Hard-Man Horology

Ultra-tough materials and suave styling make for watches that can take on any situation.
We pick 2013’s ultimate tough guy timepieces

Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak Offshore Diver
The Offshore line is the younger, chunkier, sportier brethren of Audemars Piguet’s classic Royal Oak, and this may be one of its strongest models yet. The case is in rock hard, lightweight black ceramic, and the watch is waterproof to a depth of 300 metres. £15,720 www.audemarspiguet.com

ou can wear it up a mountain or in the boardroom” – so goes the mantra spoken by those at Bremont, the British watch company whose steel watches are specially hardened through industrial processes. They’ve got a point. If you’ve got an active lifestyle – whether that means climbing mountains, jumping out of planes, wasting bad guys on Special Ops missions (Jaeger-LeCoultre has worked on watches with the Navy Seals) or particularly intense PlayStation sessions – it’s worth having a watch that won’t fall apart on active duty.

Modern watch companies are more than up to the task. High-tech materials like industrial ceramic and carbon fibre mix such qualities as lightness, shock absorption and serious toughness, while designers have understood how to bring smart clarity and functionality to watches that mark you out as a man of action. Even in the boardroom.

Bell & Ross - BR01 Airspeed
Last year France’s aviation-obsessed brand released three watches directly based on cockpit instruments, and this year it presents three more. This punchy number, as its name suggests, takes its look from the speed indicator. Available in May.

£3,200 www.bellross.com

Bremont – Supermarine S2000
You want tough? Bremont’s cases are hardened through industrial processes to 2,000 Vickers, nine times the norm for watch cases. Its new diving piece is also sealed for antimagnetic protection, and waterproof to an incredible 2,000 metres. Looks good too.
£3,600 www.bremont.com

Graham - Chronofighter Oversize K2 Mountain
You want tough? It’s got “fighter” in its name, and what resembles a hand grenade trigger on the side (actually the start/stop pusher for the chronograph) – this is hardly a watch for a quiet game of chess. Climb any mountain with this strapped on.

£4,380 www.williamandson.com

IWC – Ingenieur Carbon Performance
Having entered into a partnership with resurgent F1 team Mercedes AMG Petronas, IWC has been incorporating ideas like the tough-as-a-diamond (literally) carbon fibre here used for the case and dial, in F1 used for the entire monocoque of a car.

£18,750 www.iwc.com

Jaeger-LeCoultre – Deep Sea Chronograph Cermet
Take lightweight aluminium, strengthen it with particles of ceramic and give it an outer protective ceramic coating and you’ve got the rugged material for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s charismatic diving piece, with a groovy red/white on/off indicator for the chronograph.

Panerai - Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Ceramica
Panerai originally made watches for Italian Navy frogmen, and there’s still a sense of old-fashioned military derring-do to its latest diving piece. The case is scratchproof matte ceramic, and at 47mm it’s a whopper.

£10,900 www.panerai.com

Ralph Lauren – RL67 Automotive Chronograph
The king of preppy elegance has pulled off something with a much more rugged sensibility than you’d expect – the Jeep-like camo-green case is in innovative titanium resin – while still retaining his customary classic aesthetic thanks to that burlwood dial.

£12,300 www.ralphlaurenwatches.com