7 Tough Watches For Under $1,000

Even if you don’t find yourself out in the field, diving deep underwater, or scaling a mountain, a durable watch can be just as much of an asset for everyday casual wear as it is under extreme conditions. After all, it’s nice to know that your watch is capable of handling whatever you can throw at it, even if you’re not putting it through the wringer. That’s why we’re looking at some of the toughest watches out there in this guide. Each of the picks have something special about them, whether it’s extra resistance to wear and tear thanks to a case with treated or hardened steel, or a low-maintenance and shock-proof movement. And the best part is that all of these watches come in under $1,000. Let’s jump in!

Seiko 200m Diver Ref. SPB053 – $800

What makes it tough? — 200m of water resistance and Seiko’s DiaShield coating

A proper diver is the quintessential tool watch, and Seiko really knows how to make a dive watch. The SPB053 comes in at just $800, which represents an excellent value given the features they’ve included. This watch is part of the PROSPEX (a portmanteau of “Professional” and “Specifications”) line, which is home to Seiko’s proper tool watches. In addition to being a 200m water-resistant dive watch, which in itself isn’t all that mind-blowing (though more than sufficient for underwater activities), the case and bracelet are treated with Seiko’s proprietary DiaShield coating. While you won’t get the same amount of scratch resistance like some of the other watches on this list, the coating definitely makes a difference long-term. Inside, you’ll find a 6R15 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve, and it’s capable of hand wind and hacking. Protecting the deep blue dial is a domed sapphire crystal that’s treated with AR coating. Most divers are built with durability in mind, but the SPB053 takes it an extra strep, resulting in an excellent watch for both land and sea. 

Read our extensive review here.

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Archimede OutDoor 41 AntiMag – ~$995

What makes it tough? — Bold antimagnetic case made of hardened steel

In a pursuit to design a lightweight, yet durable watch that can function reliably in a range of settings, Archimede’s “Outdoor” series was born. There are two watches in the collection. Measuring in at 39mm is the smaller “Protect.” At 41mm, however, there’s the “AntiMag,” which needs a slightly larger case to accommodate the anti-magnetic cage surrounding the movement inside. Both watch cases are hardened to an impressive 1200 HV (hardness Vickers scale). To put that into perspective, industry-standard 316L stainless steel is somewhere around 150 HV, so the Outdoor’s case is around 10 times more resistant to scratches and dings. Inside this durable case, you’ll find a reliable Sellita SW 200-1 movement. Other adventure-ready features include durable sapphire glass, solid caseback, screw-down crown, and 20 ATM of water resistance throughout. The Outdoor is easy to read thanks to the bold handset and lumed indices adorning the dial. Overall, it’s a sporty looking watch that’s got the specs to back it up.

Read our coverage here.

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Citizen Promaster Tough — $420

What makes it tough? — Coated monocoque case and low-maintenance movement

Citizen’s Promaster Tough is one of the best value “tough” watches out there. There’s a surprising amount of tech and design that goes into this watch, all coming in at a rather reasonable $420 retail. The stainless steel case is a monocoque design, meaning it’s a two-piece build with no caseback. Not only is the case extra durable thanks to the design, but it’s also treated with an ultra hard, hypoallergenic “Super Titanium” coating that keeps the watch free of scratches and corrosion. Protecting the dial is a sapphire crystal with AR for maximum legibility, and each of the markers and hands are treated with Super-LumiNova for increased visibility throughout the night. Thanks to the Eco-Drive movement, the Promaster Tough is high on durability and low on maintenance. It’ll charge from any light source and doesn’t require a battery change. Altogether, the simple and straightforward Promaster Tough is a great option for those who want to put a watch on and never have to worry about it.

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Damasko DS30 — $957

What make it tough? — Slim, submarine-steel case (and a whole bunch of other cool tech)

It’s not often that you’ll find a watch that’s built like a tank in such a slim, reasonable package. The Damasko DS30 measures in at 39mm wide, by a scant 9.9mm tall. This slim case can easily slip under a cuff or jacket, resulting in a watch that’s comfortable to wear no matter what you’re doing. The case itself is made from bead-blasted submarine steel (instead of the ice-hardened steel that Damasko usually uses) that’s resistant to scratching and naturally anti-magnetic. This choice in steel actually allows Damasko to eliminate an internal movement cage to protect from magnetic fields, resulting in a slimmer watch. You’ll also get some neat features like Damasko’s permanently lubricated crown mechanism, 100m of water resistance, an AR-coated sapphire crystal, and a highly legible dial. If you’re looking for a serious tool watch in a smaller package, the DS30 is the one for you.

Read our review here.

Get it, or the Windup exclusive, here.  (Disclaimer: Windup Watch Shop is owned and operated by Worn & Wound LLC)

Victorinox Inox Titanium — $595

What makes it tough? — Passed 100+ use and abuse tests

Measuring in at a beefy 43mm (there’s also a larger 45mm variant), the INOX Titanium by Victorinox has some serious wrist presence. Even though the chunky case, with its hard and aggressive design, looks big, the titanium construction really cuts down on the weight to make the watch comfortable to wear. To earn the INOX name, this titanium version (just like past iterations) had to pass a rigorous gamut of tests. A few of the torture tests include dropping the watch from a staggering 10 meters, extreme vibration resistance testing, and temperature cycling from -57ºC to +71ºC. You can check out even more of the tests in action on Victorinox’s website right here. One of my personal favorite aspects of the INOX is the architectural dial design, which gives the dial some welcome dimensionality. Rounding out the package is a rubber strap and a bumper for the case for an extra level of protection.

Read our coverage here.

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Casio G-SHOCK DW5600E — ~$50

What makes it tough? — Literally everything (it’s a G-SHOCK!)

When writing about “tough” watches, we’d be remiss not to mention a G-SHOCK. Originally designed over 30 years ago, the DW-5XXX series was created to fill a gap in the horological world. There wasn’t much out there that could stand up to the kind of use and abuse that those first G-SHOCKs could, and this model has remained largely unchanged three decades later. The resin case is lightweight and comfortable on the wrist. It’s also highly impact-resistant. Inside the case, the quartz movement and display are mounted to a system of shock-cancelling buffers and mounts. The wearer will also appreciate the 200m of water resistance, pre-programmed calendar (good for the next 20 years), alarm and timer functions, and the charming vintage digital looks. For under $50, it’s hard to argue with the venerable G-SHOCK.

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Marathon Pilots Navigator — ~$200

What makes it tough? — Impact-resistant and lightweight case, plus tritium tubes that don’t quit

Originally created in 1986, the Navigator was born from a request by the Kelley Airforce Base for a watch that could be used at high altitude, withstand extreme pressure changes, and be easy to read at the same time. The watch also had to be durable, so Marathon built it around a lightweight fibershell case that’s shock-resistant. The shape of the case is interesting too, featuring an asymmetrical design with a chunky 12-hour bezel mounted on top. On the dial, you’ll find white text standing out on a black background and self-contained Tritium tubes throughout. Used in place of lume, these tubes will glow continuously for several years without needing any exposure to outside light for a charge. Inside the Pilots Navigator is a reliable ETA quartz movement that’s accurate to -0.3/+0.5 seconds per day with a handy end-of-life-indicator that skips 4 seconds at a time to let you know it’s time for a battery change. The watch is available in a variety of military-inspired colors like dark olive green, black, and a sandy khaki. For under $200, the Pilots Navigator represents a great value as well.

Read our coverage here.

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There you have it! Some of our favorite tough watches, all coming in at under $1,000. Do you have an extra durable watch that you like that didn’t make our list?  Let us know what it is in the comments below.

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.