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4 weeks agoupdated Apr 24, 2024

The Best Outdoor Watches for Adventurous Vacations

These outdoor watches are made of rugged, durable materials that can hold up under the elements.

By Roberta Naas

Going places this spring and summer? Climbing a few mountains, hiking the national parks, bicycling across Europe? If so, you need one of these timely instruments on your wrist that can go the distance. Generally referred to as ‘tool’ watches, most of the outdoor watches prominent in today’s active lifestyles all offer some important feature or function relative to the sport you love, whether it’s climbing or kayaking, biking or hiking.

Most of these adventure watches are made of rugged, durable materials that can hold up under the elements. Some offer additional functions like pulsimeters to measure pulse rate, chronographs to measure distance or speed, altimeters to measure altitude and even compass points to help with direction. In general, these watches boast clean, legible dials, and luminous hands and markers for easy reading in the dark. Here, we take a closer look at seven watches in a wide range of retail prices perfect for your journeys.

[See also: Watches and Wonders 2024: The Best New Releases]

Rolex Explorer

Rolex Explorer watch
The Rolex Explorer / ©Rolex

Having accompanied the first explorers to summit Mount Everest, Rolex aptly continues its Explorer series for today’s adventurers. This 40mm Oystersteel watch is powered by the brand’s in-house-made Caliber 3230 perpetual self-winding mechanical movement that is precise to -2/+2 seconds per day. Thanks to a monobloc middle case and a screw-down case back and winding crown (with Twinlock double waterproof system), the watch is waterproof to 100 meters. It boasts Paraflex shock absorbers and is a COSC-certified Superlative Chronometer. It is also incredibly legible in the dark thanks to the proprietary Chromalight display with blue lumen.


Montblanc Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration

Montblanc watch
Montblanc Geosphere / ©Montblanc

Montblanc recently released the new Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition 1990 watch; it boasts zero oxygen inside the case to eliminate fogging at dramatic temperatures or altitude changes. The watch recently accompanied explorer and climber Simon Messner on his South Pole trek at an altitude of 700 meters and -20° Celsius (-4° Fahrenheit). Powered by an automatic movement with world-time complication using Northern and Southern Hemisphere globes, the 42mm watch is crafted of lightweight titanium and boasts an iced blue bidirectional anodized aluminum bezel with luminescent cardinal points, and an iced blue dial.

[See also: How Montblanc Creates the World’s Finest Pens]


Citizen Promaster Altichron

Citizen watch
Citizen Promaster Altichron / ©Citizen

Powered by light and Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology, this timepiece will not easily die. A single exposure to light propels it for at least six months in total darkness — sometimes longer. It’s part of the brand’s Land series, and the 47mm Super Titanium case boasts a black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating for extra durability. It offers an advanced metric altimeter, electronic compass function and high-legibility luminescence, and is water resistant to 200 meters.

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Panerai Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech

Panerai Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech / ©Panerai

Referred to by Panerai’s Paneristi followers as ‘PAM02979,’ the high-tech Marina Militare Carbotech watch is made of an ultra-rugged and durable proprietary material that pays homage to the special forces for which Panerai provides watches. Powered by the 200-part automatic mechanical P.9010 movement equipped with an Incabloc antishock device and offering three days of power reserve, the watch is water resistant to 300 meters. The intense luminosity on this 47mm watch makes for easy reading in the dark.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox / ©Jaeger-LeCoultre

Part of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris collection of tool watches, the Mariner is billed as a dive watch, since the timepiece is fully ISO 6425 compliant with dive specifications and is water resistant to 300 meters. The crown used to set the inner bezel for dive time is also screwed down to avoid unintentional movement. While you may want to take it diving, it is also a great watch for spelunking and other exploration, since the brand has more than a century of expertise in chiming watches; this watch boasts the all-important alarm function for which the Memovox is known. The 42mm watch is crafted in stainless steel and features hands, markers and numerals filled with Super-LumiNova for easy reading in the dark; it is powered by an automatic movement with 44 hours of power reserve.


G-Shock Master of G: Rangeman

Casio outdoor watch
The GPR-H1000 Rangeman / ©Casio

Joining an already impressive lineup of some of the strongest and most durable G-Shock watches, the GPR-H1000 Rangeman watch challenges the limits of toughness. It is loaded with outdoor gear requirements like shock, dust, mud and water resistance and offers weather-tracking abilities, as well as a host of other necessary functions when you’re out in the elements. Solar-powered and equipped with Bluetooth technology and GPS functionality to track movement in real time, the watch boasts metal side guards to protect the sensors and GPS antenna, and features a sensor cover created with metal injection molding. With an ultra- complex case, the watch offers tracking of distance, time, pace, heart rate, compass, altitude and more.


TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Sport Edition

TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Sport Edition / ©TAG Heuer

Measuring a bold 45mm in diameter, this sport edition Connected watch from TAG Heuer offers a wide range of incredibly useful data that includes a trail and hiking app, metric altitude measurement, compass, barometer, heart rate monitor and more. It is crafted in sandblasted lightweight titanium with a ceramic bezel, making it highly durable and scratch resistant. With a host of different dial modes, the watch also offers a stopwatch, timer and alarm. Using OS2 by Google as the operating system, it also is equipped with GPS coordinates.


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