What Makes a Sport Watch, a Sport Watch?

What’s a “sport” watch? What makes a watch distinctly “sporty”? These seem like simple questions, but there’s no simple answer. There’s a big difference between sport watches and those used for fitness and athletics. For the purposes of this article, we’re referring to non-electronic timepieces only.

Some will say that what you use your watch for is how the watch is classified. There is merit to this, since you wouldn’t normally take your classy Sun and Moon watch on an outdoor camping trip (but if you do, more power to you!). While defining what a sport watch is isn’t as cut and dry as a classic watch, the following are guidelines that many follow.

Features

The bells and whistles on a watch often dictate if the watch is sporty or not, and in general, sport watches are equipped with a bunch.

  • Functional Bezels – GMT and Diver bezels (and others), are extremely nifty, for everything from adjusting to a new time zone to timing how long the cake has been in the oven.
  • Lume – Sure, some dressy and classic-looking watches have a little bit of lume, but usually not applied as liberally as what you’d find on a sport piece, like the Mako USA II.
  • Water Resistance – You’re likely to see a bump in water resistance, from 30m and 50m to upwards of 100m to 200m (or more!). Sport watches by nature are more robust, sometimes equipped with screwed-down crowns.
  • Shock Resistance – A means to keep the movement in place and protect it from any bumps along the way. The Triton is equipped with our own special casing structure that supports the movement and the dial against impact.
  • Chronograph – A tool to measure time elapsed.
  • Tachymeter – A common feature in modern sport pieces that’s used to measure speed.

Design

Functions are one thing, but looks play a bigger role.

  • Dial – We’ve said before that features influence design: The more features in a watch, the busier or nuanced the dial looks. This is certainly the case with most sport watches, but not a requirement.
  • Case – This is three-fold: size, finish, and materials. Most Orient sport watches hover around 41-44mm, while others out there have ballooned to a size larger. Sport watches usually skip the frills and shine with a brushed finish (or, matte, if you’re the Defender watch), which is nifty for hiding minor scratches. And while classic watches may be made with precious metals, a sport watch may be forged in something a little more modest, like stainless steel.
  • Band – Rubber straps, metal bracelets and even NATO straps are the norm for sport watches, especially in a casual setting.


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