Watches: towards all-terrain? Get a watch to match your wheels


If you’re thinking outside the box, you’ll need something raw and ready

If you love nothing more than spending your weekends in front of your mirrors in the mud and tricking your 4×4 with knobby tires and a snorkel…you might want to complete the look with a proper watch.

The first question is whether to go for old school mechanics or something newer that takes batteries. In terms of utility, the argument is already settled: modern technology keeps time better and is more robust. It is also cheaper to produce. But people are still paying more for less technology – the surge in vinyl record sales is one example, while other people are inexplicably buying stacks of old VHS movies.

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Most observant people have similar feelings about mechanical movements. They know it doesn’t make sense to wear a medieval curiosity on their wrist, they just prefer to own something miraculously complex. Even though the basic principles of ticking are centuries old, the mechanical watch has been refined to the point of being accurate to seconds and tough enough to withstand more beatings than your BF Goodrichs.

Many watchmakers have embraced the world of 4x4s. A few years ago, the Swiss company Ronda produced khaki-cased automatic watches celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Willys jeep. Then, the Swiss brand Zenith created a series of sophisticated mechanics dedicated to Range Rovers, Defenders and Evoques. Currently, Danish company REC sells chunky automatic watches containing shaved bits of old Land Rovers, while British brand Elliot Brown has a deal with Land Rover Classic.

But do you really need a watch for off-roading? Well no – it’s mostly about getting to the other side of the mud, rather than slashing precious seconds off your time. Plus, you’ll be too busy clinging to the wheel to check how much time is left until tea time.

We are not talking about need. You don’t need a watch to go off-roading, nor can you claim that 4x4ing the countryside is a necessity. You do it because you want to. And if you feel like it, you might as well bring a nice watch. Below is a small selection. Most require batteries, but not all. One thing in common: they can all just take muddy hits and keep going.

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The Dorset-based brand was started a decade ago by friends Ian Elliot and Alex Brown, who set out to make rugged watches that wouldn’t break the bank. A love of adventure has led them to team up with mountain rescue teams and the RNLI, as well as Land Rover Classic. This watch was designed alongside the Classic Defender Works V8 Trophy II and features camouflaged lugs to reflect the Land Rover’s camo paint job. Quartz movement in a 43mm stainless steel case, water resistant to 200m. Dial printed in luminous paint that glows with white, blue and green camouflage shapes. The Land Rover Trophy shipment is limited to 1,000 pieces.


This Danish company makes chunky watches with shaved parts from classics like Triumph motorcycles and Ford Mustangs. This one has an aluminum dial taken from a 1981 Series III Land Rover dubbed “Beachrunner”. Swiss automatic movement in a 40mm stainless steel case, water resistant
at 50m.



Casio’s G-Shock was born in the 80s on the principle of “triple 10” – 10-year battery, water resistance of 10 bar (100 m) and able to withstand a drop of 10 meters. The G-Shocks start at under £100, but this Dakar rally-inspired Team Land Cruiser collab, with radio-controlled timing and 200m water resistance, will set you back a bit more.



If you’re really racing and 4×4 off the map, there’s only one watch to save you. Originally made in the 90s for pilots and once featured in an episode of Top Gearthe watch has a unique safety feature: you can pull a cord anywhere on the planet and a search and rescue
the team will find you.


About Robert L. Thomas

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