7 Best Tactical Watches For The Most Brutal Conditions

By Will Brendza | Last Updated: May 19, 2018

Best Tactical WatchesInvesting in a tactical watch shouldn’t be about looking cool (although that is definitely a side benefit)!

It’s about wearing a real piece of survival gear.

It’s a legitimate tactical device.

One that’s ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

The uses of a tactical watch go way beyond merely telling time, especially newer models.

The latest ones are full of sensors and technology.

The best tactical watches are small wrist computers.

They provide critical data in survival situations or outdoor adventures.

It’s the reason tactical watches are on the recommended overseas deployment list.

And it’s why they’re extremely popular with civilians as well:

  • Sailors
  • Explorers
  • High altitude athletes
  • Outdoor enthusiasts
  • Pilots
  • Survivalists
  • Hunters
  • Navigators
  • Park Rangers
  • Etc.

The more advanced they get, the more “in demand” they become because a tactical watch is a survival accessory you’ll wear every single day.

Here’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this guide:

**Note: If you want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.

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Close Up Of A Tactical Watch

What Is A Tactical Watch Anyway?

No standard makes a watch tactical.

In the wide world of everything watches, it’s easy to get confused about what is and what’s not a “tactical watch.” For example, here’s a random list of watch categories:

  • Pocket watches
  • Dress watches
  • Diving watches
  • Climbing watches
  • Collectible watches
  • Survival watches
  • Belt-loop watches
  • Digital watches
  • Analog watches
  • Stopwatches
  • Military watches
  • Etc.

So as you can see, there’s an overwhelming number of ways in which to categorize watches. And there are even more subcategories within each category.

This extensive categorization only helps to exacerbate the confusion.

But I think we can all agree that the best tactical watches are at the forefront of watch technology.

They are the most durable, toughest, multifunctional, lightweight, technology-filled watches on the market. I like to say – “I’ll know it’s a tactical watch when I see it.”

Because they are badass, and if you’re serious about survival, you should invest in one.

But a tactical watch should never be an impulse buy.

It’s NOT something you grab in the checkout line of a supermarket. It’s a serious investment!

That’s why you must figure out exactly what you want, what you need, your price range, and your goals.

After all, someday, your life may very well depend on this piece of survival gear.

So, don’t be silly and hinge your own existence on a poorly made, basic, cheap, fragile watch!

Make sure you are getting the very best tactical watch for your money.

Trust me; it’ll pay off in the long run.

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Internal Gears Of A Watch

Best Tactical Watch Features

Tactical watches come in various shapes, sizes, weights, price ranges, and colors. But, as with any piece of gear, there are a few features that all the best tactical watches have.

A tactical watch does not need all these features to be useful. But ideally, it should have as many of them as possible.

Scratch Resistance

The crystal or plastic that makes up the face of a watch must be resistant to scratches and scrapes.

Otherwise, it may become difficult (if not impossible) to see through over time.

And if you get to the point where you can’t see the hands on your watch or the numbers – you might as well disassemble it for parts.

Water Resistance

This is a non-negotiable quality of a tactical watch. If water ruins it, it was never meant for survival purposes in the first place.

You need to check and see how deep your watch is rated to withstand water. The deeper it can go without succumbing to water pressure damage, the better off you will be.

Diving watches are particularly useful in regard to water resistance because they are designed to handle depths of hundreds and thousands of meters.

But a great diving watch will be insanely expensive.

And a quality tactical watch will be able to survive hundreds of meters anyway, which is more than enough for the average survivor outdoorsman.

Backed By A Strong Warranty

Of course, you never want to break your tactical watch or have to send it back for repairs (or replacement). But stuff happens.

After all, these watches are designed to take a whipping, deal with stress and shock, and keep on ticking. Sometimes, they are exposed to more than they can handle, and they break.

Which is a major bummer when you’re investing in something that’s supposed to last for years.

That is why it is always good to check and see if the manufacturer of a tactical watch offers a damage warranty.

It will offer you some peace of mind as a form of watch insurance.

Warranties are one of those things that you don’t need until you really need them.


Some survival tools do not have to run like clockwork, but a tactical watch does. If your watch is not reliable, you should get rid of it.

  • You should stop wearing a watch that measures some days less accurately than others.
  • If the internal compass never points north – take it off.
  • Your watch is unreliable if the altimeter says you’re below where you actually are.

The bottom line is that if you CAN’T trust your watch, it’s time to find a new one.

A tactical watch worth wearing needs to be extremely accurate and reliable.

That’s why people like to buy their watches from brands they trust.

Some tactical watch manufacturers have been in the industry for over a century. Their brand names are synonymous with quality.

This is where it helps to spend the extra few dollars for the brand name. They have proven their value time and time again.

It Looks Amazing

OK, let’s be real for a second: watches are an accessory, no matter how you slice them. And many of them look fantastic, on top of being extremely useful.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again – vanity should never be a driving force in a tactical watch investment.

Just because something looks slick, badass, and incredible does not mean it’s any good.

Watch designers, manufacturers, and marketers know humans’ bias towards cool-looking survival gadgets. But that means there are lots of badass-looking watches out there that are not very good!

However, if you find a functional survival watch that also looks great, that’s a win-win.

Because, honestly, watches are fashion accessories. But that does not mean they are not the first and foremost survival tool.

So try to find a quality one that you’ll also enjoy wearing.

Triple Sensor Technology (optional)

If you’re willing to pay a bit more for your tactical watch, then you should get one with triple-sensor technology

The best tactical watches are ones that include 3 advanced sensors:

  1. Altimeter
  2. Barometer
  3. Temperature

1. Altimeter

An altimeter measures your current altitude based on atmospheric pressures.

This comes in handy when you’re in mountainous terrain. It’s much easier to find your exact location on a topographical map if you know your current elevation.

2. Barometer

A barometer measures the change in atmospheric pressure over time.

And since weather changes are correlated with changes in atmospheric pressure, you’ll be able to predict the weather well before it arrives.

When the pressure rises, the weather is likely to improve; when it’s falling, there’s usually worse weather ahead.

I think it’s fairly obvious how this is a major advantage in a survival or outdoor adventure situation!

3. Temperature

Everyone likes to know the temperature at all times, and with this sensor, all you’ll need to do is look down at your wrist.

But this sensor can do more than tell you the current temperature; it can also help predict your destination temperature based on your current location temperature!

Temperatures generally decrease by approximately 3.6°F with every increase of 1,000 feet. If the temperature at 5,000 feet is 50°F, therefore, the temperature at 8,000 meters will probably be about 39.2°F.

The bottom line is tactical watches with triple-sensor technology are incredibly useful. You should get one with these advanced sensors if your budget allows it.

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Best Tactical Watches on The Market Today

With so many watch choices and features available, finding the perfect tactical watch is an epic challenge.

So to help you narrow your search down, here are a few of the best tactical watches you can find on the market today:

Casio G-Shock GD-100-1B Watch

Made in the USA, this shock-resistant watch remains water-resistant up to 200 meters.

It has a large digital display face and can track up to four different time zones simultaneously.

It has five separate alarm options, a stopwatch, a timer, a full auto-calendar, and an LED backlight.

This tactical watch is easy to read, helping keep track of various applications.

Casio Men’s GW-9400 G-Shock Master of G Rangeman

This Master of G Rangeman watch by Casio includes triple sensor technology. 

Plus, all the features you’d expect from a tactical watch, such as ruggedness and water resistance.

So, if you want a watch that has it all (and you can afford the higher price tag), it won’t disappoint you.

Note: Casio has an entire series of these watches with triple sensor technology and hundreds of color options. So if you like this watch, you might find a variation of it that you like even better!

Luminox Men’s 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch

The Luminox EVO Navy SEAL watch is constructed from highly durable polyurethane.

Its backlight glows 100x brighter than an average watch.

A durable mineral dial window protects it. And it has a handy date dial at the 3 o’clock mark.

It is water-resistant to up to 200 meters. This watch can be used for any and all outdoor sports, survival, and day-to-day uses.

Just about the only thing you can’t do with it is scuba diving.

INFANTRY Men’s Big Face Dual Display Watch

If you are looking for a tank to wear on your wrist, look no further than the Infantry Big Face Military Watch.

The watch case is constructed from aluminum alloy. And flexible silicon rubber makes up the watchband.

The display has a stopwatch, a day-month calendar, a backlight, and a rotating bezel.

An anti-scratch mineral window protects the analog-digital dual display.

This tactical watch is water-resistant to up to 30 meters underwater and includes a one-year warranty.

Armourlite Caliber Series Black Dial Watch

This analog tactical watch features a day calendar with a black background and white numerals.

It’s built with a rugged polycarbonate case.

It includes a sapphire crystal face making it highly scratch-resistant. And it has a sturdy nylon strap.

Making this watch the picture of durable survival elegance.

Timex T49612 Expedition Shock Digital Compass Resin Strap Watch

Timex is one of the most trusted names in watchmaking. You can trust that their watches are both highly durable and extremely reliable.

This tactical outdoor watch is made with the survivalist in mind. It features an easy-to-read digital display with date, day, time, and compass functions.

It’s both shock-resistant and water-resistant, up to 200 meters.

The Timex Expedition is one of the most affordable and effective tactical watches.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Survival Uses For A Tactical Watch

Simply put, the practicality of these things goes far beyond their ability to tell time.

So let’s cover those abilities now.


If you wear a tactical watch, it will likely have a digital compass built-in.

With a compass, you’ll never be completely lost.

Sure, you might be somewhere you’ve never been, but you’ll know in which direction you’re heading. This is critical for survival situations and any outdoor adventure, for that matter.

Don’t underestimate the power of the compass and having one strapped to your wrist at all times.

Accurate Countdowns

Accurate countdown timers are essential tools when you need to count down things. There is an unlimited number of countdown tasks.

For example, countdown timers come in handy when :

  • Backyard Grilling
  • Lighting Bomb Fuses
  • Coordinating Ambushes
  • Scheduling A Watch Guard

Sometimes an accurate countdown timer is a “nice to have” feature (like grilling), but sometimes it’s a life or death one (like lighting a fuse). But most countdown tasks fall somewhere in the middle.

And with an accurate timer on your wrist, you’ll be ready no matter the circumstances.

 Signaling In Distress

Many watch faces are made of crystal or another highly reflective material.

So if you’re ever lost and forgot to pack a signaling mirror, you can use your tactical watch instead. Angle the sun into it and flash at rescuers to alert them of your distress and location.

If the back of your watch is reflective enough, you can polish it up and use it as a reflector distress signal.

Team Synchrony

Chronological synchronicity is necessary if you plan a raid or escape with others.

If you both have tactical watches, you can sync up your times and operate simultaneously.

Which makes the meeting at a specific time and location much more accurate.

Starting a Fire

I recommend this only if you are in serious trouble and your watch is broken or out of battery. (Namely, because it requires disassembling your timepiece, which will almost certainly ruin it).

But, if you take the crystal face out of the watch, it can be used to concentrate sunlight and start a fire.

If the sun is out, this is easier to start a fire than with sticks.

And, perhaps best overall, each of these survival applications is strapped to your wrist.

Like having a multi-tool or a survival kit latched to your arm at all times. Except these are elegant and classy and un-intrusive.

Final Thoughts

When people think of watches, they rarely think of survival gear.

To most people, watches are a simple fashion accessory that can tell time, nothing more.

But as survivalists, we know better. Tactical watches combine a ton of gear and sensors into a single device.

They are a data-based survival multi-tool.

They bring practicality together with durability, simplicity, and ease of use.

Any survivalist or outdoorsman worth his salt should wear a tactical survival.

If you choose not to, you’re at a major disadvantage.

Will Brendza

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