In short, tactical watches are designed for survival. These military-style devices come in useful for a number of things – from your standard timekeeping to assessing weather patterns to establishing routes and tracking workouts – a timepiece has never been as versatile. Whether you are a military man, an outdoor enthusiast, a sportsman or simply someone who appreciates a combination of style and technology, a tactical watch is definitely something created for the man’s “man”. To help you find the best match for you, we’ve narrowed down a list of what we feel are the best tactical watches trending in stores. You can also check out our Buyer’s Guide to learn which watch will work best for you – and why.
The Best Tactical Watch
First on our list is the very humble Expedition Field watch by Timex. This chronograph timepiece features an authentic design and subtly draws inspiration from vintage military watches – in terms of appearance, that is. Its technical ability matches today’s advanced technology and although it comes in at an extremely modest price, the device conveniently includes the most modern tactical elements.
A durable beige nylon performance strap secures the dial and analog-quartz movements of this military field watch comfortably to your wrist and the neutral tones are subtly complimented with orange-flecked hands. Three sub-dials track minutes, seconds, and one-twentieth of a second for up to 30 minutes. The battery-powered timekeeper also includes a window reflecting the date and stopwatch functionality.
Water resistant to 100m (330ft)
20mm band width
- Weight4 ounces
The GW9400Rangeman G-Shock Solar reminds us of RoboCop. It comes jam-packed with all the essential features and looks like it’s ready to fight crime (minus the laser beams)! Casio is one of the better-known brands on the market and this model upholds their reputation for manufacturing quality timepieces.
The better brand and numerous features come at a price, however, and this is definitely one of the costlier military-style watches on the market. Our thoughts; it’s worth every penny! This solar-powered digital timepiece is made from stainless steel and is dotted with textured pushers, multiple display screens, and a protective mineral crystal dial window. More than just a time and date-keeper, the GW9400Rangeman also works as a compass, altimeter, barometer, and stopwatch – to name but a few. Perfect for your everyday sportsman to those in law enforcement.
Water resistant to 660 feet (200 M)
Quartz movement with analog display
Mb6 atomic timekeeping
Up to 5 daily alarms
- Weight10.4 ounces
Sleek and as black as night, the Suunto Core has been distilled to include the pure essence of adventure. Keeping to a practical appearance, the only hint of color in this army-style watch are the dashes of luminous green that line the dial. It’s functionality, on the other hand, does not follow suit with its’ modest aesthetics.
The Core is a wrist-top computer that happily tags along for the ride. It boasts waterproof buttons, an extremely accurate altimeter, and barometer, and what we think is one of the easier-to-use interfaces. With this tactical watch you can confidently navigate the outdoors, prepare yourself for weather conditions, and oh yes, it tells the time too! Coming in at a reasonable price, the Core is one of our favorite watches for both tracking and storing information.
Water-resistant to 100 feet
Full digital display
Includes log book functionality
Tracks the weather and sun
Includes a compass
- Weight1.44 ounces
While we do find this watch to be a tad over-priced, perhaps you’ll find it to be worth its’ value. At first glance, the bold numbers might be a sight for sore eyes but once you get used to the functionality, then you can appreciate the layout and style.
Swiss quartz movements are what make this fella tick and the carbon reinforced polymer injection molded case is what ensures that it will keep on ticking for years to come. Luminox has brought forth a tactical watch that’s extremely durable, conveniently lightweight and of course, multi-functional. Designed with soldiers and law enforcement in mind, the XS-3051-L fits the bill for being a reliable tactical watch that features accurate functionality. Make sure to also check our guide to the best sports watches for more great timepieces.
Water-resistant to 200 meters
23 mm bandwidth
CARBONOX case material
- Weight7.7 ounces
Like always, Casio manages to impress and we have yet to stumble upon one of their watches that hasn’t been superbly built. Designed for rough terrain and extreme weather conditions, the G-Shock GG-1000-1A5CR surmounts to being one of the best men’s tactical watches. The only thing that eliminates this timepiece from being THE watch of all watches is that it forfeits GPS functionality – oh well!
This ruggedly handsome device is both mud and shock resistant and comes equipped with a backlight for night-time trekking. The quartz timepiece also includes a stopwatch as well as a countdown timer, a digital compass and an hourly time signal. A user-friendly interface allows you to set and navigate your way around the digital dial, leaving you with a pleasurable experience overall.
200-meter water resistance
Full auto calendar
5 daily alarms
- Weight10.4 ounces
If you’re keen to accessorize with military gear but still prefer a more classic style, then you might find yourself quite attracted to Hamilton’s Khaki Field tactical watch. Amazon describes this model as “a timekeeper that has returned to its roots with a bold design true to the original 1969 “Hack” watch”. Other than its vintage heritage, the Hamilton Khaki will also appeal to those who are not a fan of bulky accessories.
The dial is appreciated for its uncluttered look and luminescent hour markers that light up at night. The watch remains traditional and mechanical, although functionality is minimal. The Khaki Field is more of a collector’s item that’s worn for style and a love for the authentic rather than a tactical watch made to handle and navigate extreme outdoor excursions.
Water-resistant up to 50 meters
Weighs only 2.8 ounces
42-hour power reserve
Green nato strap with brown calfskin loops
- Weight1.45 pounds
Built to strict military specifications, Marathon’s Military Navigator has been designed to meet the demanding requirements of pilots, law enforcement agents and “boots on the ground” military recruits. The watch’s functionality depends on high-torque quartz movements which are accurate to the T and are protected by the device’s fibre shell high impact case and stainless-steel backing. Handsome and plain in structure, this tactical military watch is lightweight and does the job without the frills.
A unique feature of the Military Navigator Pilot’s Quartz is the inclusion of Tritium gas tubes which work to provide constant visibility in low light situations. These gas tubes are self-illuminating and contain an isotope of hydrogen. This means that they will not dull down in brightness like “glow in the dark” paint does.
Water resistant up to 60 meters
Hand made in La Chaux de Fonds
Replacement battery is a 371 cell
- Weight3.2 ounces
The Eco-Drive found its birth in Japan and includes the nation’s ability to pay strict attention to detail. Featuring a stainless steel case and a green canvas strap, this military tactical watch is both modest in appearance and in price. Sitting slightly heavier than it looks, we give this device a thumbs up for being a comfortable fit.
This quartz timepiece, whilst humble in appearance, ticks all the boxes for including tactical functionality and is a perfect match for your typical outdoor enthusiast. A window conveniently displays both the date and the day of the week (perfect for the forgetful types) and sits neatly on the dial without complicating the very basic layout and design. A textured crown and a luminous red hand give the watch a touch of flair while adding to the device’s practical use.
Water resistant to 330 feet (100 M)
Woven strap with patterned stitching
- Weight11.2 ounces
Allow us to introduce the most elite of our top tactical watches; the Breitling Cockpit B50 Night Mission. While your jaw might drop at the price, we can assure you that every penny spent will be well worth the functionality that this machine of a watch delivers. As the name suggests, the Cockpit B50 was engineered with pilots in mind and thus features an analog and digital-display quartz movement that’s been specially designed for aviation.
At just a glance, the Hurclean dial of the Night Mission suggests that the watch is a genuine technical spectacle, and this judgment is certainly accurate. The watch lavishly features all of the properties that have become standard for aerial missions. The chronograph is equipped with flyback and a split-time function and other components include a second time-zone display, a perpetual calendar, two alarms and both a stopwatch and countdown timer. This is a serious watch for a serious watch enthusiast.
Scratch resistant sapphire crystal
Water resistant at 100 meters
12/24 hour display
Minute markers around the outer rim
Luxury watch style
Vostok is renowned for producing relatively inexpensive watches and the Amphibian Automatic falls exactly into this category. We urge you not to judge the quality by its price, however, as the timepiece is appreciated for its accuracy and reliability –it’s also a popular diver’s watch (water resistant up to 200m).
This budget-friendly timepiece is encased in stainless-steel and attaches to your wrist with a 22mm woven strap. While it might not look like the most modern device in the world, the mechanics date back to the 1940s and have evolved to be regarded as one of the most robust and reliable timekeeping engines. With an easy-to-read dial and user-friendly settings, the Amphibian remains a classic that falls in the favor of many avid watch collectors.
Designed with diving in mind
Bold hour marker and hands for easy reading
A classic watch
- BrandVostok America
- Weight5.6 ounce
Military watches have evolved over the years and the WristLight series is an example of how some tactical timepieces have wandered to include more original features. This device, for instance, magnificently combines the legibility and reliability of a Swiss Luminox quartz watch with a high-performance LED sidelight.
This rugged fella simply looks like he is ready for action and the unique take on the watch has grabbed the attention of many hunters, hikers, and nightlife enthusiasts. Simply refuel the LuminoxSureFire by charging it through a USB cable – a full charge can give up to 13 hours of light. The round dial sits securely on a square foundation and if the sidelight doesn’t intrigue, the original design just might. This handy gadget comes at a reasonable price and gets our nod of approval.
Fuel gauge indicates remaining battery power
Precision-faceted reflector creates a MaxVision Beam
- Weight8.3 ounces
Quality tactical digital watches that come in at a reasonable price are far and few between, but allow us to introduce the Suunto Travers Alpha. This military-style watch will keep you on track with GPS/GLONASS navigation, while unique features like hunting and fishing components provide useful tools for the serious sportsman. And if this isn’t enough, the Traverse Alpha also comes conveniently complete with automatic shot detection, a moon phase calendar, sunrise alert, weather trend alerts, and a snazzy red backlight for night time shenanigans.
This watch looks as hardcore as it sounds and like many of its digital counterparts, the design sticks to the traditional black case while the rest of the device is colored in with shades of grey. With a built-in logging system, the Traverse Alpha takes the cake when it comes to storing info and mapping coordinates. And the cherry on top of that cake; a discreet built-in flashlight that illuminates your surroundings.
Receive mobile notifications and see incoming calls
Plan your routes with topographic maps
Water-resistant up to 100 meters
Compatible with SuuntoMovescount App
- Weight2.72 ounces
Coming in as the most budget-friendly tactical watch on our list, the brawny Expedition Digital is perfect for those who want the features of a typical military watch without taking out a small loan to compensate for the new gadget. A nylon and leather strap firmly grips a sturdy resin case, giving the watch a perfectly masculine look – there’s no doubt that this is a timepiece built for men and solely for men.
The Expedition Digital is also one of the lightest watches on our list and is ideally suited for those who are not into the bulkier styles. The chronograph functionality allows you to track your personal bests and the timekeeper also comes complete with the usual military components i.e. stopwatch, countdown timer, and alarm. The revolutionary Indiglo back-light brightens up the evening so that your digital companion becomes just as accommodating at night time.
Water resistant to 100m
Casual outdoor design
User-friendly digital interface
- Weight3.2 ounces
Loaded with functions for multiple sports and day-to-day requirements, the action-packed Pathfinder will easily become your most relied upon utensil. While the multiple buttons might take some getting used to, once you’ve mastered how the settings work, you’ll be in awe of the device’s accurate functionality.
Featuring a digital compass, an altimeter, barometer and weather tracking components, this rugged Solar watch is sure to keep you on course. The solar-powered device might not appeal to those who like less complicated aesthetics but if it’s a partner in crime you’re after then you might have just met your match. Great for casual days, even greater for adventurous days!
Water resistant to 100 m
Quartz movement with digital display
Full auto calendar
5 daily alarms
Full auto EL light
- Weight11.2 ounces
Tactical Watch Buying Guide & FAQ
How Do We Choose Our Selection Of Tactical Watches?
With precision and care, of course. When we decide which items make our comprehensive list of favorites, we like to ensure that a holistic view is taken so that our choices remain unbiased and true to their authenticity.
Brand - A brand is the backbone of its products and consumers often look to the history of an item before making a purchase. It’s with this in mind that we featured tactical watches that come from reputable brands that continue to deliver on their promises.
Reviews - While we have an opinion, so do you - we find value in what you have to say. This is why we scour the net for reviews on all of the products we list. We then weigh the good with the bad and come to a fair conclusion.
Design - While many men are only after the functionality that a watch features, others have a keener eye for attention to detail when it comes to the aesthetics. This is why we strived to add a variety of watches to our list so that design and usability merge to form a selection of watches that are pleasantly stylish and outstandingly versatile.
Durability - Tactile watches are intended to be durable in even the harshest conditions but sadly there are a few flukes on the market. We took it upon ourselves to do thorough research so that we by-passed the “wannabes” and only listed watches that remain true to the roots of traditional military gear.
Price - Price is always a deciding factor and if we only included the most expensive elite watches on our list, then we realize our recommendations would be met with disappointment. This is why we included a variety of watches that will meet different budgets without skimping on quality features.
Features To Look For In Tactical Watches
Power Source - When deciding which power source is right for you, there are two important factors you need to consider, namely; accuracy and longevity. These factors are derived from the two watch movement types: mechanical and quartz.
Mechanical power sources rely on mechanical parts, like gears and springs, to function and can be divided into two types of movements; automatic and manual. Mechanical watches are mostly appreciated by collectors and timepiece connoisseurs. They are regarded as luxury watches that are delivered with a high level of craftsmanship.
Watches with quartz movement are typically more accurate. These devices are powered by batteries which will need to be placed anywhere from 1-5 years. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a tactical quartz watch to come with a solar powered battery. Quartz watches are generally more affordable than their mechanical counterparts.
Analog vs Digital - While each comes with a set of their own pros and cons, it’s up to you to decide what type of descriptive features you’d like your dial to display.
On an analog watch, the time and information are represented by hands that move around the dial and point to the numerals or markers that represent the data you’re after. A digital watch, on the other hand, displays numbers or digits on an LCD or LED screen.
Digital watches are usually always quartz powered, which makes them extremely accurate. Analog watches can be quartz powered or mechanical. Your decision will come down to accuracy, presentation and what type of dial display is easier for you to read at a glance.
Night Vision - The best tactical watches are ones that can easily be read both in daylight and in the dark. Some of these devices come with bright LED backlights whilst other models stick to subtler directive features, like luminous hands and hour markers. You might also be surprised to discover that there are watches that feature night vision compatible modes. This means that the dial includes a light setting that brightens your display but does not illuminate the area around it, thus not giving your position away when you’re lurking about in the dark.
This is a handy feature to have if you are often out on nighttime excursions and need to keep your position private.
Scratch resistance - Scratches can be difficult to avoid when exposing a tactical watch to harsh conditions. If you do want to keep your timepiece free from permanent marks and scratches, then you might want to pay attention to the type of protective glass that’s used in each design.
Dial glass and be divided into three different types, namely; acrylic, mineral crystal and sapphire crystal.
Acrylic watch glass – this type of watch glass is not actually glass but a type of plastic. Its cheaper than the other types and it’s easy to replace. Acrylic does, however, scratch very easily, although most scratches can be buffed out with little effort.
Mineral Crystal watch glass – Slightly costlier than acrylic, mineral crystal glass looks better than the former and is more resistant to scratches. If this glass type does scratch, however, then the marks might not buff out as easily and you might have to replace the glass altogether.
Sapphire Crystal watch glass –The most expensive of the three, sapphire crystal has the highest level of scratch resistance and is the most aesthetically pleasing. These attributes do come at a cost, however, and although the glass does not scratch easily, it is prone to shattering without much force.
Water resistance - If a timepiece does not feature water resistance, then it simply cannot be categorized as a military watch. This type of functionality is what makes a tactical device a cut above the rest since it will remain working even when immersed in water. Search for the following specs on each watch and this will give you an indication of how water resistant each model is:
- 3ATM - 30m or 100ft: suitable for everyday use
- 5ATM – 50m or 165ft: can be worn when swimming
- 10ATM – 100m or 330: suitable for light diving
- 20ATM – 200m or 660ft: also ideal for light diving
- 50ATM – 500m or 1650ft: can be used for deep diving and water sports
Types Of Tactical Watches
Heavy Duty Watches - These are the bulky (often digital) tactical watches that are jam-packed with functionality. They tend to weigh a little more than their counterparts and feature busy dials with multiple displays.
Field Watches - Slightly more modest in design, field watches are distinguished by their slimmer bodies and less complicated dials. While they might not have as many features as other tactical watches, they make up for their shortcomings by being durable and accessible.
Pilot Watches - Drawing inspiration from aircraft gauges, pilot watches tend to include large, readable dials and feature high resistance to atmospheric pressure.
Tactical Watch FAQ
Q: What is a Tactical Watch?
A: A tactical watch, often referred to as a military watch, is a timepiece that goes beyond just tracking the time. They are usually more durable than your everyday casual watch and include added features that come in useful when navigating your way through harsh conditions.
Q: Who Should Purchase a Tactical Watch?
A: Tactical watches are perfect for any watch enthusiast and can be worn as casual gear. They are, however, best suited for those who enjoy outdoor adventures and are often greatly appreciated by hunters, hikers, trainers and even divers.
Q: What can Tactical Watches do that others can’t?
A: This depends on how many features each military timepiece has. A tactical GPS watch, for instance, can help you to plan and navigate your route whilst storing your coordinates along the way. Most tactical watches come complete with a compass, barometer, altimeter and sometimes even a weather indicator. Tactical watches tend to have higher water resistance than other watches and are designed to be more durable overall.
Q: Are All Tactical Watches Submergible?
A: The answer to this is yes – but to varying degrees. Some tactical watches will remain functioning when submerged up to 500 meters while others can only bear water up to a few meters and for a short time period.
Q: How do you Care for a Tactical Watch?
A: Giving your tactical watch the proper care will help the device to remain accurate and it will inevitably last longer. Clean your watch regularly using a soft cloth and use a certified retailer to do repairs as needed. Store your watch in a cool dry place, preferably in a case so that dust cannot settle on it.
- How To Choose A Tactical Watch: Must-Have Features & Purchasing Tips - Torgoen
- Watch - Wikipedia