Everyone needs a rugged weekender watch

A robust, go-anywhere type of timepiece is the perfect complement for the watch you wear during the 9-5 grind.

By Norman Burns, September 14 2019

There are watches for the working weekday, the 9-to-5. There are dress watches for those special occasions: the big presentation, the fancy lunch, the anniversary dinner. And there are watches for the weekend: sometimes casual, but increasingly a bit more rugged.

Something robust enough to cope with minor knocks while doing some yard work, versatile enough to get a bit damp or dirty in the great outdoors.

A durable back-up to your daily wearer will have your back (well, your wrist) for many years, and needn’t break the bank; although don’t fall for a cheapie, either. Most candidates are broadly in the category of “sports watches”, and many designed especially for use in the water. Here's a selection for every wrist and every style.

Luminox 

Switzerland’s Luminox, founded in 1989, has enough models to supply an army – and possibly does, given that many editions are associated with groups such as the US Navy SEALS, police SWAT teams, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, air force squadrons and more.

A cornerstone of Luminox since day one has been its micro-gas tube illumination system, used on hands, indices and counters, and sometimes the bezel. Luminox says the material will provide a constant glow for 25 years.

The very gung-ho Luminox Navy SEAL Chronograph (45mm, quartz movement, rotating bezel; $829) is constructed from ultra-tough Carbonox compound, with a hardened mineral crystal protecting the dial. A double gasket helps stop any water getting in via the crown – handy, as this watch is water-resistant to 200m.

If the military grey/black look isn’t to your liking, check out the Luminox ICE-SAR, with its groovy blue dial/red-and-white hands combo.

The 46mm ICE-SAR is supplied to Iceland’s search and rescue team, so is designed to operate in pretty brutal conditions. It has a quartz movement housed in a Carbonox case and the watch is water resistant to 200m. 

Tissot

Tissot’s T-Race Cycling Tour De France 2019 Special Edition (44.5mm, quartz, water resistant to 100m; $700) is an ideal weekender.

The yellow-black livery pays homage to the race leader’s yellow jersey, and the chronograph operations (1/10 of a second, split time) are perfect for timing a pro race — or your best time to the bottle shop and back.

Citizen

The $575 Citizen Eco-Drive Aqualand Marine Promaster is a limited edition model, with just 6,000 worldwide to mark 30 years of the Promaster series. It’s big and bold (46.1mm, water resistant to 200m) and powered by Citizen’s battery-free Eco-Drive technology.

The watch includes an analogue depth indicator, and even has an in-built alarm to alert divers if they ascend too fast. But if all this is too dive-centric for you, don’t fret. Citizen’s Promaster family has a multitude of variants, some with in-built GPS technology so the watch can automatically synch to the correct time in 39 world cities.

Breitling

You’ll have to dig deeper into your wallet for a Breitling Superocean chronometer, a $5340 revamp of one of the brand’s classic dive watches.

Powered by an automatic Breitling Caliber 17 movement, the Superocean comes in five case sizes (48,46,44,42 and 36mm – the latter aimed at the smaller wrists of women).

The top-spec Automatic 48 is made from diamond-like carbon-coated titanium and is water-resistant to 300m, while a soft-iron inner case protects the movement from magnetic interference. There’s a range of bezel/dial colour combos – the blue bezel, snow-white dial is a standout.

Raymond Weil 

Finally, if you want a back-up timepiece that wraps sports cred with dress-watch looks, Raymond Weil’s Tango Chronograph (there are multiple men’s and women’s variants, from $1995) fits the bill nicely.

This one (43mm, stainless steel case, quartz movement, stainless steel band) is water-resistant to 300m and features a tachymeter scale around the anodised black aluminium bezel.

Norman Burns

Norman Burns’ career in journalism has taken him around the world, covering everything from the Olympics to international watch fairs, although he’s still hoping to one day escape the bonds of gravity and review a 'space tourism' flight.