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The Best Sport Watches for Every Situation

Whether you're an athlete or just want a watch with a rugged build and "sporty" style, start here.

a collage featuring watches from victorinox, nixon and fortis
Courtesy

If you're looking to buy a watch in the 21st century, there's a good chance you've got a sport watch in mind. And why not? Sport watches are pretty ideal for daily wear in our increasingly casual culture, promise durability and tend to communicate a "man of action" — whether or not you're actually engaging in the activities they were made for.

What exactly is a sport watch?

Pretty much any watch that's not a dress watch is some kind of "sport watch." At least, this is how the term is widely used. Sport watches mostly originate in a specific activity, with functionality and durability driving the design — good qualities for any watch to have. And that often makes them not only interesting but cool-looking, fun to wear and even useful in all kinds of day-t0-day applications.

You might use the rotating bezel on a dive watch to time your pasta. Though a Breitling Navitimer was originally made to help mid-century pilots do important calculations, you might use its chronograph to time how fast your kid can clean his room. You might wear a field watch, originally made for soldiers, just because it's rugged, tells the time and is fun to have on your wrist.

While dress watches are a pretty well-defined category, sport watches include many genres from dive watches and field watches to pilot watches, racing chronographs and more. Many luxury watches such as the Rolex Submariner or Omega Speedmaster are also sport watches, even though most probably aren't used for their intended purposes. Watches like the Audmars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus are considered "sport watches" due solely to their design rather than any practical purpose behind them.

If you want a watch for actually doing physical activities like hiking or biking, there are watches specifically for those sports, too. Smartwatches, fitness trackers and watches with features like GPS will serve you well. Whatever your needs, here are some great sport watch options to consider.

For the Beach

Great watches for swimming, lounging, strutting or surfing.

Breitling Superocean

Breitling Superocean
breitling.com
$4,650.00

Water resistant to 300m, you could also take the Breitling Superocean diving deep beneath the waves. But it'll serve you just as well splashing at the surface or on dry land, and it's a great example of why dive watches are so versatile. One of the colorful variants is all the more appropriate for sun and sand.

Diameter: 42mm (also available in 36mm, 44mm and 46mm)

Movement: ETA 2824 automatic, COSC-certified

Water Resistance: 300m

      Nixon Base Tide Pro

      Nixon Base Tide Pro
      nixon.com
      $150.00

      Tough, water-resistant and available in fun colors, the Nixon Base Tide Pro has genuine street cred (beach cred?) with actual surfers. A major reason for that is its big easy-to-read display that also features tide graph data for 550 beaches around the world. This is the sport watch to get when you're actually doing beach-related sports.

      Diameter: 42mm

      Movement: Quartz

      Water Resistance: 100m

          For the Backcountry

          Tough watches made for the outdoors.

          Victorinox INOX Mechanical

          Victorinox INOX Mechanical
          swissarmy.com
          $875.00

          If you just want a tough watch to tell the time when you're out in the woods, field watches were made for that. Many are smaller and with a retro military aesthetic, but the Victorinox INOX feels like a modern instrument genuinely built for camping — and it's tested for extreme endurance. A watch from the brand that makes the famous Swiss Army Knives also will just feel somehow appropriate.

          Diameter: 43mm

          Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic

          Water Resistance: 200m

              Garmin Instinct 2S Solar

              Garmin Instinct 2S Solar
              garmin.com
              $449.99

              If your sport is something like camping, hiking, kayaking or biking, a watch from Garmin can have a lot more utility than just telling the time. A company founded on GPS technology, it puts an incredible amount of important mapping and other information right on your wrist. Garmin watches like the Instinct 2S Solar are what many outdoorsmen and adventure athletes rely on.

              Diameter: 40mm, 45mm

              Movement: Smartwatch

              Water Resistance: 100m

                  For the Gym

                  Wanna track your heart rate? These smartwatches can do that and more.

                  Apple Watch

                  Apple Watch
                  apple.com
                  $399.00

                  The Apple Watch remains just about the ultimate fitness tool for your wrist. If you didn't already know, it's equipped with an extensive array of sensors and features all integrated to offer a smooth and intuitive user experience. No matter what kind of sport or activity you're doing, at the gym or otherwise, the Apple Watch is one of the best choices — and that makes the smartwatch a bonafide sport watch.

                  Length: 41mm, 45mm

                  Movement: Apple iOS

                  Water Resistance: 50m

                      TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4

                      TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4
                      tagheuer.com
                      $1,900.00

                      Maybe you're not an Apple adopter. And maybe you don't want to mess around with many of the plasticky, gadgety smartwatches running Android. In that case, TAG Heuer, a historic Swiss watchmaker, offers an elevated experience. With the same kind of case that houses mechanical movements in the brand's Carrera collection, TAG Heuer's smartwatch offers a luxury experience and specific applications for a range of activities.

                      Diameter: 42mm

                      Movement: Calibre E4

                      Water Resistance: 50m

                          For the Racetrack or the Cockpit?

                          Even if you're not an F1 driver or a pilot you can enjoy a racing chronograph or pilot's watch.

                          TAG Heuer Monaco

                          TAG Heuer Monaco
                          tagheuer.com
                          $6,950.00

                          A lot of chronograph watches were made for timing motorsports, but one of the most famous is the Monaco. Its quirky, sporty character has led to an on-screen legacy, appearing on the wrist of Steve McQueen as he portrayed race car drivers as well as the fictional anti-hero Walter White in the show Breaking Bad.

                          Diameter: 39mm

                          Movement: Sellita SW300-1 automatic (modified) with Dubois-Depraz chronograph module

                          Water Resistance: 100m

                              Fortis Flieger F-39 Automatic

                              Fortis Flieger F-39 Automatic
                              fortis-swiss.com
                              $1,850.00

                              Fortis's take on the classic flieger style of pilot's watch, has a distinctly modern feel. Designed for legibility and sometimes even calculations, pilot's watches are sport watches by nature but the steel 12-hour bezel and orange highlights make the F-39 even sportier. It comes in a few different variants and sizes, but we like the simple automatic version in a wearable 39mm.

                              Diameter: 39mm

                              Movement: Sellita SW-200 automatic

                              Water Resistance: 200m

                                  For the Office

                                  Yes, sport watches have a place here, too.

                                  Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

                                  Black Bay Fifty-Eight
                                  Tudor tudorwatch.com
                                  $5,225.00

                                  Dive watches like the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight have plenty of sport and diving cred, but you know what? They're also handsome as hell and completely appropriate for professional situations, short of anything really formal. Call it a "desk diver" if you will, but this is a sporty watch that'll hold its own in just about any situation — and you'll want to keep wearing it on the weekend.

                                  Diameter: 39mm

                                  Movement: Tudor MT5402 automatic, COSC-certified

                                  Water Resistance: 200m

                                      Audemars Piguet Royal Oak "Jumbo" Extra-Thin

                                      Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
                                      audemarspiguet.com
                                      $33,200.00

                                      While the sport watches above are made for a specific activity like diving or flying, the Royal Oak is unusual in that it's just broadly a "sport watch." That's because its design is "sporty" rather than having a specific purpose or water resistance of more than 50m. If you want a sport watch for the office, though, this is a serious flex.

                                      Diameter: 39mm

                                      Movement:

                                      Water Resistance: 50m

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