Mechanical watches are delicate pieces of machinery that can be thrown off kilter if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Magnetic fields, extreme temperatures, and shocks are among the risks watches face. Below, in this list we take a look at some watches designed to withstand these outside factors.
1. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 has a safety band around its hairspring, limiting the motion of the spring when the watch receives a shock. The watch also has two screws to hold the hairspring stud. The hairspring itself is made of silicon and weighs only one-third as much as a conventional metal hairspring. It is therefore less vulnerable to shocks. Jolts are also buffered by the case, which combines an inner container and exterior housing, both made of the titanium alloy TiVan15.
2. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss became the world’s most magnetism-resistant watch, exceeding the level of magnetic field resistance of other pioneering antimagnetic watches such as the Rolex Milgauss, when it was introduced in 2013. The key to this milestone is its innovative movement, Omega Co-axial Caliber 8508, which is made up largely of non-ferrous components such as silicon balance springs and nickel phosphorous escape wheels. Click here for more details on the watch.
3. TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty-Four Calibre 36
For its Monaco Twenty-Four Calibre 36, TAG Heuer developed what it calls an Advanced Dynamic Absorber System. The movement is suspended at all four corners inside the square case. Four plastic buffers protect the movement against shocks and especially against vibrations in the frequency range of one to 10 Hz.
4. IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph protects its movement from the effects of magnetic fields with a “Faraday cage,” and inner case of soft iron around the movement.
5. Richard Mille RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor
The first watch with a complication geared toward high-speed road-racing safety, the Richard Mille RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt was conceived by brand namesake and racing enthusiast Richard Mille with the aid of French motorsports executive Jean Todt. In addition to its tourbillon movement, free-sprung balance with variable inertia, and gearbox-inspired “function selector,” the watch features a patented, mechanical G-Sensor system that is designed to visually display the “Gs” accumulated by the watch’s wearer during rapid deceleration, thus making a driver aware when he is approaching dangerous road speeds. For more details on this watch and its unique function, click here.
6. Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
Rolex was able to make its Sea-Dweller Deepsea, which has a water-resistance level of 3,900 meters (nearly 13,000 feet), more than 10 percent slimmer than it otherwise would have been by using an entirely new case construction. It consists of three pressure-absorbing elements: a 5.5 mm thick sapphire crystal, a 3.28 mm thick back made of grade 5 titanium, and an inner ring (on which both of them rest) made of Biodur-108 steel.
7. Sinn UX
The Sinn UX has a case filled with liquid, which, because it cannot be compressed, makes the watch pressure-resistant to just about any depth. The liquid expands at higher temperatures, so the back is composed of two parts and contains a membrane that allows the inner part to move slightly outward. The watch contains a quartz movement, because the liquid would interfere with the oscillations of a balance. The movement is also lubricated with special oil so that it can function at extreme temperatures ranging from -45° to +80° Celsius, or -49° to +176° Fahrenheit.
8. CX Swiss Military Watch 20,000 Feet
One of the most water-resistant watches is a model called “20,000 Feet,” from the CX Swiss Military Watch brand made by Montres Charmex. The watch is a tremendously chunky (28.5 mm thick) chronograph with a thick, curved crystal (the curvature enhances the crystal’s pressure resistance).
9. Ball Watch Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon
Ball Watch uses specially blended oils in its Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon models that enable them to operate at temperatures ranging from -40° to +60° Celsius, or -40° to +140° Fahrenheit.
10. Breitling Emergency II
A pilot or explorer stranded in harsh conditions will appreciate the Breitling Emergency II — the successor to the original Breitling Emergency watch, introduced in 1995 — which is the first watch equipped with a dual-frequency locator beacon. Developed in conjunction with major scientific institutes, the watch is powered by a rechargeable battery and incorporates an integrated antenna system; it transmits on two separate frequencies to issue alerts and to aid in search-and-rescue missions. For a full explanation of how the Breitling Emergency II works, click here.
Are there any other “extreme conditions” watches you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments box below.
This article was originally published on November 10, 2013, and has been updated with new material.