Throughout the years, watches have been exposed to a wide variety of different elements and environments, whether it is on land or in water. Once upon a time, watches were made for the sole purpose of telling the time—nothing more, nothing less. They were vastly different and somewhat flimsy and disposable compared to the watches that are made today. With each and every year, the durability of watches is increasingly tried and tested, to see how much force or pressure a single watch can withstand. Manufacturing durable watches has become crucial to the future of watchmaking due to the many arising new activities that wearers often take part in. Watch wearers now prefer timepieces that have longevity and can last them years rather than a few months. This is understandable, especially considering the price hikes most watch brands have had, to the point where a single watch can cost you more than a thousand dollars, compared to the prices back in the day. Today, watch brands are careful to emphasize durability when crafting a timepiece, promising balanced, well-rounded timekeepers that are both sturdy and highly functional, and can go the distance.
That being said, just what kind of watch are you looking for? Is it an affordable watch with maximum durability? Or are you looking for an exquisite timepiece that boasts a sturdy exterior whilst simultaneously exemplifying elegance? In this write-up, we will be going over some of the 20 best durable watches that have been produced over the years. These are all unique watches that each have their own strengths. Nevertheless, what every one of these timepieces has in common is that they all possess remarkable durability that is sure to last you for years.
Top 20 Durable Watches That Can Last for Years
1. Casio G-Shock Mudmaster Ref. GWG-100GB-1AJF
The Casio G-Shock Mudmaster Ref. GWG-100GB-1AJF is Casio’s way of stylizing their trademark G-Shock watch, with a beguiling black and gold colour scheme. At first glance, this watch might seem like it leans more towards being eye candy rather than a durable utility watch—but that is not the case at all. Casio has always prided itself on providing high functionality rather than focusing more on design, but this Casio G-Shock Mudmaster manages to capably blend both qualities in a highly resilient package. This is a pretty sizable watch, with dimensions that measure 56.2 x 54.9 x 17.3 mm. It is a heavy-duty timepiece that is perfect for extreme adventures and jobs that mostly involve heavy lifting. It has a distinct and eye-catching design, especially with its gold ion-plated screws and bezel. This watch boasts 200m water resistance, low-temperature resistance, shock resistance, and its unusual signature feature—mud resistance. It is a very sturdy watch that can withstand all sorts of outdoor environments and damage and is highly recommended for both casual wearers and thrill-seekers alike. The Casio G-Shock Mudmaster Ref. GWG-100FB-1AJF retails at only $399 USD. It is an affordable watch that does more than what it costs.
2. Garmin Marq Driver Titanium Ref. 010-02006-01
Professional drivers, particularly in the racing scene, are frequently exposed to dangerous situations like car crashes and other vehicular accidents. With that in mind, professionals are typically equipped with sturdy protective gear to ensure a higher rate of survivability whenever an accident ensues—and this applies to the watches they wear, too. The Garmin Marq Driver Titanium Ref. 010-02006-01 is the perfect watch for such scenarios due to its reliability and tough exterior. Plus, even though its functions are more focused on time measurement and recording time, this watch can also be used for other sports-related activities like swimming, running, and even skiing. It has a water resistance of 100m, which is more than enough for a racing watch. The price for this watch starts at $2,999 USD.
3. Marathon Jumbo Diver/Pilot Automatic Chronograph Ref. WW194014
Image courtesy of Marathon
Marathon is known as one of the top watch brands in terms of creating durable watches, offering resilient military timepieces that can survive even a warzone. The Marathon Jumbo Diver/Pilot Automatic Chronograph Ref. WW194014 is a prime example of Marathon’s top-of-the-line durable watches. It is an aviation watch that is quite hefty in size, with a 46mm stainless steel case. Although it is primarily intended for pilots, this timepiece can also be used as a dive watch since it has a water resistance rating of 300m. This military-grade watch is perfect for extreme situations like a rescue mission or an extensive hike in the mountains. It retails starting at $4,750 USD.
4. Luminox Master Carbon Quartz Ref. XS.3813.L
Speaking of military-grade watches, the Luminox Master Carbon Quartz Ref. XS.3813.L is also a strong contender, especially with the brand’s close ties with the US Navy Seals. This watch features a sturdy 46mm case made from Luminox’s signature carbon material, known as “Carbonox”. It is also fitted with a luminescent technology that ensures the watch is able to glow in poor lighting conditions for over 25 years. This watch is not just a utility watch, as it also offers a nice, fresh design that is perfect for casual wear. It has a water resistance capacity of 300m, which adds more to its durability. The price for the Luminox Master Carbon Quartz Ref. XS.3813.L is currently at $679 USD.
5. Suunto 9 G1 ZH Baro Titanium Ref. SS050149000
If you are interested in extremely stylish and durable watches, then look no further, since the Suunto 9 G1 ZH Baro Titanium Ref. SS050149000 might be just the one for you. It offers a sleek design that exudes modernity, much like the Garmin Marq Driver series. It offers a wide variety of features, including over 80 sports modes that you can choose from. Even though it is a touchscreen watch, it still possesses great durability, to accommodate its sporty nature. It has 100m of water resistance, which is more than enough, especially for a smartwatch. It also features shock-resistant and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, so the Suunto 9 Ref. SS050149000 will not easily shatter when dropped or damaged by other external elements. This watch is easily one of the best smartwatches for sports available due to its advanced features that cater to almost all sports enthusiasts. It retails at an affordable $929 USD.
6. Luminox Navy Seal 3500 Series Ref. XS.3501.F
The Luminox Navy Seal 3500 Series Ref. XS.3501.F may not be the most neatly designed watch on this list, but its durability is truly something to look forward to. This watch has a rugged exterior that perfectly encapsulates its sturdiness. It has a 45mm carbon compound case and matching bezel which possess a toughness comparable to that of titanium and stainless steel. Furthermore, since this carbon compound is both durable and lightweight, it gives the watch a comfortably weightless profile that is easy to carry on your wrist. Plus, it has a substantial water-resistance of 200m, which is just right for a watch primarily made for the US Navy Seals. It also comes with illumination technology to provide better readability in the dark and underwater. This watch has a retail price of $395 USD, which is quite affordable for anyone looking for a durable watch that offers both utility and legibility.
7. Casio G-Shock Full Metal Black Ref. GMW-B5000GD-1JF
Casio has long been considered one of the pioneering brands for durable watches since they created the Casio G-Shock. The original Casio G-Shock DW-5000C is a popular classic watch, which has led Casio to introduce the Casio G-Shock Full Metal Black Ref. GMW-B5000GD-1JF, a modern, updated version of its predecessor. It has new and improved features that transcend the first G-Shock, while still maintaining its quintessential design. This model now uses a full stainless steel metal case with the same dimensions as its predecessor, which are 49.3 x 43.2 x 13mm. It boasts a handy 200m water resistance along with Casio’s signature shock resistance. The price of this watch is $539 USD. It is affordable, stylish, and useful while staying true to its roots.
8. Casio G-Shock Rangeman Ref. GW-9400J-1JF
Another notable entry from Casio is the Casio G-Shock Rangeman Ref. GW-9400J-1JF. This is an incredibly tough watch with a rugged shock-resistant 53.5mm resin case. The materials used may not be the standard, but the durability of this watch has been tried and tested many times before it was released on the market. In fact, the Casio G-Shock Rangeman Ref. GW-9400J-1JF is part of the Master of G series, which is designed to withstand extreme environments that the average watch cannot. It employs a wide variety of features that are necessary to endure harsh surroundings such as barometer, temperature, and altitude readings. It also has a water resistance of 200m, which allows the wearer to bring their watch with them for a swim or a casual dive. Both this watch and the Mudmaster Ref. GWG-100FB-1AJF are on equal footing in terms of durability, with the only difference between these two being their purposes. The price of the Casio G-Shock Rangeman Ref. GW-9400J-1JF starts at $449 USD.
9. Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Titanium Ref. 241812
Out of all the watches on this list, the Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Titanium Ref. 241812 is probably the most stylish and elegant one. It is a dive watch that boasts a 45mm titanium case that not only offers a sleek, lightweight profile but also provides a certain level of durability that allows the watch to compete with other highly durable watches on the market. It has a 200m water-resistance capacity as well as a scratch-proof, triple-coated sapphire crystal to ensure maximal readability at all times. Since it is a dive watch, the I.N.O.X Ref. 241812 offers functions that are primarily devoted to diving, unlike other versatile watches such as the Casio Rangeman or the Marathon Jumbo Diver/Pilot Chronograph. That said, each watch has its own strengths and the Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Titanium Ref. 241812 is a powerhouse underwater. The price for this watch starts at $729 USD, which is quite affordable for a diver watch that is as stylish as this one.
10. Sinn Diving Watches UX EZM 2B Ref. 403.030-Solid-2LSS-BB
Another impressive watch on this list is the Sinn Diving Watches UX EZM 2B Ref. 403.030-Solid-2LSS-BB. It is the only watch on this list that uses a 44mm German submarine steel case, which goes hand in hand with its impressive diving capability. It is an undoubtedly tough watch that can withstand water pressures up to depths of a whopping 5,000m. In more ways than one, this watch can be considered one of the ultimate dive watches produced by the watchmaking industry. Indeed, it is quite uncommon, even for dive watches, to have such extensive water resistance capacities, enduring pressures that even a human being would not be able to withstand. This is all thanks to the impeccable German submarine steel which Sinn uses for this timepiece’s case. This watch currently retails at $2,469 USD, a fitting price for such a powerful dive watch with maximal durability and protection from the elements.
11. Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Ref. DG2018C-P12C-BK
The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon series offers superior durability compared to the other Ball watch collections. The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Ref. DG2018C-P12C-BK, for example, promotes superior legibility, style, and toughness. It has a strong 42mm stainless steel case with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal to bolster its sturdy exterior. It also comes with a black and brown rotating bezel which can be used for timing purposes. With its 100m water resistance, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Ref. DG2018C-P12C-BK is an impressively durable watch that can be used for various sports and other outdoor activities. You can purchase this watch for $3,199 USD.
12. Panerai Luminor Submersible Ref. 1950 PAM01389
The Panerai Luminor Submersible Ref. 1950 PAM01389 is a luxury watch that inhibits a level of durability quite uncommon for luxury watches. That said, the design of the Panerai Luminor Submersible Ref. 1950 PAM01389 is a little exotic, to say the least. It has a 47mm cushion-shaped titanium case, which is equipped with an oddly designed yet secure oversized crown. It comes with 300m of water resistance, which is to be expected of luxury dive watches. This watch is also equipped with Incabloc, which is a shock-resistant technology that protects the watch from any impacts or jolts. As of right now, the Panerai Luminor Submersible Ref. 1950 PAM01389 retails at $11,000 USD. It cannot be denied that this watch is quite expensive, but its exquisite features, design, and high-quality engineering is something you do not want to miss.
13. Seiko Prospex Padi Ref. SNE499P1
Seiko may not be as well known for durable watches as its fellow Japanese watch brand, Casio, but it still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Notably, the Seiko Prospex Padi Ref. SNE499P1 is a thick and hefty watch that can easily endure shocks and damage from other external elements. It boasts a 46.7mm stainless steel case with a thickness of 12.4mm, giving it a bold and rugged look. This $449 USD timepiece also comes with a water resistance rating of 200m, making it an affordable dive watch that has all the necessary features for comfortable and safe diving.
14. Tudor Pelagos Titanium Ref. 25600TB-0001
The Tudor Pelagos Titanium Ref. 25600TB-0001 offers a simplistic design while taking into consideration the durability of the watch. Most highly durable watches tend to be larger in size, using their heft to ensure reliable protection from the environment. The Tudor Pelagos Titanium Ref. 25600TB-0001, however, breaks the norm by going with a sleeker, minimalist design instead of the usual bulky exterior. The 42mm titanium case is what gives this watch the toughness it needs. Not only that, but it also has a water resistance of 500m, which is very impressive for a watch with such stature. The Tudor Pelagos Titanium Ref. 25600TB-0001 is currently priced at $4,575 USD.
15. TAG Heuer Formula 1 Ref. CAZ101AF.BA0637
The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Ref. CAZ101AF.BA0637 is yet another race-centric watch that maximizes its durability with excellent shock resistance. This particular watch is a limited edition chronograph and is a tribute to the Senna racing team. It boasts a 43mm stainless steel case with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel. Much like the Garmin Marq Driver, this watch is made for race car driving. This means that it is equipped with the requisite toughness necessary to endure the sudden blunt force from crashes and to absorb a certain amount of shock. Not only that, but this timepiece also comes with a fairly stylish design, so that it can be used as a dress watch or as a casual everyday watch. This $2,200 USD watch is also equipped with a respectable water resistance rating of 200m.
16. Omega Speedmaster GMT Ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.001
The Omega Speedmaster GMT Ref. 3184.108.40.206.01.001 is yet another watch whose purpose revolves around racing. It features a 44.25mm titanium case with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It also has a 100m water resistance. This might look like a heavy watch at first glance, especially since its titanium case has a considerable thickness of 14mm, but its lightweight titanium material and smooth rubber strap promise a comfortable profile that does not hinder the wearer in any way. This watch has a retail price of $9,100 USD, which some might consider expensive, but is still quite reasonable for such a powerful automatic watch
17. Casio Pro Trek Ref. PRG-330-1JF
The Casio Pro Trek Triple Sensor Ref. PRW-7000FC-1JF is probably one of the best outdoor watches that you can buy for under $1000 USD. It is neat, sleek, and incredibly useful for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, trekking, and even fishing. This watch has a sizable 52mm black resin and stainless steel case which offers the necessary resistances against low temperatures and shock—much like the technology used in the G-Shock. It has a water resistance capacity of 200m. As such even though this is not a dive watch, it is still possible to go for a quick dive while wearing this timekeeper. All in all, it is a high-functioning utility watch that offers great comfort and ease when worn during outdoor activities. This particular watch costs $729 USD.
18. Citizen Promaster Ref. CB5007-51H
Citizen is also home to a few durable watches that are quite underrated in the market. The Citizen Promaster Ref. CB5007-51H, in particular, uses a 46mm grey stainless steel case that ensures maximal durability. It also boasts a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal to protect its dial from any external damage. Not only that, but it also has a 200m water resistance rating, which adds to the versatility of this aviation watch. It boasts a professional, classy design that goes perfectly well with a suit and tie. This striking watch can be purchased for a mere $469 USD.
19. Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Ref. 010-02157-24
The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition Ref. 010-02157-24 is another smartwatch that offers great utility with many useful functions. It is a digital watch that focuses more on accommodating outdoor activities without neglecting its duty as a timekeeper. This watch boasts a gleaming 51mm titanium case that provides a high level of durability despite its tactile glass screen. Since it is also a smartwatch like the Garmin Marq Ref. 010-02006-01, it is equipped with the same features that make it well-equipped for outdoor activities, be it extreme or recreational sports. This Garmin Fenix 6X Pro retails at $1,049 USD.
20. Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Land Series Ref. XB.3782.MI
Since Bear Grylls is a well-known survivalist, there is no doubt that his collaborative watch with Luminox promotes durability unlike any other. The Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Land Series Ref. XB.3782.MI is a close candidate in terms of being the best survival/adventurer watch on the market. It uses a 42mm Carbonox case and bezel as well as scratch-resistant sapphire glass. The screwed-in case back, however, employs the strength of 316L stainless steel. The rubber strap is used to ensure comfort and maintain its weight while also accommodating the compass loop accessory that comes with the watch. To make things sweeter, this watch comes with a water resistance rating of 200m, which expands its usage outdoors. It is a useful watch that removes the worry of damage from external elements such as low temperatures and impacts. You can purchase this rugged and durable timepiece for just $655 USD.
The Pioneers of Durable Watches
In terms of the durability of watches, the difference between newer models and older ones is a vast one. While durability has always been a consideration when crafting watches, new innovations and technologies in horology over the years, such as the application of stronger materials, has allowed watch brands to make huge strides in terms of creating more durable watches. When talking about durable watches, it is hard not to mention Casio, due to their extensive contributions in manufacturing the “toughest” watches available in the market. Rolex, Seiko, Tag Heuer, and several more brands are also famous for their highly durable watches, both in the past and today. But truly, nothing can compare to the sturdiness and reliability that the G-Shock offered during its release in 1983. The Casio G-Shock DW-5000C took the market by storm with its fresh digital design that championed toughness above all else. Today, Casio has developed several variations of the Casio G-Shock DW-5000C, as well as other new G-Shock models that have upheld the vision of Kikuo Ibe, a renowned engineer in Casio who went against the laws of nature to create the toughest watch in the world—at least, during that time.
With such a declaration, several watchmakers followed suit to try and beat Casio for the aforementioned title. Despite all efforts, of course, Casio reigned supreme, with their distinct design blueprint as well as their never-ending passion for creating watches that will truly go the distance.
Aside from Casio, Marathon has become another leading brand in terms of creating tough, durable watches. By combining the durability of military watches with innovative Swiss expertise, Marathon has managed to create some of the most heavy-duty watches in the industry since 1941. In addition, Marathon timepieces also come with Swiss automatic movements, deviating from the wide use of quartz movements in many other durable watches. Of course, that does not mean that one is better than the other. The choice of quartz versus automatic movement is just a matter of preferences in timekeeping.
There are indeed more brands that champion durability in their watches, but it would take us quite a while to finish listing all of them. The models that we have listed above are some of the best durable watches that have been produced in the past few years, but it is not an exhaustive list. Nevertheless, they are all sure-fire hits amongst thrill-seeking adventurers, military personnel, outdoor enthusiasts and athletes. These watches offer the best possible experience due to their handy functions and reliable durability, making them truly worthy of the title of the best durable watches in 2021.
Durability is a must-have property for watches if you want to avoid losing your money’s worth. That is why, when choosing a watch, you should always check if it can withstand at least being dropped on the floor. It is perfectly fine to spend a few more dollars for a legitimate, tough watch that can last. Plus, there are a handful of watches on the list that are very affordable and versatile in terms of usage, offering a certain level of flexibility that allows them to be worn for any occasion or activity.
There is no question that these durable watches will last for years, rather than just months, as flimsier timepieces are wont to do. Some could even last you a lifetime with the right care and are capably able to endure all sorts of challenging environments and extremities—which is especially useful for hardcore survivalists and adventurers. Each watch on this list has its own strengths, with models that cater towards outdoor sports, diving, racing, and more, but what ultimately ties all of these timepieces together is their durability and toughness, making these some of the best durable watches in the world.
Interested in reading more about watch materials and what makes a watch strong? Check out our Watch Guide to Different Types of Watch Materials!
All images courtesy of WatchShopping, unless stated otherwise. Featured image courtesy of puuikibeach on Flickr.