If you’re the type of person who loves getting outside and indulging in sports and activities, whether on land, in the air or in the deep blue ocean, you’ll need a watch that is built to accompany you on your journey. Luckily, top watch brands have been perfecting their outdoor timepieces to make them lighter, more durable, extremely precise and equipped with extra features to help you accomplish your feat.
Because the quest for ultimate experiences seems inherent in today’s culture, watch brands have turned to new materials (including carbon and other alloys) and new technology to deliver the ideal timepieces for all sorts of experiences. In some instances, watchmakers have teamed with pilots, divers and explorers to determine the best and most-needed features and functions. Some have even brought on adventure-seeking brand ambassadors to put their watches to the true test.
Officine Panerai, for instance, works with French free diving world champion Guillaume Néry, who is also a brand ambassador. In the dangerous world of free diving, Néry plunges into the ocean—as far as 400 feet—with just one breath. A multiple world record holder, he has tested several Panerai watches on his dives as well as during his training, which includes CrossFit, swimming, paddling and running. Panerai has even launched the limited-edition Guillaume Néry Submersible watch in his honor. The automatic mechanical timepiece houses a 302-part movement with Incabloc antishock technology. Made of titanium, it is equipped with a counterclockwise rotating bezel with a graduated dive scale, and offers luminous hour markers and dots for underwater readability.
Another brand known for its marine heritage, Ulysse Nardin, works with brand ambassadors that run the gamut from divers to arctic explorers and sailors. In fact, sailor and navigator Sébastien Destremau, who has won some of the most difficult races in the world, has just come on board. Destremau was the final sailor to complete the last Vendée Globe Ocean Race in 2017, having spent 124 days at sea. Ulysse Nardin is now the Official Timekeeper of Vendée Globe, a merciless and dangerous challenge around Cape Horn and Point Nemo, where the nearest land mass is more than 1,600 miles away. Participating sailors spend months alone in treacherous waters as they traverse the oceans in this “Everest of the Seas” competition. Ulysse Nardin’s Diver X / Cape Horn and the Diver X / Nemo Point watches are designed to go the distance with skippers who face icebergs, monumental waves and violent winds. Made of titanium with concave unidirectional carbon bezels, these watches are equipped with mechanical movements that boast high-tech parts such as Silicium and Diamonsil technology.
Then there are the brands that think outside of the box for watches needed in land adventures. In the case of Richard Mille, the brand wanted to offer a watch that could withstand the harshest of climates and experiences—maybe even slay a dragon. Who better to turn to for this than Rambo, a.k.a. Sylvester Stallone (who played John Rambo in the 1982 movie First Blood), for design and functional advice. After four years of research and development in collaboration with Stallone, the $1 million-plus Richard Mille RM 25-01 Adventure tourbillon watch was unveiled. It houses some world-first tools that could be used on action hero Rambo’s wrist, including a hermetically sealed titanium compartment for five water purification capsules that render a liter of water safe to drink. The lightweight titanium and Carbon TPT watch is offered with two interchangeable bezels, including one with cardinal compass points and a spirit level for a more accurate reading of the compass needle.
For those with a pilot’s license, Breitling, long known as the creators of instruments for professionals, continues its rich roots in aviation with a host of new watches developed after carefully studying the needs of professional pilots. The recently released AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition watch, inspired by the beloved Co-Pilot watch from the 1950s, houses a mechanical movement that is a COSC-certified chronometer (attesting to its excellent precision), both antimagnetic and shock-resistant.
The list goes on, but suffice it to say that many watch brands today are equipping their timepieces for the great outdoors, offering highly functional features in cases that can take a beating.