In order to be eligible for submission in the sports watch category of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, a watch merely has to be “related to the world of sports”. What this means in practice is that the watches submitted in this category cover a variety of domains.
Aviation meets sport
Take Perrelet’s Turbine Pilot, for example, the unique feature of which is reminiscent of the blades of a jet turbine. This Pilot model in particular also comes with a circular aviation slide rule that underscores the aviation theme, as well as a distinctly aeronautical black and yellow hashing visible when the turbine spins. But with its big 48mm diameter case in stainless steel, available with or without a black PVD coating, and large luminescent hour numerals, the Perrelet Turbine Pilot undoubtedly has a very sporty look that earns it a place in this category.
Because of its pedigree, Zenith’s El Primero is one of the stars in the Chronograph category of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix. But the brand has also submitted the new El Primero Lightweight model in the Sports watch category, since it has been engineered under the influence of high-tech motorsports, where everything must be done to remove superfluous weight.
As a result, the El Primero Lightweight comes with a 45mm carbon case and its major movement components (mainplate, barrel bridge, balance bridge, chronograph bridge, lever bridge and escape-wheel bridge) are machined from titanium rather than the more common – and much heavier – brass. As well as looking resplendent with its ruthenium coating, this El Primero Calibre 400B movement is therefore 25% lighter than the standard version.
The lightweight theme is expressed on the outside through an openworked dial and continues right down to the finest details such as the skeletonized date numbers on a peripheral ring. A Nomex-coated black rubber strap completes the lightweight and sporty look of this 250-piece limited edition.
Genuine racing, genuine manufacture
Armin Strom’s Racing collection has more direct sports watch credentials, since the bridges on its AMR13-MR calibre self-winding movement are made from parts of the original engine block of a Formula 1 car. It also has PVD-coated steel elements on the case, with a dash of titanium and a sporty rubber strap. But there the similarities with the Zenith El Primero end.
Rather than to save weight, the openworked dial on this model is part of a tradition of skeletonisation that was inherent to the work of Armin Strom himself and reveals a movement that beats at half the frequency of the Zenith El Primero (18,000 vibrations per hour, compared with 36,000 for the El Primero). Note the off-centred time indications on the dial, which are a subtle indication of the movement’s true in-house provenance. Only a company that truly manufactures its own components, as Armin Strom does, can allow itself such freedom. Only 50 examples of this exclusive model, which offers an impressive five-day power reserve, are available.
Gunning for glory
One of the most obviously sporty models in the Sports watch category at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix this year is the limited-edition Arsenal Aeroscope Chronograph by JeanRichard. It was presented at Baselworld earlier this year only weeks after the brand surprised observers by becoming an official partner of the club – a prescient move, since the “Gunners” went on to win the 2014 FA Cup.
A stylized small-seconds hand in the shape of a cannon, the club’s emblem that gives them their nickname, and the more obvious red background to the dial clearly distinguish this timepiece as an Arsenal watch. A sandblasted, DLC-coated titanium case and bezel with pushers in carbon fibre composite further accentuate the sporty look of this model, which is powered by a self-winding mechanical chronograph movement that offers 42 hours of power reserve.
So whether you are fan of football, Formula 1, military aviation or just high-tech and lightweight watches, there is plenty to choose from in the sports category at this year’s Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix. The jury has the last word, but will it blow the final whistle or wave the chequered flag?