You could pick-up a fake Rolex on your travels but that's not going to be much good to you once the mechanism comes loose. In fact, if you're serious about diving, trekking or straddling a few time zones, even a genuine Rollex might not be the best choice. When you're off adventuring, what you need to grab yourself is a proper, decent, travel watch. So, what does one of those look like then?
Well, that depends upon your needs but, largely speaking, travel watches need to be tough, waterproof and provide the sort of information needed whilst out adventuring. So, you're looking for things like barometers, USB memory, mobile phone capabilities... this lot basically. The best travel watches according to Pocket-lint. Keep it strapped.
Techtrail Axio Max hiking watch (£130)
If you’re out trekking and all you’ve got is the time, you're in trouble. The Techtrail Axio Max Swiss-made hiking watch measures exact altitude and temperature, with a barometer for the latest weather forecast. There's also a digital compass around the bezel with 16 cardinal bearings for you to get lost with.
On the wrist, it feels assuredly heavy, but it’s worth it; this watch is built for the great outdoors - however, in our test, the barometer was constantly predicting rain. Well, we were in Wales.
Zambezi 24-Hour Travel Watch (£155)
Don't you hate getting stuck between time zones? For stay-at-home types, debilitating jetlag might seem like suitable punishment for long-haul travellers, but the outdoorsy experts at Orvis are more sympathetic. They’ve created a timepiece that shows the time in two places: where you are and where you're about to Skype, presumably - in any one moment.
Using a tough, stainless steel case and a Zambezi twill band, this rugged, well made watch is water resistant to 50m with luminous hands which should make it a useful one if you're planning on doing any night dives. It also boasts a 3-year battery life, not that we expect you to be down there that long. Should be enough for our next jaunt to the costas, anyway.
Spy Watch 4GB (£80)
"Add a little mystery to your life" says the marketing for this 4GB Spy Watch, but this pretty much puts an end to secrets on the road. Able to shoot video, stills and record audio, the splash-proof Spy Watch camera is as stealthy as it gets; its mini USB output (it supports file transfers to Windows or Mac OS) is disguised, though whether you’ll want to show-off its 30fps 1280 x 960 VGA video is another matter.
Only 15 minutes of AVI video will fit on its 4GB brains, though its 2-megapixel JPG pictures should suffice for Facebook shots. Of course, any 007 wannabe is going to come unstuck if they go for a swim. Splash-proof is as good as the Spy Watch gets.
Griffin Courier Band & Slap Nano £30/£9
Take two gadgets on your travels? The iPod nano has a clock face, don't you know, and Griffin’s Courier keeps it on your wrist. Et voila; a wristwatch that plays music. A flexible frame around the Nano allows easy operation of Apple’s smallest, while there’s an opening for attaching some headphones; trailing a cable across your arm isn't ideal, though light travellers will find this too tempting.
Taking a Nano on your travels kills the need for an alarm clock, too. It’s hard to fault, and it’s selling on the Apple Store. Those on a budget/with an unhealthy 1980s fixation should head for the same brand’s Slap Nano wristband, though its bendy, silicon memory metal design that replaces a buckle won't appeal to the security/fashion conscious. We also doubt the rugged credentials of these ones, so think carefully about just how far you're looking to push your travel watch.
Casio G-Shock MTG-1500 (£450)
Designed with skateboarders in mind, but suitable for anyone on the wrong side of clumsy, this shock-proof ticker is part of the posh G-Shock Premium MT-G collection.
Chronograph (up to 24 hours in 1/100-second increments, plus a countdown timer), alarm, day and date functions - it’s all here, plus a 200m water resistance rating and push button clasp. Nice, especially if you're planning on heading down to the Mariana Trench
The MT-1500 finds the time itself from radio signals rather than relying on silly, fallible old clockwork and digital mechanisms and sets automatically to hour changes, but best of all is the G-Shock’s world time function that covers 29 time zones and comes with five daily alarms, a snooze option and an automatic calendar.
GSM Multimedia Phone Watch (£200)
You want to take your smartphone abroad and nothing we could say would convince you otherwise. We'll try anyway with the help of the GSM MM Phone Watch.
This phone-watch (little man) takes any SIM card, and has a camera, music and even video player. So does your phone? Yes, but this is a phone watch!
It’s also got Bluetooth so that you can even pair some wireless headphones and there's a touchscreen that’s obviously never out of your sight. Handy, though we do worry that a constantly flashing wrist will be a beacon to criminals. Frequent conversations with your own arm could quickly wear thin, too. The other issue is that it does require charging up every now and then which could be a bit of a problem if you happen to be in the thick of the jungle at the time.
Walkie Talkie Watches (£50)
You're on the slopes. It’s late. The light is fading, and you know they'll be a queue at the vin chaud hut you agreed to meet your chum in. Fumbling for a phone while gloved-up and skiing isn't cool, but these 2-mile radius walkie talkie watches are - at least while you’re away.
Granted, they’ll stay in your ski-sack for the rest of the year, but these talkies are actually pretty versatile. With multiple channels (important in a busy ski resort) and easy to use, this pack of two could also suit hikers, walkers and bikers who can’t be bothered to wait for each other. You also get to say things like "roger" and "over and out" - boyhood terms that you're average wristwear doesn't allow.
Tissot SeaStar 1000 Automatic diving watch (£575)
The diving watch. A classic impulse buy for the single, wealthy male in search of an excuse to accessorise. However, a sub-aqua timepiece is also important for people who actually hold a PADI licence and the Tissot SeaStar 100 is one of the more exacting.
Able to maintain performance under the waves to a pressure of 30 bar, this Swiss-made timepiece from Tissot features a strap with a divers' buckle and extension plus glow-in-the-dark hands and markings - crucial underwater and pretty useful up here, too. There are 10 different models to choose from, each with different colour dials, finishes and metal/rubber accoutrements. Expensive, but serious. Really serious.
Suunto Elementum Terra (£499)
There are actually three kinds of Suunto’s most premium timepiece available, but seeing as we’ve already got the diving watch covered, the next we’d recommend would be the one for mountaineers, hence the name Suunto Elementum Terra. As well as the stainless steel and sapphire glass exterior, that makes it pretty much shag-proof, it also comes with a compass with headings to the degree and a barometer so that you can stay one step ahead of the weather before the clouds come rolling in.
The headline feature has to be the altimeter though which works within a range of -500-900m, is accurate to every metre and even logs up to eight of your trips in the inner workings of the watch. We’re not going to tell you why this is useful. We don’t know. But then we’re not writing this half way up K2. If that’s where you're reading about the watch that you wish you had on your arm, then let us know.
Timex WS4 (£149.99)
We’re impressed by the WS4, but the one thing holding this watch back from greatness is the exact thing that makes it so easy to use: it’s flippin’ enormous. Measuring 5.5cm wide, it isn’t heavy but it swamps even the manliest wrist. Sure, pull on your Gore-Tex, strap on the Timex and head for the hills but don’t (and trust us here) wear it down the pub.
So, what do you get for the pains of swinging such a mammoth piece of kit from your arm? Well, the Timex WS4 contains an altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer, it's waterproof to 50m, has 100 hour chronograph for serious timings, has a tough rubber casing, INDIGLO night light and all the daily/weekly alarms you could need. It also squeezes in time telling (digital and analogue) and date. Yours for £149.99.
Know of any better travel watches? Let us know in the comments below.