Watches are exposed to changing conditions throughout the day. If you’re a typical desk diver, you won’t have much to worry about in terms of keeping your timepiece safe, but the more active you are, the more your watch has to endure. In this article, we’re taking a look at some of the toughest watches on the market. Whether it’s high levels of water pressure, shocks, or extreme temperatures, there are mechanical watches that you can rely on in extreme conditions.
Mechanical watches are actually rather delicate handcrafted items. Just consider all the tiny components that are precisely coordinated to work within minimal margins. During a factory visit many years ago, I saw a piece of paper in a workspace that read, “Here, 1/1000 mm isn’t a margin of error but a physical distance” in German. This demonstrates the incredible levels of precision that mechanical watchmakers must achieve. While watches are composed of many small parts, making them susceptible to damage, it doesn’t mean they can’t take a beating.
We’ve selected some of the toughest watches currently available. Whether they are scratch-resistant, impervious to extreme conditions, or simply extra durable, you can rely on these watches to get the job done!
Sinn EZM 9
This watch is tested and certified to meet the technical standards for pilot’s watches. In German, this is called the “Technischer Standard Fliegeruhren,” or TESTAF for short. While diving watches are tested for safety according to the DIN 8306 standard, there wasn’t an equivalent regulation for pilot’s watches. TESTAF created their standard to fill this gap. Shortly thereafter, the new standards were registered as DIN 8330-1 and 2.
The Sinn EZM 9 has a 44-mm bead-blasted titanium case with TEGIMENT treatment. This technology increases the material’s hardness, making it much more scratch-resistant. As a pilot’s watch, it can also survive low-pressure conditions, which you may encounter at high altitudes. Moreover, it is water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft). To top it off, the Sinn EZM 9 is guaranteed to function between -49°F and 176°F (-45°C and 80°C) – talk about a tough watch!
This watch also comes with Sinn’s Ar-Dehumidifying Technology. Simply put, this means the watch has a drying capsule, special seals, and protective gas filling, all of which help prevent the lubricant from aging and the crystal from fogging up due to sudden drops in temperature. It also helps ensure the movement’s reliability over time. This titanium capsule can be found in the watch’s bottom left lug.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
When it comes to tough watches, it’s hard to ignore Rolex sports models – they are simply built to last. Having owned a handful of Submariners and GMTs, I know firsthand how reliable these watches are. I remember the shocked look on my girlfriend’s face the first time she opened the dishwasher and saw a Submariner in there – it’s the perfect way to clean them, and I’ve never had any issues. The toughest of all the Rolex models, however, is the Rolex Deepsea.
The Deepsea is an impressive watch, but it’s not for the fainthearted. I had the opportunity to wear one for some time, and although the weight was not for me – it is heavy – I’ve always found it intriguing from a technical perspective. Its 44-mm case is rather thick compared to other models, but this is largely due to the impressive 5.5-mm crystal that protects the dial. The watch is water-resistant to 3,900 m (12,800 ft). While it may fall short of Omega’s recent record-breaking dive to 10,925 m (35,843 ft), it’s still impressive. Plus, the Omega is not yet available to the public.
UTS München Diver 3000M
While this brand is far from a household name, it is definitely worth a look. Founded in 1999 by German engineer Nicolas Spinner, this company set out to create high-precision cases for diving watches based on Spinner’s own precise calculations. Their production capacity is limited to a few hundred pieces per year, but this exclusivity makes them even more respected in the industry.
All of their watches are made from high-grade stainless steel and come with anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Technical details, like water resistance, are clearly engraved on each watch’s case back. As a small-volume manufacturer, they have a limited model range, but this helps ensure the quality of each piece. I was certainly impressed by the Diver 3000M; it was great to see something from a lesser-known brand for a change.
The UTS München Diver features a 42 x 17-mm case topped with a 5-mm sapphire crystal, which enables it to withstand extreme pressures. It also has a 3 mm thick case back that is kept in place by 8 screws. The reliable ETA 2824-2 movement provides this timepiece with its 49-hour power reserve.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
It should come as no surprise that many of the toughest watches are divers. These watches are simply made to withstand some of the most extreme conditions you can find yourself in. When it comes to scratch resistance, however, you can’t beat a ceramic case. As mentioned, Omega has created a diver for the ocean’s greatest depths, but it is not commercially available yet. However, until then, their ceramic diver certainly more than suffices.
The Diver 300M comes in a 43.5-mm ceramic case that is nearly impossible to scratch. Ceramic is so much harder than steel that it will likely look exactly the same even after years of wear. Moreover, it is resistant to UV rays, meaning it won’t age over time like other vintage watches. So, in 40 years time, you should be able to pick up a brand new-looking vintage watch.
In addition to its nearly indestructible case, the bezel is also made of ceramic. Powered by the Co-Axial Master Chronometer caliber 8806, this watch is highly precise and features a power reserve of up to 55 hours. Being a Master Chronometer, each timepiece is tested over a period of ten days. The movement is also shock-resistant and has anti-magnetic properties.
There are many tough watches out there – and not just from well-established brands. You can find durable watches at a number of price points, meaning there is something for every budget. Of course, the right watch for you is always an individual decision. Personally, I can enjoy wearing a simple G-Shock as much as a Rolex. After all, it’s all about the smile you get when you look at your wrist. One thing’s for sure: My wish list has grown by at least one after this article!