The meteoric and continued rise of the sports watch has prompted decidedly elite brands such as A. Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin to produce more casual watches, aimed at customers who want watches they can (hypothetically) hit without remorse despite five or six-figure price tags. Even Patek has moved up a gear: in April, it launched a monopusher chronograph that measures up to tenths of a second and has seven exclusive patents. The ultra-technical platinum-cased creation sent the message that the brand plans to elevate its sports watch category beyond the ubiquitous (but unobtainable) Nautilus.
But in a twist, this year has seen more accessible brands raise the bar for their own sporty models, unveiling increasingly expensive versions no doubt set to capture some of the still feverish market. Tag Heuer released a six-digit chronograph set off with lab-grown diamonds, for example, while Grand Seiko launched its first constant-force tourbillon – and both brands were careful to say these models were, rather than one-time events , rather a hint of things to come. In other words, expect a whole new team of watch brands to jump into this high-stakes game.