Our 7 Favorite Outdoor Watches – And The Places We'd Like To Take Them
While a great watch is far from mandatory on the list of items required to enjoy the great outdoors, we'd argue that the right watch can be not only a romantic addition but also a functional one. Whether you're hiking a favorite peak route, diving at a special dive site, or just getting out of the house, it's always good to know what time it is and many modern outdoorsy watches offer a lot of additional functionality for getting the most out of your preferred outdoor activity. So kick off your boots, hang up your hat, and put away your compass – here are our picks for some of our favorite outdoor watches and where we'd love to take them.
Full disclaimer: I'm a gold lover who's very new to tool watches. Well, I'm new to understanding anything beyond how they look. The functionality factor of this watch is most likely never going to strike a chord with me. But oh boy does the orange dial on this watch have me feeling some type of way. This watch oozes 80s vintage Doxa cool. And while a 40mm diameter would usually mean an automatic 'No' from me, I'd be more than willing to take this for a swim somewhere tropical (with cocktails). –Malaika Crawford, Style Editor
The watch that actually joined me this summer while hiking in Western New York, Colorado, and California was the Oak & Oscar Humboldt GMT – but y'all have already heard me talk enough about that watch. And it seems like Mark already has the G-Shock ground well-covered below, so I'll opt for the latest and greatest gadget out of Cupertino: the Apple Watch Ultra. It has more than enough gizmos and abilities to account for any place I might end up. As for where I'd take it? If I was a few years younger, I might point out the solid use-case a smartwatch like the Apple Watch Ultra has during a music festival, like Bonnaroo or Austin City Limits. But nowadays I prefer more relaxed terrain, so I'll pick out a different sort of camping.
Growing up in Texas, I've always wanted to set up camp at Big Bend National Park. The sprawling park is full of mountain ranges, deserts, and all sorts of wildlife. I definitely think the Ultra's enhanced battery life, dual-signal link GPS, Alpine Loop band, and "Wayfinder" watch face would come in handy in the harsh natural climate of West Texas. Big Bend is more than a 10-hour drive from where I grew up, north of Houston, so I was never able to make it out there when I was younger, but here's hoping I find my way there in the near future – maybe even with the Apple Watch Ultra on my wrist. –Logan Baker, Brand Editor
When I swim in a lake, even a small one, I want to make sure I am not swimming for so long that by the time I make it to one end of my journey I will actually be too tired, or too enveloped in darkness, to make it back to the other. I like old watches, I like simple watches, and ever since I read James Stacey's article about this watch I have thought about it now and then, and how nice it would be to have as company on a lake swim. The needle-thin seconds hand appeals, the inverted triangle noon marker, and the lume, faded as I am by time but still going, is more than powerful enough for my needs. And I can buy one if I want, and maybe I will. –Sarah Miller, Senior Writer
If you're looking for a watch to wear hiking – or at the end of the world – I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anything that does the job better than a G-Shock. In fact, I've been wanting one of these G-Shock Mudmasters for so long that I think some part of me is afraid that my buying one is my subconscious is saying "the world is over." But things are great here today in New York. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I think this might be the next watch I buy now that we're into the fall hiking season.
Sure, maybe it's overkill. It's a big watch at 61.2mm x 54.4mm diameter and 16.1mm worth of thickness. Okay, "big" is an understatement, but it's so much more than a "big watch." In addition to being engineered to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it with its 200m water resistance and three-layer resin and carbon fiber bezel, it's also incredibly useful. Its analog-digital display is surprisingly legible and in addition to the time, calendar, and radio-controlled time adjustment, the QuadSensor allows the watch to act as a thermometer, altimeter/barometer, digital compass, and step counter. Plus, if you're the kind of person who might put it away and burrow under the covers for the cold winter months, the rechargeable battery lasts 25 months on a full charge when in power-save mode. –Mark Kauzlarich, Edito
Tudor Ranger 79950
As a long-time admirer of the vintage Tudor Ranger – I've owned one for years – I was thrilled to see Tudor bring back the Ranger this year in a manageable 39mm case. A couple of years back, I was hiking somewhere in Montana with my vintage Ranger when a light snow started. I'd watch little snowflakes land on the crystal and melt into droplets, freaking out each time that this would be the drop to somehow leak into the dial, ruining a beautiful watch and a decent hike at the same time.
Of course, everything ended up fine (those vintage Oyster cases are more durable than you give them credit for when taken care of!), but I've always been bummed that a watch distracted me from a nice walk in the mountains.
Listen, I'm not about to go diving off the coast of Oahu like James "catch me on the beach sipping mai tais" Stacey – so for me, a simple three-hander field watch with 100m of water resistance works just fine. I'd take it back to Glacier National Park in Montana and try that hike up to Grinnell Glacier again before it's gone. –Anthony Traina, Editor
When I go for a bike ride I like to go fast, or at least feel like I'm going fast. More often than not, I'm usually just crawling up a steep Southern California hill or redlining myself trying to keep up with much faster riders. There's absolutely no way to prove this, but ever since I started wearing the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer on a grey NATO, I feel like I'm riding a tad bit faster. It must be in the name or that I use the solar-powered chronograph function to time certain sections of my route that gives a psychological boost to my weak little legs.
Who really knows? Oh, I know! It's because I look cooler wearing it! Cool is fast, right?
Not only does it accessorize my fly cycling outfit, but having a battery-driven solar movement is so convenient. Who has time to wind a watch when you're flying down a hill? Not this guy! –Brandon Menancio, Editor
I see this currently non-US market Citizen Aqualand as a sort of modern Ploprof. At 50.7mm wide, including the lump on the nine o'clock flank for the depth sensor, it's a huge watch that wears really well. Like, surprisingly well. This specific model has a full lume dial surrounded by a gun-metal-finished steel case. With 200 meters of water resistance and a digital display that can manage everything from dive timing, depth indication, a chronograph, and more, this wannabe dive computer blends classic Japanese dive watch styling with a nerdy element that I find exceptionally appealing. While I don't love writing about a watch that isn't for sale in HODINKEE's home market, I have to admit that this Aqualand is one of my favorite watches of 2022.
I'd love to have this on my wrist while diving the LCU in Hawaii, not far off the coast of Oahu. It's a submerged military landing craft that flipped upside down while being placed as an artificial reef. Beset with a shimmering contingent of leering barracuda, this large metal box has formed a would-be cave for blacktip reef sharks. I dove on this site years ago and would love to go back and charge the lume on this Aqualand after swimming inside this old boat. As for sipping mai tais, you think this Citizen doesn't like to party? That lume only turns up. –James Stacey, Senior Writer
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