Gear up

These Are the 10 Best Tactical Watches


June 17, 2019 Watches By Photo by Chandler Bondurant

What makes a watch “tactical?” Does it have to look stealthy? Does it need to be digital, or analog? Does it have to give the user readings in temperature and barometric pressure, or feature a compass?

Truthfully, there’s no true single definition of what constitutes a “tactical” watch. True, many of the timepieces used by men and women in the military or in police departments have a certain “rugged” look to them, but any watch that can fulfill the needs of a professional working in the aforementioned fields could conceivably considered appropriate for “tactical” use.

So what are some common traits that many of these watches tend to exhibit? Here are a few that come to mind:

-Ruggedness. A watch that can’t stand up to the rigors of the field is useless to a professional soldier, police officer, outdoorsman or woman, etc. Shock resistance, water resistance and scratch resistance are key.

-Reliability. Whether quartz-powered or automatic, a tactical watch needs to work. If you look down and your battery is dead, or that sweep seconds hand is no longer sweeping, the watch is useless.

-Stealth. While a tactical watch doesn’t need to be PVD-coated or feature a matte finish, any minimization of reflection is a good thing, at least in a military environment. This is why some militaries require their soldiers to cover their watches.

-Legibility. A watch that can’t be easily read, whether analog or digital, provides little utility to the user.

-Extra Features. While not strictly necessary, modern digital tactical watches often provide stopwatch functionality, timers, temperature readings, etc, which can be extremely useful in the field.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the best options for tactical watches currently available, some of which were chosen from personal experience in the military. Whether you’re active military or police yourself, or you simply want something to wear while angling, hiking or hunting that’ll stand up to the rigors of the field, we’ve got you covered.

Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A longtime favorite of military personnel, this fairly basic G-Shock has everything you need, and nothing you don’t: 200m of water resistance, an ultra-durable resin body, a multi-function alarm, 1/100-second stopwatch, hourly time signal, auto calendar, and 12/24 hour time formats.
Price: $43
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 48.5mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Timex Command Collection

Crafted in a mold similar to that of the G-Shock, the Timex Command Collection of watches is built to take a beating. Water-resistant to 100m as well as heavily shock-resistant, they feature Indiglo light-up dials, durable metal and resin cases and stopwatch and countdown timers.
Price: $99
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 54mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Suunto Core

The Suunto Core offers an altimeter, barometer and compass as well as weather information in a sturdy case with a large display. Available in numerous colors and variations, this is the perfect watch for somebody who needs weather and elevation information at his fingertips, in addition to standard timing information.
Price: $130
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 49.1mm
Water Resistance: $130

Marathon Pilot’s Navigator With Tritium

Since Marathon recently introduced a sapphire crystal version of its Navigator watch, you can nab the original plexiglass-equipped version at a bargain. We field-tested one of these bad boys and we can assure you, its fibershell case, quartz movement (with date or no-date) and 12-hour bezel held up perfectly well.
Price: $150+
Movement: ETA FØ6 high-torque 3-jewel quartz movement
Diameter: 41mm
Water Resistance: 200 ft.

MWC G10SL MKVI

A little tank on your wrist. If all you need is the time and date, this thing will survive quite literally anything you can throw at it (trust us — we know from experience). The tritium tubes provide illumination so bright you’ll be forced to cover the watch on night exercises, should you go on any. Also: we have SCUBA dived with thing.
Price: $369
Movement: Ronda 715li quartz
Diameter: 40mm
Water Resistance: 300m

Suunto Traverse Alpha

One of the ultimate outdoorsman’s watches, the Traverse Alpha offers GPS navigation, shot detection and recording, weather alerts, a red backlight for nighttime use and a small light to illuminate one’s surroundings (just don’t activate it accidentally). A rugged, stainless steel knurled bezel ensures that you can knock it around.
Price: $352
Movement: N/A
Diameter: 50mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Luminox Recon Nav SPC

The Recon Nav PC is an analog-display watch that’s nearly as feature-rich as many of its digital counterparts. Featuring a GMT hand, rotating dive bezel, tachymeter scale, removable compass, tritium tube illumination, date window and a 46mm carbon reinforced polycarbonate case, this watch is perfectly suited for overland navigation.
Price: $446
Movement: Ronda 515 quartz
Diameter: 46mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Garmin Tactix® Charlie

Packed to the gills with tactical features, the Charlie is geared toward military and law enforcement professionals, though anyone can of course take advantage of all that it has to offer. With navigation, health tracking and even Jumpmaster features, this may be the ultimate tactical watch.
Price: $600
Movement: N/A
Diameter: 51mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Casio G-Shock Master of G Rangeman

If for some reason a standard G-Shock isn’t tough enough for you, then the Rangeman is probably your watch. Featuring a Triple Sensor to measure compass bearing, atmospheric pressure/altitude, and temperature, this is a true survival watch. It also features GPS-enabled navigation and pairs with the G-Shock Connected app.
Price: $800
Movement: Quartz
Diameter: 58mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Damasko DS30

A classically styled pilot’s watch, the DS30 is secretly packed with seriously tough tech. It’s crafted from edge-hardened submarine steel, features an advanced crown and gasket system for waterproofness and durability, and is DIN-certified for water resistance, anti-magnetism and shockproofness. Throw it on a NATO and you’re good to go.
Price: $957
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Diameter: 39mm
Water Resistance: 200m

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