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    Left to right: Bell & Ross WW1 Monopoussoir, Ralph Lauren RL67 Safari chronograph, Hublot King Power Oceanographic 4000, Omega Spacemaster Z-33, IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Miramar, Louis Vuitton Tambour Regatta.

    Left to right: Bell & Ross WW1 Monopoussoir, Ralph Lauren RL67 Safari chronograph, Hublot King Power Oceanographic 4000, Omega Spacemaster Z-33, IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Miramar, Louis Vuitton Tambour Regatta.

    Watches — 26 February 2013

    Rock Faces:
    Hard-Wearing Watches

    Adventurous pursuits require hardy watches designed for the task – whether you’re facing high altitude, extreme depth or a likely battering

    By Simon de Burton

    Bell & Ross WW1 Monopoussoir

    It was when things began to get a little too exciting in the Great War trenches that someone decided it might be a good idea to move watches from pocket to wrist in order to keep both hands free for more pressing matters. Many of those early wristwatches were simply converted pocket watches, with the crowns moved from 12 o’clock to three o’clock. Now Bell & Ross has taken inspiration from their large-dialled, highly legible appearance to create this understated, aviator- style chronograph. The ‘monopoussoir’ in the name refers to the fact that the chronograph can be started and stopped using a single button set in to the winding crown.

    £4,900; bellross.com

    Ralph Lauren RL67 Safari chronograph

    The Ralph Lauren watch collection has been getting steadily better since its slightly uncertain launch in 2009. This version of the Sporting chronograph allegedly came about after Ralph himself wore a prototype while on safari, during which the case became worn through in places. Most designers would demand an improvement in the coating material, but not Lauren. He suggested such ready-made patina should be supplied on every watch, much like a pair of pre-washed jeans (with which the Safari looks rather good). Potential buyers can rest assured that the Jaeger-LeCoultre chronograph movement lying within is, of course, in immaculate order.

    £6,850; ralphlaurenwatches.com

    Hublot King Power Oceanographic 4000

    ‘How low can you go?’ is a pertinent question when it comes to Hublot’s decidedly serious dive watch, a monster of the deep that is guaranteed waterproof to a lung-crushing 4,000m – more than 200m deeper than the final resting place of the Titanic. Available in a variety of case materials ranging from titanium to Hublot’s very own ‘King Gold’, the watch has a mammoth 48mm-diameter case and a heavily engineered crown guard to ensure the inner timing bezel can’t be accidentally moved mid-dive. It also has two screw-down crowns and a helium escape valve and is supplied with ‘town’ and ‘diver’ strap options.

    £17,000 to £32,400; hublot.com

    Omega Spacemaster Z-33

    Omega has a long-standing association with space travel through its Speedmaster chronograph, which became the first watch to be worn on the surface of the moon – on the arm of Buzz Aldrin during the historic Apollo XI mission of July, 1969. Were the adventure to be re-enacted today, there’s a good chance the crew might be issued with Omega’s Spacemaster Z-33 which has a titanium case and a multi-function quartz movement, providing alarms, a perpetual calendar, flying log book, multiple time zones and more. The digi-analogue display is controlled by no fewer than five push pieces.

    £3,720; omegawatches.com

    IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Miramar

    IWC made its first Top Gun pilot’s watch in honour of the legendary US Naval Fighter Weapons School in 2007 – but, last year, the line-up was extended to include the ‘Miramar’ range, named after the school’s former base outside San Diego. One of the best variations is the imposing 48mm Big Pilot, which features a tough ceramic case with a titanium back complemented by a classic military dial with buf-coloured hands and markings. Inside, you’ll find IWC’s lovely in-house 5111 Calibre self-winding movement with seven days of power reserve. An olive-green textile strap completes the rugged ‘aviator’ look.

    £13,900; iwc.com 

    Louis Vuitton Tambour Regatta

    Several watch brands will be demonstrating their seagoing credentials as backers of
    boats taking part in this year’s America’s Cup challenge races – but only Louis Vuitton can claim to be the ofcial timekeeper. LV has been a serious player in high-end regattas since the celebrated French yachtsman Bruno Trouble asked the brand to step in as a backer for the 1983 America’s Cup when the event looked set to sink without trace due to lack of funding. The association is now the longest-running in the history of sport, and Vuitton continues to celebrate it with an ever-expanding range of Tambour Regatta watches designed specifically for sailors.

    £6,550; louisvuitton.com