The big picture: Apple is reportedly considering building a rugged version of its popular Apple Watch for outdoor enthusiasts. The company has done an admirable job of catering to fitness buffs and athletes in general with its existing Watch products, but a sturdier variant could appeal to those that really like to ramp up the intensity of their activities.

Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that executives have discussed the possibility of launching a hardened Watch variant later this year or in 2022 at the earliest. And it's not the first time the idea has been considered.

Back in 2015, Apple reportedly contemplated launching an Apple Watch aimed specifically at extreme sports athletes.

The proposed Apple Watch would have the same functionality as existing models, albeit with extra impact resistance, similar to Casio's G-Shock line. The roadmap to extra protection would likely involve adding a rubberized exterior to the metal chassis.

Since its debut in 2015, the Apple Watch has quietly become one of the company's most important products. According to Counterproint, Apple controlled 40 percent of global smartwatch shipments in Q4 and during its most recent fiscal year, the category that includes the Apple Watch generated more than $30 billion in sales.

Apple typically unveils updated Watch models in September, so that could be the earliest that we hear about a new variant.

Images courtesy Kanut Photo, Anicka S