Sam DaviesSam is a former British Army officer and photographer and filmmaker specialising in expeditions and the outdoors. From hiking and biking new trails, to motorbike touring in Africa and ski touring the Alps, Sam thrives on the thrill of exploration no matter what the conditions.
A showpiece watch with exceptional build quality, but one for collectors rather than adventurers.
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Compass, Altimeter and Barometer with great accuracy, tough Carbon Core Guard structure, 200m water resistant, solar charging,
Striking appearance – if you want attention, this watch will get it
Exceptional build quality – it feels immaculately crafted and reassuringly weighty
Superfast and accurate features – the operation of the needles is rapid, and the compass and altimeter are bang on
For the price you could get yourself something far more suited to adventure – this is perhaps more of a collector’s item or fashion/adventure crossover watch
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
In all honesty, I was a bit sceptical about this watch – as an outdoor adventurer, I’m more inclined to go for an activity-GPS beast that can boost my training, than a showpiece limited edition. Hiking, trail running, camping and motorbike rides are my go-to weekend pursuits, all of which demand a high-quality wrist companion, that won’t run out of battery and delivers enough features to keep me interested. However, I’m not always obsessed with pace and heart-rate – often just getting out and experiencing nature is enough, without having to pile in the stats.
I’m a stickler for detail and build quality, and appreciate well-thought through design additions that make a difference to the user. Having also been an avid Casio F91W wearer my whole life, I was excited to try out the highest end of Casios.
Hiking, trail running, camping and motorbike rides are my go-to weekend pursuits, all of which demand a high-quality wrist companion
As soon as you take the Mud Master out of it’s box, you can tell it’s something special. The sheer toughness of the thing is exceptional – it’s built like a bank-vault safe door, yet is significantly more user-friendly. It is designed to impress and it certainly does, although it would be fair to say its appearance is polarising with its limited edition ‘cracked mud’ print. Putting it on feels like a big moment, like some sort of medieval amulet that’s going to super-charge my powers. But then there is the realisation that it can’t do a lot of things that many activity watches can – and you start to think – what’s it really for?
For an overall lifestyle/active test, I wore this watch for a few days including some motorbiking, hiking and general everyday use. I didn’t get chance to test the waterproofing claims, although it did get some light drizzle whilst on the bike. I decided against wearing it whilst running just due to the weight of the thing, although perhaps that could have incorporated some good strength training at the same time. I hiked in local forests with some decent elevation changes to test the compass and altimeter, and kept an eye on the barometer throughout as the weather shifted.
The Mud Master performed immaculately throughout – it didn’t lose a second compared to the time on my phone, the barometer matched changing weather conditions, the altimeter was excellent once calibrated (which was simple enough), and despite it’s weight it felt comfortable – although you certainly won’t forget it’s there.
In the dark, the glowing hands and symbols mean you don’t need the light, keeping it tactical (if that’s what you’re after!) but the push-button LED provides decent illumination for finding the keyhole after a long night.
Using all the features is simple and intuitive, although maybe that’s as a previous casio user, it’s not complex. The small LCD display provides the right information and the four-button functionality is plenty. Alarms were accurate and loud enough, and the stopwatch and timer both operated as you’d expect!
WHO IS THIS ITEM FOR?
Realistically, this watch is for collectors, or those with some decent spare cash. It is not going to be an outdoor enthusiasts first-choice – but it’s not designed for that. It is designed to be a showpiece, something unique and impressive, and it certainly achieves that. However, it’s not just good-looking. It’s clearly built incredibly well and operates exceptionally – it’s probably only it’s size and weight that let’s it down. Collecting watches is not my thing, but I can easily imagine this slotting in alongside some Swiss timepieces to offer something different.
WHAT STANDS OUT?
The carbon-weave camouflage pattern with cracked lines is striking and tough – it looks mean, aggressive and powerful, and like you could drive it over it in a truck with only minor damage (to the truck).
This is a hefty watch. 106 grams (compared to the miserly 21 grams of a Casio F91W and 43 of a feature-packed Garmin Instinct 2s). It reassures the build quality, but might lead to tennis elbow.
The responsiveness of the needles to the controls is brilliant, and slightly addictive. Combining digital and analogue in this way is impressive and satisfying to use.
Compass and Altimeter
Surprisingly responsive and easy to use, the compass feature works well and was incredibly accurate, whilst the altimeter stayed within 30m of two other GPS devices we had whilst trekking. Even lifting and lowering the watch results in accurate changes of the altimeter, which is impressive.
Lighting and Luminosity
Glow in the dark markers and double LED light look and work great in the dark.
VALUE FOR MONEY
For an outdoor pursuits watch, this is not good value for money. You could get a Fenix 7 Solar for the same price! For a collector of limited edition watches – I guess time will tell!
BASE BOTTOM LINE
I was ready to be sceptical about the Cracked Mud limited edition Mud Master – and although it’s no permanent outdoor companion, it is certainly an incredibly impressive feat of engineering. Despite it’s size and weight, I enjoyed wearing it and was sad to send it back – a remarkable turnaround. It’s place might be more at a RedBull awards ceremony than on top of Pen y Fan, but it certainly gives no indication of being just about looks – you could wear this for years and only need to worry about the damage it would cause knocking into passers-by rather than enduring itself. Ultimately this watch is designed to be cool, to inspire, and to grab attention, and it’s tough to argue that it doesn’t.