Investing 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 deploy at a moments 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:
- High altitude athletes
- Outdoor enthusiasts
- Park Rangers
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:
- What Is A Tactical Watch
- Features Of A Quality Tactical Watch
- Best Tactical Watches Reviews (with videos)
- Survival Uses Of A Tactical Watch
- Tactical Watch Wrap Up
Exclusive Bonus: Download The Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist and review all the critical items every serious survivalist should own.
What Is a Tactical Watch
To be honest, there is no set standard for what makes a watch tactical.
In the wide world of everything watches, it’s easy to get confused on 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
- Military watches
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 ones 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 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.
Features Of A Quality Tactical Watch
Tactical watches come in a variety of 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.
The crystal or plastic that makes up the face of a watch must be resistant to scratches and scrapes.
Otherwise, over time, it may become difficult (if not impossible) to see through.
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.
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 regards 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 out 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 it.
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’re actually are.
The bottom line is if you can trust your watch, it’s time to find a new watch.
A tactical watch worth wearing needs to be extremely accurate and reliable.
That’s why people like to buy their watch from brands they trust.
Some tactical watches manufacturer’s 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 it. 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 a fashion accessory. But that does not mean they are not first and foremost survival tool.
So try to find a quality one that you’ll also enjoy wearing.
Triple Sensor Technology (optional)
If your 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:
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.
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 is rising, 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!
Everyone like to know what the temperature is 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 just 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 is incredibly useful. You should get one with these advanced sensors if your budget allows.
Exclusive Bonus: Download The Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist and review all the critical items every serious survivalist should own.
Best Tactical Watches
With so many watch choices and all the features available it’s an epic challenge to find the perfect tactical watch.
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 resistance up to 200 meters.
It has a large digital display face and can keep track of up to four different time zones at once.
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 an array of different applications.
Casio Men’s GW-9400 G-Shock Master of G Rangeman
This Master of G Rangeman watch by Casio includes the 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) this watch won’t let you down.
Note: Casio has an entire series of these watches with the triple sensor technology with hundreds of color options as well. So if you like this watch, in general, 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 the highly durable polyurethane.
Its backlight glows 100x brighter than an average watch.
It’s protected by a durable mineral dial window. 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 Mens 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 watch band.
The display has a stopwatch, day-month calendar, a backlight and a rotating bezel.
And 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
This tactical outdoor watch is made for the survivalist in mind. It features an easy-to-read digital display, with date, day, time, and compass functions.
It’s shock resistant, and water resistant up to 200 meters.
The Timex Expedition is one of the most affordable and effective tactical watches.
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 your 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 countdown timers are essential tools when you need to countdown 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 time is a “nice to have” feature (like grilling), but sometimes it’s 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 that as a reflector distress signal as well.
If you are planning a raid or an escape with others, chronological synchronicity is a must.
If you both have tactical watches, you can sync up your times, and you will be running on the same time clock.
Which makes the meeting at a specific time and location much more accurate.
Starting a Fire
I only recommend this if you are in serious trouble, and if your watch is broken or out of batteries. (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 an easier way 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.
Tactical Watch Wrap Up
When people think of watches, they rarely think of survival gear.
To most people, watches are a simple fashion accessory that can tell time and 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.
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