Except you could have been residing below a big rock lately, you’re most likely (and maybe fairly painfully) conscious that the basic metal sports activities watches designed by Gérald Genta for Audemars Piguet (Royal Oak) and Patek Philippe (Nautilus) are each past the monetary attain of most individuals and in lots of instances merely not obtainable for buy at retail even if you happen to can afford them.
This leaves sports activities watch fans little possibility apart from to contemplate comparable designs from different manufacturers.
To my thoughts, the factors for eligibility as a Royal Oak or Nautilus various are fourfold:
1. It must be an automated watch.
2. It ought to on an built-in metal bracelet.
3. It must be obtainable with a blue or black dial.
4. It ought to have a point of texture or construction and a bezel with one thing uncommon happening equivalent to high screws and/or a non-circular bezel (which is why the in any other case glorious Tissot PRX with its polished round bezel doesn’t make the reduce).
All of those components must be current with out crusing so near the wind that the watch is just a Royal Oak or Nautilus “homage.”
With no additional ado, listed below are some candidates which have caught my eye over the previous couple of years.
Maurice Lacroix Aikon
The Maurice Lacroix Aikon is a watch that wants no introduction to common Quill & Pad readers as Martin Inexperienced has already coated the Simon Nogueira version and Joshua Munchow the Grasp Grande Date.
Maurice Lacroix began life as a third-party watch provider within the Sixties earlier than launching below its present identify and discovering an important diploma of success within the mechanical renaissance period. The model introduced out the Aikon in 2016 as a remodeling of its “iconic” (pun supposed) Calypso mannequin from the Nineties, an accessible quartz mannequin that now appears as dated as Don Johnson’s mullet however that however bought greater than 100,000 models per yr in its heyday.
Its options have now been skillfully reworked in a metal sports activities watch that ticks all the standard and design bins after which some, notably with a brash orange-and-black model of its Grasp Grand Date having been donated to the 2021 Solely Watch public sale.
That includes a clous de Paris dial and “claws” on the bezel that echo the Calypso (and the Omega Constellation Manhattan in its up to date variations as nicely) the base-model Aikon runs on the ML 115 automated motion, which is a modified model of the Sellita SW 200-1.
The tapered, brushed, and polished metal bracelet, which owes extra to the model of the Royal Oak than the Nautilus, flows completely into the case and bezel. There’s additionally a surprising 42 mm Aikon with salmon dial (a shade that Maurice Lacroix calls “champagne”).
Ranging in worth between €1,500 and €2,000 relying on measurement and configuration, the Aikon hits a candy spot when it comes to worth and high quality.
Chopard Alpine Eagle
As with Maurice Lacroix and the Aikon, Chopard dug into its archives and revisited its Nineteen Eighties St. Moritz mannequin in 2019 to give you the Alpine Eagle.
The St. Moritz was basic Nineteen Eighties “look-at-me” wristwear in an analogous vein to Ebel’s El Primero chronograph (Don Johnson once more), however not sporty sufficient for the trendy period. Now that I point out it, doesn’t Ebel have a metal sports activities watch worthy of point out on this article? Really, it does: the blue-dial Sport Basic with its legendary wave bracelet (as sported by Don you-know-who) and screwed-down bezel, however it’s only a bit too dainty-looking to chop the mustard within the current firm. However I digress . . .
The Alpine Eagle is match for the twenty-first century with 4 pairs of screws on a brushed, spherical bezel, Nautilus “ears,” and an outstanding brushed/polished built-in bracelet, setting itself aside from the competitors with its III, VI, IX, and XII numerals on an “eagle’s iris” dial.
The Alpine Eagle is in the next worth bracket than the opposite watches talked about on this story, with the 36 mm blue-dial model beginning at round €9,000. However for that you simply get Chopard’s 09.01-C C.O.S.C.-certified chronometer motion with 42-hour energy reserve.
Girard Perregaux can declare an illustrious historical past going again to 1791 as a acknowledged manufacture able to producing its watches in-house, so the Laureato is a particular possibility in case you are on the lookout for a model with near-Trinity standing.
Girard-Perregaux launched the Laureato as a slim quartz sports activities watch in 1975, however this mannequin didn’t pack an automated motion till 1995 when it was fitted with in-house Caliber 3100.
Design-wise, the Laureato incorporates a screwless octagonal bezel that appears prefer it may very well be opened with a watchmaker’s case-back device and a tapered, polished center-link bracelet. It’s usually thought of to be considerably understated compared to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Patek Philippe Nautilus.
The Laureato Basic begins at €12,000 with a “pyramid” clous de Paris dial. The present 42 mm Eternity version incorporates a beautiful grand feu enamel dial in blue or inexperienced for €16,000.
Baume & Mercier Riviera Baumatic
Baume & Mercier’s Riviera was initially issued in 1973 as a quartz mannequin with a dodecagonal screwed-down bezel. Now up to date for contemporary tastes on an Oyster-style built-in bracelet, it combines the strong, sharply angled case harking back to the Maurice Lacroix Aikon with the Chopard Alpine Eagle’s Roman numerals.
Powered by a Sellita SW 200, at €2,650 it’s a good-looking various to the Maurice Lacroix, regardless of being only a bit costlier. However it’s price making an allowance for that the Michel Herbelin (beneath) provides the identical motion for lower than one-third of the value.
D1 Milano Automatico
Coming again down the value chain considerably, these on a finances or simply on the lookout for a enjoyable buy would possibly think about Italian model D1 Milano, based in 2013 by enterprise faculty graduate Dario Spallone.
This model’s base design is an all-steel watch within the Patek Philippe Nautilus model, particularly the bracelet, however with its personal quirky bezel form. The usual black or blue sports activities mannequin is offered from round €400 with a 24-jewel Miyota automated motion completed with côtes de Genève.
D1 Milano’s web site is gentle years forward of its somewhat staid Swiss opponents, providing an entertaining glimpse of its movie-themed collections (from Willy Wonka to 2001: A Area Odyssey), its Casi-Oak GShock-beating “Chupa Chups” assortment, and its “Shadow” proprietary black polycarbonate-finish watches. Vantablack for the plenty, maybe?
Michel Herbelin Cap Camarat
French firm Michel Herbelin has been assembling watches in its Jura workshop since 1947. Its Cap Camarat is a metal watch obtainable with a black, silver, or blue dial that includes a horizontal stripe harking back to a yacht’s decking, whereas the bezel options six screws.
The automated model runs on a Sellita SW-200 1 with 38-hour energy reserve and retails beneath €800, representing a lovely means right into a strong sports activities watch with a Swiss motion.
The one weak level for me is the bracelet, which though built-in with the case, is a type of reworked Oyster affair that lacks that aspect of sparkle that you really want on a watch of this kind.
So there you could have it. I’ve a gentle spot for the Maurice Lacroix Aikon as its bracelet integrates seamlessly with the case and round bezel design with its Constellation-style claws, and naturally for its engaging worth proposition. However I’m conscious that the identical motion could be had in less expensive watches.
Which is your favourite? Tell us within the feedback beneath.
Fast Information Maurice Lacroix Aikon “champagne dial”
Case: 42 x 11 mm, chrome steel, 200-meter water resistance
Motion: automated Caliber ML115 (based mostly on Sellita SW200-1), 38-hour energy reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Features: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Comment: quick-change strap and bracelet system
Fast Information Chopard Alpine Eagle
Case: 41 x 9.7 mm, Lucent Metal A223
Motion: automated Caliber Chopard 01.01-C; 60-hour energy reserve; 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, formally C.O.S.C. chronometer licensed
Features: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Value: CHF 12,450