We have seen literally thousands of great creations this year. Only 190 of them entered the competition for the best watches of 2012. Finally, the Jury of the 12th Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix (GPHG) selected the best 70 to stay in the final run for prestigious annual awards. Nine high-end watchmakers are still competing For the Best 2012 Sport Watch price, including the double winner Tag Heuer (2011 and 2006), the 2010 Winner Richard Mille, the 2004 Winner Panerai, as well as other eminent brands, such as Zenith, Harry Winston, Louis Moinet, Chanel, Hublot and Habring.
The names of all laureates will be announced at the prize-giving ceremony, on November 15, 2012 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, but I can bet that most of you already have your favorites. We have. I’m introducing to you our Top 9 List of the Best Sport Watches for 2012.
Tag Heuer MikrotourbillonS Chronograph
Last year’s winner in the Best Sport Watch Category, with its revolutionary Carrera Miktotimer Flying 1000 Chronograph, created another groundbreaking timepiece that has the great chance to bring the renowned watchmaker the second prize in a row. Being a part of the brand’s famous “Mikro” platform (a dual-frequency mechanism with two barrels), a MikrotourbillonS is the first TAG Heuer’s watch with a tourbillon complication(s). Yes, this masterpiece has two tourbillons, one that regulates time and another which regulates the chronograph.
By ensuring the consistency of the chronograph escapement that oscillates at the frequency of 360,000 beats per hour (50hz), this tourbillon makes a rotation every 5 seconds and provides the superb accuracy of 1/ 100th of a second. This makes it the fastest tourbillon in the world. The tourbillon that regulates the timekeeping escapement rotates once every minute. As you can conclude, the MikrotourbillonS has two escapements, as well as two barrels, which is the characteristic of all Mikro mechanisms. This extraordinary watch is also distinctive visually, showing a half-opened dial that partly reveals its stunning mechanism. Including its red gold case, and a tantalum bezel, the MikrotourbillonS seams like the perfect blend of sport, luxury and advanced technology.
Richard Mille RM 055 Bubba Watson Chronograph
This is a very special year for one of the youngest high-end watchmakers. At the prestigious Mexican Salon International Alta Relojeria, its RM Felipe Massa R 056 Sapphire Chronograph has just won the title of the “Best Watch of the Year”. The same model is also in the GPHG’s competition for the “Best Innovation Watch”, while its RM 052 Tourbillon Skull runs for the award in “Jewellery and Artistic Crafts Watch” category. A luxurious RM 051 Phoenix-Michelle Yeoh timepiece is competing for the Ladies’ Watch of the Year and finally, there is a Richard Mille 055 Bubba Watson Chronograph, as my second favorite for the Best Sport Watch in 2012.
Inspired by the last year’s RM 038 Bubba Watson Tourbillon, the new model that caries the name of the famous golf player and the brand’s ambassador features the Richard Mille’s signature skeletonized body and mechanism, made of extremely hard grade 5 titanium. Hand-finished in the finest watchmaking traditions, its RMUL2 Calibre hand-winding movement provides the long-term stability, reliability and superb resistance to accelerations of over 500-G’s. The robust, 42.7 x 49.9 mm case features a special construction in order to satisfy the highest demands of professional sportsmen. Its titanium parts are protected by a special rubber casing that also insulates the movement from all vibrations. Besides, it makes the watch very comfortable. Finally, for the ultimate resistance, there is an ATZ bezel, made of tubes of aluminum oxide powder injected at a pressure of nearly 2,000 bars, being one of the hardest materials in the world.
Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th Chronograph
A revolutionary event that occurred several weeks ago, made me move this watch to the third place. You probably already know what I am talking about. The entire world was watching an Austrian extreme explorer, Felix Baumgartner, making the freefall jump from 128,000 feet (24.2 miles). Fortunately, everything went perfectly and Baumgartner has become the first man to break the sound barrier. At the same time, his El Primero Stratos survived the freefall from the edge of the space without breakdowns.
As one of the main sponsors of the Red Bull Stratos mission, Zenith created this extraordinary watch, specially adapted to withstand all extreme conditions before and after the Baumgartner’s jump. “Learn to love what you have been taught to fear”. This is the Felix’s logo that is engraved on the case-back and which truly matches the character of the watch. This extremely resistant chronograph with the diameter of 45.5 mm is powered by an ultra-quality El Primero 4057B Caliber self-winding mechanism that oscillates at the super-high frequency of 36,000 beats per hour. This iconic movement provides superb chronograph accuracy up to 1/10th of a second and the fly-back function.
Harry Winston Ocean Sport™ Chronograph Limited Edition
A New York based producer of fine jewelry and highly complicated Swiss watches presented a unique sport model, made of ultra-rare Zalium™. It is harder than titanium, but also very light, hypoallergenic and highly resistant to corrosion. Unique to Harry Winston, this material gives the watch a powerful, hi-tech, futuristic look.
The hi-tech design of a three-dimensional dial represents a sporty interpretation of iconic Harry Winston’s arches. At first sight, it is a bit confused, but soon after, the dial opens every its part, clearly marked by authentic shape and color shade, demonstrating a high level of artistry. The geometrical approach is particularly expressed through the arrangement of chronograph minute and hour counters, which additionally increases the sense of depth. A date disk is also visible, showing a date through the aperture at the 12 o’clock position. Through the window at the 2 o’clock position, an electric blue-accented decoration is revealed. It is a Shuriken, a symbolic element in the Harry Winston design, which represents the dynamic nature of the collection.
The Ocean Sport™ Chronograph Limited Edition has a robust, 44mm case, a rotating bezel and a rubber strap. It is powered by a self-winding mechanism. Considering its superb water-resistance up to 200 meters (660 feet), it seams like the perfect watch for diving activities.
Louis Moinet Jules Verne Instrument III Chronograph
Inspired by Captain Nemo, the protagonist of Verne’s 1869 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Louis Moinet decided to create a Jules Verne Instrument III, the high-quality chronograph that would surly be a pretty helpful tool to Nemo, during his underwater adventures.
Jules Verne Instrument III is a bold looking sport watch, with its case made of extremely hard and light Grade 5 titanium and an upper bezel, crafted in 18 karat rose gold. Nicely polished titanium and gold underline a stunning black dial with the Louis Moinet’s signature Côtes du Jura guilloche and rose gold inserts. The 30-minute chronograph is operated by a subaquatic-looking monopusher at the 2 o’clock position. Besides, there is an interesting function indicator at the 5 o’clock position (start, stop, or reset), inspired by the famous Chadburn telegraph transmitters on historical ships, as well as the small-second sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position. The transparent case-back reveals a self-winding mechanism, featuring beautifully engraved plates and bridges with a Côtes du Jura motif, as well as a distinctive open-worked, ballbearing-mounted rotor. This cool timepiece has the diameter of 45.5 mm and provides water-resistance up to 100 meters.
Hublot Oceanographic 1000 Dive Chronograph
In association with the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, the renowned Swiss watchmaker developed another remarkable diving watch. This is more a mainstream model than the spectacular Oceanographic 4000 watch that Hublot released last year. With the great water resistance up to 1000 meters (3300 feet), the Oceanographic 1000 is suitable to the most extreme diving activities. Besides, with its large orange chronograph hand, it provides a chronograph function which is highly useful to divers. The watch is powered by a HUB4160 self-winding movement with a black PVD tungsten open-worked rotor.
This extremely robust Hublot Oceanographic 1000 is made of titanium. The characteristic, 48 mm case with Hublot’s signature shape incorporates satin-finished titanium bezel, secured by 6 H-shaped, black PVD titanium screws. An inner bezel can be rotated via a 10 o’clock crown, which is the key feature for the safe handling under water. Another great feature is an innovative “quick change” strap system. A mat black dial with blue and yellow inserts is highly readable, thanks to yellow and white luminescent markers and central hands with green luminosity. A case-back is made of satin-finished titanium, engraved with the Museum Oceanographic Logo.
Habring Doppel 2.0 Split-Seconds Chronograph
Austrian small-scale watch manufacturers, Maria and Richard Habring, aka Habring², created a stunning, split-seconds chronograph, distinctive by its beautiful, classic sport design, as well by high-end technology which has been developed and improved over the past 20 years. Working on the concept that Richard Habring introduced two decades ago, at the beginning of his career, Habrings improved functionality of the original patent that resulted in the production of the Doppel 2.0, in a symbolic edition of 20 pieces.
In addition to its superior accuracy and reliability, an A08MR Calibre hand-winding mechanism provides a chrono rattrapante or a double ( split-seconds) chronograph. Operated by a third pusher at the left side of the case, two central second hands can move separately. Thus, while the first hand is counting seconds, the second one can be stopped to record intermediate times. The vintage design of a brown dial is absolutely beautiful, presenting a woody pattern and two large sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock positions. The round, stainless steel case of the Doppel 2.0 has the diameter of 42 mm and it is covered with sapphire crystal on both sides.
Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica – 44 mm
This year, at the SIHH watch show, Officine Panerai presents a truly unique watch -Tuttonero. By combining the iconic Luminor 1950 case and the classic Panerai bracelet, the famous Italian watchmaker created a timepiece that is both, the reinterpretation of the past and the representative of the most advanced technologies. The Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica or, more simply, Tuttonero is entirely crafted in matt black ceramic. This is a synthetic material based on zirconium oxide powder which is five times harder than stainless steel, providing excellent resistant to scratches, corrosive agents and high temperatures.
With its color, a sandwich style dial perfectly matches a nicely curved bracelet, as well as a 44mm case with a characteristic crown-protector. The readability is superb, even in the dark, thanks to ecru Super-LumiNova® that covers numerals and hands. This could be very useful under-water, on the maximum depth of 100 meters (330 feet).
This vintage sport watch is powered by a P.9001/B caliber self-winding mechanism. Completely developed and made in the Officine Panerai manufacture, this hi-end movement ensures three days of power reserve. Since it is visible through the sapphire crystal case-back, it has undergone a blackening process to give the watch an “all in black” appearance.
Chanel J12 Matte Black GMT
The fact that I listed this watch as the last one does not mean I like it less than others. As a matter of fact, I would choose this exquisite model for everyday wear rather than several robust, hi-tech models from the list. The reason is simple. A new Chanel Matte Black GMT watch looks truly amazing. Although the Chanel’s J12 Collection has already earned the reputation of the cult object, the renowned watchmaker took another step forward with the new timepiece, while keeping the strong identity of the line. The secret is in the special treatment of ceramic case and bracelet, for a distinctive deep black shade that additionally increases the masculinity of the watch.
Inspired by the nautical world, a large and deep dial features a beautiful interplay among the 24-hour scale, at the outer rim, the 12-hour scale in the middle and the minute track, in the center. The GMT hand with the red arrow shows the time in the second time zone. Inside the 41mm case, there is a high-quality automatic mechanism with 42 hours of power-reserve.
If you find these watches thrilling, you can vote for your favorite on the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix’s official website www.gphg.org and help it win the Prix du Public.