There’s a deeply held desire in the hearts of both watchmakers and buyers to categorise. This watch is for wearing with a tuxedo; this one for playing sports; this one for astronauting, and so on. In many cases – think professional-grade dive watches or military pilot’s watches – these objects were born out of a particular need at a specific moment.
However, modern lifestyles require greater flexibility from watchmakers, and a new generation of watches has been emerging in which technical supremacy, deluxe styling and robust construction ensure the boundaries are well and truly blurred.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in white gold, 40.5mm, €38,500
A. Lange & Söhne, a brand admired for its patrician, black-tie timekeepers, has recently embraced a more diverse approach than usual with the recently launched Odysseus. It packs Lange’s customary horological punch with a distinct day/date display indicated through prominent windows either side of the dial, and assiduously hand-finished assemblies of gears and bridges underneath.
But its sturdy case design and utilitarian (by the brand’s standards) style mark the Odysseus out as a true all-rounder, whether in steel with a five-link bracelet, or in white gold with a silicone strap designed for active wear.
IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph, £17,600
The generalist style goes out to sea with the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph from IWC. The brand’s flagship Portugieser line evolved from a 1930s original with a dial rooted in classical marine chronometers, though the sportier Yacht Club version has been around as a niche option since 2010.
Now IWC has moved it front-and-centre, with an expanded collection that includes three versions available on a new, sturdy bracelet, mixing sportiness with pure luxe in the form of a two-tone version in steel and rose gold. It contains one of IWC’s most advanced in-house movements, Caliber 89361, a chronograph timer with added flyback functionality (so timing can be reset without first being stopped) and a power reserve of 68 hours.
Omega Constellation Master Co-axial Chronometer 41mm, £5,220
Largely left out of Omega’s conversation in recent years has been the Constellation, its glossiest watch, which has now been upsized to 41mm, upgraded with the brand’s high-tech Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement, and given a pick-and-mix of bracelet, strap and colour options. Those elements, and the streamlined, lug-free case design, make it a watch equipped for a life well lived.
If the textured dial and flamboyant bezel – including the flanking “claws” that have been a hallmark of the design since 1982 – add a kind of decadence absent from Seamasters and Speedmasters, Omega’s expertise in materials science is never far away. The bezel, in scratch-proof ceramic, is seamlessly inlaid with numerals in the ultra-tough amorphous alloy Liquidmetal. Is it a sports watch? Sort of. Is it dressy? Perhaps. Does it matter? Not one bit.
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