A lot of people who are active in the outdoors are looking for an analogue watch that is a step above the usual Swatch but that can also take a beating. (Just as a side note here, you would be surprised at just how tough the ordinary $30 Swatch with the plastic strap can be – When I first took up Scuba diving 20 years ago I was amazed to see that quite a few divers including a few divemasters used ordinary Swatch watches as a dive watch even though it is not certified to handle the pressure).
The second requirement that many people have is that they don’t pay the earth. In other words they are looking for a quality watch that is better in quality and durability than a cheap Swatch but that won’t cost as much as a Rolex or a Tag. The sweet spot for many people in terms of price is about $300 to $500 for a really functional watch that still looks good and will give a lifetime of service.
I can’t think of a better candidate for the outdoor enthusiast than Wenger’s Swiss Army Raid Commando Watch. This is made by the company that was made famous for making the Swiss Army knife – a brand that has been synonymous with quality for decades, and that has since built its reputation further building a really excellent Swiss Army Watch range.
The Wenger Swiss Raid Commando takes its name from the renowned military competition in which members of the Swiss military compete in teams of four in commando type exercises. The competition is a test of fitness, toughness and military skill and pushes participants to the limit in tests of shooting, obstacle courses and deep penetration into “enemy” territory during which time the patrols will advance as much as 120km. They then follow with a “raid” such as an ambush or simulated attack.
The watch that takes its name is every bit as tough as the soldiers who compete. The watch is solid-looking and comes in a variety of styles. The looks of the military-ones with a black rubber strap just shout no-nonsense and toughness and this really tops my list of favourite Swiss military watches.
The dial is very clear and well illuminated. It has a 12-hour chronometer function (stopwatch) and it also has a tachymeter, which allows its user to measure speed over a known distance. When used by a trained and experienced navigator it can also be a useful way of measuring distance – which is helpful for night navigation.
It is waterproof down to 100 meters (330 feet), which means it can be your backup candidate as a dive watch in an emergency (though you would be better off getting something like the Battalion III Diver which is water resistant down to 200 meters or the more expensive Wenger Aquagraph which is good down to 1000 meters). The Commando is covered with a tough scratch-resistant surface which means it should stand up well to the rigors of mountaineering, hunting and other demanding outdoor sports. There are a number of other good watches out there, but in my opionion none are quite as tough as Wenger Commando Watches.