Dark grey watch with black dial and large luminous numbers on dark grey strap.
Hamish Robertson, Sep 23 2022

Adventure Watches for Any Activity

Adventure Watches for Any Activity

Many people want a watch they never have to worry about, even if they are doing something really quite adventurous where the watch may get wet, muddy, or even take a few knocks. Today's Blog Post will highlight some of the watches that will remain waterproof, take a battering, and deliver reliable performance throughout.

A Breitling Avenger, a small but tough range of watches that have always been popular with adventurous Breitling fans.

A Breitling Avenger, a small but tough range of watches that have always been popular with adventurous Breitling fans.

Military Watches and Military-Inspired Tough Watches

The evolution and adoption of the Wristwatch were driven by the needs of soldiers in World War I, and timepieces designed for military uses have a very interesting history. The common format was landed upon in the 1930s, with a dark dial and matt finish case to prevent unwanted reflections, large luminous numerals and hands to allow for easy use at night, and often a very strong strap that sometimes wrapped twice around the wrist.

A WWII Military watch designed for the British Army.

A WWII Military watch designed for the British Army.

There was ongoing development for military and commercial pilots that shared similar features, and these directly led to the Pilot's watches we see today. In World War II the invention of Scuba diving led to the need for specific tough watches for underwater missions. Both pilot's watches and diving watches are very interesting places to look for tough and rugged watches that could be used for all sorts of adventurous activities.

Some brands still make watches issued by the military, such as CWC of the UK and Marathon of Canada, and some brands create watches in partnership with the military, such as Bremont. The most recent watch developed for James Bond in the film No Time to Die draws on many of these military influences, while still remaining a Dive Watch from Omega's Seamaster Professional Range. If you join our events this month with Omega and Bremont, you can see these watches up close.

The CWC Dive Watch issued to the UK Special Forces Unit, the Special Boat Service, is also available to buy by consumers.

The CWC Dive Watch issued to the UK Special Forces Unit, the Special Boat Service, is also available to buy by consumers.

Marathon SAR (Prior Model), Marathon issues watches to the Candian Armed Forces.

Marathon SAR (Prior Model), Marathon issues watches to the Candian Armed Forces.

A Bremont Broadsword in Bronze. The Broadsword range is made in official partnership with the UK Armed Forces.

A Bremont Broadsword in Bronze. The Broadsword range is made in official partnership with the UK Armed Forces.

The Omega Seamaster Professional made for the James Bond film, No Time to Die, and featuring in the current Omega Range.

The Omega Seamaster Professional made for the James Bond film, No Time to Die, and featuring in the current Omega Range.

Field Watches

The term field watch literally means a watch that can be used in the field, meaning the field of battle. This tradition comes from watches issued in the Second World War and afterwards to soldiers serving in various wars from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The design has similar hallmarks of military use, with the main distinction being the addition of the 24 hour numbers on the dial, and increased use of luminous material.

Today we see a variety of watches available with the Field Watch Design from multiple brands. Arguably the most famous are from the US brand Hamilton, which manufactured and produced a huge number of them for issue to US Soldiers in the Vietnam war, and today sell an up to date example. These watches remain very popular and are often seen as a very affordable everyday watch.

Hamilton Khaki Field Watch from the current Collection, based on the 1970s Military Issue Watch.

Hamilton Khaki Field Watch from the current Collection, based on the 1970s Military Issue Watch.

Timex Expedition North Field Post Solar Watch in Grey, with a Classic Field watch design dial.

Timex Expedition North Field Post Solar Watch in Grey, with a Classic Field watch design dial.

Modern Tough Mechanical Watches

Today's watchmakers have a huge amount of different technologies and tactics they can use to make their watches stand up to any activity. Some even market themselves as unbreakable watches. We see Dive watches that can reach incredible depths, and these would also stand up to most activities above ground. The last few decades have seen many new approaches to making a watch tough, such as the famous Casio G-Shock which encases the entire movement in rubber.

Some companies make extra tough cases, using a single piece design known as a Monocoque case. One very famous example of this is the Citizen ProMaster Tough, well-loved by outdoor enthusiasts and divers since its introduction, and it has a high-grade Titanium case. Many watch brands offer extra tough titanium cases for their more adventurous watches, often with high water resistance ratings to reassure buyers that the watch can withstand anything that can be thrown at it.

Today, some brands such as Rolex, Montblanc, IWC and Bremont sponsor endurance athletes and mountaineers who take their watches into the most extreme environments.

A Citizen ProMaster Tough Ray Mears with a Monocoque, or single piece Titanium Case.

A Citizen ProMaster Tough Ray Mears with a Monocoque, or single piece Titanium Case.

A smart, small ladies G-Shock that is still super tough and 100m waterproof.

A smart, small ladies G-Shock that is still super tough and 100m waterproof.

Tough Adventure Smartwatches

While smartwatches are only the latest evolution of nearly 50 years of digital watches, they are still regarded as fragile by many. We have now reached the point where even the most complicated smartwatches are made to be tough and suitable for many outdoor activities.

The new Apple Watch Ultra has a titanium case, a new bezel designed to help protect the screen, larger and sturdier buttons, and an amazing array of features. These include a depth gauge down to 40m allowing its use as a Dive computer, microphones designed to be used in bad weather, and a speaker to sound an alarm in an emergency.

Samsung also makes a Pro version of their top Smartwatch, also with a Titanium case and increased protective crystal thickness. Other brands such as Suunto and Garmin make very complex smartwatches for specific sports, and these are tested to destruction by their featured athletes.

Apple Watch Pro in Tiranium with active straps for different uses.

Apple Watch Pro in Tiranium with active straps for different uses.

Samsung Pro 5 Watch in Titanium

Samsung Pro 5 Watch in Titanium

Conclusion

Modern watches from reputable brands are often very well made, with high standards of reliability and able to withstand knocks and blows pretty well thanks to good movement and case design. If you want a tough timepiece to accompany you through all kinds of outdoors activities, then we recommend exploring the types of watch mentioned above. At our Meetups we often see watches of all kinds from the toughest field watch to a fancy gold dress watch, and many digital watches too. You can find more details on our Events page, and if you found this article interesting, please share it with anyone else you know who likes watches.

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