To The Extreme: The Best Watches For Intense Conditions
Watches that are tougher than tough.
Should you find yourself in the sort of outing one could only characterize as “really dangerous” or “testing the endurance of man” you’re going to want a serious watch. Armed with a sense of imagination and a wealth of watch knowledge, our editors selected the best watches for truly trying conditions.
If I’m going to put this watch up against extreme environments, then there better be some extreme engineering involved in creating a watch for the task. The Sinn UX (EZM 2B) is exactly that. The dial, hands, and quartz movement sit in a bath of oil inside the watch case. This serves two purposes: firstly, it means the watch will never fog and the dial will always be visible at any angle thanks to the oil inside, but it also means that water resistance is bolstered. Water ingress theoretically cannot occur because the oil inside the watch will not compress, and there is no air inside to replace (the absence of air also means the absence of moisture). Old atmospheric diving suits used the same principle with oil-filled joints, so it’s tried and true. So that addresses any sort of extreme-oceanic environment, and on land, the bezel made from tegimented steel should be sufficient. It’s stronger and more scratch-resistant than your average 316L. Bring it on. – Cole Pennington
Sinn UX (EZM 2B), $2,600
The Breitling Emergency is one of those rare instances of hard-core exploration gear and high-end Swiss watchmaking truly intersecting in a meaningful way. The Emergency contains a distress beacon that can be activated by extending the second crown and unfurling a potentially life-saving antenna. It’s the kind of thing you’d never want to have to use, because if you do, it means things have gone really sideways. It means you’ve decided that broadcasting your whereabouts to search-and-rescue personnel is your best chance. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that such life-saving gear exists. There are a couple of versions of the Emergency. The earlier Emergency 1 and the later Emergency II, which broadcasts on an additional signal. – Jon Bues
Breitling Emergency Watch, $15,685
While I remain tempted to pick something like a Garmin Fenix or a burly Omega Ploprof, I think if we’re talking about legitimately extreme settings, I’d want an automatic or simple quartz movement (something I wouldn’t need to charge) and the watch would need to be plenty tough but not hard to wear. With that in mind, I’m thinking a Bremont MBII fits the bill. With a case made from hardened steel, the MBII’s movement is protected from magnetism by a soft-iron inner case and shock via a floating movement mount that can survive the use of a Martin-Baker ejection seat. The MBII can be customized via Bremont’s site, and I’d likely go white dial, titanium middle barrel, closed caseback, and a rubber strap. It may not be the flashiest of choices, but it’s tough, not too big to wear in the wild, and who knows, maybe my adventure starts with me being ejected from an airplane. I like to party. – James Stacey
Bremont MBII, $5,095
LOL, it comes with a hermetically sealed cache of water purification tablets! And a level!! And a tourbillon!!! It’s nearly a million freakin’ dollars. I mean, c’mon. I can’t imagine a more ludicrous display of performance outdoorsmanship. It’s the billionaire’s equivalent of putting “I love hiking” in your online dating profile. And yet, I want one. Because when the world ends and all y’all are stuck drinking nasty water and trying to BS your way around by using your watch’s bezel as a compass, I’ll be chilling in the land of clean water and tourbillons with my guys Rambo and Richard. That’s it. That’s the pick. – Logan Baker
Richard Mille RM25-01, $985,000.00