There is perhaps no greater disservice that can be done to a perfectly capable watch, than to force it to live a life of sad monotony as it ticks and hums away sheltered beneath the safety of a shirt cuff. After all, we see it year after year – brands bragging about absurd water-resistance specs, blast-proof materials, and enough shock resistance to survive an unrestricted climb in an F-16. Really, if you’re tuned into watch marketing, you’ve seen it all. So why is it that so many collectors start experiencing symptoms like nausea and chest pain the moment their shiny new toys get dinged for the first time? Now, unless we’re talking about something like the Breguet Classique 7787 (I might actually faint if I scratched that watch), I stopped caring years ago. These things are meant to be used, fun to use, and at least to me, these are some of the top choices for watches to wear while actually being active – in no particular order.
Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023
We all know that the most solid choice for a rugged watch is usually a diver and there are plenty to choose from these days. Seiko have been pioneering dive watch technologies since the 1960s and in many ways, the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN023 is the culmination of several Seiko innovations. With a beefy shrouded case, care-free Kinetic movement, true GMT functionality, and the kind of lume that keeps you up at night, I find this to be the perfect active travel companion. I wouldn’t think twice about knocking this thing around and the black shroud protecting the case makes this one of the coolest iterations within Seiko’s “Tuna” family of watches.
Fitbit Ionic Smart Watch
I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t totally warmed up to the new wave of “smart” wearables, but when Fitbit announced the latest Ionic, I started listening. I’ve been contemplating fitness trackers for a while, so why not go for a smartwatch from the industry leader in fitness tracking devices? Battery life (the real Achilles’ heel for smartwatches) is also impressive at four days or 10 hours if you’re using the GPS feature heavily. The aluminum case is a sturdy choice, internal media storage for music is ideal (streaming always seemed annoying to me on these devices), and 50m of water-resistance plus swim-tracking functions make the Ionic perfect for active individuals seeking a serious upgrade from Fitbit’s main line-up of fitness trackers.
Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20
Even though Casio’s Pro Trek series of watches can sometimes live within the shadows of the more popular G-Shock collections, they’re still worth considering if you want something rugged and outdoorsy. Casio’s latest Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 is what some would call the ultimate hiking watch. Perhaps its most notable feature is its ability to directly store area maps internally, so you don’t necessarily have to worry about a weak signal when you’re on the move. And, it wouldn’t be complete with out the typical and useful set of altimeter, barometer, and compass features. A true upgrade from the previous WSD-F10, the Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 offers serious features in a package that’s familiar to fans of the brand.
Citizen Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter BN2029-01E
Introduced in 1985, the original Aqualand was the first watch with a built-in digital depth meter. Since then, Citizen has gone on to release several different versions and reissues like this Citizen Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter BN2029-01E. The concept is still the same – a burly dive watch that does what it must no matter what conditions it may face. Today, with the widespread use of dive computers, however, the depth gauge feature may seem a bit novel. But, the Citizen signature here is Eco-Drive – and you can’t go wrong with Eco-Drive. With the ability to hold a full charge for up to six months after drawing power from both natural and artificial light sources, a Citizen like this is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a durable watch with significant wrist presence.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman
Although Hamilton is clearly known for their line of budget-friendly field watches, I’ve always felt that those models were simply missing something. Personally, I just find Hamilton to be more interesting whenever I dig up some of their weirder and modern-looking options. That’s pretty much the case here with the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman, a diver that has already fallen into relative obscurity since its introduction at Baselworld 2016. But why is it special when searching for an active lifestyle timepiece? Well, sometimes you just don’t want to go with quartz or fully digital options and the Navy Frogman serves up something a little more interesting than your average $200 SKX. The 46mm case is easy to wear, the integrated rubber strap supports a balanced fit, and the touch of red looks cool enough to land the watch a spot on your next fishing trip.