My Favorite Watches To Take Hiking! Seiko, Breitling, Casio, and Linde Werdelin
Welcome to the new year… 2021. Doesn’t it sound good and roll off of the tongue nicely? It certainly sounds better than the sorry excuse for a year that was 2020, right? I hope you all had a lovely break over the Christmas and New Year period. I know I did! I got a chance to reacquaint myself with the great outdoors and spend some time hiking in the absolute middle of nowhere. There’s something about removing oneself from the daily grind and spending time in the wild. No people, no cars, no nothing. Just the sounds of the odd sheep, bird, or the wind.
Now, in this kind of environment, it can get muddy, wet, and a little dangerous for a watch. Some places I visit involve scrambling up and down rocky paths. I’ll be honest in admitting that I have slipped and slid down more than one hill in my time. Despite the risk, as a watch enthusiast, I always like to have a watch on my wrist. What watches do I prefer to take on my hikes? I’m glad you asked! I have a few pieces in my collection that I tend to turn to.
This one is by far the cheapest of the lot. Most of my colleagues own various G-Shock watches. These watches are arguably more suited to the rough and tumble of the outdoors, but their large case sizes have usually put me off. 48mm plus just seems a bit too much for me. Enter the Casio AE1400WH.
…watches don’t need to be expensive to be fun…
I originally bought this watch to wear while ice skating. Back in the day, I lived near an ice rink and learned how to ice skate so that I could give ice hockey a go. I used to spend most weekends watching my local team (Manchester Storm!) playing, and after many a beer, I decided that I wanted to give it a go. The only issue was that I couldn’t ice skate. So to overcome this glaring issue, I took lessons. This was the cheap £20 watch I bought to accompany me onto the ice. The thinking was that if I fell over (I did, a lot) and it broke, then there was no harm done. Thankfully it did not break but has since gone on to become a much worn and enjoyed watch. Proving that watches don’t need to be expensive to be fun and useful!
A G-Shock alternative
These days this watch is my go-to when getting ready for a hike in the Peak District or similar. While it’s not a G-Shock, it looks similar and carries many of the same features as the lower end pieces. It also has the addition of a world time function. I don’t really use this, but the minimap does look cool on the display. It’s waterproof, fall-proof (so far) and has been covered in mud, snow, and God knows what else. It’s held up admirably, and given the £20 price, it does me just fine.
Breitling Superocean Abyss
This watch was the first luxury watch I ever bought before I knew much about different brands, styles, etc. When I decided I wanted to buy a “proper” watch, Breitling was the brand that popped into my head. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I decided that I wanted a Breitling watch. I don’t ever recall seeing any marketing or anything as a kid or as an adult, but Breitling it was. When browsing their catalog, the dive watches were the ones that stood out to me as being the best looking, and particularly the Superocean Abyss! I read tonnes of reviews and digested every piece of content I could find online, and I made the plunge and ordered it online without ever having seen it in the flesh. Oh, the audacity!! Probably not something I’d do these days!
…I scraped it along a wall…
I remember babying this watch when it first arrived. Then, one fateful morning, I scraped it along a wall while opening a gate and scratched the bezel, and slightly damaged the rubber bezel insert. From then on, I wore this watch more freely and began to savor and enjoy the wear it accumulated. Since then, it’s been traveling with me to Thailand, it’s been diving in the North Sea with grey seals, and it’s been a familiar companion while out hiking. I have no fears when wearing this watch. It’s a serious tool watch, and I know it can handle any bump, fall, or submersion in the dirt. It also helps that it looks pretty damn sharp — that yellow chapter ring is just super cool.
Hiking in style
The Breitling Superocean Abyss probably ties with the Casio as my most worn hiking watch. Sometimes I want the lightness of the Casio, other times I like the heft of the Breitling. I love this watch and would recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable tool watch. As a side note, this earlier generation of this model is way cooler than the newer updates in my mind. While the bezel misses the luminous pip at 12 o’clock, the italicized font used on the bezel and dial lends a much more unique character to the watch that the more sterile font used today. You can pick up these watches pretty reasonably on the pre-owned market, so do have a look. There are a few different chapter ring color choices too!
Linde Werdelin Oktopus Blue Sea
As a disclaimer, this watch is not actually a permanent fixture in my collection. It’s very kindly on loan from Linde Werdelin for the purpose of writing a hands-on review (coming soon!), but in the short time I’ve had it, it has become the go-to wristwear when hiking and venturing outdoors!
…twice the strength of steel while remaining half the weight of titanium…
I could wax lyrical about this watch, and I will, but you’ll have to wait for the full review. One of the key points, though, is despite its visual size, this watch is so wearable. It’s surprisingly light as visually it appears pretty hefty. It also looks bigger than the 44m diameter would suggest. All of this is so well offset by the lightness afforded to it by the use of ALW for the case construction. To you and me, that is Alloy Linde Werdelin. It’s a unique material created for aerospace and Formula 1 but repurposed by Linde Werdelin. The alloy is twice the strength of steel while remaining half the weight of titanium. Fantastic stuff. I also rather like that, in certain lighting, the case has a subtle and almost pearlescent sheen.
Welcome to the glow show
The real standout of this watch for me though, is the incredible lume, courtesy of lume-god Black Badger. Anyone who reads my writing will know I’m a big fan of his work, and this watch is no exception. The dial uses three different types of lume applications and color for a truly stunning and never-before-seen display of luminescence. It’s just amazing. With the lume coming from the Badger’s Badgerite compound, the glow show lasts for a long, long time too. So, when hikes last a little longer than planned, and the light begins to fade, reading the time is a piece of cake.
Seiko Alpinist SPB199J1
Last but not least is another loaner. This one is so recent I don’t have a photograph of my own to share! I know that all of the Fratelli are well aware of the Seiko Alpinist. It’s a very popular model in general and has become an iconic silhouette from the Japanese brand. Indeed it was even designed initially with explorers and outdoor enthusiasts in mind.
…you need to know where you’re going.
The most obvious visual feature for this watch is the extra crown, located at 4 o’clock. This operates the internal bezel, which features compass markings. For any real explorer, knowing the direction you’re heading in is relatively key. When reading maps (traditional paper ones, not on your phone!), you need to know where you’re going. Thankfully, you can use a watch in place of a compass! I won’t detail how to do this as there’s an excellent article from Watch Ranker that explains it here.
Turn that compass
While you can technically navigate with any watch, the Alpinist makes it incredibly easy with the compass bezel. For some this aesthetic is a sticker. Most people seem to love it or hate it. When I first came across the Alpinist, I was in the ‘hate it’ camp, but I have come to like it over time. I think the incredible dial on the SBP199J1 helps somewhat! This very watch was initially in the Fratello Shop for a pre-order, and we wrote a more in-depth article here. Worth a read! While we do not have any more stock, you can find some pieces online still.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Seiko continues to do with the modern Alpinist and if there are any more iterations on the horizon. Each new release seems to be a winner!
With that, those are the four watches I have found myself taking out on hikes and adventures of late. Maybe not the four watches you’d immediately think of, but that’s the great thing about individual watch collections. What watches do you take out into the wild? Do you have any great watches and exploring stories to tell? I’m all ears, so let me know in the comments!