Tough Timers: 10 Watches for Extreme Conditions


Mechanical watches are delicate pieces of machinery that can be thrown off kilter if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Magnetic fields, extreme temperatures, and shocks are among the risks watches face. Below, in this list we take a look at some watches designed to withstand these outside factors.

1. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 has a safety band around its hairspring, limiting the motion of the spring when the watch receives a shock. The watch also has two screws to hold the hairspring stud. The hairspring itself is made of silicon and weighs only one-third as much as a conventional metal hairspring. It is therefore less vulnerable to shocks. Jolts are also buffered by the case, which combines an inner container and exterior housing, both made of the titanium alloy TiVan15.

2. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra >15.000 Gauss
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra >15.000 Gauss

The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss became the world’s most magnetism-resistant watch, exceeding the level of magnetic field resistance of other pioneering antimagnetic watches such as the Rolex Milgauss, when it was introduced in 2013. The key to this milestone is its innovative movement, Omega Co-axial Caliber 8508, which is made up largely of non-ferrous components such as silicon balance springs and nickel phosphorous escape wheels. Click here for more details on the watch.

3. TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty-Four Calibre 36

TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty-Four Calibre 36
TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty-Four Calibre 36

For its Monaco Twenty-Four Calibre 36, TAG Heuer developed what it calls an Advanced Dynamic Absorber System. The movement is suspended at all four corners inside the square case. Four plastic buffers protect the movement against shocks and especially against vibrations in the frequency range of one to 10 Hz.

4. IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph

IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph
IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph

 

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph protects its movement from the effects of magnetic fields with a “Faraday cage,” and inner case of soft iron around the movement.

5. Richard Mille RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor

Richard Mille RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt
Richard Mille RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt

The first watch with a complication geared toward high-speed road-racing safety, the Richard Mille RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt was conceived by brand namesake and racing enthusiast Richard Mille with the aid of French motorsports executive Jean Todt. In addition to its tourbillon movement, free-sprung balance with variable inertia, and gearbox-inspired “function selector,” the watch features a patented, mechanical G-Sensor system that is designed to visually display the “Gs” accumulated by the watch’s wearer during rapid deceleration, thus making a driver aware when he is approaching dangerous road speeds. For more details on this watch and its unique function, click here.

6. Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea

Rolex was able to make its Sea-Dweller Deepsea, which has a water-resistance level of 3,900 meters (nearly 13,000 feet), more than 10 percent slimmer than it otherwise would have been by using an entirely new case construction. It consists of three pressure-absorbing elements: a 5.5 mm thick sapphire crystal, a 3.28 mm thick back made of grade 5 titanium, and an inner ring (on which both of them rest) made of Biodur-108 steel.

7. Sinn UX

Sinn UX
Sinn UX

The Sinn UX has a case filled with liquid, which, because it cannot be compressed, makes the watch pressure-resistant to just about any depth. The liquid expands at higher temperatures, so the back is composed of two parts and contains a membrane that allows the inner part to move slightly outward. The watch contains a quartz movement, because the liquid would interfere with the oscillations of a balance. The movement is also lubricated with special oil so that it can function at extreme temperatures ranging from -45° to +80° Celsius, or -49° to +176° Fahrenheit.

8. CX Swiss Military Watch  20,000 Feet

CX Swiss Military Watch 20,000 Feet
CX Swiss Military Watch 20,000 Feet

One of the most water-resistant watches is a model called “20,000 Feet,” from the CX Swiss Military Watch brand made by Montres Charmex. The watch is a tremendously chunky (28.5 mm thick) chronograph with a thick, curved crystal (the curvature enhances the crystal’s pressure resistance).

9. Ball Watch Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon

Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon
Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon

Ball Watch uses specially blended oils in its Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon models that enable them to operate at temperatures ranging from -40° to +60° Celsius, or -40° to +140° Fahrenheit.

10. Breitling Emergency II

Breitling Emergency II - Orange dial
Breitling Emergency II

A pilot or explorer stranded in harsh conditions will appreciate the Breitling Emergency II — the successor to the original Breitling Emergency watch, introduced in 1995 — which is the first watch equipped with a dual-frequency locator beacon. Developed in conjunction with major scientific institutes, the watch is powered by a rechargeable battery and incorporates an integrated antenna system; it transmits on two separate frequencies to issue alerts and to aid in search-and-rescue missions. For a full explanation of how the Breitling Emergency II works, click here.

Are there any other “extreme conditions” watches you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments box below.

This article was originally published on November 10, 2013, and has been updated with new material.

Save

Save

Save

22 Responses to “Tough Timers: 10 Watches for Extreme Conditions”

Show all responses
  1. Harry Brett

    The Omega Speedmaster Professional “Alaska Project” was a 1970 update of the Moon Watch, that NASA never purchased due to the cutbacks in the Apollo Program, and was not put into production. It was designed to function on the dark side of the moon, and was put into production finally in 2008 with a limited edition of 1970 pieces.

    Reply
  2. srhardy

    I would have gone the BALL SeaQuest myself, but then these lists are made up BS anyway so no foul from me on the pick.

    Reply
  3. Dr. Jon

    Th eIWC Ingenieurs are all highly antimagnetic, The 3521 also features a shock absorber between the movement and case. Best its a reasonable size watch rather than a clunker.

    Reply
  4. Dr. Jon

    I’d add the IWC Ingenieur. Most feature a soft iron cage around the movement. The 3521 also has a shock absorbers between the movement and case. What is neat about the 3521 i that it is areasonable sized watch rather than a clunker.

    Reply
  5. Who needs a crazy extreme watch? Rolex Explorer original made it to the top of Everest and still looks like a great watch…. That’s decades old and of normal thickness.

    Likewise, the DeepSea made it to the bottom of the ocean.

    I don’t think these crazy watches have a place in the real world.

    Reply
  6. I would certainly add to your list the Oris Carlos Coste 2000 m edition, great watch with great durability and awesome looks, best watch on the market for the price , don’t understand why Tag is on this list.

    thanks and keep up the great work

    Reply
  7. Ceramic watches are popularized by brands like chanel and now in trends white ceramic watches for women are vogue in this days because the ceramic material is very strong and used for manufacturing high quality watches.

    Reply
  8. I think the Casio Pathfinder watches (models with the tough solar feature) are worthy of inclusion, albiet they ate far less expensive yet still descent quality for their price.

    Reply
  9. Jeffzx9

    I kinda like the Tutima M2. It’s the “successor” to the venerable NATO 798, and definitely has the pedigree. A bit pricey, though. :(

    Reply
  10. I’d take any one of those but the Bremont MBII is my next watch

    Reply
  11. Amer Saleh

    I was surprised the Bremont MBI/II series were not on this list.

    – Anti-magnetic Faraday cage.
    – Anti-shock case mount.
    – Built to withstand G’s/shocks from a Martin-Baker ejection seat.

    Reply
  12. Victor

    Jens, you missed the OMEGA Seamaster 15,000 gaus probably many times better protected to magnetic fields than the ROLEX MILGAUSS.

    Reply
    • Bert Kanne

      Your comment is right on about MTM. Just received their catalog. Impressive!

      Reply
  13. I am a relative noob when it comes to watches but one thing I do know: I lust after them. Finding the perfect watch (looks vs functionality) fuels me some days. How would these “extreme” watches compare with say a G Shock by Casio? I have been wearing a G Shock for almost 2 years and it has held up remarkably well. Anti-shock, anti-magnetic, anti-expensive. I put it through its paces daily. I wear it to work (a refinery) where it gets bashed, scraped, exposed to extreme heat (liquids and surfaces exceeding 100 degrees C, as well as frequently getting splashed by caustic solutions of all strengths, and even some acids. The thing refuses to die. However, unlike these “extreme” watches it wants for sex appeal. The search continues.

    Reply
    • Bert Kanne

      Just hope you personally are protected from the high Temps and the caustic solutions!

      Reply
    • Paul Hopkinson

      I am with you on the G-shock ,i to have thrown everything at it , grinding sparks , high vibration , i also use high powered guns, every previous watch i have had gave up years a go, i have killed Tag .Tissot, Seiko , Citizen and others, oh not my Rotary that has survived. As for sex appeal G-Shocks are a real eye catching talking point , this i know from experience. I talked a friend of mine into a G-Shock and he bought a really loud coloured one and says it really attracts the ladies and has started many a conversation, girls consider men who buy this type of watch as practical minded and not for posing or being flashy.

      Reply
Leave a Reply to John McGinnis

Click here to cancel reply.