More often than not, luxury watches are seen on the wrists of casual wearers rather than outdoor adventurers. Why? Well, think about it – would you wear a HK$60,000+ watch to go rappelling or base jumping off the cliff of a mountain? The shocks alone, both to the watch and your wallet, might just be enough to dissuade you. But, not all watches are created equal – here are five tough-as-nails luxury watches to consider bringing on your next extreme adventure:
Breitling Cockpit B50 Orbiter Limited Edition
Released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first nonstop balloon flight around the world, the Breitling Cockpit B50 Orbiter is the ultimate wristwatch for visionaries and adventurers. Limited to just 213 pieces – referencing the date (March 21) when Orbiter 3 landed in Egypt, nearly 20 days after it took off from the Swiss Alps – this timepiece is packed with tons of features.
Putting on this 46mm watch, you immediately stand out with the distinctive orange rubber strap and dial, with the numbers, indices and hands all coated in luminescent Super-LumiNova. Its black carbon titanium caseback celebrates the Orbiter 3’s journey with an image of the Orbiter 3 balloon superimposed on the globe, while the front features a scratch- and glare-proof convex sapphire crystal. Inside, the watch is powered by Breitling’s Calibre B50, a thermocompensated SuperQuartz analogue and digital movement that’s 10 times more accurate than your typical quartz watch.
The Cockpit B50 Orbiter is a COSC-certified chronometer and also includes a second time zone display, a perpetual calendar, an electronic tachymeter, a chrono flight device to record flight times, and more – with everything accessible through crown rotation and the two pushers. Interface messages are also displayed on-screen to help guide you through the various features and operations.
Price: ~HK$64,300; available at Breitling
IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium
While this isn’t IWC’s first Pilot’s Double Chronograph Top Gun model, nor is it the brand’s first model to use its patented Ceratanium material, this release is the first time these two elements have come together. This means there’s now an IWC Pilot’s Watch available in a striking jet-black colour without any form of coating. It takes advantage of the best of titanium and ceramic materials – it’s light and rigid, while at the same time hard, wear-free and scratch-resistant. IWC extends the use of Ceratanium through the case components, including the push buttons and pin buckle. To complete the stunning visage, the jet-black theme continues with the black dial and rubber strap with textile inlay.
This Pilot’s Watch offers a double chronograph that has an integrated split-seconds function so you can time two separate actions simultaneously. It has a soft-iron inner case that protects against errant magnetic fields and a sapphire glass that’s not only antireflective but is also secured against displacement caused by sudden drops in air pressure. While not a diver’s watch, this timepiece is water-resistant up to six bar, which means you can definitely take it swimming. Powering the watch is IWC’s in-house 79420 calibre with automatic winding and 44-hour power reserve.
Price: ~HK$128,600; available at IWC
Panerai Submersible Carbotech 42mm
Panerai’s Submersible collection already has a solid reputation as some of the industry’s toughest diver’s watches. Now with the use of the brand’s proprietary Carbotech material, the Florence-based atelier extends the line’s strength and durability, while delivering an uneven matte finish that makes each timepiece unique.
The 42mm Submersible Carbotech may look like most other releases from Panerai, but with its Carbotech-based case, crown-protecting device and unidirectional rotating bezel, you get a package that offers extreme lightness and unrivalled resistance. Without a doubt, this is a watch that’s designed to be taken into the water. It offers water resistance up to 300 metres, while the Super-LumiNova-coated dial markers and skeleton hands ensure legibility, and the caoutchouc black rubber strap holds it in place. Unlike its 47mm sibling that uses an in-house calibre, the 42mm model (PAM00960) is powered by a 25-jewel ValFleurier-based movement that beats at 4Hz and offers 72 hours of power reserve.
Price: HK$131,500; available at Panerai
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Military
Bell & Ross adds another entry to its Experimental line of square watches with the BR-X1 Military. Designed by co-founder Bruno Belamich (the “Bell” in Bell & Ross), this piece is heavily inspired by the armed forces, from the square design found in the instruments panel of fighter jets and the matte khaki colour of the case, all the way down to the green Super-LumiNova-filled dial markers and hands on a skeletonised dial. This may not be a watch for everyone’s taste, but if you’ve got an affinity for anything military, then look no further.
Limited to just 250 pieces, this 45mm timepiece uses a high-resistance titanium and black ceramic case that’s impervious to corrosion from the elements. It houses the BR-CAL.313 automatic movement and features a skeletonised date at six o’clock, small seconds at three o’clock and a chronograph with 30-minute timer. It’s water-resistant up to 100 metres and completes the military look with a stylish perforated rubber strap.
Price: ~HK$179,400; available at Bell & Ross
Richard Mille RM25-01
There are tough watches, extreme watches… and then there’s the RM25-01. Designed by Richard Mille in collaboration with Sylvester Stallone, who continues to personify the adventurer-tough-guy-with-a-heart, the RM25-01 packs in loads of functions you might not have ever thought you needed – until John Rambo came along, that is.
Among them: a tourbillon escapement that compensates for timing errors due to the effects of gravity when the watch is in different positions on your wrist, a titanium “spirit” level that guides you on holding the watch perfectly level so you can get an accurate reading of the compass needle, and a hermetically sealed compartment that holds five water purification tablets. This watch is more than an accessory – it’s a tool.
But the RM25-01 isn’t just a novelty watch. It’s a damn good one – and damn tough, too. The manual-winding tourbillon offers a 72-hour power reserve and beats at 3Hz. The case is made of Carbon TPT and grade-5 titanium, making it light but highly resistant to corrosion. Water-resistance is rated at 100 metres and ensured by two nitrile O-ring seals. Good luck finding one, though – the RM25-01 is limited to just 20 pieces.
Price: ~HK$7.6 million; available at Richard Mille