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XXL Luxury - Stealthy yet wealthy

XXL Luxury Stealthy yet wealthy

Wearing a luxury sports watch without it standing out is getting complicated. Luckily, there are options for the inconspicuous crowd.

It is becoming hard to wear an unobtrusive luxury sports watch. The late 2010s zeitgeist is definitely working on rehabilitating a certain type of horological boldness, epitomized by a rise in gold sports watches. Led by Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, the phenomenon seems to be as much based on the rarity of the aforementioned brands' steel models as on an unprecedented rise in worldwide wealth. It is especially the case in the United States, where customers have no problem showing their wealth in the least stealthy way imaginable. 

These sports watches' appeal is easily understood. They are sturdy, rugged, built for endurance and comfortable in all situations. Plus the current global crave for leisurewear, streetwear and dressed-down fashion has deeply influenced consumers' behavior and tastes. Yet, conspicuous value is not to everyone's horological taste. Even so for people who chase larger sports watches, either by taste or simply because their build dictates the need for the chunkier timepieces out there. Which begs the question: what can they wear that is large without overdoing it, bold without being a bad-look magnet?

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Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute © David Chokron/WorldTempus

Flying under the radar is simpler than one might think, because the overall impression of volume and glitter of a watch can be toned down with a few garden-variety tricks. The first is known to women all over the world: wear black. Girard-Perregaux gave the Laureato a bigger brother which dons a 44 mm case. But because it is entirely made of black-PVD titanium, the Laureato Absolute doesn't feel too big. The same goes for the 42-mm-across square divers' timepiece from Bell&Ross. When built entirely in black matte ceramic, a BR03-92 Diver doesn't invade your wrist space like a square watch usually would. The same argument could also be made for dark gray timepieces. Take the 100% ceramic Bulgari Octo Finssimo Solotempo for example: It is almost a square watch, it feels rather wide but the gray on gray, matte design lessens its bulk. The fact that it is only a 5.5-mm-thick case of course helps.

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Bell&Ross BR03-92 Diver © David Chokron/WorldTempus

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Bulgari Octo Finissimo Solotempo Céramique © David Chokron/WorldTempus

Indeed, size does matter when it comes to watches, but so does thickness. So let's follow up on the fashion metaphor and talk about fit. The way a timepiece sits on the wrist acutally defines the way it looks, although that fact is often neglected by our image-oriented culture. Caseback shape, lugs angle, curvature are defining design factors, especially so with Richard Mille. A RM 037 will look petite not only because it is narrower than the brand's usual. It is also extremely curved and sticks perfectly to the wrist's shape. The fact that it is a full carbon black watch of course helps.

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Richard Mille RM 037 © David Chokron/WorldTempus

The other trick is to choose a lesser-known item or brand. Anyone with minimal watch culture would spot a Royal Oak, a Submariner, a Big Bang in a blink of an eye. The same cannot be said of a Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback chronograph, which is definitely sporty and large. And within a brand, there are often alternative options to the superstars everyone will instantly recognize, which will allow one to go relatively unnoticed. Such is the case of the Aquanaut. Patek Philippe is indeed experiencing a growing success with their other sports watch, but is is nowhere near as crazy as that of the Nautilus. The fact that it is less expensive and almost always available of course helps.

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Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback © David Chokron/WorldTempus

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Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph © David Chokron/WorldTempus

Last possibility, size itself. Because no two cultures are the same, populations around the world have different builds, different wrist sizes and a different relationship with ostentation. Some countries will consider a 42-mm-wide pink gold beyond wearable. Others will deem it average, and easily go for an extra 2 mm. It is therefore possible to consider timepieces such as the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 discreet. It is made of white gold, which resembles steel, and the metal itself is not salient. It's the bezel and dial that do most of the work. And the fact that they are matte and black of course helps.

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Rolex Yacht Master 42 © David Chokron/WorldTempus

Brands

For Bell & Ross, each detail has a specific meaning and function: functionality is key, and minimalism – dispensing with superfluous ornamental details in favour of essential aspects – is vital.

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Bulgari has its own clear definition of excellence, which involves the perfect balance between design, added-value, quality of its products and its worldwide service. In the case of Bulgari...

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Watches of technical perfection and beauty, through tradition and the force of innovation. Carl F. Bucherer is an independent Swiss watchmaker with expertise in the production of precious...

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Ever since 1791, Girard-Perregaux has been pursuing its course in the best tradition of Fine Watchmaking. The Maison’s history has been characterised by legendary timepieces that combine...

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Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.

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Richard Mille did not simply try to find his place in the watchmaking world – he carved one out for himself, constantly striving not to take anything for granted, and to make innovation and extreme...

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