Most of us probably aren’t feeling too adventurous these days; the UK’s not exactly replete with mountaineering achievements and treks across arctic tundra. For most of us, the closest thing to adventure is David Attenborough’s calming, dulcet tones. I’m sure for some of you, it’s been awful. Of course, an adventure requires prep and to get yourself through the next few months of increasing lockdowns, it might be worth planning it all out in advance, and give yourself something to look forward to.
While we’re no experts in free climbing or below-zero sledge -hauling, we do know a thing or two about watches – and what they can survive. So while you’re sorting out which ice pick can best hold your weight, let us worry about the watches to match – no matter whether you’re an extreme, mountain-beating badass or, like me, would rather live vicariously from the sofa.
Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary
There’s no greater adventure than going into space, something which Omega has done plenty of in the past – enough to warrant the Silver Snoopy Award from NASA’s astronauts. This latest (surprisingly) regular collection piece pays homage to that achievement with a cool white-and-blue colourway and, on the caseback, an animated, orbiting white dog in a rocket – a fitting nod to space-faring adventure.
- 42mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
- Omega Calibre 3861 automatic movement with 50-hour power reserve
- £8,250, available at Omega Watches.
Von Doren Uræd
Inspired by its very own adventure – that of famed nautical engineer Ole Brude – Von Doren’s debut watch combines Art Nouveau-inspired good looks with an elegantly nautical steel case and an everyday appropriate 100m water resistance. Of the three dials, the Sea Green is the stand-out and makes for a lovely watch with respectably rugged credentials.
- 40mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
- STP 4-13 automatic movement with 44-hour power reserve
- €1,379 (approx. £1,250), available at Von Doren.
Hanhart 417 ES
A recreation of the first ever aviator’s timepiece worn by the German air force, this watch’s credentials alone should pique many a military collector’s interest. The fact that it’s a handsome-yet-robust chronograph with a lovely fluted bezel and characteristic bi-compax layout will return that interest and then some. Its hand-wound calibre makes it a little less practical for adventure, but it’s still the return of a legend.
- 42mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
- Sellita SW 510 M manual-wind movement with 58-hour power reserve
- From €1,744.87 (approx. £1,580), available at Hanhart.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Messner Limited Edition
The dual hemispheres of Montblanc’s novel approach to the world-time complication is a fitting view for a watch dedicated to mountaineering. The latest blue and bronze Geosphere pays tribute to the climbing legend that is Reinhold Messner, combining elegant good looks and a great compilation with a surprisingly rugged case. It’s probably more for fans of climbing than actual climbers, but it’s still incredibly handsome – and charitable, too.
- 42mm bronze case with 100m water resistance
- MB 29.25 calibre automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
- £5,300, limited to 262, available at Montblanc.
Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chronograph
More St Moritz than Everest, Chopard’s answer to the sports-luxe craze is nonetheless a solid piece of watchmaking. In fact, it’s one of the most solid in its little category, with a big 44mm across and a versatile water resistance of 100m – suited to snow, not the sea. Its iridescent, sustainably sourced Lucent Steel is lovely, and makes for an elegant alternative to your usual Royal Oak wannabe.
- 44mm Lucent Steel case with 100m water resistance
- Chopard Calibre 03.05-C automatic movement with 60-hour power reserve
- £16,800, available at Chopard.
Wolbrook Skindiver WT Professional
The Speedmaster is not the only extra-terrestrial timepiece by far and Douglas was just one name joining the space race. The Wolbrook Skindiver, with its hesalite crystal and part-timezone 60-second bezel is a relatively faithful re-edition of the original Douglas, right down to the name on the dial. Powered by a solid automatic movement and on a retro bund strap, it’s an underrated icon.
- 40mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
- Citizen / Miyota 8315 automatic movement with 60-hour power reserve
- £364, available at Wolbrook.
Nodus Sector Field
A cool, refreshing take on the classic field watch, the Sector Field from Nodus combines a pretty typical, militaristic stainless steel case with a dual-layer sandwich dial and a striking sector pattern at the centre. It’s easy to read at a glance and the subtle fumé dials lend themselves nicely to the quartet of colours available. In short, it’s one of the nicest (and most visually interesting) field watches out there.
- 38mm stainless steel case with 150m water resistance
- Seiko NH35 automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
- $425 USD (approx. £330), available at Nodus Watches.
Distilling a field watch to its bare essentials, the Fortitude from Chicago-based Astor+Banks is an elegant, pared-back timepiece that nonetheless has a twist on the dials, which along with the standard black and white offers mint green, mother-of-pearl and gilt and navy. If this is a riff on an old-school military timepiece, it’s one aimed squarely at officers. Rugged and reliable, with just the right amount of flamboyance.
- 5mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
- Miyota 9015 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
- From $525 USD (approx. £400), available at Astor+Banks.
Oak And Oscar Humboldt
Solid build quality meets classic good looks in this Stateside take on the Explorer template. Not only is the 40mm steel number rugged in the extreme, the rotating bezel also allows you to keep track of a second time zone. That’s not too useful halfway up a cliff face, but knowing when you can use your satellite phone to call home when you’re ready to camp for the night is – as is the more-than-respectable ETA movement inside.
- 40mm stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
- ETA 2892A2 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
- £1,341.95, available at Oak and Oscar.
Breitling Endurance Pro
Well, Breitlight had to make a return at some point and here we are, with the new entry level to the Breitling world, complete with an accurate SuperQuartz movement. Lightweight (3.3 times lighter than titanium to be precise), hardwearing and built for performance, it’s certainly not the retro Breitlings we’ve come to know and love, but it’s a watch that’ll never slow you down despite its size.
- 44mm Breitlight case with 100m water resistance
- Breitling Calibre 02 SuperQuartz movement with 3-4-year battery life
- £2,450, available at Breitling.
Boldr Venture Jungle Green
A quintessential field watch in both its blocky, ruggedly elegant case and military green colouring, Boldr’s Venture stands out for its off-centre crown and solid good looks. Housed in a vintage-sized 38mm case in very non-vintage titanium, it’s lightweight, hardwearing and looks the part, even with both feet planted on the pavement.
- 38mm titanium case with 200m water resistance
- Seiko NH35A automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
- $299 USD (approx. £230), available at Boldr.
Seiko Prospex LX ‘Skyline’
Combine a rugged Prospex case with a top-end Spring Drive movement from Grand Seiko and you have the LX line, Seiko’s best-of-both worlds series of performance watches. Inspired by the view from the International Space Station, the ‘Skyline’ sports a lovely gradient dial, matching Batman-esque 24-hour GMT bezel and a serious specs sheet – 400 of them doesn’t seem like nearly enough.
- 8mm high-intensity titanium case with 300m water resistance
- Seiko Springdrive movement with 72-hour power reserve
- £4,760, limited to 400 pieces, available at Seiko Boutique.
Michel Herbelin Newport Regatta Carbon
The most advanced watch to date from the French watchmaking giant, Michel Herbelin’s new carbon-clad Newport is part racing, part nautical, making a regatta timer the most appropriate complication for it. Created in collaboration with skiing champion Aurélien Ducroz, it’s light, hard-wearing and one of the most affordable pieces of forged carbon out there.
- 5mm carbon case with 300m water resistance
- Sellita 13 1/4 SW501 BV automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
- £2,680, available at Michel Herbelin.
While the latest from South African microbrand Draken is technically a specialist diver, with its helium escape valve and impressive 500m water resistance, it’s a versatile enough piece to take you anywhere you want to go – and offers a lot of bang for your buck. On the other hand, the quirky design touches and dramatic Paper Nautilus-inspired sea monster on the reverse make it aesthetically unique.
- 43mm stainless steel case with 500m water resistance
- ETA 2824-2 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
- $699 USD (approx. £540), available at Draken Watches.
Richard Mille RM 27-04
Tourbillon Rafael Nadal Yes, a tourbillon – but not your usual, fragile, easily disrupted mechanism, no. Richard Mille’s latest sporting timepiece supports its movement with steel cables, suspending the calibre and allowing it to withstand accelerations of over 12,000 Gs. With an incredibly strong-yet light TitaCarb case, this is a tourbillon you can skydive with, and then some – though you’ll probably need to own the plane to be able to afford the watch.
- 4mm TitaCarb case with 50m water resistance
- RM27-04 calibre manual wind movement with 38-hour power reserve
- $1,050,000 USD (approx. £805,000), available at Richard Mille.
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Carbon Limited Edition
Taking the military aspects of a field watch to their logical conclusion, this camouflage draped take on Victorinox’s extreme outdoor style is built to survive anything. That means a tough carbon case water resistant to 200m, low-light visibility and an optional compass bumper to add another layer of protection. Throw in a paracord strap and this is a watch that’ll head through a jungle, up the side of a mountain and base jump down the other side. Oh and it comes with a Swiss Army Knife. Because of course it does.
- 43mm carbon composite case with 200m water resistance
- Ronda 715 quartz movement
- £935, limited to 1,500, available at Victorinox.
Casio G-Shock RAF Gravity Master
If you don’t mind your watch looking like a fighter cockpit strapped to your wrist then this no-compromise Casio will pique your interest. Designed for the RAF, the Altimeter function is pretty useful for avid climbers and mountaineers, too; plus the thing looks built to survive an avalanche or two. It’s tech rather than mechanically driven, but for serious adrenaline junkies that’s just perfect.
- 4mm Carbon-Reinforced Resin case with 200m water resistance
- Digital movement with two-year battery life
- £349, available at G-Shock.
Christopher Ward C60 Lympstone
The latest in Christopher Ward’s Ministry of Defence-approved range takes things in a new, more modern direction, inspired by the rugged requirements of the Royal Marines. The DLC stainless steel case is water resistant to 600m and the stealth look is a fitting tribute to one of the most demanding wings of the British Armed Forces, right down to the rotating inner bezel compass. It’s also far more affordable than it has any right to be.
- 42mm stainless steel case with 600m water resistance
- Sellita SW200 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
- £1,000, available at Christopher Ward.
Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400
Looks-wise, this new Aquis doesn’t seem particularly new. Same glossy dial, same rugged diving case. Inside, however, is the new calibre 400 movement which is anti-magnetic to the point where you could probably risk it in an MRI machine; the electromagnetic field of the North Pole will have no chance. Plus, it’s a solid diver, just in case you fall through the ice. Not that the time will be your primary concern then.
- 5mm stainless steel case with 300m water resistance
- Oris calibre 400 automatic movement with 120-hour power reserve
- CHF 3,200 (approx. £2,700) on bracelet, available at Oris.
Hamilton Khaki Navy BELOWZERO
Tenet It may have been a tie-in with the befuddling blockbuster that was Tenet, but Hamilton’s huge 46mm case is about as rugged as these things get. The all-black look is pure spec ops and the (thankfully) lightweight titanium construction is water resistant to an incredible 1,000m. Available with either a red- or blue-tipped second hand, this is a lot of watch for the money.
- 46mm titanium case with 1,000m water resistance
- H-10 calibre automatic movement with 80-hour power reserve
- £1,890, available at Hamilton Watch.