LAST UPDATED: April 5, 2021
Best Military Watches: Tough and Practical Timepieces
These top military watches are great for everyday wear.
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PUBLISHED ON April 5, 2021
Out in the field, where you need to be prepared for anything, is where a military watch really shines. These rugged pieces of equipment go above and beyond the standard timepiece in terms of features and durability, and they can very well save you from a messy situation. This is pretty much why a military watch is standard EDC for survivalists and for those who regularly put their lives on the line.
Of course, tactical watches can prove useful to anyone with an active lifestyle; whether you're an accountant who looks at spreadsheets all day or a member of the bomb squad, you can bet that when the zombies come, they won't care either way. So, if you want to give your wrist some mil-spec performance, check out our buyer's guide below.
This is a watch built and designed for members of the Navy SEALs, so it’s capable of handling nearly anything you throw at it. It’s sleek, modern, and durable with a carbon compound case.
- Strong, sturdy, well-made, good-quality watch
- Self-powered and comes equipped with bright luminescent hands that are easy to read at night and during the day
- Capable of handling depths of up to 660 feet
- Powered by Swiss quartz movement
- If you ever need to change the batteries, you may want to get a professional to do it. Swapping them out can be a hassle and may damage the watch
This shock-resistant sports watch is water resistant to 660 feet and features an alarm, stopwatch, hourly time signal, auto calendar, and 12/24 hour formats. It has Quartz movement with a digital display.
- Can be used for professional marine activity and surface water sports
- Comfortable, light yet sturdy, and resistant for urban and sport activities
- Great value for the money
- Suitable for everyday, around-the-clock use
- Display is a little small
- Strap may break after a short period of use
- Sound of the alarm is very weak
- You may bump the buttons into active mode by accident
This Swiss-made watch has been designed according to government specifications for use by military personnel, pilots, and paratroopers. It is self-illuminating due to tritium gas tubes, submersible, and features high-torque Quartz movement.
- This watch is stylish, thin, lightweight, reliable and well-built
- Can stand up to everyday wear
- Accurate and very easy to read in the dark
- Perfect for running, working out, swimming, hiking, and more
- Watch is quite expensive
- There have been complaints that it scratches very easily
- Bezel around the outside may break and fall off after a short period of use
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Benefits of Military Watches
- Convenience. Military watches are designed to be legible in all kinds of situations. Some will have backlight features, while others will have luminescent hands and indices. Whatever the case may be, they're supposed to be readable under water or in the dark. This, of course, makes them more convenient than conventional watches and mobile phones when it comes to checking the time.
- Durable. Military watches are exceptionally durable and are designed to be waterproof and shock-resistant. To be sure, a Rolex or a Grand Seiko can last for generations, but only with the utmost care. Military watches, on the other hand, are meant to take abuse and withstand extreme conditions.
- Multi-functional. Some military watches don't just tell the time — they can do a whole host of other things like measure altitude, connect to a GPS satellite, provide you with atmospheric pressure data, and more. Some of these features can be extremely useful for survivalists and those with an active lifestyle who spend a lot of time outdoors.
Types of Military Watches
Today's pilot watches incorporate standard pilot watch designs for aesthetic purposes only. This is because aircraft technology has advanced to the point where pilot watches are now less useful to pilots than they used to be. Of course, they're still high-precision pieces of jewelry that have GMT functions to track local time, and large dials that are readable at a glance.
A field watch is essentially a watch that is built durable enough to be accurate out in the field, whatever the conditions. Its original purpose was to allow soldiers in the trenches during WWII to tell time and sync their movements. Although the modern wearer no longer needs to contend with bullets whizzing by, modern field watches have retained a few design features that made their progenitors so popular. They typically have simple designs, are built dust and waterproof, and have a dial that has a contrast with the indices for better readability.
It goes without saying that among all types of military watches, those designed for diving will have the best water resistance. Some will have the minimum water resistance rating of 330 feet, which is good enough for a snorkeling excursion, while some will offer water resistance of up to 3,000 feet, which is a depth to which no human can free dive.
A digital watch, in simple terms, is a watch that displays the time digitally rather than with a conventional hour and minute hand on a dial. They'll typically be battery-powered, and some military digital watches will have a slew of other useful features that can help you track your workout, act as a heart rate monitor, or offer GPS features.
The Marathon Watch company was founded in 1904 as Weinsturm Watch but was later changed to Wein Brothers. Then in 1939, Morris Wein founded Marathon Watch in Montreal, Canada. It supplied watches to members of the US military during WWII in 1941. One of its best selling models is the Marathon Watch Navigator Swiss Made Military Issue Pilot’s Watch.
The Casio company is based out of Dover, NJ and is also commonly referred to as Casio America. Along with its watches, the company is known for designing projectors, pianos, and keyboards. One of its popular military watches is the Casio Men's 'G-Shock' Quartz Resin Sport Watch.
With a headquarters in San Rafael, Calif., Luminox was founded in 1989 by Barry Cohen. The company produced watches specifically designed for Navy SEALs. Each watch is built with an indiglo background to help users read the dials and numbers. If you’re interested in a Luminox military watch, consider the Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout Watch.
Military Watch Pricing
- $15 - $50: You'll be able to find a good military watch at this price range that will suit your needs as long as you don't need much in the way of features. They’ll typically be made of plastic but they'll still be durable and water-resistant for the most part. Of course, quality and hi-tech features will require a higher price.
- $50 - $200: Military watches at this price range can be expected to be constructed from more durable materials like steel or carbon. This means they'll be able to take more abuse. Some will offer GPS features or Bluetooth functionality, while others can serve as sleep and workout monitors. Water resistance will also be increased at this price range, with some being capable of going to depths more than 900 feet.
There are a variety of ways modern watches draw power. Dress-focused watches are mechanical in that they use an internal mechanism with tiny springs and gears that either needs to be wound or can self-wind through the user's wrist movement. Modern military watches, however, will typically draw power from a battery source — this makes them not just cheaper to maintain, but also makes their timekeeping abilities more accurate and reliable.
One of the advantages military watches have over conventional watches is that they are designed to be more readable in all conditions. Some military watches will have a backlight to illuminate the watch's dial or digital display, while some will have luminescent markers and indices to make the information on the dial readable at a glance.
- Extra features. Military watches will also differ in features, and the important thing is to determine what kind of military watch will best suit your needs. Some will offer GPS and location tracking, which will be helpful for those who go hunting or hiking, while some will have health tracking features for those who want to track the progress of their workouts. Additionally, some military watches include a barometer, altimeter, compass, and other such features that can prove useful during outdoor situations.
Best Military Watch Reviews & Recommendations 2021
If you’re looking for a high-quality watch built and designed for members of the Navy SEALs, look no further. Luminox constructs all of its military watches for active-duty members, so you know it’s capable of handling nearly anything thrown at it. It’s sleek, modern, and durable with a carbon compound case.
It's a strong, sturdy, well-made, good-quality watch. One of the best things about it is it’s self-powered and comes equipped with bright, luminescent hands that are easy to read at night and during the day. It’s capable of handling depths of up to 660 feet and is powered by a Swiss quartz movement.
If you ever need to change the batteries, you may want to get a professional to do it. Swapping them out can be a hassle and may damage the watch. It is a larger sized watch, and the wrist strap isn’t the most durable.
Casio understands how to construct premium military wristwatches, and this shock-resistant sports watch is no joke. Its shock resistance is dependable, and the watch is water-resistant up to 660 feet. It features a daily alarm, stopwatch, hourly time signal, auto calendar, and 12/24 hour formats. It’s powered by quartz movement with a digital display.
It’s a dive watch built for and used by professional marine divers and surface water sports. It fits comfortably on the wrist, is light yet sturdy, and is durable if worn for any strenuous or difficult activities. As our budget choice, it’s a great value for the money and is suitable for everyday, around-the-clock use as well.
However, you may find a few things that could use some sprucing up. The display is on the small side, and the strap may break after a short period of use. Also, the sound of the alarm can be rather weak. Plus, the placement of the buttons can be a hassle, as you may bump them by accident.
The Swiss-army knife of the military watch world, this high-quality watch has been designed according to government specifications for use by military personnel, pilots, paratroopers, and law enforcement. A few features we found helpful are the watch is self-illuminating, submersible, and features a high-torque quartz movement.
Its modern design makes it fashionable as well. It’s also thin, lightweight, reliable, and well built. As for its durability, the watch can stand up to everyday wear without an issue. It’s accurate up to the second and is easy to read in the dark. It’s perfect for running, working out, swimming, hiking, and more.
Be prepared to spend a chunk of money on the watch, as it is quite expensive. Another issue is that many have complained that it can be scratched easily. Also, the bezel around the outside may break and fall off after a short period of use.
The Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Watch was designed for outdoor adventure. It weighs 52 grams and measures 45mm across, making it a bit smaller than other outdoor watches in its class. It has a silicone strap that is conveniently interchangeable with other Garmin watches, and this same silicone strap feels secure and comfortable on the wrist. The high contrast, LCD monochrome display is clear and readable even under direct sunlight, and it has a backlight to illuminate the dial at night or during lowlight conditions. The watch is durable and is built to U.S. military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance, and battery life is rated 14 days on smartwatch mode, and 16 hours while GPS is in use. Among its features is a three-axis compass, a barometric altimeter, satellite tracking (with support for GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo), as well as other health and workout tracking features.
If you’re heading into an unpredictable environment, you’ll want the SUUNTO Core Military Men’s Outdoor Sports Watch on your wrist. This watch is durable and tough enough to handle anything you throw at it, including water, dust, and dirt. But where this military watch really excels is helping you understand your surrounding environment.
It includes an altimeter, which tracks your vertical movement and shows your current elevation, and a barometer that notes air pressure. A compass helps guide your path, and a weather trend graph plus sunrise and sunset times for more than 400 locations help you predict what’s ahead.
It can operate in temperatures as low as five degrees Fahrenheit or as hot as over 140-degrees Fahrenheit. This military watch also includes an intelligent Storm Alarm, which makes noise and flashes light when a storm is approaching your location. Now that’s a watch that’ll look out for you.
The PALADA Men’s Tactical Watch is a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive military watches. And it includes all the features — and the durability — you need from your watch. This watch features a digital display that’s easy to read even in the dark.
LED backlighting allows you to add brightness, and there’s a 1/100 second stopwatch, auto calendar, hourly alarm, alarm clock, and both 12- and 24-hour display formats all right on your wrist. This watch is also water-resistant up to 50 meters, and you’ll have no problem wearing it to swim or in wet, rainy weather.
With a rubber band and tough ABS plastic casing, you won’t have to worry about bumping, hitting, or dropping this watch. Though it might not have high-tech extra features, this watch will meet all of your tactical needs at an affordable price, and you can rely on it every day.
The G-Shock Men's GBD800UC-5 is a military watch that has a ton of features and functionality for its price. Like what one can expect from every G-shock, this one is built tough, rated shock and vibration resistant, and waterproof up to over 650 feet. At 49.6 millimeters across, the watch looks somewhat big and chunky, but is extremely light and fits comfortably on the wrist.
This watch was designed for both fitness and adventure, and its design is bound to turn a few heads, too. The watch connects to The G-Shock Connected app for both Android and IOS devices, allowing you access to a slew of functions to aid your workout, as well as to information about your physical activity. It has a three-axis accelerometer to count your steps and a multi-timer feature that will allow you to record information for up to 200 laps. Through the app, you can also record your daily workout activities and count the number of calories burned.
- Get a military watch that's easy to read, or that's readable at a glance, regardless of the lighting situation. Test the backlight — it should illuminate the dial adequately — and make sure that the layout of information on the dial is easy to understand.
- Needless to say, your military watch should have a good amount of dirt, dust, and water resistance so you can be sure it can still perform well in messy situations. Most military watches won't be affected by a little rain or mud, but one that you can rely on under water will definitely be better.
- Naturally, you should get a watch with the features that you need. If you intend to hike or spend time in isolated areas, then a watch with location tracking features will be useful. Likewise, if you workout and want information on the progress of your health, then a military watch with health tracking features might be what you need. Of course, you can get a watch that has all the features mentioned, but remember that the more features a watch has, the pricier it will be.
Q: What is a military watch?
Military watches are created with high-impact materials and are designed with a variety of features. They are meant to withstand tougher conditions than standard watches.
Q: Who needs a military watch?
Military or tactical watches are great if you are an outdoorsman. They are very versatile and durable and are worn by mountain climbers, hunters, hikers, campers, surfers, etc.
Q: What kind of watches do Navy SEALs wear?
Many Navy SEALs favor the Casio G-Shock DW-6600. It is lightweight, water-resistant, and has good shock protection. However, there is no standard watch or a specific model that all Navy SEALs wear.
Our pick for one of the best watches is the Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout Watch. It is scratch-resistant, water-resistant, well-made, and sturdy.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Casio Men's 'G-Shock' Quartz Resin Sport Watch.