Swiss watches can be beautiful and they can be clever. But those created to endure the harshest conditions are an elite breed
In 1983, Tami Oldham boarded a yacht in Tahiti with her fiancé and set sail for San Diego. They expected the journey to take around a month, but mid-voyage they hit a category-four hurricane. Tossed by the waves, the boat flipped and she was knocked unconscious.
It would be 27 hours before she came to. Regathering her senses, she discovered her fiancé had been washed overboard and that she was floating alone in the Pacific with a heavily damaged boat, and without comms or an electronic navigation system. It was a desperate situation.
But she wasn’t without hope. Using a sextant, her knowledge of the stars and her watch, Tami navigated her way to Hawaii, coming into port 41 days later, exhausted and emaciated. Her grim ordeal was made into a film last year. Adrift made for difficult viewing.
The story is open to all sorts of conclusions, but one that’s inescapable is that a watch can be a life-saving tool in a scrape. In the right hands, it can become a compass, or a calculator useful for working out speed, fuel economy and distance. Even now, pilots are trained to use a watch in the event their electronic systems fail. Adventurers swear by their watches, whether they’re hacking through jungles or summitting the world’s highest peaks.
Here, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons picks out watches made to tackle the harshest conditions.