Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you probably are aware that the prices for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus have skyrocketed. These are creations of the great Gérald Genta, who, along with the IWC Ingenieur, designed the famous trilogy of modern luxury sports watches back in the 1970s. They set the standard for modern watch design as we know it today.
The idea? Genta set out to develop modern luxury sports watches featuring a groundbreaking overall design, an integrated bracelet, and a very slim profile. The slim profile was pivotal in creating his trilogy and was only made possible by groundbreaking ultra-thin movements. These three distinct features formed a standard that many brands have tried to replicate with their designs. But it’s proven difficult to top the master. Over the past couple of years, however, we’ve seen other brands come up with their own modern sports watches that use the design principles set by Genta and who have successfully created their version of a modern sports watch. The good news: these potential future classics are much more affordable than the Royal Oak and Nautilus. Let’s meet the Moser & Cie Streamliner, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo, and the Czapek Antarctique.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo
Let’s start with the name that most of you will probably know. Bvlgari is a luxury brand that has been around since 1884. Although it has sold watches since the early 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Bvlgari made serious strides into the world of watchmaking. The iconic Bvlgari Bvlgari collection debuted in the late 70s and is still popular to this day. Its design was inspired by antique Roman coins and is the product of none other than Gérald Genta. So it was no surprise when, in 2000, Bvlgari decided to acquire the brand Gérald Genta had released watches under in the ’80s and ’90s.
This also explains why Bvlgari would create a watch inspired by Genta’s original designs. In 2014, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon set off a string of record-breaking Octo Finissimo models. The most significant timepiece aiming at a wider audience was the Octo Finissimo Automatic introduced in 2017. Not only was it the then-thinnest automatic watch ever produced, but it also showed how incredible the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo’s design was. It proved that Bvlgari had succeeded in creating an original watch using Genta’s principles without copying the design.
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo’s defining features are its 40-mm angular and faceted case that is only 5.25 mm thick, an iconic dial with stunning open-worked hands, the ultra-thin in-house caliber BVL 138 visible through the display case back, and a super comfortable integrated bracelet that hugs the wrist. Bvlgari uses different materials with excellent, understated finishes for this timepiece.
The first Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic came in sandblasted titanium. Sandblasted black ceramic and satin-brushed stainless steel followed soon afterward. The last version is the one that has the potential to become an industry classic. You can choose between a blue, black, or silver dial for the ultimate monochromatic look, just like the original titanium edition. The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo has a list price of about $13,000, and prices on Chrono24 start at roughly $9,000, making it much more affordable than the icons it was inspired by.
H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner
The second watch on our list is the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner. For those of you that don’t know H. Moser & Cie., don’t sweat it. For the people that do, you know that the brand has released quite a few remarkable watches since the name was introduced to the public. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say “reintroduced” because the company H. Moser & Cie., first founded in 1828 by Heinrich Moser, saw its name disappear from the watch world during the quartz crisis only to reemerge in 2005.
Since then, the brand has been releasing great “traditionally” styled watches with stunning movements that often come with a twist. Funky dial colors executed to perfection? How about a solid black dial? And not just any black dial: The H. Moser & Cie. Venturer concept watch features a Vantablack® dial manufactured out of the darkest material known to humankind. Or check out the Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade, a mechanical timepiece that pokes a bit of fun at smartwatches. These watches’ materials, execution, and movements are all top-notch.
Late 2019 gave us the first glimpses of a modern steel sports watch from H. Moser & Cie.: the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph. Praised upon release, it features stunning looks and the fantastic HMC 902 movement developed in partnership with AGENHOR SA. The design is 1970s-inspired, offering retro vibes; however, on the wrist, it feels very much like a modern watch.
Roughly a year later, H. Moser & Cie. introduced the Streamliner Centre Seconds, which was essentially the simple time-only version of the Streamliner. Although I say “simple,” this is anything but a simple watch. The Streamliner is a true work of art that started – interestingly enough – with the development of its bracelet. Then came the 40-mm case (that is just under 12 mm thick) and dial. The bracelet is truly special, with plenty of details and superb finishing. Throw in its Matrix Green fumé dial and impressive HMC 200 caliber, and you’ve got a true winner. The Streamliner Centre Seconds had a price of around $22,500 upon its release but sold out fast. Currently, the prices on the Chrono24 marketplace are between roughly $35,000 and $50,000.
Czapek Genève Antarctique
The last watch of this new trilogy of modern luxury sports watches is the Czapek Genève Antarctique. This young company was relaunched in 2015 and has plenty of history connected to none other than Patek Philippe. François Czapek and Antoine Norbert de Patek, both Polish emigrants, founded the watchmaking company Patek, Czapek & Cie. on May 1, 1839. Although their partnership only lasted six years, Czapek made a name for himself as one of the best watchmakers in the world. But the brand would not live on to see modern times…
…until in 2015 when Czapek Genève was relaunched. Like H. Moser & Cie., the brand initially created more traditionally styled timepieces rather than sports watches. But when Czapek introduced its first modern luxury steel sports watch, people were genuinely excited. The Czapek Antarctique is clearly inspired by the looks of the 1970s while having its feet firmly planted in the present. The slim, seemingly simple case has plenty of character with its sharp lines and offers the perfect canvas for its stunning dials. The first series, which debuted in 2020, was the Terre Adélie with four incredible dial color options. Additionally, its integrated bracelet is a work of art and features a mix of brushed and polished finishes.
Another thing that stands out is its brilliant caliber SXH5 visible through the watch’s display case back. It combines traditional watchmaking skills with modern-day execution. Not long after the initial 200 pieces sold out (50 copies of each dial color), the brand introduced the Antarctique Passage de Drake. This model has a different dial with a beautiful pattern and an updated overall design. It comes with a black, blue, or white dial, all three of which are stunning. However, Czapek kept the case design and the bracelet of the Terre Adélie, creating a second version that looks slightly different but no less impressive. You can buy a Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake for $25,000, while the sold-out Terre Adélie goes for roughly $30,000 on Chrono24. It’s a substantial amount of money, to be sure, but what you get in return is simply brilliant.
Are these the new watch icons of the future? Only time will tell. What’s certain, however, is that they form a great trio of modern luxury sports watches that continues the legacy of Genta’s iconic timepieces. They all feature unique, outstanding designs, brilliantly engineered integrated bracelets, stunning movements, and look amazing on anyone’s wrist. Two out of three of these watches sell on Chrono24 for more than their original list price, providing a pretty good indication of their popularity. But consider this: What if you could buy all three of these watches for less than a single Royal Oak or Nautilus? What would your choice be? I certainly know what I would do!