The 12 Toughest Watches On The Planet

Nov 30, 2020

Category: Gear

Though they’re typically associated with fashion and style, wristwatches are, inextricably, tools first and foremost. After all, their primary purpose is to help keep track of time — although many do a good deal more than that. And while many wealthy folks might be interested in a delicate tourbillon made from solid gold, the timekeeping industry is vast enough that there are watches built for just about any budget, purpose, style, etc.

That also means that there are watches designed specifically with durability in mind, some to the point of absurdity. Most folks probably don’t need a watch that can survive being run over by an actual military tank. Then again, some people (e.g. Navy SEALs, arctic explorers, spelunkers, and other various badasses) absolutely do. Furthermore, thanks to the trickle-down effect, that also means your average joe can access many of these remarkable wristwatches for their own purposes, even if that’s just a weekend camping trip. If you want an unrivaled, ultra-rugged watch in your everyday carry loadout, you’ll find the perfect one for you on our list of the toughest watches on the planet.

Photo: Luminox Scott Cassell Deep Dive

What Makes A Watch Ultra-Tough?

Our Criteria

It’s one thing to take a gander at a watch and think, “Wow, that looks tough.” It’s another thing entirely to put that toughness to the test. As such, we wanted to make sure that these watches actually qualify as the “toughest” on the planet. With that in mind, all of the timepieces on this list meet one, multiple, or all of the following criteria:

Independent Testing/Certification: Several of these watches were put through their paces well before they were ever unveiled to the public — including extensive durability testing in some of the harshest conditions possible/reproducible. Others were measured after their release and certified as being remarkably durable by an independent organization (meaning they have no stake in the watch brand).

Organizational Partnerships: Many of these watch brands have been around for a very long time and, as such, their technologies and manufacturing have stood the test of time. This has, in many cases, led to partnerships with other organizations (like military forces, emergency response teams, law enforcement personnel, etc.) or reputable individuals (like famed explorers, divers, athletes, etc.). In these cases, we consider select ongoing partnerships to be evidence enough for inclusion.

Real-World Use: Perhaps the best measure of any watch’s toughness is actual real-world proof of durability and longevity therein. As such, if a watch has been trusted, tried-and-true for an extended period of time or is considered a particular industry standard, this can be evidence enough to warrant inclusion.

A Note On Availability

It’s important to point out that these watches are production models — meaning none of them are one-off timepieces made for a single, specific purpose, event, person, etc. All of them are purchasable and available fairly widely to the average person — meaning all you really need to do to get one is find the appropriate store and pay the purchase price. There are no hoops to jump through, which was a primary goal of ours in putting this guide together in the first place.

Casio G-SHOCK DW5600E-1V Watch

It might seem absurd to suggest that one of the toughest watches on the planet is an older model that costs less than fifty dollars, but we assure you the Casio G-SHOCK DW5600E-1V that you see before you is absolutely deserving of a spot on this list. That’s because, up until 2017, it was actually in the Guinness Book of World Records specifically for its durability, earning it the official title of the toughest watch on Earth. Pair that and its affordability with a reliable quartz movement, digital face, and a suite of other features and this watch is an honest-to-goodness unrivaled value.

Type: Digital
Movement: Quartz
Case: Resin

Purchase: $40

Casio G-SHOCK Master of G Mudmaster GGB100-1A Watch

In case you haven’t caught on quite yet, toughness is absolutely built into G-SHOCK’s brand from the ground-up. So when they, themselves, proclaim that a particular timepiece was “designed to endure the toughest environments,” it’s probably worth taking note. And that’s exactly the case with their Master of G Mudmaster GGB100-1A you see here. Not only does it come equipped with the legendary suite of sensors and shockproofing that the brand is known for, but it also boasts a hybrid resin-carbon fiber case, Bluetooth connectivity and app compatibility, mud-resistant seals, and so much more. This isn’t a watch as much as it’s a wearable tank.

Type: Survival
Movement: Quartz
Case: Resin & Carbon Fiber

Purchase: $308

Victorinox I.N.O.X. V241759 Watch

Victorinox originally made headlines with their lineup of I.N.O.X. timepieces when they showed off the fact that they went through a whopping 130 rigorous “extreme endurance homologation tests” prior to their unveiling and subsequent sale. The most famous of those tests was probably when they ran over one of these watches with a 64-ton tank only to discover that it was still intact and functional. That alone is enough to earn this series a place on this list, but this titanium version of the ultra-tough field watch is even more special for its lightness, corrosion-resistance, and 200m water-resistance rating.

Type: Field
Movement: Quartz
Case: Titanium

Purchase: $595

Luminox Scott Cassell Deep Dive Watch

In case you’re unfamiliar, Luminox has been making ultra-tough timepieces since the brand’s inception back in 1989. And numerous groups took note of their exceptional work and formed partnerships, including the U.S. Navy’s SEALs, Iceland’s SAR (Search and Rescue) squads, and more. Then, they partnered with legendary American explorer, underwater filmmaker, and counter-terrorism operative Scott Cassell on a series of Deep Dive watches and, frankly, outdid themselves. This particular one comes in a ruggedized Carbonox case, is waterproof to 300m, has a 96-month battery powering its reliable Swiss quartz movement, and it has tritium tubes that will self-illuminate for up to 25 years.

Type: Dive
Movement: Quartz
Case: Carbonox

Purchase: $695

Seiko Prospex SBBN031 ‘Tuna’ Watch

Seiko actually makes a number of lauded dive watches, but their most impressive might just be their highly sought-after ‘Tuna’ watch. Named for its ultra-thick case, which resembles a store-bought can of tuna, this exceptional and time-tested Prospex-series dive watch is built from ultra-thick stainless steel, has an anti-magnetic housing protecting its reliable Japanese quartz movement, and is good for depths of up to 300 meters. It also features a durable Hardlex crystal, luminous markings for low-light visibility, and a matching link band. Sure, it’s not as sleek as some of its more modern streetwear-inspired counterparts put out by the brand recently, but that’s not really the point of this supremely durable timepiece.

Type: Dive
Movement: Quartz
Case: Stainless Steel

Purchase: $1,090

Shinola The Ice Monster Dive Watch

Just across the border from Canada, Michigan — especially in the winter — can produce some extremely unforgiving conditions. In fact, during the Ice Age, the state was buried in ice a mile-thick. That’s what inspired Detroit-based brand Shinola to craft what they’ve called their toughest watch ever. Aptly named the Ice Monster, this dive watch is crafted from solid titanium, was designed specifically to meet ISO 6425 Dive watch specifications (earning it a 1,000-foot depth rating), and has an anti-magnetic internal iron housing. And it manages all that while being 45% lighter than stainless steel. If you’re looking for a spectacular dive watch that’s equal parts style and substance, you can stop right here.

Type: Dive
Movement: Automatic
Case: Titanium

Purchase: $1,675

Sinn UX EZM 2B Watch

Sinn is another brand that has built its entire reputation on ultra-tough timepieces; truly, you can’t really go wrong with any of them. But we’re particularly fond of the UX EZM 2B you see here. Not only is it built from German submarine steel — yes, the kind they use to build actual, functional u-boats — but it also has a reliability rating that’s good for an impressive temperature range of -4°F up to 140°F, TEGIMENT technology built into the bezel to make it exceptionally scratch-resistant, and it’s powered by a high-precision temperature-compensated quartz movement. And, in case you’re skeptical, this watch was actually tested specifically to meed European diving standards.

Type: Dive
Movement: Quartz
Case: Submarine Steel

Purchase: $2,286

Bell & Ross BR0392-D-BL-CE/SRB Ceramic Diver

Though it is quite expensive to manufacture and, therefore, makes for expensive timepieces, ceramic is a nigh-unrivaled material — as it is non-metallic, can be made many times stronger than steel (some claims even put it at 10 or even 20 times the strength), and it comes with the built-in buzz-worthiness of its uniqueness. It also happens to be the material used in Bell & Ross’s BR0392-D-BL-CE/SRB dive watch you see here. Along with its ultra-durable case and bezel material, this watch is also waterproof to depths of up to 1,000ft, it has a reliable automatic movement, it comes with an all-conditions rubber strap, and it features the brand’s signature square case and round dial.

Type: Dive
Movement: Ceramic
Case: Automatic

Purchase: $3,245

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST II

For anyone that works in places where there are high, active electromagnetic fields, virtually no watch is as resistant and, therefore, reliable as Ball’s Engineer series. It seems that wasn’t quite enough for the folks at Ball, however, as they’ve upped the ante with the Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST II version you see before you. On top of its magnetic resistance, this super-rugged watch is also safe for diving as deep as 3,300 feet, it has a titanium single block case, comes equipped with a chronometer-certified automatic movement, and boasts self-illuminating micro gas tubes that ensure you can see and read the watch in any lighting conditions for decades.

Type: Dive
Movement: Automatic
Case: Titanium

Purchase: $3,899

Tudor Pelagos 25600TN-BKTI Titanium Watch

Those that are moderately familiar with the watch world have probably heard of Tudor’s legendary Black Bay watches — but perhaps not the Pelagos you see here. If we were to compare the two, this watch would probably be best described as the bigger, tougher brother. It’s built from ultra-tough and ultralight titanium, can dive as deep as 500m, has a stunning and straightforward dive timer bezel that matches its dial, is equipped with a crown guard, and comes with a matching strap. Sure, it’s not as flashy as its more famous sibling, but it doesn’t really need to be when it’s as tough as it is.

Type: Dive
Movement: Automatic
Case: Titanium

Purchase: $4,443

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Titanium

If Omega’s Moonwatch wasn’t an absolutely stellar and durable timepiece, the folks at NASA probably would have moved on from it. However, this watch has been wrapped around the wrist of every astronaut since the Apollo program — and we think that has more than earned it a spot on this list. After all, it’s the watch that helped save Apollo 11 and was used on all six lunar missions. This particular version also happens to be made from solid titanium, comes with an in-house automatic movement, boasts an easy-to-read tachymeter bezel, and it looks absolutely spectacular from top to bottom and back again.

Type: Moonwatch
Movement: Automatic
Case: Titanium

Purchase: $11,400

Panerai Luminor Submersible PAM00616 Carbotech Watch

Though not as well-known as some other “dive” watches, the Panerai Luminor Submersible you see here is undoubtedly one of the best of the bunch. Yes, it’s bulky, but that’s because it’s practically indestructible — thanks largely to its hefty Carbotech case, which is made from carbon fiber. It also has a shielded crown (the shield is also made from Carbotech), an automatic movement, luminous markings, and — believe it or not — comes from a brand with a history of use by the military that dates back to WWII. Granted, this isn’t the same watch as the ones Panerai made in the 1940s, but that’s because it’s better, tougher, and more.

Type: Dive
Movement: Automatic
Case: Carbotech

Purchase: $14,945

The 10 Best Survival Watches

Overall toughness is hardly the only factor to consider when purchasing a timepiece for outdoor adventure. As such, you might be better off not with unmatched durability, but other navigational and emergency features, as you’ll find in any and all of our picks on our list of the best survival watches.

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