From fighter jets to outerspace, luxury sports watches draw from a vast range of inspirations

(Left) Outfit: Sheer turtleneck and trousers with pearl and logo charms by Dolce & Gabbana. Knoll chair from Lorgan’s The Retro Store. Watch: Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 ‘Night Diver’. (Right) Outfit: Wool military dress and slim leather waist belt by Bottega Veneta. Leather chair from Lorgan’s The Retro Store. Watch: Zenith Chronomaster Original. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

The definition of what makes a luxury sports watch has come a long way.

Back in 1972, customers baulked at paying 3,500 Swiss francs for a then-newly launched steel sports watch, believing the price tag to be ludicrous for a simple watch encased in a humble material.

The timepiece in question? Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak - a watch whose modern equivalent would cost several times more and has expanded to a hotly coveted collection offered in a variety of options spanning gem-studded models to sophisticated technical complications.

In today's world, the luxury sports watch is not so much a thing, but an idea.

Of course, one may perceive these timepieces to be aesthetically dynamic or casual, depending on the style, and associate their development with adventure and sports.

From an iconic race-inspired chronograph with a dial hewn from outer space, to modern pilot's and diver's watches paying tribute to classic fighter jets and created in actual collaboration with military personnel, the luxury sports watches of today span a vast range of inspirations, styles, functionalities and, as you would be happy to find out, price tags.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona


The world's most sought-after race-inspired chronograph gets imbued with space swagger this year.

Loved for its dynamic design, and complemented by a proprietary high-performance movement within, Rolex's latest Cosmograph Daytona models now come with metallic meteorite dials hewn from fragments of asteroids.

The intriguing textures and patterns on the dials are formed in a process that took millions of years, as the asteroids hurtle through space before landing on our planet.

Needless to say, no two meteorite dials are similar, which makes every Cosmograph Daytona model with a meteorite dial a truly unique timepiece.

Available in white gold, yellow gold or Everose gold.

Price: $47,150

Tudor Pelagos FXD


Away from the year's impressive roll-out of Black Bay watches, Tudor is ending 2021 with its other highly rated dive model - the Pelagos.

Designed in collaboration with the Marine Nationale, a specialist unit of the French Navy, the new Pelagos FXD pays tribute to an important part of the brand's history in the 1980s, when it started supplying timepieces to the French Navy.

Clad in titanium, the watch boasts dive-ready specifications including 200m water-resistance, a bidirectional bezel that acts as a compass to aid underwater navigation and, most distinctively, fixed strap bars that are machined as part of its monobloc titanium case for extra security.

Price: $5,370

IWC Big Pilot's Watch 43 Spitfire


IWC's Big Pilot's Watch series is a fixture among best-of lists when it comes to military-inspired watches.

Distinguished by high legibility with high contrast dials and large cases, as well as huge, tapered crowns that allow aviators easy actuation while wearing thick gloves, IWC's Big Pilot's Watches are just as cool on the ground, emanating relaxed and minimalist vintage-chic.

The Big Pilot's Watch 43 Spitfire hails from a series that pays homage to the jet-fighter plane of the same name.

This model features a throwback-style dial with five-minute markers at the outer circumference, commonly referred to as a "Type B" dial among pilot's watch collectors.

Housed in a 43mm titanium case, the Big Pilot's Watch 43 Spitfire ranks as the smallest Big Pilot's Spitfire model. Nonetheless, the watch still lives up to its name with its commanding presence.

Price: From $13,400

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 'Night Diver'


The beloved Aquaracer, a rare dive-inspired collection in Tag Heuer's mostly motor racing-inspired line-up, gets a new lease of life this year as the Aquaracer Professional 300.

While bearing familiar design features from the original, such as its trademark 12-sided unidirectional bezel and crown protector, the new line-up is upgraded with elements including integrated date magnifiers, increased water-resistance of 300m, and automatic movements.

With a slew of models to choose from, spanning 36mm to 42mm case sizes, as well as various dial colours, the Aquaracer Professional 300 'Night Diver' stands out most.

Clad in black PVD-coated steel, the watch brandishes a full green Super-LumiNova dial that pays homage to a vintage model from the 1980s.

Price: $4,700

Longines Spirit


Launched in 2020, the aviation-inspired Longines Spirit has been gaining traction among fans of pilot's watches.

Its winsome combination of classic and contemporary aesthetics, as well as technical sophistication endowed by movements bearing Controle Of ciel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC) certification, a quality assurance certification that guarantees top-rated timekeeping accuracy and is awarded to only about 6 per cent of all Swiss-made watches, makes the Spirit one of Longines' most talked about recent releases.

This year's version comes in a 42mm steel case with a military olive dial, lending the watch a neat retro appearance that is totally on-trend.

The watch sets itself apart with captivating details such as raised, luminescent hour markers and outstanding finishing on the case and bracelet for a touch of luxury.

Price: $3,640

Hermes H08


Most people associate Hermes with its highly exclusive leather bags, sophisticated fashionwear and, in the watchmaking sphere, artsy and technical timepieces.

The new H08, however, might go some way to change that notion.

Stylish, refined and loaded with athletic allure, the collection is what you would expect of a "casual and sporty" Hermes watch line.

Framed by soft curves on a rectangular profile, the monochromatic timepieces feature beautifully designed hour markers on dials with minute railway tracks accented by tiny orange arrow second hands.

And it is not just about looking good. The watch is powered by an automatic movement with 50 hours of power reserve that has been conceived entirely in-house by Hermes.

Price: From $7,950

Zenith Chronomaster Original


A feminine expression of the watch that won this year's Chronograph Prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve, the diamond-studded Chronomaster Original adds a touch of glamour to Zenith's signature high-frequency chronograph offering.

Festooned with precious stones on the hour markers and lugs, and featuring a mother-of-pearl dial, the Chronomaster Original is instantly imbued with womanly allure.

Slight cosmetic switch-up aside, this version is every bit the same cutting-edge mechanical chronograph as the men's variants, from the 38mm steel case and dial with tri-coloured totalisers to the famous El Primero 3600 movement inside that beats at a high frequency of 36,000vph to help measure time to one-tenth of a second.

Price: $19,000

Norqain Neverest GMT


A new-to-market brand to keep your eyes peeled for, Norqain impresses with solidly built timepieces driven by COSC-certified movements, matched by mid-luxury price points that will appeal to young, budding watch lovers.

Priced slightly below $6,000, the Neverest GMT demonstrates the aforementioned virtues with aplomb.

The watch features a two-time-zone complication (displayed via a separate 24-hour hand), driven by a robust movement with a 70-hour power reserve.

Of the three stainless steel options - all with black, textured dials featuring green, blue or orange accents - the orange option stands out with its stylish black DLC (diamond-like coating) finish.

Last but not least, in a nod to the brand's love for the outdoors, the watches are offered with vegan-certified rubber Nato straps.

Price: From $5,580

SPH Brightcove Video
For those looking for a very special timepiece to adorn their wrist – or the wrist of a loved one – there is ST's Crown & Bezel supplement.
Take a look behind the scenes at some of the shoots featuring some spectacular watches.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.