Must admit the RO never interested me but as the article accurately describes with time and with the help of superb pictures of the finish on the web it has become one of my favorite sport’s watch to aspire owning. In the meantime I have been wearing this one

    • Joe

      This generation of Ingenieur is so nice. Shame IWC have “abandoned” it in the current generation.
      Fingers crossed they’ll bring these back.

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    Playboy Johnnys results:

    Aquanaut – Bilal
    Royal Oak – Michael
    Fifty Fathoms – Ariel
    Aqua Terra – Zach
    Sea Wolf – David

    • egznyc

      What’s your own pick? (Though it can be an exercise in dullness to select a “top anything” list.)

  • egznyc

    If our list of “sports” watches is going to look more like a list of divers, why not include the Rolex Submariner? (I think a sports is more of an intermediate category between casual and dive watch.)

    Personally, I’d choose the Omega Aqua Terra for this list.

    • Joe

      “why not include the Rolex Submariner?”
      I’d guess because people might complain that it’s in most other lists 😛

      • egznyc

        Yeah I get that but an icon is an icon. Not that I’d want to buy one (though I’d happily wear it … sometimes).

        But to me a straight-up Aqua Terra (not the one shown here) just seems about as versatile as one could hope for in a “sports” watch. That’s a double-edged sword, since it’s boring to be predictable, right (same goes for the Sub)?

        • Joe

          I would vote for the previous generation 14060 or 16610.
          After having owned the 114060, ultimately I prefer a less “slab-sided” (and imo more elegant) case although in reality I’m not sure I would buy a Rolex again (personal reasons).

          • egznyc

            Go old school.

      • Ben

        Sports watch definition=submariner imo

    • Gokart Mozart

      Not everyone wants a Rolex if they could have just one (sports watch).

    • Bladeknight

      1 – It’s their TOP picks, not the list.

      2 – Because not everyone likes Rolex Submariner, including me :)). I choose Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, AP RO Two-Tone and Patek Philippe Nautilus 40th Anniversary Limited Edition over Sub :))

  • Anstead Oceanis, which sadly is no longer in production.


    I could see where the grail status fades away. To me it is simply too big at 45 but a nice watch none the less

  • Steve

    Since these are ‘sports watches’, can you safely wear any of these while playing a round of golf?

    • egznyc

      Let’s see … not a contact sport and no water. I think even a dress watch would be wearable for a round of golf. Unless one is clumsy and tends to trip over the fairways.

      • Gokart Mozart

        Are your sure about that…..

        I am not sure I would want the sudden shock of whacking a ball going from my club to my wrist to my Dufour (well in my dreams I have a Dufour).

  • Ben

    How about oxymoron Luxury Sports?

    • JosephWelke

      Not an oxymoron: polo exists, as do Motorsports and anything related to the words “horse” and “race.”

  • Timestandsstill

    I have similar ambivalent feelings about my FF Chrono so I can totally relate. Don’t wear it as much as I could but just can’t part with it either. My taste in watches has also “downsized” since I got it as well and sometimes it just looks too big even on my 7 1/2” wrist.
    I like the cleaner dial of the new big date a lot though!

  • Timestandsstill

    Really all good picks and not what I would have predicted or expected from this group at all other than the RO.

  • Timestandsstill

    I met Roberto Coin once and he was wearing this (rose gold Aquanaut) with an impeccable blue suit and blue framed glasses. I had seen the corner of it peeking out from under his sleeve and asked him if I could see his watch.
    He gladly took it off and handed it to me…..,told me his wife gave it to him as a gift and that he always wore it when he traveled.
    Steel or RG would just fine with me someday?

  • egznyc

    Mmm. Chocolate brown and rose gold go together like chocolate and coffee. I guess you’re not interested in half measures; no Aquanaut for you ;-).

    • Gokart Mozart

      Not a fan of the PP or coffee and chocolate.

      Tea and a Digestive for me.

  • Agnar Sidhu

    I’ve always liked the fifty phantom, but I think I would opt for Omegas Ocean planet. Not sure which of them I like the most ( hard choices!) but the Big Blue as MR. superstrapper listed below is incredible gorgeous. It’s hard to imagine I would ever take it off my writs, should I ever get my hand on one….

  • Stuart MacKenzie
    • Mikita

      Looks better than half of the listed watches.

  • Matt Rowe

    I really like the Explorer I but am glad it’s not more popular since you can get it at retail, at least for now… I suppose it’s boring to many watchies and regular Rolex buying folk but I hope it stays that way until I can swing it..

  • benjameshodges

    Why do all the limited edition Planet Ocean’s have the GMT function?

    • SuperStrapper

      I’d never noticed before, so I can’t even confirm that to be true (although it does seem that way…)

      Interesting actually. Could be as simple as whoever directs the LE stuff in that segment prefers it as a pet complication.

    • ILOW

      More perceived value = higher achievable selling price?

  • Danil Krivosheyev

    This is paid promo of Zodiac or what a hell they doing in this list?

    • SuperStrapper


    • Yomamma

      It’s my top pick and arguably rarer than any other watch mentioned.

  • Gokart Mozart

    I always find it a bit weird what constitutes a sports watch. Is a field watch or a pilots watch aa sport watch as it needs to be reasonably legible and tough to take a knock or two.

    The three hander put a spanner in the works a little bit so the Vulcain diver is out because of the alarm.

    If an AL&S has lume does that count as a sports watch?

    I will go something different. If a world timed can be included then I think so can this 2 time zone, titanium cased Ochs UND Junior, with lume if you choose and a waterproof sturgeon strap. Also there is the moon phase or the new day and night if it can be included as a 3 hander.

  • Gokart Mozart

    It would be good to have more of the contributors choices as well, just to broaden the articles.

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