Best Tactical Watches That’ll Go Through Hell & Back

By Will Brendza | Updated: 02/12/2024

Best Tactical WatchesToday I’ve got something really cool to share…

A Complete Guide To Tactical Watches For Survival

Because investing in a tactical watch shouldn’t be about looking cool (although that’s a side benefit)!

It’s about wearing a piece of survival gear.

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

Because a watch is a survival accessory you’ll wear every single day.

TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE…    ↓(click to jump)
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Best Tactical Watches For Sale

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

Did you know a tactical watch is on the “recommended overseas deployment list?

And they’ve become extremely popular with civilians as an EDC watch.

And the more advanced they get, the more “in demand” they become.

So to help narrow your search down, here are the best tactical watches on the market today:

1. Our Top Recommendation (the one I own)
Garmin Instinct Tactical Watch Series

When it comes to rugged watches, Garmin is a name you can trust.

This bad boy is built to withstand even the harshest of conditions and keep ticking like a well-oiled machine.

One of the first things you'll notice about the Instinct Tactical is its tough, no-nonsense design. The watch face is protected by a high-strength thermoplastic casing and reinforced with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass.

It's also water-resistant up to 100 meters, so you can take it swimming, kayaking, or out in a good ol' fashioned downpour without worry.

But the Instinct Tactical isn't just a pretty face – it's also loaded with a whole heap of features that'll make your survivalist's heart skip a beat.

First up, it's got built-in GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems, so you can navigate even the most treacherous of terrains with ease.

Plus, it's got a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, so you can get an accurate read on your location and altitude at all times.

And that's not all – the Instinct Tactical also has a range of specialized tactical features, including stealth mode (which disables wireless connectivity and mutes all tones), a dual-position GPS formatting option (that allows you to switch between MGRS and latitude/longitude), and a Jumpmaster mode (that calculates high-altitude release points based on military guidelines).

But perhaps my favorite feature of the Instinct Tactical is its long battery life – this watch can go up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, and up to 40 hours in Ultratrac battery saver mode.

All in all, the Garmin Instinct Watch Series is a top-notch survival tool that any serious survivalist would be proud to wear on their wrist.

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Casio Men's GW-9400BJ-1JF G-Shock Master of G Rangeman

Casio makes this rugged, military-grade watch built to withstand just about anything you can throw at it. When you strap it onto your wrist, you'll feel ready to take on the world.

The G-Shock Master of G Rangeman features a triple sensor that measures altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature. That's right, folks, this watch is like having a tiny little weather station right on your wrist!

It's perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to stay on top of changing weather conditions.

And speaking of the great outdoors, this watch is also equipped with a compass and GPS capabilities. So whether you're hiking in the mountains or exploring a new city, you'll always know which way you're headed.

But that's not all! The G-Shock Master of G Rangeman is also shock-resistant and water-resistant up to 200 meters and features a solar-powered battery.

So you don't have to worry about it dying on you in the middle of your adventures.

 It's tough, durable, and packed with features that make it a must-have for anyone who loves the great outdoors.

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↓ Casio Rangeman GW9400

NOTE: Casio has an entire series of these G Shock watches.

All with triple sensor technology and hundreds of color options.

So if you like THIS watch, you might find a variation you like even better.

↓ Top 5 Best Casio G Shock Watches

Garmin tactix 7, Pro Edition, Ruggedly Built Tactical GPS Watch

Now, let me tell ya, this watch ain't your average wristwear.

No, sir, this thing is built tough as nails and ready for any adventure you can throw at it.

With a fiber-reinforced polymer case and a scratch-resistant sapphire lens, you can bang this bad boy around all you want, and it'll keep on tickin'.

But the Tactix 7 isn't just tough on the outside - it's got some serious smarts too.

It's preloaded with TOPO maps and features a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo) to help you navigate like a pro.

Plus, with up to 12 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, you can stay out in the wild as long as you want without worrying about charging up.

It's got built-in activity profiles for everything from running and swimming to skiing and golfing, and it can even measure your heart rate and oxygen saturation levels.

The Tactix 7 also has advanced training features like workout suggestions and recovery time and performance metrics like VO2 max and training load.

So, whether you're hitting the trails, conquering the slopes, or want a watch that can keep up with your active lifestyle, the Garmin Tactix 7, Pro Edition, Ruggedly Built Tactical GPS Watch is the perfect companion.

Trust me; this watch is so good; it might just become your new best friend.

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↓ The Most Tactical Watch EVER

Luminox Original Navy SEAL 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 crystal 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.

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↓Luminox Dive Watch

Timex Men's Expedition Shock Digital Compass Watch

Timex is one of the most trusted budget luxury watch names on the market.

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 watches.

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↓ Timex Expedition Military Series

6. Our Budget Choice
Casio Men's GD100-1BCR G-Shock 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 date window, and an LED backlight.

This watches black dial is easy to read, helping keep track of various applications.

And it comes with a feature matte black look.

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↓ Casio G-Shock GD-100-1BDR

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What Is A “Tactical” Watch Anyway?

In the wide world of watches, it’s easy to get confused about what is (and isn’t) “tactical”.

For example:

Here’s a short list of today’s watch categories:

  • Pocket Watches
  • Dress Watches
  • Diving Watches
  • Climbing Watches
  • Collectible Watches
  • Survival Watches
  • Belt-loop Watches
  • Digital Watches
  • Analog Watches
  • Field Watch
  • Military Watches
  • Sports Watches

As you can see, there’s an overwhelming number of ways to categorize watches.

And there are more subcategories within each category!

This categorization only exacerbate the confusion.

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

They’re the most durable, toughest, multifunctional, lightweight, technology-filled watches on the market.

I like to say:

“I’ll know it’s tactical when I see it.”

But it should never be an impulse buy.

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

It’s a serious investment!

↓ Navy SEAL “Coch’s” Watch Collection

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

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

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

Make sure you get the very best watch for your money.

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

↓ The Reason Military Guys Wear Their Watch Like This???

Internal Gears Of A Watch

Best Military Watch Features To Look For

We all know watches come in various shapes, sizes, weights, price ranges, and colors.

But, as with any piece of gear, there are a few features the best ones all have.

Note: A watch does not need all the following 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 it over time.

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

The watch should also include durable plastics surroundings or a stainless steel case.

Water Resistance

This is a non-negotiable IMO.

If water ruins it, it was never meant for survival.

You need to check and see how deep your watch is rated.

The deeper it can go without succumbing to damage, the better.

Diving watches are particularly useful because they can handle depths of hundreds of meters.

But the BEST diving watches will be insanely expensive.

And a tough watch will be able to survive hundreds of meters anyway.

Which is more than enough for the average outdoorsman.

Long Battery Life | Solar

The last thing you want is for your digital watch to die in the middle of nowhere.

That’s why it must have a long battery life and include solar power capabilities.

This gives you a long battery and a backup.

Or Automatic

The automatic watch, an ingenious piece of horological engineering.

It’s a timepiece that dances to the rhythm of your life, requiring no batteries or winding.

With no need to worry about changing batteries or winding it up, the automatic watch offers a hassle-free way to keep time.

Making it an essential feature for the modern adventurer.

Backed By A Strong Warranty

Of course, you never want to break your watch or have to send it back for repairs.

But stuff happens.

After all, these watches are designed to take a whipping and keep on ticking.

Sometimes, they’re exposed to more than they can handle.

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

That’s why it’s wise to get one where the manufacturer offers a damage warranty.

It will offer some extra peace of mind.

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 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:

If you CAN’T trust your watch, it’s time to find a new one.

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

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

Some 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 it.

And many of them look fantastic, on top of being extremely useful.

I said it before and will say it again – vanity should never be the ONLY force in a investment.

Just because something looks incredible does not mean it’s any good.

Watch designers, manufacturers know humans’ bias towards cool-looking survival gadgets.

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

Because, honestly, watches are fashion accessories.

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

Triple Sensor Technology (optional)

If you pay a bit more for your watch, get one with triple-sensor technology

The best 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 elevation.

↓ Using An Altimeter To Help You Navigate

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.

In general:

  • 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!

↓ The Barometer Explained

3. Temperature

Everyone likes to know the temperature at all times, right?

And with this sensor, all you’ll need to do is look down.

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!

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:

Watches with triple-sensor technology are incredibly useful.

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Want a free 54 item survival gear checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Best Survival Uses For A 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 survival 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.

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 what.

 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 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 instead.

Team Synchrony

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

You can sync up your times and operate simultaneously if you both have atomic watches.

Which makes the meeting at a specific time and location 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.

The 5 Most Surprising Watch Myths

Myth 1: They’re Way Overpriced

Some skeptics argue that tactical watches come with a hefty price tag simply because of their rugged design and additional features.

But the truth is, you’re paying for durability, precision, and functionality.

These watches are built to withstand harsh conditions and provide critical data for survival situations.

Myth 2: They’re All Pretty Much The Same

Not all watches are created equal.

There’s a wide variety of models on the market, each tailored to different needs and preferences.

Some excel in GPS tracking and navigation, while others prioritize durability or specialized features like tide graphs.

It’s essential to do your research and choose one that matches your specific requirements.

Myth 3: They’re Only For The Military

While they certainly have roots in military applications, they’re not exclusive to the armed forces.

These watches are invaluable for outdoor enthusiasts, adventurers, and anyone who values durability, accuracy, and multifunctionality in their timepiece.

You don’t need to be a soldier to appreciate what  tactical gear can bring to your life.

Myth 4: They’re Bulky and Uncomfortable

Some believe that these watches are uncomfortable and clunky due to their robust build.

In reality, manufacturers have made significant strides in crafting ergonomic designs that balance durability with comfort.

Modern military watches are sleeker and more comfortable than ever, ensuring you can wear them daily without discomfort.

Myth 5: They’re All 100% Waterproof

While many boast water resistance, not all are suitable for deep dives or prolonged exposure to water.

Check the specific water resistance rating of your watch to ensure it suits your needs.

Remember, “water-resistant” doesn’t necessarily mean “waterproof.”

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.

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