Guides Watches

18 Rugged Outdoor Watches and Daily Beaters Ready for Adventure

Marathon Arctic GSAR

Adventure is about exploring and exploring is about going places you’ve never been before, blazing a trail, taking the path less trodden and, quite possibly, getting lost. But then, knowing where you are in the world is the essence of a true explorer, whether you’re mid-expedition or a digital nomad travelling the world (but still needing to hold down a job back home). What you need at your side is a rugged outdoor watch or daily beater that can keep up with you. A timepiece that can withstand the elements – rain, wind, ice… rocks – and help you navigate the intricacies of making your own, unique way across the world.

Citizen Promaster Tough

Citizen Promaster Tough

Citizen produce one of the most versatile ranges of accessible watches on the market ranging from technical GPS watches to chronographs to this, the Promaster Tough. The Promaster Tough does away with any over the top complications and focusses purely on rugged durability and being, well, tough. Hence the 41mm super titanium case with 200m water resistance and eco-drive movement providing heaps of reliability. Super titanium is what Citizen call their titanium that’s treated with a scratch resistant coating, alleviating one of the metals weaknesses.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter, Super Titanium™ case, black dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Eco-Drive quartz
Strap: Super Titanium™ bracelet with fold over clasp
Price: £429

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Spinnaker Croft 3912 GMT Automatic Wet Suit Black

Spinnaker Croft 3912 GMT Automatic Wet Suit Black

The Spinnaker Croft 3912 GMT Automatic Wet Suit Black deserves an honourable mention in relation to being an excellent alternative to the Rolex Explorer II, the only thing that prevents it being included in that article is the fact it has a rotating bezel rather than a fixed one. It has a 39mm diameter steel case water resistant to 150m with a unidirectional 24-hour bezel that corresponds to the GMT hand on the dial. This Wet Suit Black edition has, unsurprisingly, a black dial although it’s also available in orange, yellow and turquoise.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 13mm thickness, stainless steel case, black
Water resistance: 150m (15 bar)
Movement: Seiko calibre NH34, automatic, 24 jewels, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 41h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with additional silicon strap
Price: £433

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Luminox Bear Grylls Mountain

Luminox Bear Grylls Mountain

Bear Grylls is the archetypal adventurer. A former SAS serviceman who has become the symbol for wilderness survival having summited Mount Everest and explored the wilds of Alaska in the company of Barack Obama. He’s put his name to the Luminox Bear Grylls Mountain 43mm outdoor watch made from CARBONOX, their proprietary carbon composite material. That makes it super lightweight and durable, ideal for survival out in the field. Another key to survival is the inscription of Bear Grylls’ motto “Never Give Up” because maintaining a strong mentality is the most important trick to surviving.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 13mm thickness, CARBONOX™ case, black dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Ronda 515 quartz
Strap: Rubber
Price: £499

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Stirling Upham

Stirling Upham

In case the military inspirations behind this macho take on the Explorer II formula aren’t clear, its blacked out case and striking typography hammer it home. The Upham pairs a bold, stealthy aesthetic with the genuine usefulness (to soldier or civilian) of a second time zone, while the DLC coating ups the damage resistance for a proper tool watch that can take a proper beating. And yes, that beating has been tested out by Stirling’s founder – who’s still a serving soldier. If that’s not a guarantee that the Upham is more than fit for purpose, nothing is.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 11mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Seiko calibre NH34, automatic, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 41h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £550

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Boldr Expedition 1 Rub Al Khali

Boldr Expedition 1 Rub’ Al Khali

Pretty much every Boldr is built for adventure to some extent, with rugged outdoor field watches being the accessible brand’s hardwearing bread-and-butter. As the name suggests however, the Expedition takes that a bit further by including a rotating inner compass bezel, operable by the Compressor-style dual-crown layout. In this particular version, the style’s amped up with a sandy dial inspired by the Arabian Desert’s ‘Empty Quarter’, easily read by day or night thanks to the fact that the whole dial is lumed. If Lawrence of Arabia was around now, he’d be wearing something like this.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 14mm thickness, stainless steel case, matte full lume dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW200-1, automatic, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Brown canvas fabric
Price: £588, limited to 300 pieces

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Seiko Silfra Prospex Tortoise European Limited Edition

Seiko ‘Silfra’ Prospex Tortoise European Limited Edition

The exploration focused, land-lubbering version of the superb Seiko Turtle, this version of the Tortoise is a European exclusive and, for once, it’s seriously cool. The main change between turtle and tortoise is the bezel and here that compass-equipped rotating scale has been given a two-tone look in greeny-brown and black. It’s been paired with a textured dial like igneous rock and the result is a darker, Icelandic feeling watch that, with 200m water resistance, is as good in water as it is on land.

Case/dial: 45.2mm diameter stainless steel case, green dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Seiko calibre 4R35, automatic, 23 jewels, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 41h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £650, limited to 1,400 pieces, exclusively in Europe

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Charlie Paris Concordia Kraken

Charlie Paris Concordia Kraken

Designed to survive sub-zero temperatures and the coldest of elements, the original Concordia crossed the Antarctic on the wrist of explorer Matthieu Tordeur in his record-breaking solo venture. Needless to say, it’s a survivor, a seriously rugged outdoor tool watch but one that’s as well suited to everyday wear and tear as the harshest environments on Earth – or a nice warm stretch of coastline, given its professional-standard water resistance. The Kraken version is a Gorpcore-inspired, stealthy take on the formula for a darker, more urban take on the otherwise utilitarian formula. Backed by a solid automatic movement, it’s also a lot of watch for the money.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 12.5mm thickness, stainless steel case with black PVD coating, black dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Soprod calibre P024, automatic, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 40h power reserve
Strap: Leather or nylon fabric with pin buckle
Price: £800

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Laco Sports Watch Mojave

Laco Sports Watch Mojave

The Laco Sports Watch Mojave is inspired by one of the most fearsome creatures in the world, the scorpion. Small with a hard exoskeleton and dangerous, sometimes deadly, weapons. Fortunately, the Laco Mojave is mostly inspired by the first two aspects of a scorpion with a 39mm diameter stainless steel case. The only claws and stinger present come courtesy of the depiction of a scorpion on the caseback. The Mojave name comes from the orange colouration giving it a desert vibe, appropriate for the focal insect.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 13mm thickness, stainless steel case, black matte dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Laco calibre 200 (base: Sellita SW200), automatic, 26 jewels, 38h power reserve
Strap: Black rubber with stainless steel buckle
Price: £810

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William Wood Fearless

William Wood Fearless

There aren’t many professions out there tougher than firefighting. Intentionally running into burning buildings to save the lives of complete strangers. British brand William Wood are inspired by these heroics and have created a rugged tool watch as tough as the firefighters themselves. It’s called the Fearless and features a 40mm stainless steel case with stealthy black IP plating for added scratch resistance and a smouldering appearance when combined with the red dial accents. A rugged outdoor watch ready for the worst the world has to throw at it.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 13.8mm thickness, stainless steel case with black IP coating, textured charcoal dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Seiko calibre NH35, automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 41h power reserve
Strap: Firehose rubber
Price: £920

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Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition

Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition

The Khaki Field is an adventuring staple and has been since its roots as the quintessential military watch of WWII. The newest take however moves a step away from its strict, utilitarian roots and embraces the ethos of exploration with a new compass bezel, marked with the cardinal points. With a brief primer on how to use your watch as a compass, it makes following north using the sun that much easier, wrapped in a handsome 37mm (or 41mm if you’re after something a bit beefier) case and protected by a screw-down crown. Underneath it all is the superb H-10 movement with a weekend expedition-proof 80-hour power reserve.

Case/dial: 37mm diameter x 11.45mm, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Hamilton calibre H-10, automatic, 25 jewels, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 80h power reserve
Strap: Calf leather with pin buckle
Price: £965

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Alpina Startimer Pilot

Alpina Startimer Pilot

Alpina’s Startimer Pilot has a 41mm stainless steel case with a dark grey titanium PVD coating that gives a cool, tactical outdoor tool watch aesthetic. It’s also one of the most pared back designs in the range going sans worldtimer or chronograph to focus on the pure essentials of a time and date timepiece. Adding a flash of colour to the model is the red counterbalance to the seconds hand shaped like the Alpina triangle logo. It almost reminds of a ripcord on a parachute or something.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 11.5mm thickness, stainless steel and titanium case with PVD coating, matte grey dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Alpina calibre AL-525, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Grey rubber with grey stitching
Price: £1,095

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Marathon Arctic GSAR

Marathon Arctic GSAR

Marathon’s Arctic GSAR is named after “Government Search and Rescue”, the official search and rescue service dedicated to finding and protecting individuals in crisis across both land and sea. It measures 41mm in diameter so that it’s easy to read at a glance and features 300m water resistance so that it can withstand anything an SAR specialist might encounter on the job. It’s designed to be as robust as possible for optimal performance during emergencies.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 14mm thickness, stainless steel case, white dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW200, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Black rubber
Price: £1,620

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Doxa Sub 300T Clive Cussler

Doxa Sub 300T Clive Cussler

The Doxa Sub 300T Clive Cussler is a true explorer’s outdoor watch, inspired by the adventure stories penned by Clive Cussler such as Pacific Vortex and Sahara (adapted for films like Sahara and Fool’s Gold where Matthew McConaughey plays the lead character, Dirk Pitt). In fact, some of Cussler’s stories actually reference Doxa watches. The watch itself is a 42.5mm x 44.5mm tonneau piece with 120m water resistance and a dial featuring an old-style compass. On top of that, the entire piece has been given a patina to make it look like an adventurer’s heirloom, weathering a lifetime as a rugged outdoor watch.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 13.65mm thickness, aged stainless steel case, handmade decorative dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Swiss movement, automatic, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel beads of rice bracelet
Price: £2,590

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Van Brauge Meridian Explorer Americas

Van Brauge Meridian Explorer Americas

The 1950s saw the dawning of the age of aviation, allowing people to travel and explore more than ever before. The Meridian by British watch brand Van Brauge evokes that golden age with both a gorgeous, vintage brown dial and an immensely satisfying compass bezel. It’s cool, evocative and ready to steer you in the right direction (if you’ve read our how-to on using your watch as a compass, of course). That adventure-ready vibe isn’t just skin deep either; the Meridian Explorer is both anti-magnetic, thanks to an inbuilt Faraday cage, and highly shock-resistant.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 16mm thickness, stainless steel case, two-tone graduated brown dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Automatic
Strap: Black Italian leather
Price: £2,795, limited to 150 watches

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Ball Engineer III Outlier

Ball Engineer III Outlier

Low light reading is always a consideration on a long expedition, especially if that trek takes you to places where the sun refuses to rise for weeks on end. In that way, Ball’s signature H3 gas tubes are the ultimate night-time solution, glowing brighter than any lume. Paired with a robust 40mm stainless steel case and manufacture traveller GMT calibre in the Engineer III Outlier – not to mention serious anti-magnetic resistance – this is a rugged outdoor watch designed to take you to the cold, polar extremes of the world and back, and look good doing so.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 13.8mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Ball calibre RRM7337-C, automatic, COSC-certified
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £3,100

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Bremont S302 Jet

Bremont S302 Jet

Bremont’s S302 Jet is a stealthy GMT built for the global traveller. The 40mm stainless steel case with DLC coating is scratch resistant and durable with 300m water resistance for adventures in the deep. Plus, the Modified Calibre 11 1/2’’’ BE-932AV is equipped with a Glucydur balance wheel, Anachron balance spring and Nivaflex mainspring, helping to make it shock and magnetic field resistant. And of course, the GMT function allows you to keep track of multiple time zones at the same time, which is great for travellers. There’s also the hidden functionality of a GMT that while caving you can use the 24-hour scale to keep track of daylight hours.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 13mm thickness, stainless steel case with black DLC coating, black metal dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Bremont modified calibre BE-932AV, automatic, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 50h power reserve
Strap: Black integrated rubber with pin buckle clasp
Price: £3,700

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Rolex Explorer 40

Rolex Explorer 40

Earlier this year Rolex released the new Explorer 40, increasing the diameter to 40mm from the standard 39mm. Despite the change in size it retains the style of its truly vintage design, first developed in the 1930s. It is the archetype rugged outdoor tool watch with a hyper legible dial and go anywhere, do anything attitude. Powering the Rolex Explorer 40 is the calibre 3230 with automatic winding and a power reserve of 70-hours. As with most Rolex manufacture movements it has superlative chronometer certification.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Rolex calibre 3230, automatic, 31 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 70h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £6,450

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Richard Mille RM032

Richard Mille RM032

Ok, yes, no one in their right mind would ever wear a £240,000+ watch for something so scratch/abrasion/shock/loss prone as an expedition. You wouldn’t even wear it as a daily beater regardless of how much of a rugged outdoor watch it is – unless you were contractually obliged like RM’s sports ambassadors. And yet, in terms of construction and design that’s what the Richard Mille RM032 is designed for. A flyback chronograph meant to time the prestigious Le Voiles de Saint Barthes yacht race – you don’t get more adventurous than that. It’s made from titanium and Carbon TPT with a diameter of 50mm and 300m water resistance.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter Quartz TPT® case, skeletonised dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: RM calibre RMAC2, automatic, 62 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 50h power reserve
Strap: Rubber
Price: £245,000, limited to 120 pieces

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.