LIST: The evolution of the wrist – 3 professionals who rely on wrist machines that tell the time and more LIST: The evolution of the wrist – 3 professionals who rely on wrist machines that tell the time and more

LIST: The evolution of the wrist – 3 professionals who rely on wrist machines that tell the time and more

Melissa Pearce

There are some sweeping generalisations in the watch world when it comes to the watches preferred by professionals in different fields – Breitling for airline pilots, Hublot for NBA players, Nomos for architects… but reality doesn’t quite conform to prevailing watch-lover logic. The fact is those that leap from high altitudes don’t choose a Zenith as their wrist machine of choice, like Felix Baumgartner. Formula 1 drivers no longer don chronographs, they’re more likely to be painted on their gloves. We put our usual watch-only criteria aside to learn what these watch-looking machines actually do and why they are necessary.

Luke Rogers – Australia’s leading wingsuit skydiver

Brisbane-based Luke Rogers, one of the country’s top professional wingsuit skydivers or pilots, thinks nothing of flying through a 1,000-foot zone at 250 km/h. Sure, it might be one of the most dangerous sports on earth, but the exhilarating hit of the supreme glide ratio of 2.5:1 or more (or, in civilian terms, for every metre dropped, two and a half meters are gained moving forward) hooks anyone who has ever dreamt of flying.

“That large watch looking thing on my wrist is my altimeter which tells me what height I am for safety,” explains Rogers. (Rogers uses a Larsen & Brusgaard Military Altitrack Basic analogue altimeter; digital models by the widely-used Danish brand are also available). “I also have models that also keep the time which is super handy.”

Data and variables review is important in the swoop preparation, most crucially for deciding if a jump is even possible. When the daredevil moment arrives, timing plays a key role, from the skilled exiting of an aircraft in a wingsuit, when to spread their legs and arms, to when – most crucially – the wingsuit flier deploys their parachute at a planned altitude above the ground.

An altimeter is instrumental for this, used first and foremost to tell a flier when they are approaching their deployment altitude. Then, after flying under canopy (parachute), it helps them to know when to start their landing pattern.

When Luke is away from competition officials’ eyes and under less high-stakes pressure, he is most likely to be wearing his TW Steel TW843 Canteen watch. “It was gifted to me and I love it. It’s a little on the heavy side but she is rugged! I don’t wear it during competitions but, fun jumping, I don’t usually take it off.” The canteen style crown is a signature bold detail that matches the superhero credentials Rogers displays attacking the sky.

Simon Rennie – Race Engineer for Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing

TAG Heuer joining forces with Red Bull Racing at the start of 2016 ended the watchmakers three-decade long association with McLaren and signalled a refreshed, more youthful TAG Heuer. But it’s not just the podium stars brandishing the watches imbued with a motoring heritage. The pit wall’s unsung conductors of race strategy and technical data are also representing the key sponsor.
Simon Rennie is the Race Engineer for Daniel Ricciardo. Think of him as akin to rally co-driver. When you hear Daniel communicating with a member of the team through his radio, Rennie is the guy on the other end. He wears a TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 with a black strap as he feeds Ricciardo information continuously during the race to ensure he gets the best performance out of the car and himself.


The Connected watch is seen on most of the engineers, it turns out, who like being able to know when someone is calling or to read a message with only a glance at their watch. Let’s face it, their eyes are too occupied as it is to have to break their view of the screens to reach for a phone. For Rennie, the design of the watch also joins its appeal: “Having a nice looking watch is important, and that, combined with the wide ranging functionality that the Connected gives, was the reason I chose it,” explains Rennie. But its tech specs secure its spot at the pit wall. He describes the countdown as vital during race events: “Especially for the time on the grid before the race, as knowing how much time there is before the race starts is critical for our procedures.”

He also uses the stopwatch feature on the watch quite often, exclaiming: “Everything is on the clock for us!” The dual time and GMT features are also helpful as a reminder of the time back in the UK, particularly at the team’s Milton Keynes factory. “Even when we’re racing thousands of miles away, we are in constant dialogue with the team back in the UK, so having an instant understanding of the time back there means we don’t have to work out time differences.”

Another key timekeeping instrument that joins him trackside, when timing pit stop practice or in-race penalties, is a TAG Heuer Pocket-Pro stopwatch. “It’s a very versatile stopwatch used by a lot of us,” he says. “It might not be the most overly technical piece of equipment in our armoury but it does the job perfectly.” Sometimes pragmatic, steady pleasers finish in fine time.

Rebecca Rich – nurse at Perth Clinic West Perth, WA

When Rebecca Rich, Outstanding Graduate winner at the 2017 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards, strode up to collect her award on the night, she wasn’t wearing any watch at all. While she might rely on her phone for timekeeping when she’s off-duty, back at the nursing station at Perth Clinic West Perth, where she is employed as a mental health nurse, a watch is a must. In her case, it’s an unassuming gold and mesh quartz watch on her wrist.


“I need it for time management, counting respiration rate and heart rate, and other medical-based reasons such as monitoring seizure activity,” she explains. The thrifty $9 price tag was a bonus: “It was cheap, which is one of the reasons I chose it, but it also had a large face which was what I was looking for.”

A watch for Rich and her colleagues is equipment for charting time and vitals — no need to get fancy. Despite the inexpensive price tag, there is an important work watch choice to make, mainly between a fob watch or wrist watch. A fob watch might have an air of Florence Nightingale, and physically holding it up with your hand to read the time does seem antiquated, but it has a plus in that it is unlikely to be a host to microorganisms (an accusation wildly aimed at wrist watches) and is not as prone to getting wet. But lapel watches can get in the way moving patients, so the level of interaction on the job might come into watch placement play.

The Gel Scrub watch from Prestige Medical.

Whatever nurses opt for, sensible directives supervise: a larger contrasting face for legibility, lightweight models, water resistance, and for medication dispensing purposes most will have a 12-hour and a 24-hour number display — all must have a second hand. Easy to clean straps such as silicon, rubber, resin and polyurethane are good to go with a sweep of an alcohol wipe. They should be non-obtrusive (loud ticking is out — and design too for that matter) and solar-powered or run by a battery with a long shelf life. Back light or luminous displays can be important, but more often than not it may be surprising how traditional nurses’ watches can appear. But that’s a given when most nursing schools continue to recommend analogue watches for manually counting seconds.
It’s not all about flighty pulse rates either. In some instances, nurses may be required to track how quickly a drug administration is occurring. Slowing the administration of medications can significantly reduce the exposure to potential medical complications and health risks.

A nurses fob watch from Swiss Medical.

Rich’s no-name option meets all these parameters, but other dependable options include Casio, Swatch, Swiss Medical and Prestige Medical.