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aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019 ABTW Editors' Lists Featured Articles Mens Watches Tudor

Here’s an unpopular opinion: When you pay over retail for a watch, you’re probably paying for something other than the watch itself. Not for an upgraded movement, a rarer dial, or the addition of precious metal in the case. Instead, you’re paying for hype and for bragging rights, and if those things are important to you, a five-year waiting list or the gray market price of $65,000 for a Nautilus start to seem less like highway robbery, maybe even downright logical. Anyone else who’s been living outside the luxury sports-watch bubble inhabited by speculators, and paying attention to its rapidly evolving competitive landscape, will have already noted that there’s an increasing number of excellent, immediately available alternatives in non-precious metals at a wide range of price points heating up the space, making this a very good time for watch fans, indeed.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: More competition in this space is good for everyone – for brands and for fans, alike. And regardless of where some have argued Bell & Ross sourced its inspiration, or how woefully late to the party Lange might be, I’d contend that the most important thing is that every new offering only adds to the conversation, somehow, with the aim of ever-so-slightly iterating on existing formulas. Let’s not forget that some of the most iconic references of today took inspiration from the existing competition of yesterday. It’s how we’ve arrived at other modern icons like the Nautilus, the Submariner, the Planet Ocean, the Type XX and the Ingenieur. Ultimately, when watch manufacturers iterate on staid formulas to bring something slightly new to the table, then continue to refine those formulas, we all stand to win.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019 ABTW Editors' Lists Featured Articles Mens Watches Tudor

Honorable mention: the Girard Perregaux Laureato is sublime in both three-hand and chronograph form, and readily available without a waitlist.

Before we get any further, it’s probably worth revisiting the somewhat amorphous definition of a “steel sports watch,” which must of course be rendered in non-precious metal (titanium may be admitted here) and is usually characterized by a fixed bezel and enough water resistance to be considered safe for watersports. Purists of the genre might also insist on an integrated bracelet (or at least the prospect of a high-quality bracelet option) and relatively minimalist presentation that slips as easily beneath a cuff as it transitions between casual and formal settings, alike. With this criteria loosely defined, we surveyed our editorial team, who argued over their favorites in the space, as presented and defended below. Naturally, we would love to hear what you would have chosen in the comments, but not until after you’ve read through our picks. So, without further ado, here are the eight winners:

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019 ABTW Editors' Lists Featured Articles Mens Watches Tudor

ZACH PIÑA: PIAGET POLO S

I was initially going back and forth between the Girard Perregaux Laureato Chronograph and the Zenith Defy Classic, based solely on my strong impressions of the latter from Baselworld 2018, but between that time and its launch, the watch underwent some subtle changes that I felt unbalanced the dial enough to return me to my original love, and one of the earlier firestarters in this category: the Piaget Polo S. I’ve written at length before about iconic watches being victims of their own hype, and nowhere is that more evident than how much one could dramatically over-pay for a Patek Phillippe. Thankfully, a quick survey of the competitive landscape reveals a surprising depth of truly beautifully made watches that don’t bear the same burden. The Polo S is one such watch – and to its credit, Piaget got on the train early — long before this year’s glut of “me, too” watches, back when the Nautilus was trading at, or slightly above MSRP, recognizing the growing demand for steel sports watches.

I think the Polo S could have dodged much of the early community ire around its design if it had launched with the ADLC-coated bezel variant pictured here — a reference that delivers a dramatically different wearing experience than any Nautilus or Aquanaut. However, those who bypass such first impressions might recognize the large TV-shaped dial, cushion-style case, and unguarded crown design from a Piaget reference that goes back much further than the Polo: the Emperador, whose design genesis dates even further back — to the original Black Tie, hailing from the height of the 1970s.

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To me, this particular Polo reference feels like a genuine effort to add to the conversation. It is effortlessly sexy (as most Piaget watches traditionally are) and markedly sporty, having been in both pool and ocean numerous times without fail. It’s also surprisingly versatile on a wide variety of straps, thanks to one particularly neat detail: the lugs have been drilled twice — one set close to the case for the bracelet or dressy leather straps with curved ends, and another a little further away for thicker rubber straps, or *gasp* pass-through NATOs. And while my pictured LE variant is no longer available, a gorgeous iridescent jade-colored variant was just added to the collection, joining the black, silver, and blue-dialed options — none of which should have a waiting list at your local Piaget dealer.

The Piaget Polo S is competitively priced at $8,100 for the strap version and $9,900 on the bracelet.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019 ABTW Editors' Lists Featured Articles Mens Watches Tudor

ARIEL ADAMS: SINN 206 ARKTIS II CHRONOGRAPH

Examine my watch tastes, and you’ll see that I have a clear affinity for steel sports watches on bracelets — especially those you can dress up or down, as desired. So, naturally, choosing just one, or even a few, steel sports watches for this list just wasn’t realistic for me. Two notable references stand out from recent impressions, though, including the Dietrich TC-1, whose modern, avant-garde appeal I found noteworthy in my recent long-term review here. A more traditional, yet also very appealing, option released this year is the Sinn 206 Arktis, available on a matching polished steel bracelet. Built tough and utility-rich like its military timepiece heritage might suggest, the 206 Arktis is an updated on Sinn’s former 203 Arktis, which was released about 20 years ago. Notably, the case size has been increased to 42mm (from 40mm), but all the wonderful beauty, legibility, and excellent build quality remain. This is one of the most attractive conservative tool watches you can get away with wearing fashionably. And with a starting price of around $3,500 on a leather strap, it’s an excellent value to boot.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019 ABTW Editors' Lists Featured Articles Mens Watches Tudor

DAVID BREDAN: CHOPARD ALPINE EAGLE

The Chopard Alpine Eagle was introduced to the world only very recently, and it has already caused quite a stir. The competitively conservative, trigger-happy members of the community quickly categorized it as a wanna-be in the luxury steel sports segment. My message to them is that I wish them strength on their 2-5-year Rolex and Patek waiting lists. With the Alpine Eagle, those with a more open mind will find what has to be the best alternative not only to the Rolex steel models but also to the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut, as well as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The case and bracelet quality are through the roof, the in-house movement is COSC-certified, it runs for 60 hours at 4 Hertz and looks great — and the watch wears beautifully in its 41mm version. There also is a 36mm variant and, although that will forever be my preferred size of the Rolex Day-Date, the daddy of elegant watches on a bracelet, the Alpine Eagle displays rather more feminine proportions when scaled to 36mm. Priced at $12,900, the all-Lucent Steel Chopard Alpine Eagle isn’t cheap — but its exterior quality, I reckon, is entirely unrivaled at this price.

aBlogtoWatch Editors Pick The Best Steel Sports Watches Without A Waiting List In 2019 ABTW Editors' Lists Featured Articles Mens Watches Tudor

BILAL KHAN: ORIS BIG CROWN PRO PILOT X

Ok, this is done in titanium, not steel, but take that as an underscoring of my enthusiasm.

Beyond being a truly original new sports watch, the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 is a case study in how a modern watch brand should move upmarket. Rather than following trends and creating a luxurified version of what’s already in its wheelhouse, or a vintage reissue, Oris created something clearly well-thought-out that’s drastically different from its current lineup. The ProPilot X doesn’t look or feel like anything else on the market, since its angular and architectural design isn’t referencing or reimagining anything. I love the rough finishes that forego typical brushing or polishing, and the deliberate construction around the 10-day power reserve Calibre 115 movement defies the mediocrity most “skeletonized” watches exhibit.

The matching titanium bracelet is a must, for me, though I know it is available on a leather strap. Frankly, the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 needs to be handled physically to be appreciated and is worth every single penny of its $7,600 price.

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Comments

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  • Agnar Sidhu

    Thanks for a great Sunday read guys!

    For me, the ultimate steel sports watch needs a distinct integrated bracelet. The RO took me many years starting to like, as I don’t really like watch cases that aren’t round.
    The nautilus I just cant stand due to its case shape.

    For me, the Aikon looks really good and thick’s all the boxes for me.

    • …or at least a compelling bracelet option right? Took a lot of people a long time to come around to both of those modern icons, and I think we’d be crazy to think that the current crop doesn’t have a few winners that’ll also stay the course.

      • Agnar Sidhu

        Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think Chopard’s Eagle and the new Lange might turn out to be some of the steel sport watch icons of the future.

        • Frank Hughes

          OK so I want a ‘poor man’s Aquanaut’ in the Piaget. Is there a really hot rubber/silicon strap worthy of competing with the Patek?

  • Now I know who I’ll choose for my dinner and movie date: David Bredan

    • DanW94

      To David; All I’m saying is don’t be a fool Bredan. Watch nerds don’t get too many opportunities like that 🙂

  • Ugo

    i have great respect for your position about overpricing of mechanical watches, and i find it great that you stand by it.
    back on your propositions:
    Zach, sorry, with all the love for the Altipiano, the Polo is just plain horrible. that eggy-ish-kinda-of is letting me down anytime i look at it.
    Ariel, i find the Sinnis ok-ish, but it leans too much on the tool appearance. it definitely doesn’t look cool, or somehow elegant. it may well be a great watch, but i don’t see it a solution here.
    I double on David choice: the Alpine Eagle is stunning. yes, it’s not entirely justifiably expensive, yes, the screws are derivative, yes, the bezel could’ve be more interesting, but com’on it’s just gorgeous, has a great dial and a good movement.
    Bilal, i really want to like Oris, and somehow i do, but all their watches are at least 5 mm too large without any good reason. Moreover, on this one they’ve skeletonised a 10 days barrel with the only (obvious) result of putting an annoying dull wobbling spring in the middle of your dial. bah.
    Ben’s guy is interesting, but i think it falls in the same category of Ariel’s one: too much toolish. i’d never come up with that…
    Trevis’ Aikon could’ve been what the Alpine Eagle is, but, unfortunately, it is not. On the other hand, it costs a fourth (obviously giving you a somehow boring 7750).
    Rob, i admit i almost always love what Seiko does on its dials. Unfortunately, i not always love what it does behind them. this is possibly one of latter cases.
    Kenny, i really don’t have any argument to oppose your choice. Good movement, good watch, good brand. The only thing is possibly that it looks a little too much like a Seiko 5, but hey, there’s worse…

    i’m a little surprised not seeing a Polaris, and i may’ve added a mention for the Breitling Premier…

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    And the overall winner is…….. Zach and his awesome Polo s !!!!!!!!! This is the sport watch for all occasions. Sporty, classy and as noted SEXY!! The polo S is the most versatile sport watch on the list. (IMO) I would need both bracelet and strap, to adapt to the occasion.
    2nd place goes to David with the Chopard.

    Note: Zach, I was struck by a sudden and debilitating case of acid reflux at the mention of a NATO on this gorgeous watch. Please stop : )

    • It had to be done. For science! 😉

  • Hannibal

    With a selection like this, I would rather shoot myself in the foot and wait for ANY Rolex. Except Piaget and Grand Seiko, it strikes me that almost every selected watch is either obnoxious ripoff of a more established brand/model, or simply uninteresting and generic piece. Yes, I would rather have GS and Piaget than almost any Rolex out there (kudos for those two masterpieces), but…Tudor North Flag? The model that even Tudor hates, and for the good reason – it is ugly, and completely against the brand’s design ethos. Tudor Pelagos, Omega Aqua Terra and Seiko Prospex Marinemaster 300 would be on my list, as well as Longines Avigation Big Eye, and even some Breitling models, maybe Superocean Heritage with Tudor movement….

  • SuperStrapper

    Not a bad pick in the lot. Several watches that have never resonated with me at all, most notably maybe the polo, but none here that are bad options. I would love to see that Oris in steel with a dial.
    I’ll toss my humble #WOTD into the ring: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8d0618618b3e88478d118029731f46836a5e36b11a4bcf8351377e238cca42a0.jpg

    • Had the Alpine Eagle not been released this summer, this woulda been David’s pick for sure.

  • DanW94

    A few interesting choices. I didn’t expect a Muhle Glashutte or a skeletonized Oris on the list but variety is the spice of life. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d go for the new Bell & Ross BR05 on the bracelet. I guess you could say I’ve come full circle on the B & R square case. (pun totally intended). My second choice is the Glashutte Seventies Panorama chronograph. Like Huey said, It’s hip to be square.

    • That’s a great pick – everybody comes around eventually 😉

    • spice

      you called?

  • Independent_George

    Can’t complain about a single choice, except for one, so I guess that means we will have to fight to the death, David.

    But the best luxury steel sports watch is the one that is on your wrist. So I will nominate the AquaTerra 8900. I know Omega is a behemoth and everyone writes about them endlessly, but I still believe Omega really doesn’t get enough credit for designing very high-end, attractive, and modern looking sport watches. With Omega, everything is all Speedmaster Speedmaster Speedmaster with their seemingly endless LEs, but for my money (and it is my money) the Seamaster collection is Omega at it’s best, from the Sedna Gold World Timer GMT to the black 300M on a rubber strap. IMHO, the AQTs are the best all-round steel sports watch you can buy today, right now. When you wear one, you are not wearing a brand’s forced entry into a specific, trendy market niche (looking at you, Lange), you are wearing something that has been around for a while and is in and of itself.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb21079b7d78f65904673d583283ae60c124eb5a044a448468cca6af4dd7913b.jpg

    • Absolutely agree – the AT is super underrated and deserves to be higher on not just this list, but all of ‘em.

    • mach2guy

      I’ll add my agreement, too. I have the same watch but with the light blue dial. My only complaint is the highly polished center links on the bracelet which show smears and scratch easily. I don’t wear it daily.
      My daily watch at my advanced age is now my Apple Watch 4, since taking a bad fall recently that got 911 to get me an ambulance to a hospital.

  • mach2guy

    Lust is taking over me as I view the collection presented EXCEPT for the Chopard. Ugly dial, font sizes mixed up, and those hideous Roman numerals. The Roman Empire is gone. Get over it.

  • funkright

    Tried the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 at the branded AD in Amsterdam the other week. Loved it. Best value by far. Light as a feather!

  • Foul Owl On The Prowl

    ? Tevise Submariner – I never heard of it until I read this article:

    https://quillandpad.com/2019/10/26/watch-design-when-does-similarity-become-imitation/

  • All fair points on a subjective level – just pedantic correction, the Piaget in black is actually pictured on a black rubber Hirsch strap.

  • Expat

    Yes, the Oris is titanium…. so, how it made this list is really baffling, LOL. When the Laureato would have made a very fine non-runner up choice. I also would have placed the new Nomos Tangente sports watches on the list. Cheers,

  • Jared

    I don’t see how that Sinn is a sport watch…a dive watch sure…but there is a reason its the only one with a rotating bezel

  • To fellow readers who voted for David & the Alpine Eagle, here’s a special video clip treat just for you ?

    https://www.instagram.com/tv/B3a_b_Wj3eI/?igshid=k7cr3cz1tfv2

  • Ugo

    never quite understood all the fuss about IWC.
    their watch are… ok. with an… ok, pretty standard, movement.
    and an astronomic price.
    i mean, they’re the masculine version of B&M, which at least has more appropriate price tags…

  • Independent_George

    The North Flag is one of those odd, overbuilt watches that I have a soft spot for.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    1 Alpine Eagle please.

  • Independent_George

    I love your watch. I am scared to see your entire sweater, however.

  • Pete L

    Vacheron Overseas for me. Then maybe that GP Laureato chrono at the start of the article.

    • seoulseeker

      In my experience you cant just walk in and buy an overseas right now either. Not unless you are buying precious metal or world timer.

      Been to 4 different boutiques recently and I was told there is a backlog at all of them.

      • Pete L

        Saw a couple of chronos and 3 handers in Selfridges a week or so ago and Bucherer have had them too at the Westfield store here in the UK?

  • Larry Holmack

    I like the SINN….I am a sucker for an Automatic Chronograph.

  • Mikita

    No Bell & Ross BR05? Then I would add it to the list.

    • seoulseeker

      Why add it, the general reception was piss poor

      • Mikita

        Haven’t noticed that.

        • He’s being dramatic. The reception was far from poor. You know how it goes – the smallest contingent of detractors are always the loudest 😉

          • Mikita

            It seems like he wanted to present his own opinion as a “people’s voice” 🙂

  • Richard Webley

    Great article. Enjoying the left field choices.
    Oris and the Tudor would be my picks.

    Does the Rolex Explorer have a long waiting list at the moment? Ticks all the boxes (Steel, fixed bezel, 100m WR, integrated bracelet, lume, can dress up or dress down)

    I got my Explorer in about a month from my local AD last year.

    • WINKS

      Integrated bracelet on the Explorer???

  • LetoAtreides69

    The tudor just fits so oddly with its over long lugs…

    • Berndt Norten

      I guess it was a good fit for me but I’m a big fellow

  • LetoAtreides69

    Monta triumph for me and they make fitted rubber straps… The piaget is an excellent choice and disregard the haters.

  • GalaxyGuy

    Interesting choices. I think I would have chosen a different Sinn than the Arktis…maybe the 556. Easy to get, more in the vein of the all around sports watch than the Arktis, in my opinion.

  • Esteban

    Well… These are all fine sport-watches, if your sport is Polo or some other snobbery like that, straight out of some French court (the names, what a laugh!) Except the Sinn.

    No diver on a sport-watch list. Not one watch you can wear while actually sporting.

    • Why… You don’t think golfing or yelling at shareholders are not sports?

  • I always feel like watches meant for the wild better fit the definition of a tool watch. To me, a sports watch is the horological equivelent of a sports jacket. I mean, you wouldn’t wear a wool coat while caving either…

    You’re absolutely right about the “sports-watch style”, but I think that is the tipping point between sports and tool definitions (which are loose at the best of times).

  • Dan F

    If I had to pick from these, I’d take the Tudor. But, I really don’t understand why the Zenith Defy wasn’t included. I think it’s a stronger candidate than some of the others here. I don’t think the Polo and the Seiko really have much of a tool watch vibe. I think the Polo’s design doesn’t work well and is hard to get used to. Just making the bracelet integrated and more interesting would have been a big improvement.

    • disqus_jTudukIYpJ

      Agree with you 100% on both the Tudor and Zenith Defy. But I’m biased, I own both 🙂

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