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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.