A tactical watch, also known as a military watch, is designed to provide quick and easy access to data. Some of which may literally save your life in a tough survival situation. Normally, these waterproof and shock-resistant devices come with several additional functions, such as measuring the temperature (or showing GPS data).
If you work in the military, you know the importance of exact timing in any military operation. For this reason, a good tactical watch should provide precision and accuracy; regardless of the environment (or harsh treatment). Durability is another key feature. While technically any timepiece can offer advanced functions, the military/tactical variety will keep performing under conditions in which many everyday devices would never be able to endure.
Military/Tactical items are also widely used by survivalists and men of various outdoor sports, such as hikers, kayakers, hunters, and climbers. Each outdoor activity has special requirements for the gear that is used, and tactical timepieces are not an exception. That’s why it is vital to know the exact features you will need, as well as those you can do without.
While there are plenty of good tactical timepieces in any price range, buying the best military watch may not be the easiest task to deal with. Along with quality and durability, there are plenty of other factors to be considered. That’s why we have decided to research the most popular military/tactical items, in order to compile a list of five best military/tactical watch on the market. We’ve spent long hours exploring the customer reviews to ensure choosing the most appropriate timepiece for you, regardless of your budget (or the features you are focused on!).
Choosing the Best Military/Tactical Watch
Although various people may have absolutely different needs when looking for the best military/tactical gear, some basic features cannot be overlooked. When you’re shopping for the best watch possible, you should make sure that they meet the following criteria:
This is probably the main idea of owning a good tactical piece of equipment. There’s no point in having all the advanced functions if a few bumps and bangs is going to render the watch useless. The casing should be durable enough to withstand all types of intense use, while the lens should be made of a scratch-resistant material (in order to provide clear readings of time – even after years of use!).
Although a good tactical watch does not have to be submersible up to 1000 feet, it should be able to withstand heavy rain; as well as continue working after you’ve crossed a river (or swam in a lake) while wearing it. It should also be dust-proof and mud-repellent, as most activities in the wild are far from being neat and clean. That’s why compromising on the materials used to manufacture your tactical wrist watch is absolutely unacceptable. You want to look for longevity!
The band material is also important. Although metal and leather may look shiny (and feel comfortable against your wrist), they are not recommended for use under harsh weather conditions. Metal is prone to corrosion, and leather can simply fall apart as it rots due to excessive moisture. That’s why silicone and canvas are probably the best options for your watch needs.
Finally, pay attention to the buckles; which should be durable and easy-to-operate. Normally, those are made of stainless steel or metal, with a scratch-resistant and anti-corrosion finish.
This feature is important for any type of clock. However, while being five minutes late for work will not literally kill you, lagging behind the rescue schedule in a combat situation may mean the difference between life and death. Basically, the accuracy is provided by the technology of time measurement. Nowadays, you may choose between two different varieties: analog or digital types. If accuracy is your main goal, it is recommended to opt for a digital version as mechanical ones are less precise.
Digital watches are pretty much preferred, but the analog models are still going to be the most accurate ones around. The reason that rings true is due to many different reasons.
Analogs can be powered by a spring, which requires no battery to run. There are also self-winding mechanisms, which “charge” the spring through the kinetics of your movement. This is so your device keeps working as long as you’re on the go. Some other things would be:
- It is easier to read as it conveys an image, not just numbers.
- It can offer a few additional hands for a more comfortable use.
- It features a much wider selection of styles to signify numbers.
3. Illumination and luminescence
It is difficult to imagine a good tactical watch which needs a flashlight to be used in the dark. Self-illumination is an absolute must-have as most of your outdoor activities will surely take place 24/7 and include the night hours.
However, there are some important factors to consider when choosing the type of illumination you’ll make use of for your tactical timepiece. While reading the time in the dark with the luminescent hands may be useful and comfortable (for an easy hands-free operation), a self-illuminating face may also be a disadvantage; revealing your position to a potential threat.
That’s why it is recommended to use a watch with a controlled backlight, or to get one with a special face cover for field scenarios. It is also advisable to avoid shiny and reflective materials, as well as to use military timers with anti-reflective coating (that is if you want to keep a low profile in a night combat situation).
On the other hand, luminescent hands and faces consume no energy, which means your tactical watch is more power-efficient (and can provide longer runtime). Other than that, you can always read the time; even if the backlight element stops working, or the buttons get jammed.
Although choosing the functions is highly individual, make sure your tactical piece of gear can provide you with the following additional data:
It is important to find your location in order to be able to read the map and find your way back home. Most modern tactical watches are equipped with highly-sensitive sensors, providing accurate data for Geo-positioning.
Although many experienced survivalists may use the celestial bodies or other natural markers to define the cardinal points, a built-in compass will make your navigation much faster and easier.
Benefits of Having a Good Military/Tactical Watch
Tactical timepieces are great and lightweight pieces of equipment, used for all types of outdoor activities. Although it cannot be used as a tool, it can provide you with useful information, which can help you out in many situations. Once you have it, you will improve upon your navigation by being able to calculate the time and distance precisely. It is a perfect tool to develop an action plan, as well as to stick to it strictly.
1. Precise Data
You will always know the exact time, your coordinates, and your direction. These are things that will keep you from straying or losing track of where you are. With precise data, you can always react to the changing situation and adjust your initial strategy. In tough scenarios, being informed means being protected.
You can rely on the data provided by your tactical watch as it can always perform well no matter how rough you treat it. Like most outdoor equipment, a tactical timepiece is highly durable and with proper care can last for many years.
Top 5 Best Military/Tactical Timepieces
Top 5: Timex T49612
This round-faced digital model (that is equipped with negative dials) has scored 4.1 on our list, due to its relatively low price and all sorts of amazing features.
The shock-resistant casing is made of high-quality resin and can stand a water pressure of about 200 meters. The strap is made up of a fairly comfortable silicone, with a little dimple at the end, so that it lies sturdy on your wrist.
The overall weight of 6.08oz makes this model a perfect EDC item, as well as a great choice for hikers and travelers alike. It has plenty of modes, including a 99-hour chronograph mode with a stop-watch, a lap-time function, a compass mode and even a hydration mode (to remind you that you’ve got to keep yourself hydrated. Another great feature of this model is that you can switch off the modes you don’t need at any given moment, which means faster scrolling and a more comfortable operation.
Most of the reviewers were quite positive about this model, as it offers a really wide range of features. One of the customers said: “I am impressed that this model offers more navigation and time measuring options than most expensive tactical watches, it’s definitely stiff competition”.
Although it is generally a nice model, we were able to find a few complaints. Some customers did not really like the band, as it seemed stiff compared to alternative options. Others were complaining about the main button, which is a bit bulky and may poke into your wrist while bending it.
However, these slight imperfections are based on personal opinions and do not influence the overall performance of the watch.
Top 4: Suunto Core Wrist-Top
This model has a round 50-millimeter casing and weighs about 2.26 ounces. It also features three textured buttons on its right side. These are used to switch the light luminescent function and to reset (or select) the many modes available to you. On the left side, you will find two buttons which control the display and the start/stop option for multiple functions. The model is 30-meter water-resistant and features an altimeter, barometer and also a thermometer.
The barometer mode offers a graph that shows the pressure change over the last few hours, which can prove to be quite useful. The band comes in an elastic silicone with a massive buckle, providing a sturdy (yet comfortable) fit for your wrist. The face of the lock offers a swivel bezel, with the North indicator and compass degrees for navigation. The home display will normally show the date and the time, with a little digital ticker running around signifying the seconds. However, you can always opt for additional data such as dual time, sunrise/sunset, or your stopwatch.
Most reviewers liked this model, as it is pretty functional and is relatively slim when compared to some other product choices. One of the customers said: “It works perfectly for most of my day-to-day routines, as well as for some random hiking trips”.
The only drawback we’ve discovered about this model is that its temperature sensor is placed in a way that it can pick up the body’s temperature by accident. However, if it’s not on your wrist for a short period of time, the temperature reading will be more accurate – so just take it off for a second or two. All in all, this device scores 4.3 in our eyes. Not terrible at all!
Top 3: Casio Pathfinder
This awesome ABC watch, which is from one of Casio’s most popular styles (Pathfinder), has received an average score of 4.5; mainly due to the fact that it has many different features.
The casing offers water resistance of up to 100 meters, which is great for all types of outdoor sports. The home display can be customized according to your needs, so you can get whatever information you prefer from its three sensors. These sensors are providing the data for the compass, altimeter, barometer and even a thermometer. On the right side, you will find the ABC textured buttons, which are easy-to-operate, even if you’re wearing gloves.
On the left, you’ll find a textured button that allows you to scroll through the different modes available. The modes that you could find yourself making use of would be: sunrise/sunset; a countdown timer, as well as world time and a record modes. For this model, you’ll get a 51-milimiter wide case, which is 15.5 millimeters tall (and weighs in at only 65 grams).
The users are absolutely amazed by its new duplex screen, which is very high contrast and offers some really comfortable operation. Joshua D stated: “Although there are plenty of great features, the screen is my most favorite part on this item”.
Some customers complained about the alarm sound, which wasn’t loud enough for some. That’s fine, as you’re blessed with the 5 alarm option; so regardless of how deep your sleep is, you’ll be fine when it comes to reaching work on time.
Top 2: Casio GA100-1A1As
This model has received a lot of positive feedback from customers, as it scored 4.8 in our top list. It’s a hybrid of both digital and an analog watch, all wrapped up in a stealthy-looking black design.
The strap (as well as the casing) is made of a shock-resistant resin, providing waterproofing of about 200 meters. There are two textured operation buttons on each side of the device as well. The two separate digital displays offer white numbers on a black background, allowing you to see them with ease.
Additionally, the item features the world time within 29 different time zones, a stopwatch, an alarm mode, and also a countdown timer.
This model has received plenty of positive comments from the customers, such as “a great everyday-er” and “a fairly-priced piece of equipment”. One of the other complaints some customers would have about this model is that its face is very reflective, which makes reading uncomfortable at certain angles. However, it provides good protection against glare reflection, which is a sort of advantage as well (as well as somewhat ironic!).
Top 1: Casio G-Shock Rangeman Master
This model features the newest ABC triple-sensor watch with a 6-band atomic timekeeping feature, which is great if you go traveling around the world.
The negative display is split up into two main sections. The bottom section normally shows the exact time, while the one in the top will provide you with the barometer graph (as well as the altimeter data and the compass info). The two textured stainless steel buttons on each side provide a soft touch with a perfect feedback. There’s also a big sensor button on the right side for frequently used functions, with a cover to protect it against occasional impacts.
Most reviewers have opted for this model due to its impressive 10-year battery lifetime, as well as an abundance of different features to make prevalent use of. Philly 116 stated: “This is a great G-Shock, packed with every single possible feature I could ever want!”.
The only flaw of this model is its negative display, which is sometimes difficult to read especially in surroundings with excessive light. However, if you give it a few days, you may “never go back to a positive one”, as one of the customers resumes. With us, this model scores the maximum out of 5.0.
When looking for a military/tactical watch, it is important to remember that the best one has to be rugged and durable. This is an item which has been initially designed to give you an advantage for all kinds of activities.
Although the ability to withstand some harsh wear and tear conditions will mainly depend on the manufacturer, choosing the functions that fit your most common scenarios is purely an individual responsibility.
While each of the models mentioned above would make a great choice for a decent military/tactical watch, we would recommend the Casio G-Shock Rangeman as the best option. We say this because of the advanced features it has, as well as its high quality.