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Best Tactical Watches: More than Just a Timepiece

Best Tactical Watches
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

If you spend plenty of time outdoors, then you know how important it is to have a watch you can rely on. However, while it’s true that everyone needs a watch to tell time, have you ever wished you could do more with your watch? Here’s where finding the best tactical watch can help – though that’s not an easy task!

To get the right watch for your needs, the one you choose needs to be durable and lightweight but at the same time, have all the functions that you want. On top of that, it must be able to tell the time accurately and ideally, be water resistant – though other extra features are always a good idea!

Tactical Watch

That is why we’ve decided to jump in and help by pointing out how you can choose a watch that suits your needs the most. Apart from listing the features we believe may matter most when buying a tactical watch, we’ve also included the reviews of the most promising watches on the market.

Our Top Picks

ProductWater ResistanceDimensionsWeightPrice
Luminox Recon Point Black660 ft.1.77 x 0.43 x 0.9 inches5.6 ouncesCheck price on Amazon
Luminox Recon Point Black656 ft.2.0 x 0.67 x 1.25 inches2.1 ouncesCheck price on Amazon
Armitron Sport Digital330 ft.1.77 x 0.59 x 0.75 inches1.6 ouncesCheck price on Amazon
Casio G-Shock Rangeman656 ft.2.12 x 0.72 x 0.87 inches10.2 ouncesCheck price on Amazon
Timex Expedition Gallatin165 ft.1.73 x 0.43 x 0.87 inches7 ouncesCheck price on Amazon
Casio G-Shock GA110-1B Stealth660 ft.2.0 x 0.55 x 1.14 inches2.4 ouncesCheck price on Amazon
Suunto Core Military98 ft.1.94 x 0.56 x 0.9 inches2.26 ouncesCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Here are a few things we think may matter the most when it comes to buying the right tactical watch.

Size and Weight

Size and weight matter out of obvious reasons – you do have to carry the watch around. You do not want it to be so large that it looks odd, especially if you are wearing it every day, but at the same time, you don’t want something with which you can barely see the time.

Having more features, though, may make the watch heavier, so it really depends on what you want. On top of that, bear in mind that the numbers on the analog watch or the digital display, have to be large enough so you can tell the time without a problem, even if the light is dim.

Watch Size

Some of the watches for outdoors use are on the heavy side, but they do have extra features such as an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and compass. In this case, you may have to accept that the watch will weigh more but ultimately, it’ll give you more of what you might need.

Watch Materials

It is important to look at what materials are used to make the watch, as that’s related to how durable the watch will be. A watch that is not very durable won’t last long when you are carrying it around all the time, especially not when it comes to outdoor use.

Watches can be made of resin or stainless steel. Materials not only make the watch durable but also determine how attractive it looks. A watch with a Sapphire lens is very good as it is very scratch resistant since it is a very hard mineral.

Watch Material

Image credit: hiveminer.com

High-grade stainless steel is also a good choice for corrosion resistance in the long term. Resin made watches may suffice if you are allergic to stainless steel or simply prefer the look and feel of a resin watch.

It will be best if you can have a watch with luminescent hands or digits so you can see the display, even at night. Make sure also, that the watch band is a hard durable material that won’t easily break.

Water Resistance

Knowing whether your watch is water resistant is important not only if you plan on using the watch in water but for everyday use as well – you don’t want a watch that will break if you get caught up in a storm, do you?

However, while some watches are water-resistant, they’re not completely waterproof. If you want to go diving and use the watch as a dive watch, you need to check the depth of water resistance.

Watches can have very limited water resistance, say to 98 ft. while others have resistance up to 660 ft. For limited water exposure the 98 ft. is fine, but if you plan on some diving and other marine activities, then a greater depth of resistance will be needed.

Bezel

The bezel is the part of the watch that holds the dial or covering of the watch in place. Sometimes this is the only function it has, other times it has other useful functions.

Watch Bezel

For instance, does the watch have a rotating bezel? This is important to know as a watch with a rotating bezel is preferred if you are planning on doing some diving as this is what divers usually use – a rotating bezel allows you to mark time and know when you may run out of the air.

Use of the Watch

Think about what you will be using the watch for. Do you simply need a watch that can tell time or do you want additional features as well? You really need to give careful thought as to what you will be using the watch for.

For example, if you plan on camping or hiking then you may want to consider a watch that also has a compass and maybe also a barometer and altimeter. If you plan to dive, then you may want a watch that also has a rotating bezel.

Use of the Watch

But if you’d like to get the most out of your watch and let’s say, use it in a business environment, then it will be useful to have a watch with a world clock so you can tell the time in different time zones.

Price

It obviously also depends on your budget with the price range varying quite considerably from the very low to the very high. Most of the time, there are prices for everyone’s taste and most people should find what they’re looking for.

It really depends on what you want, how you will be using your watch and how much you are willing to spend. In some cases, it might be worth doing the investment and getting yourself a pricier item that may come with a higher quality and improved durability.

Watch Price

We have given you several questions you should ask yourself before considering what watch to buy. Bearing all of this in mind, now it’s time to go over some more popular products on today’s market.

Best Products on Today’s Market

We have provided reviews below on the best tactical watches on the market today. Reading these will help you to decide which tactical watch will best suit your needs.

Luminox Recon Point Black Watch

Price: Approx. $210Luminox Recon Point Black Watch

Weight: 5.6 ounces

Dimensions: 1.77 x 0.43 x 0.9 inches

Specific features: Analog, Swiss quartz movement, compass

Best use: Camping, hiking, outdoors, every day, diving

The Luminox Recon Point Black Watch is an analog watch with a round shape. It has a unidirectional rotating bezel, which is very useful if you are planning on going diving; also, you can easily use it for hikes as well, as it comes with compass markings as well.

The dial has silver-tone hands and Arabic numeral hour markers, and the case is made of stainless steel which provides excellent corrosion resistance while giving you an elegant look. The added advantage of having an anti-reflective sapphire dial window should prolong the durability of the watch and help you avoid scratches.

Coming with a Swiss quartz movement, the watch has Luminox self-powered Night Vision Tube illumination. Both the hands and markers are luminescent but are not overly bright, making it almost ideal for nighttime use.

As far as extra features go, only the most basic functions are present: date, hour, minute and second. However, the compass feature might be very useful if you are planning on going on a hike or taking a camping trip.

The water resistance is up to a maximum depth of 660 feet, so this means that it can be used for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but is not recommended for scuba diving that may go below this depth.

PROS:

  • Durable & scratch-resistant
  • Rotating bezel
  • Water resistant
  • Compass feature
 CONS:

  • Illumination dim
  • Only basic features included
  • Heavyweight

Related: Since this is such a nice high-quality watch, it would be a good idea to buy a cleaning kit or solution to maintain its condition. We recommend buying the Bergeon Professional Cleaning Rodico to keep your watch grime free and in top notch condition. This is a Swiss made product that also removes dust and fingerprints.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio G-SHOCK The GA 100 Military Series Watch

Price: Approx. $90Casio G-SHOCK The GA 100 Military Series Watch

Weight: 2.1 ounces

Dimensions: 2.0 x 0.67 x 1.25 inches

Specific features: Resin, analog and digital, world clock

Best use: Diving, every day, outdoor, sport

The G-SHOCK The GA 100 Military Series Watch is a lightweight watch made of resin. Looking very sturdy and bulky, the watch is both shock and water resistant to a maximum depth of 656 feet, which means it can easily be used as a dive watch down to this depth.

Having both an analog and digital watch that comes in black, it has a strong black matte resin band attached to the case. Although quite expensive, it has some nice features especially if traveling often – and judging by the case, it should prove to be quite durable as well.

A nice feature here is the 1/1000th-second stopwatch that can be used when exercising. On top of it, the watch comes with a speed indicator. Features like that should be very convenient for people who do a lot of running and for athletes in general.

One of the features is an anti-magnetic structure but that’s not the only one – the watch also has an auto LED light with afterglow. On top of that, there are some handy extra features, such as a full auto-calendar up until the year 2099 and a world clock which has 29 time zones, including 48 different cities and UTC.

You can also turn daylight savings time on or off, which is a very nice feature to have as it is very irritating having to remember to keep dialing in this change every year. There are both 12 or 24-hour time formats, depending which one you prefer more.

PROS:

  • World time zones
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight but sturdy
  • Stopwatch present
 CONS:

  • Poor LED light
  • Hard to see digital display

Related: If you plan on going camping it will be useful to also add a compass to your gear. We recommend buying the SE CCV18 Wristband Compass. It is a liquid filled compass with a 1-inch diameter, so is nice and small and light and easy to carry with you on a camping or hiking trip.

Check the price on Amazon

Armitron Sport 408209BLK Digital Watch

Price: Approx. $15Armitron Sport 408209BLK Digital Watch

Weight: 1.6 ounces

Dimensions: 1.77 x 0.59 x 0.75 inches

Specific features: Digital display, resin, chronograph

Best use: Sport, every day

The Armitron Sport 408209BLK Digital Watch comes with a polished top ring and a great price. Coming with printed graphics and Quartz movement, the color is a gun-metal gray with a black dial frame, ideal for lovers of the sturdy design. It has a smart looking round black bezel case. The digital dial displays the time across the center of the watch in Arabic numerals. The dial does not illuminate though which is really a disadvantage for use at night.

The band is made of strong black resin that feels comfortable and fastens securely with a buckle clasp. The second’s display is in a white window to the right of the display. The day and date are easy to read and are located at the bottom center of the watch dial.

There are a chronograph and an alarm clock feature, but that’s not all – there’s also as a lap timer which is a useful feature to have if you plan on exercising, and it has both the 12 and 24 hours (military) time formats.

Looking smart enough for everyday use, the water resistance of the watch is to a maximum depth of 330 feet. This means it can be used as a watch while playing sport, but don’t overdo it if you happen to go diving.

PROS:

  • Water resistant
  • Great price
  • Alarm clock
  • 12 and 24 hr. format
 CONS:

  • Thick size
  • No dial illumination

Related: We recommend that you consider buying a nice little leather pouch that you can use to store your watch in when you are not wearing it. The Oirlv Black Leather Travel Pouch will do nicely for storing and carrying your pouch. It is made of genuine black leather and is thus durable.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio G-Shock RANGEMAN Digital Watch

Price: Approx. $200Casio G-Shock RANGEMAN Digital Watch

Weight: 10.4 ounces

Dimensions: 2.12 x 0.72 x 0.87 inches

Specific features: Digital display, green resin, atomic time

Best use: Hiking, camping, mountaineering, every day       

The Casio G-Shock RANGEMAN Digital Watch is a tough watch that comes with plenty of shock resistant features. Aside from telling time, it has several features of use when hiking, mountaineering or camping. These features include altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature and direction readings. The compass is also in digital format.

It has a sensor button found just to the right of center, though a good thing here is the metal cover that protects it against lateral impact and keeps dirt out. Pressing this button takes you to a sensor screen. Another nice feature is that each sensor mode has its own audible tone, so you can determine which mode you are entering without even looking at the watch.

There is also sunrise and sunset data and one-touch time recording. It is very tough and durable and has a green resin band. The face is black in color with orange accents on the side button and dial.

Atomic timekeeping is present, and there is also mud resistance and resistance to temperatures below 14o F. Water resistance is up to a maximum depth of 656 feet. There is a full auto LED backlight with afterglow and world time. It includes 31 time zones (48 cities and UTC) and has a daylight savings feature.

PROS:

  • Military design
  • Atomic timekeeping
  • Mud-resistant
  • World clock with time zones
 CONS:

  • Expensive cost
  • Heavyweight

Related: To keep the watch in good condition it would be a good idea to buy a nice watch pouch. We recommend buying the CASEBUDi Soft Watch Travel Case. This is a well-made very soft velvet pouch which is very compact and very portable. It is easy to close with a drawstring, to ensure your watch is safe and protected.

Check the price on Amazon

Timex Expedition Gallatin Watch

Price: Approx. $38Timex Expedition Gallatin Watch

Weight: 7 ounces

Dimensions: 1.73 x 0.43 x 0.87 inches

Specific features: Analog, acrylic dial, resin

Best use: Sports, camping, every day

The Timex Expedition Gallatin Watch has a round case diameter which may look a bit quirky to some but don’t let that stop you from getting it – it might be a decent buy for the price!

Available in several designs, the case is constructed of a lightweight durable resin and an acrylic dial. The bezel is made of a strong resin, but it doesn’t rotate at all.

A black nylon band with a Velcro clasp is present but it might not be very durable, so this is a disadvantage. However, don’t forget that a Velcro clasp usually does allow for a strong and very secure hold.

As far as the display goes, it has an Indiglo light up dial that is very useful at night or in low light conditions. The watch is constructed for use in the outdoors and is water resistant to a depth of 165 feet. This means it can be used while swimming but cannot be used for diving or snorkeling. The bezel doesn’t rotate so it is not as good a dive watch as some other watches that have a rotating bezel.

It is easy to set the date and the watch has analog quartz movement. All in all, it is a nice, lightweight watch that can be used every day and for sports and it can be seen as a good choice for those who’d like to skip the metallic watch bands.

PROS:

  • Quartz movement
  • Indiglo light
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight
 CONS:

  • Nylon band
  • Bezel doesn’t rotate

Related: We also recommend buying a pouch to keep your watch in when not wearing it. The Vinerstar Suede Leather Watch Pouch will do very nicely. This pouch is very nice, well-made and attractive for storing your watch. It is soft leather with a button to ensure it stays securely closed and the material makes sure that the watch is not scratched.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio G-Shock GA110-1B Stealth Watch

Price: Approx. $120Casio G-Shock GA110-1B Stealth Watch

Weight: 2.4 ounces

Dimensions: 2.0 x 0.55 x 1.14 inches

Specific features: Analog, plastic dial, chronograph, world time, resin

Best use: Sport, every day

The Casio G-Shock GA110-1B Stealth Watch is an analog watch that lovers of the heavy-duty look might appreciate. The dial is made of plastic and the case and band are made of strong durable resin – ideal both for the outdoors and everyday use! Coming as shock and magnetic resistant, the watch is also water resistant up to 660 feet. The dial has an auto LED light with afterglow and there is the world time feature present, which includes 29 time zones.

Another feature is that it also has four daily alarms and one snooze alarm. Having the ability to have four daily alarms is very useful if you like to plan and schedule your day, which may come handy if you are in the business world or doing some travels.

There is a second stopwatch and countdown timer present so it can be used when exercising; and has a full auto-calendar, which is preprogrammed up until the year 2099. The calendar has a day, month format.

There are both 12 and 24-hour time formats present. The 24-hour format is on the bezel of the watch, which means that you can see both formats at the same time. All in all, this should prove as a well-constructed watch that will be very useful when traveling due to the time zone feature.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • 12 and 24 hr. time
  • Four daily alarms
 CONS:

  • Poor light feature
  • Speed dial too small

Related: When not wearing your watch, you may want to store it in a nice protective pouch. We recommend you buy the Everest Watch Pouch. This high-quality material will ensure that your watch does not get scratched and stays protected in a secure pouch. It also has a button to securely fasten the pouch.

Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Core Military Outdoor Sports Watch

Price: Approx. $165Suunto Core Military Outdoor Sports Watch

Weight: 2.26 ounces

Dimensions: 1.94 x 0.56 x 0.9 inches

Specific features: Altimeter, barometer, compass

Best use: Hiking, camping, every day

The Suunto Core Military Outdoor Sports Watch has several added features that might impress hikers and campers. The compass present is definitely useful when it comes to finding direction but the added altimeter and barometer are what really makes a difference here.

However, another cool thing here is that the built-in altimeter doesn’t only display your current elevation, but it also shows how much you’ve climbed or descended. On top of that, your entire session can be recorded for later viewing.

This all black resin watch has a weather trend graph and a storm alarm that senses drop in air pressure. No storm should catch you by surprise with this watch and features like that help you keep safe when out in the wilderness. If you can predict that the weather may become bad, you can make sensible decisions like setting up camp and waiting instead of risking a hike in stormy conditions.

The water resistance is up to 98 feet, so it’s not that great of a timepiece when it comes to diving. However, other additional features like a digital thermometer and countdown timer, as well as preset sunrise and sunset times for over 400 locations are sure a nice thing to have available.

Of course, there are also some several traditional functions present, such as dual times, a date display, and an alarm. You can set and follow a compass bearing with the rotating bezel, or simply point the top of the watch toward your intended destination and lock it in.

PROS:

  • Plenty of extra features
  • Storm alarm
  • Great for hiking/camping
  • Sunrise/sunset times
 CONS:

  • Short battery life
  • Dark screen
  • Plastic band
  • Expensive cost

Related: To keep your watch in nice condition it is a good idea to buy a pouch to store it in. We recommend buying the Swiss Reimagined Travelers Watch Pouch. This pouch is made of handcrafted genuine leather. This is the perfect pouch for this watch providing a nice, secure, scratch resistant storage place when you are not wearing the watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

To sum up, choosing the right tactical watch ultimately depends on your needs. The size of the watch case, the material making up the band and added features are all important factors to consider. How you plan on using the watch is obviously important.

Tactical Watch

For instance, do you just want a watch for everyday use, or are you planning on hiking or camping? If hiking then a watch with a compass will be most useful. For everyday uses, especially in the business world, having a watch with a world clock is most useful.

Are there other tactical watches that you know of that we should include in our list? What other features do you think are important in choosing a tactical watch? Let us know in the comment section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.