Once again, Zenith has raised the bar for watches which perform in extreme conditions, with Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner breaking world records wearing a Zenith. But they are not the only watchmaker to produce abnormally hardy timepieces. Zenith's signature collection leads our list of 5 extreme sports watches that will never let you down under pressure..
Named for its ground-breaking caliber – one of the first ever automatic chronograph movements – the El Primero comes from a Manufacture with a speciality for producing navigational chronometric instruments for civil and military aviation. In 1970, they tied an El Primero to the landing gear of a Boeing 707 on a flight from Paris to New York, where it was subjected to drastic changes in temperature and pressure, and vigorous jolting. It remained accurate to the nearest second and required no adjustment – except for the transatlantic time difference!
There is a reason why Bell & Ross are the preferred brand of many astronauts, pilots, divers and bomb disposal experts. The B&R Space 1 was the first automatic chronometer to go into space, the Hydro Challenger broke deep-sea diving records and the French Security Service favour the Bomb Disposal Type.
Part of their iconic BR01 collection, this limited-edition BR01-92 features a dial designed to look like a turn coordinator from a plane’s cockpit. With a Swiss-made self-winding automatic movement protected by a PVD-coated square case, sapphire glass and a natural rubber strap, this highly collectible piece is extremely resilient.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner
The wristwear of choice for James Bond in the original Ian Fleming novels – any many subsequent films – has a long-standing reputation among the British armed forces. The prestigious Swiss brand famously supplied timepieces to the RAF during World War II, and they are still used by many military professionals today. Designed for diving and renowned for their resistance to water, most professional divers opt to take a Submariner down with them. Not only is it extremely practical, but the design is one of the most recognisable in the world, and hasn’t changed much since it was first introduced in 1954.
Although famous for their advances in the field of aviation, Breitling offer several collections for those who need a reliable timepiece under extreme conditions at sea level. In addition to the extraordinary Transocean collection, the Swiss brand also offer the Superocean Heritage, a 46mm-diameter automatic chronograph with a 42-hour power reserve. Glare-proof cambered scratch resistant sapphire crystal and luminous hands ensure maximum visibility, while an imperishable black rubber strap can withstand plenty of punishment. As a sign of its superior quality, the Superocean Heritage is water resistant to an impressive 200m.
As the official supplier of wristwatches to numerous air forces during their 129-year existence, luxury brand Alpina has had plenty of experience developing extreme instruments for military professionals. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Extreme Diver, which is one of the hardiest watches on the market today – and an exclusive model for The Watch Gallery.
The 48mm case is made from anti-corrosive stainless steel and PVD, there is non-scratch sapphire crystal on the face and caseback, and a rubber strap that can be adjusted to fit over a wetsuit. Thanks to an innovative helium escape valve, it is waterproof to an incredible 1,000m. There are few better companions for your next underwater adventure.
Browse all mens sports watches.