Richard's Top 5 Adventure and Survival Watches under £2,000 in 2023

Richard's Top 5 Adventure and Survival Watches under £2,000 in 2023

7 min read
Richard Brown


Watch Buying Guide

Richard Brown


Watch Buying Guide

This feature is kicking off a new series of Top Five Watches spilt into well known categories. This is an exciting project as all the WatchGecko guest authors are involved covering different Top Fives with a new instalment published every week. Through the series we will be recommending Racing, Field, Pilot, Vintage, Adventure & Survival, Dress, and Chronograph watches with a strict £2000 cap per unit; that’s a total spend of £10000. Of course, the authors can spend less but not a penny more.

Adventure and Survival Watches.

We first coined this term when reviewing the brilliant Luminox Bear Grylls 3780 Special Edition a couple of years ago.  The term Survival watches has been bouncing around for years, but today’s recommended lists tend to be an assortment of smart watches. These are fine but let us assume when you were forced to crash land in the Kalahari your smart watch had 5% power. So what watch should you have packed?

We have always believed certain watches can transcend the accepted norms of field watches, dive watches and “outdoor” watches (whatever that means). Professional Adventure and Survival watches should be more amped up from a standard field watch. Somehow more useful than a regulation military chronograph and less sub-aquatic than a pure dive watch, but still water proof. In this feature we are going to lay a foundation stone and openly start using the genre Adventure and Survival Watches.

So how are we defining what is an Adventure and Survival watch?

For the purposes of this exercise we are focusing on ‘real’ watches designed for purpose as opposed to wearable technology platforms which can be programmed to do anything; and need recharging!

We are looking for a watch that can take the knocks and you never worry about it. We plan to focus on watches that will spend their lives being battered and will wear those scars with pride; each one telling a story of adventure. These watches do not sit cosseted in a drawer; pulled out only for a weekend ramble. These watches live a tough lives, maybe limited lives due to punishment, but subscribe to the philosophy that it’s better to burn out than fade away.

Richard’s Top Five Adventure and Survival Watches

No5 – Citizen ProMaster Tough Gen 1 or 2

Citizen Pro MasterCitizen Pro Master Tough Gen1- Credit WatchGecko

Yes, I know there's an argument that the Citizen is a Field Watch. But because of its amazing technical characteristics, how it elevates itself beyond what you would expect from a Field Watch, it is not unreasonable to slot this gem into the Adventure and Survival category. In every measurable way it is an ultimate survivor (indeed it'll probably outlast you in a dire situation).

Technically a brilliant machine benefitting from Citizen’s solar powered Eco-Drive technology it takes only 11 minutes to give a full 24 hours of power and 11 hours to fully charge the battery which lasts six months.

200m water resistant is guaranteed as the case is a titanium monocoque. The watch has a Duratec finish making it almost impossible to scratch and the movement is housed in an anti-magnetic non-ferrous inner structure. If the watch experiences a knock an electrical signal stops the hands instantly locking and then unlocking them. The entire process takes 1000th of a second.

Citizen Pro MasterCitizen Pro Master Tough Gen1 - Credit WatchGecko


The “Ray Mears” is an amazing Survival watch but it’s getting hard to find good condition Gen 1s and 2s online. There is a 2023 model which looks good but if possible try to find an original. Expect to pay anywhere between £300 - £500 for a good example but be warned we have seen mint models from the 1990s fetching over £1000. You can find a super example for half that.

No4 – Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400

The multi-function Casio Rangeman - Credit Jason Jacobs (used with permission)

Unless you have a pathological dislike for G-Shock style watches it is hard not to concede that the Rangeman GW-9400-1CR impressive.

Equipped with a triple sensor that reads altitude, barometric pressure, temperature and additionally a digital compass, the Rangeman presents a compelling case for the most practical Adventure and Survival watch in this feature.

When you consider all these features are in a watch that is no bigger than s standard G-Shock you begin to wonder why everyone does not own one of these? To successfully combine so many navigation and survival tools into the Rangeman is unquestionably a work of design genius by the famous designer Ryusuke Moriai.

Casio RangermanAs with all the Casio "...MAN" range (Gulfman & Mudman). the Rangeman has a stylised animal back - Credit Jason Jacobs


With a 10 year battery life, or choose the solar option, it is very unlikely the Rangeman will let you down. A blisteringly good Adventure watch which has more functions than you will probably ever use the watch falls neatly into an old saying when collating your survival kit list. “Better to have it and not need it!”

Expect to pay between £250-£400 depending on model for a new Rangeman.

No3 – Casio Pro Trek SGW300H-1VA 

Casio SGW

Casio SGW 300H - Credit WatchGecko

Yes, it's another Casio but unlike the hefty price and size of the Rangeman this is the cheapest and lightest watch in the Top Five. A hugely capable machine for under £100 the SGW 300H boasts essential Survival features that you would normally find on much more expensive adventure watches, and you still get bulletproof manufacturing that comes from Casio’s impressive Pro Trek range – so often overshadowed by G-Shock.

The altimeter on the 300H is a highly effective unit which is capable of measuring in 5m increments. The thermometer can measure from -10C to +60Cm but probably the most useful function is the barometer. It reads in millibars or hectopascals and we found it to be 100% accurate. The function allows for simple weather trend reading and prediction.

Casio SGWCasio SGW 300H - Credit WatchGecko


At only 47g, the SGW is very light and comfortable during long-term use. It is a bargain price for what you get and once you take time to study the instructions it is easy to use. The SGW-300H sells new for about £80.

No2 – Traser H3 P68 Pathfinder

Traser P68
Traser P68 - Credit WatchGecko

In 1989 the Traser P6500 won a US Special Forces contract and became the first tritium watch to enter armed service. Traser’s offering is one of these newer models to make it into our Top Five - the P68 Pathfinder GMT, as reviewed by WatchGecko on 10 July 2020.

The Pathfinder looks like the kind of watch you would want on your essential equipment list as you hike the length of Britain. It has a unique second crown that unlocks and rotates a compass bezel allowing you to fix bearings for accurate direction of travel and set another time zone for parallel reading on your journey.

At night the P68 comes to life with an impressive light show of green and blue tritium Trigalight. Super-Luminova has also been applied in a green ring around the watch and the cardinal points of the compass to offer dual illumination for optimal night use.

Traser P68Traser P68 - Credit WatchGecko


The complex dial of the P68 may seem like information overload, however, once you master the functions of the circular bezel it is a highly capable addition and might just get help you get to safety. This watch represented a real change of direction for Traser and we want to see more of this from a much underrated company.

One of Trasers more expensive models, look to pay between £700 and £1000 for P68 Pathfinder.

No1 – Luminox Bear Grylls Range

Luminox Bear Grylls
Luminox Bear Grylls - Credit WatchGecko

From the desert at your feet up, this range of watches is designed to help you survive in the most challenging environments. There is even a strap made from paracord which can be unravelled and used in 101 different ways.

Some fixed outer bezels are designed to help you calculate walking speed (which we tested and it works), and there is tritium lume through all the dials to ensure maximum legibility when you need it. Battery life is guaranteed to 50 months.

All this technology is wrapped sealed in #tide upcycled plastic from water bottles reclaimed from the ocean for the case, bezel and straps. The Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Series is well worth reading about in detail, fortunately for you, we reviewed a first edition 3780 it here. Many of these are still available new.

Luminox Bear GryllsLuminox Bear Grylls - Credit WatchGecko

Conclusion for No1 spot:

The Bear Grylls range simply had to win. They are after all designed for this purpose and were the inspiration for a spawning the new title of Adventure and Survival watches. Placing these watches at the number one spot is nothing to do with the fact that Bear Grylls has attached his name to it, although that does give it some kudos. The Luminox hit the top spot is simply because it is one of the best watches for this task. We can say with almost complete certainty that should you ever need it, the 3700 series will not let you down.

The current top end models are the 3743, 3745 and 3757. Basically the same watch with different colours. Expect to pay £800.

That concludes our first feature of Top 5 Series, do you agree with our opinions or would you have chosen a different model for your number one spot?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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