Read the moon phase, tides, and the air pressure with your tactical watch and ensure you have a handle on your environment. Your tactical watch does much more than just tell the time. It’s a durable timepiece that has several handy functions in tactical situations.
You might think that only operators and law enforcement can benefit from a tactical watch – but you’re wrong. There are plenty of reasons why your average civilian would want one of these wristwatches.
A tactical watch is scratch and drop resistant, it’s waterproof and accurate to the second, making it a popular choice for contractors working on job sites or people that work outdoors. If you’re into sports, then your tactical watch acts as a durable and robust timer.
There are dozens of models to choose from online. We decided to save you the hassle of looking for a tactical watch by compiling this review. We looked at dozens of tactical watches from the leading brands to discover the best models available.
Check through our top picks and read our buyer’s guide. We share all the information you need to choose the tactical watch to suit your lifestyle and budget.
Our Top Picks
- 1 Our Top Picks
- 2 Tactical Watch Reviews
- 2.1 Suunto Core – The Best Overall Tactical Watch
- 2.2 Luminox Recon Point Man – The Best Premium Tactical Watch
- 2.3 Casio Men’s G-Shock Master of G Rangeman – The Best Budget Tactical Watch
- 2.4 Garmin Tactix Delta
- 2.5 Marathon GSAR
- 2.6 Casio Pathfinder
- 2.7 Luminox EVO Navy SEAL
- 2.8 MWC Military Field Watch
- 2.9 Suunto Traverse Alpha
- 2.10 Marathon JSAR
- 3 Other Best Selling Options
- 4 Tactical Watch Buyer’s Guide
- 5 Advanced Functionality
- 6 Materials Used in the Design of Tactical Watches
- 7 Tactical Watch FAQs
- 8 The Best Tactical Watch – The Verdict
In case you don’t have the time to go through every watch in this review, you can rely on our top picks. These three models were the best we could find online.
- The Best Pick: Suunto Core
With a digital face and accurate timing, the Suunto Core is a favorite choice of military operators. This model comes with an altimeter and barometer, as well as a built-in compass system. The watch tracks the weather and temperature, providing accurate forecasting. You can think of this watch as a wrist-top computer, with plenty of functionality for a tactical situation.
- The Premium Pick: Luminox Recon Point Man
The Recon Point Man is a top model available from a well-renowned watch brand, Luminox. This model comes in a tactical case and features a unidirectional rotating bezel with numeral hour markers and illuminated face. You get a molded wrist strap, and the watch is water-resistant to 200-meters. It’s an excellent choice for watermen that live and train in the ocean.
- The Runner Up Pick: Casio Men’s G-Shock Master of G Rangeman
The Casio G-Shock is a watch icon. This timepiece was fashionable in the ’80s, and everyone wanted one of these watches. In the last ten years, we’ve seen a resurgence in the popularity of the G-shock. This “Master of G Rangeman” model is our top choice for the best tactical G-Shock model. With plenty of functionality and a durable casing, this watch is robust and durable.
Tactical Watch Reviews
Now that you have an idea of our top three models in this review let’s unpack them in further detail. We’ll also look at a few other models that awe think are top choices for the best tactical watch.
Suunto Core – The Best Overall Tactical Watch
This Finnish company produces some of the best dive watches, sports watches, and military compasses. Suunto released this version, the “Core” as one of its flagship models. We choose the Sunnto Core for the top overall tactical watch in this review, and it’s easy to see why.
From the moment you strap the watch onto your wrist, the luxury silicone molded strap provides comfort without catching your arm hair. The watch features a digital display, with black font and backlit functionality.
- Suunto Core: This classic outdoor sports watch is packed with intelligent features like a Storm Alarm, Altimeter, Barometer and compass to keep you informed of conditions while you hike, bike, or camp.Water resistance depth:30 meters
- Essential for Adventure: This watch has dual times, a date display, and alarm, plus predicted times for sunrise and sunset to help maximize your daylight hours and a depth meter accurate up to 30 feet
- Suunto Sports Watches: Versatile and durable, Suunto sports watches are great for running, swimming, cycling, gym workouts, hiking, and other outdoor sports; Whatever your needs, Suunto has a watch for you
- Adventure Starts Here: Combining Scandinavian design with ultra durable materials, our watches track your sports, daily activity, and sleep to help you keep life, training and recovery in balance
- Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products
The Suunto Core comes with an aluminum bezel, and the casing features design and construction with a durable composite alloy. The core comes with a host of functions, including an altimeter, barometer, and a digital compass that lines up with the manual markings on the bezel of the face.
We like the weather announcements, and storm prediction with this model. You also get sunset and sunrise readings for over 400-locations, and the altimeter shows your current elevation, descent or ascent records, and the data for your session.
The digital interface is clean, and the face doesn’t have a cluttered look to it. The side function buttons on the casing feature knurling for accurate presses, and the bezel features grooves for a secure grip when turning.
The all-black finish of this model is sleek and attractive, and the watch doesn’t draw attention to your wrist. Many people will confuse this model with a dive computer, due to the digital display on the watch.
- Electronic display
- Compass, climate tracker, and temperature gauge included
- Altimeter and barometer included
- Storm alarm
- The full electronic interface might be uncomfortable for some users
Luminox Recon Point Man – The Best Premium Tactical Watch
From the moment you receive your Luminox Recon, you know it’s a top-quality piece of gear. The watch comes in a durable plastic casing you can use as a dive case. It’s clear that this watch is a favorite for ocean-goers, and many of the SEALs and Airforce pilots rely on Luminox watches for their missions.
This tactical watch features a high-visibility face, with plenty of accurate markings to keep an eye on the time under any circumstances. The self-powered lighting system in the watch lasts for up to 25-years, with a quartz movement for accurate timekeeping.
- Round watch featuring unidirectional rotating bezel with compass markings and black dial with silver-tone hands and Arabic numeral hour markers
- 45 mm polycarbonate case with anti-reflective sapphire dial window
- Quartz movement with analog display
- Molded rubber band with logo and buckle closure
- Water resistant to 200 m (660 ft): In general, suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not scuba diving
This tactical watch is all about functionality while maintaining a minimalist appearance. The bezel on the rim of the face features 5-minute markings as well as compass points. The circumference of the bezel dial features a walking speed scale measured in miles per hour, and the time indexes make sure to include both the 24-hour and 12-hour time formats.
The face of the watch features a sapphire finish, providing superior impact and scratch resistance with this model. The face is anti-reflective, making it a top choice for stealth missions. This watch can accompany you on the deepest dives, rated for water resistance of up to 200-meters.
- 20-bar water resistance
- Unidirectional bezel face with a compass
- Molded wrist band
- Black dial with silver hands
- Premium Price
Casio Men’s G-Shock Master of G Rangeman – The Best Budget Tactical Watch
When the Casio G-Shock launched in 1983, it fast became a leading fashion trend. The G-Shock lost its image as the premier tactical watch in the 90s and 00s, but it made a comeback around 2010. Today, the G-Shock is an iconic watch that’s as much of a fashion statement as a useful piece of tactical equipment.
The Rangeman is the leading model from Casio’s g-shock range, and we think it deserves mention in this review. Not only is the Rangeman a fantastic watch with plenty of functionality, but it comes at an affordable price as well.
- Carbon Fiber Insert Watch Band
- Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping
- Tough Solar, Shock Resistant
- Triple Sensor (Altimeter/Barometer, Thermometer and Compass)
The Rangeman Tactical receives guidance from atomic clock radio time signals. These atomic clock towers are available in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, and China. Thanks to the sync with this clock, you get accurate timekeeping, anywhere on the planet.
The Rangeman features solar panels that charge the watch using energy from the sun. This watch also comes with a compass, temperature gauge, and depth sensors. The Rangeman has a water-resistant rating of up to 200-meters, and it makes an excellent diving watch, with all the functionality you need for your mission.
The G-Shock stands out from other models in this review due to the rugged, robust, and durable casing of the watch. The polycarbonate frame of the housing absorbs the hardest impacts without damaging the internals.
The Rangeman is a little bulky on the wrist, but after a week of wearing it, the watch will feel like an extension of your wrist. The molded plastic wristband is comfortable, and you won’t experience any skin irritation from this model.
Overall, the Rangeman suits individuals looking for a versatile all-rounder that’s as good in the ocean as it is on land.
- One of the worlds most popular tactical watches
- Classic retro 80s design and styling
- Shock and water-resistant
- Plenty of functionality
- Excellent value for money
- Design is a little bulky
Garmin Tactix Delta
Garmin is a Swiss-American company most famous for its GPS devices. Before we all had GPS on our phones, we all had a Garmin in the car – I can still hear Homer telling me to take a left at the light. However, Garmin decided to branch out into the electronics world, creating a range of tactical smartwatches.
The Garmin Tactix Delta is its flagship model tactical watch, and it comes with a bevy of features and plenty of useful functionality. This wearable device uses non-reflective materials on the strap and a sapphire display for stealth.
You get a day-time display for easy reference, and night mode as well. With the night mode, you can set the watch to work with your night-vision system, ensuring that you don’t blind yourself when you look at your watch.
The Tactix Delta relies on syncing with atomic clocks for accurate timekeeping. This system relies on an EXO antenna to receive GLONASS or GPS signals, allowing for satellite tracking and accurate location monitoring.
This model comes with tactical and sports features, utilizing the Garmin navigation system to plot your movement. The tactical watch also includes a compass, barometer with storm warning, and an altimeter.
We think this model suits any operator, whether you’re scaling mountains or diving reefs. This watch syncs with your mobile device, allowing you to turn it into a smartwatch to receive your emails and texts.
The Tactix Delta from Garmin comes with a 100-meter water-resistant chassis, and a heavy-duty rechargeable battery provides a 20-hours run time in the GPS mode. For other lighter function, the battery will last up to 21-days on a single charge.
- High-sensitivity GPS location
- Automatic calibrating altimeter and barometer
- Three-axis compass included
- Night vision compatible
- Water-resistant to 100-meters
- Wireless connectivity
- Premium Price
Government Search and rescue, that’s the theme forthis tactical watch by industry leaders, Marathon. Marathon makes some of the best military-spec tactical watches available, with a focus on Naval situations. Marathon issue these watches to the American Marine Corps, with search and rescue operations in mind.
The casing of the watch features a black dial, with Tritium luminous markers for enhanced visibility during underwater tactical operations. This model is a divers watch, and you get 300-meter water resistance, along with a silver surgical stainless steel casing and black bezel.
- COLLOQUIAL NAME: Government Search and Rescue (GSAR) - NSN: 6645-21-588-0133
- MOVEMENT: Self-winding automatic 26 Jewel Marathon M2 Movement
- CASE: 316L Stainless Steel - SUBMERSIBILITY: 30ATM
- LUMINOUS FEATURES: Tritium gas tubes and Maraglo
- DIMENSIONS: 41mm Diameter / 14mm thickness
The watch features a self-winding quartz mechanical movement, allowing for kinetic recharge of the battery while you move. This watch is expensive, but it makes an exceptional gift for loved ones to commemorate a special occasion, like graduating from Naval school.
The Marathon model comes with a vulcanized rubber grip, ensuring a comfortable fit to your wrist. We like the knurling on the settings buttons. The design allows for easy changing of the date and time and easy access to your functions.
- MIL-SPEC design
- Built to government specifications for real military operators
- Tritium gas illumination tubes
- Water-resistant to 300-meters
- Self-winding mechanical movement
- Premium Price
Casio makes some of the best digital watches available. The Pathfinder is an excellent option for your tactical watch.The Pathfinder features solar recharging, with a mini solar panel on the watch’s face, providing a 6-month charge to the battery.
The watch has multiple tactical and survival features, including a digital compass, barometer, altimeter, and thermometer. The mineral crystal display is sturdy, allowing the sunlight to pass through the glass to the solar panel.
- 100 M Water Resistance
- Solar Powered - Solar panel features rechargable battery with approximately 7 months on rechargeable battery (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after charge) 25 months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge) when fully charged
- Triple Sensor - Digital Compass, Altimeter, Barometer & Thermometer
- World Time w/ 31 Time Zones (48 Cities) and Daylight Saving on/off
- 1/100-Second Stop Watch (Measuring Capacity 23:59'59.99")
The black design of the watch features a black bezel with knurling for smooth movement. It’s water-resistant to 100-meters, and this model is an excellent choice for sportspeople. The Pathfinder comes with a backlit display, world time for 31-zones in 48-cities, and five daily alarms.
Other essential functions in this watch include a 1/100-second stopwatch, as well as an automated calendar. You also get a countdown timer, military 24-hour time, power-saving functionality, and a battery-power indicator.
- Solar-powered functionality
- Includes altimeter and barometer
- Compass and thermometer included
- Plenty of functions and 6-month battery life on full solar charge
- Water-resistant to 100-meters
- Colors on the face are noisy
This Luminox model is another dive watch that suits tactical use. As mentioned, Luminox is a famous brand worn by SEALs for land and seas operations. The black polyurethane casing is sturdy, shock-absorbent, and water-resistant to 200-meters.
The mineral crystal display allows for a crystal-clear reading of the face, with excellent scratch and shatter resistance. The bezel of the watch moves unilaterally, with 5-minute markings. This model is a top choice for military operators.
- Officially licensed by the United States Department of the Navy, the Navy SEAL series was developed to their specifications and suggestions. For over 25 years, Luminox has partnered with the world’s toughest maritime commandos to continuously hone and refine a watch tough and useful enough to be considered “first-line gear” for the finest warriors.
- Technical Specifications: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 ATM water resistant, Extremely robust hardened mineral glass, Unidirectional rotating Bezel, Date, Protected crown, CARBONOX screw on case back.
- Lighting Technology: Blue & green Luminox Light Technology on dial ring and second, minute and hour hands (LLT) - LLT: Self-powered illumination system employing tiny micro gas light sources; Always visible under any circumstances; Never press a button to light up; Does not need a battery to luminate; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for up to 25 years.
- Details: Case diameter 44 mm, Case thickness 14 mm, Band length 8.25 inch, Band width 23 mm, Black CARBONOX case with Black Rubber band and Black dial.
- Trusted Quality and Warranty: Made in Switzerland, officially imported by Mondaine Watch Ltd. This watch has got 2 years of guarantee. In case of any defect or need of battery change get in contact with an authorized Luminox dealer. Contact us to find a dealer near you!
The slimline profile of the watch ensures that it doesn’t catch on your wetsuit or jacket. The black look of the watch adds to the stealth appearance of the model. The molded rubber wristband ensures that the watch stays on your wrist, with a comfortable fit.
- Luminous display
- 44-mm polyurethane molded wristband
- Swiss Quartz movement
- Water-resistant to 100-meters
- Suitable for divers, watermen, and swimmers
- The face looks busy, challenging to check the time at a glance
MWC Military Field Watch
If you like the look of classic watch design, the MWC Field watch takes you back to the height of the war in the late Sixties. This model features a low-profile casing with a clean design and large numbers on the watch’s face.
The mineral glass display provides a clear view of the watch face, and the hands feature luminous marking for visibility in low-light conditions. The black color of the casing matches the color on the face. You get minute markings and five-minute markings.
- Thickness 8 mm
- Strap size 18 mm
- Strap type: Military Webbing Strap
- Crystal: Plexiglass / Acrylic
- Water resistance 30 m (99 ft)
The face of the watch comes with 12-hour markings, and military time in a smaller font. We like the nylon strap on this watch. Nylon is comfortable on the skin, and durable, providing plenty of strength to keep the watch on your wrist.
The strap comes with buckle holes, but it does have a cheap look. Overall, this watch has minimal functions, and there’s no stopwatch, countdown timer, or other useful features. Still, the classic look might suit your style, and if so, this watch is the top choice in this review.
- Classic design with simple marking on the face
- Durable nylon wrist strap
- Luminous dials
- Stainless steel design
- Some might not enjoy the classic look
Suunto Traverse Alpha
The Traverse Alpha is another outstanding model from Suunto. Handmade in the factory in Finland, the Traverse Alpha is an electronic model with full military spec. You get full blackout styling with this watch, with a sapphire crystal display that’s durable, scratch-resistant, and easy visibility.
This Suunto model comes with full GPS tracking, allowing you to understand your position in real-time, anywhere in the world. The Suunto features “automatic breadcrumb trail generation,” providing a list of your last known locations.
The electronic face of the watch features a blackout design, with knurling on the bezel for easy movement. The function buttons on the side of the watch also feature knurling for effortless pressing and grip in tactical situations.
You get a nylon wrist strap, with reinforced stitching to keep the watch on your wrist. The watch comes with wireless connectivity to your devices, allowing you to receive your texts and emails on the watch like you would with a smartwatch.
- Full electronic face
- Knurled stainless steel bezel
- Sapphire crystal glass
- GPS tracking and wireless connectivity
- Hand made in Finland
- Some might not like the electronic interface
Marathon JSARThis Marathon model features a 46-mm case made from surgical steel, providing excellent weather and water resistance. The stainless steel bezel has a unidirectional face, including a compass. The Marathon JSAR (Jumbo Search and Rescue) features a design making it the most robust tactical watch available.
The JSAR features the same ETA Jumbo F07 movement, providing accurate timekeeping. You get MaraGlo photoluminescent coating on the hands of the watch, with improved visibility underwater. On the watch’s face, you have both 12-hour and 24-hour markings for military or civilian timekeeping.
This watch provides an excellent fit to your wetsuit or jacket pocket, with a molded silicone strap that feels comfortable when worn against the skin, with no chaffing.
The Swiss-made high-torque Quartz movement of the watch features an end-of-life indicator to let you know when it’s time to change the battery. The JSAR model from Marathon is the ideal SEAL watch, with a water resistance of up to 300-meters.
- Classic and attractive design
- Military spec
- Suitable for fitting over wetsuits or combat clothing
- High-torque Swiss movement
- Water-resistant to 300-meters
- Hands feature Margalo photoluminescent paint
- Premium Price
Other Best Selling Options
- Rugged GPS watch built to withstand the toughest environments
- Constructed to U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters)
- Built in 3 axis compass and barometric altimeter, plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo) support helps track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
- Monitor your estimated heart rate, activity and stress; Train with preloaded activity profiles. Strap material: Silicone
- Stay connected with smart notifications (with a compatible smartphone) and automatic data uploads to the Garmin connect online fitness community
- Rugged GPS watch built to withstand the toughest environments. Fits wrists with a circumference of 5.1-8.8 inches
- Constructed to U. S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters)
- Built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, Plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo) support helps track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
- Monitor your estimated heart rate, activity and stress; Train with preloaded activity profiles
- Stay connected with smart notifications (with a compatible smartphone) and automatic data uploads to the Garmin connect online fitness community
- Adjustable green 20mm nylon strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference.Case Finish: Matte
- Black dial with date window at 3 o'clock; full Arabic numerals
- Black 40mm brass case with mineral glass crystal
- Indiglo light-up watch dial; luminous hands
- Water resistant to 50m (165 ft): In general, suitable for short periods of recreational swimming, but not diving or snorkeling
- 13 MILITARY-GRADE CERTIFICATIONS: Tactical smart watch supports heat resistant to 185.36°F, cold resistant to -76.28°F, and water resistant to 50m, it is not afraid of harsh environments! Special composite materials and military-grade aluminum alloy bezel make our smart watches for men pass dozens of standard tests including temperature, low pressure altitude, dustproof, salt spray, fluid contamination, etc.
- GUARDING YOUR HEALTH: The tactical smartwatch monitors heart rate, blood oxygen and blood pressure in real time with high-precision sensors(The watch just for sports use only). Electrodes built into the crystal on the back of the smart watch analysis your heart's electrical signals 24/7. Along with other innovations like sleep tracking (deep sleep, light sleep and rapid eye movement) to keep you healthy from head to toe.
- MASSIVELY MOTIVATE YOUR EXERCISE: This rugged watch has 24 sports modes that can record your sports data according to your sports style, tracks your body state, steps, distance, calories burned, etc. The military tactical smart sports watch is absolutely convenient for your outdoor activities and adventures.
- MORE EFFICIENT LIFE: The outdoor watch has a variety of built-in functions, including music control, camera control, timer, alarm, etc. There are over 100 dials in the app, and you can also customize the dials. Raise your wrist, read directly all incoming calls, SMS, SNS messages sent to the smart watch screen. Built-in 380mAh battery with 1.5 hours of full charge for 20 days of work or 65 days of standby.
- PROFESSIONAL AFTER-SALES SUPPORT: The military smartwatch is compatible with most iOS 9.0 and Android 6.0 and above. It's the perfect gift for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Anniversary, Birthday, Thanksgiving for father, brother, friend, family, husband. If you encounter any problems during use, please feel free to contact us through Amazon, we will help you solve the problem within 24 hours, thank you.
- Digital watch: Fashionable sporty dial design, military style outlook. Big numbers display with light and large dial, show time clear even in the dark. Use import EL Lamp, press "LIGHT" button to see the time clearly in the light, easy to read
- Sports watch: Suitable for men, especially to those who like doing sports, multi-functions make it perfect for both outdoor and indoor sports, such as running, climbing, fishing and so on
- Water resistant to 50M / 164FT. In general,suitable for Swimming and cold shower,not suitable for long time underwater activities such as diving
- LED backlight, 1/100 second digital stopwatch, auto calendar, hourly alarm and alarm clock, shock resistant, 12/24 hour formats
- High quality watch: Senior rubber band, comfortable to wear. The dial window is made of acrylic mirror, high transparency, compressive and abrasion
Tactical Watch Buyer’s Guide
Buying a tactical watch is an investment in timekeeping that will last you a lifetime. Tactical watches are different from your standard wristwatch, offering the wearer more functionality from the equipment. Tactical watches come in various styles, from mechanical to electronic, to suit your lifestyle and your tactical gear requirements.
In this section, we’ll unpack everything you need to know about tactical watches. We’ll look at all the advanced features and functions of the watch, and what you need to look for in your next timepiece.
As with any other timepiece, the primary function of a tactical watch is to tell the time. However, the timekeeping functions with your tactical watch go further than the typical midnight to noon configuration.
From milliseconds to months, tactical watches help you break down the time any way you want. With a tactical watch, you get precision timing, any time.
Stopwatch and Countdown Timer
If you’re syncing your operations with other team members or estimating the distance you finished traveling, a stopwatch can help. This timekeeping tool is a must-have for training and while on missions.
A countdown timer is another vital function on a tactical watch. Sync with your team and make sure you all arrive at the rendezvous point in time. Stopwatches and countdown timers are the best tools for organizing and collaborating with teams, allowing you to stay on point and schedule.
Calendar and Date Display
This macro-function tracks the day and month, and some models also track the year. Keep track of the bigger picture, instead of focusing on time minute-by-minute, second-by-second. The date is essential, and we’re sure you’re like us, and you forget what the date is all the time.
An alarm is a vital part of any tactical watch. Military operators often face long shifts and irregular sleeping hours. If you have to get up for patrol in two hours, you can’t let the team down by oversleeping. An alarm on your watch comes in handy to keep you alert and on track.
Setting alarms for medication protocols, missions, and events is a great way to stay on time with all your obligations. Most models allow you to set multiple alarms on your watch.
Military operators rely on timekeeping on a 24-hour timescale. They don’t work with the traditional a.m. (before noon) and p.m. (afternoon) timeframes. A tactical watch comes with the option of setting the watch to a 24-hour military timeframe.
International Time Zones
If you’re deploying to the Middle East or another time zone, your watch can keep track of the time at your destination and back home. Most top-of-the-line tactical watches integrate with GPS. Therefore, the watch will switch time zones without the need for any manual adjustment.
Some tactical models offer settings for up to 35-time zones around the world. When you know the time, you’ll never call back home in the middle of the night.
Timekeeping is the primary function of any wristwatch. However, tactical models have plenty of other handy features included in the watch. Here are a few advanced functions you can expect from your tactical timepiece.
A compass is a vital tool if you find yourself lost in the woods. Some models come with a digital compass providing pin-point accuracy of your location. These models might also include an emergency beacon mode to alert rescuers to your site.
Some tactical watches feature compass function using a multi-directional bezel on the watch’s face showing the compass points.
Most premium-model tactical watches feature an altimeter. This function helps to check the altitude in feet or meters, depending on your preference. This function is useful for climbers, airmen, and base-jumpers, allowing you to tell how high you are above sea level.
The barometer measures the air pressure, notifying you of any changes. Changes in air pressure can signal a storm on the horizon, allowing you to make the necessary preparations to reach camp or set up a shelter.
Decreases in air pressure predict incoming storms and bad weather. An increase in air pressure signals good weather. Operators can use this information to plan routes and missions, preparing for conditions in the field.
This useful tool measures your speed as a function of distance and time. You use the markings on the bezel of the tachymeter and the second-hand position from one side to the other to determine the speed of passing objects. The converse of this strategy is useful for determining the distance of your travel.
Some tactical models feature thermometers that measure the outdoor temperature. During the evenings, temperatures can drop rapidly in the desert, around large bodies of water, or other locations around the planet.
Knowing the temperature can help you safeguard yourself against the cold, or remind you to stay hydrated in the heat.
Advanced tactical watches can track the tides through analyzing moon data. The lunar cycle directly affects the tides in the oceans, and knowing the position of the moon helps you understand the tide data. Your tactical watch lets you navigate the shoreline easily, providing you with data on when it’s safe to launch a boat.
Tactical watches take a beating over the years. When you’re in a pressure situation, you’re thinking about getting out alive, not scratching your watch. Harsh impacts on your watch are inevitable, and even if you take the best care of the timepiece, there’s going to be a situation where you bang it against a hard surface or drop it from a height.
Your tactical watch should feature a sturdy, shock-absorbent housing. The frame of the watch should rise over the glass of the screen, protecting it from scratches.
If your watch has metal parts, it can start producing inaccurate readings in places where magnetic fields are string. Most tactical watches come with anti-magnetism features, allowing the metal in the mechanism to remain unaffected by strong magnetic fields.
While tactical watches have raised frames to prevent you from scratching the watch’s face, there’s still a chance you could scratch it. It’s for this reason that most tactical watches come with toughed glass to keep your watch scratch-free. One badly-placed scratch on the face could prevent you from reading the time, date, or data on your watch.
Tactical watches have design and function for operation in wet conditions. Most of them have water-resistance of between 100 to 300-meters. Navy SEALs require a waterproof watch that has impact resistance and plenty of functionality.
Solar Powered Tactical Watches
Some tactical watches come with solar-powered batteries. These cells charge via energy they receive from the sun on the face of the watch. The average battery-powered watch lasts anywhere from two to ten years, depending on the brand. With a solar-powered watch, you never have to worry about running out of battery. A single charge can power the watch for up to six months.
The accuracy of your timekeeping is important, and it’s one of the reasons you would want to invest in a tactical watch. These models communicate via radio signals with atomic clocks, ensuring you always get an accurate reading of world time, regardless of location.
Use in Low-Light Conditions
When you’re on a mission at night, you’ll need to know the time. Tactical watches come with backlit screens or watch hands with luminous tubes to help you tell the time, even when pitch black outside.
Materials Used in the Design of Tactical Watches
Your tactical watch requires design and construction with the most durable and robust materials available to survive and thrive in the harshest operating conditions. The materials used in the design and construction of your watch must resist water, absorb impact, and keep functioning – regardless of the operating circumstances or conditions.
In this section, we’ll look at the best materials in tactical watches, and what you should look for when purchasing your model.
The casing of the watch houses the display and internal components of the timepiece. The case is the primary part of the watch responsible for absorbing impact. It requires design and construction with durable materials to prevent damage to the internals of the watch.
Look for casings made from titanium, stainless steel, and carbon fiber for best impact resistance and waterproofing. The housing can come in a raw or polished metallic finish, or it may have a coating to reduce scratching.
Choose the case that matches your needs as an operator. If you want a show watch for diving, a stainless steel casing is attractive and functional. However, if you’re shipping out on a mission, a black casing made from titanium or carbon fiber has a stealth look and plenty of strength.
Crystal Display, Sapphire, or Mineral Glass
The display is a critical part of your watch – it’s where you read all the data. If you crack or damage the display, it can ruin your watch, leading to a costly repair or replacement. The crystal display is a vital part of the watch to protect, and it comes in two grades of material, depending on the manufacturer.
Mineral glass describes a durable, scratch-resistant material suitable for use on tactical watch displays. This material is resistant to scratching and cracking, and it’s a better choice than plastic or acrylic, which readily scratches.
Some tactical watches come with displays featuring sapphire – one of the hardest materials known to man, A sapphire display is scratch-resistant, and absorbs the force of hard impacts without cracking or scratching.
Strap It Up – Choosing the Best Wrist Strap for Your Tactical Watch
Tactical watches rely on a rugged watch strap to keep the timepiece securely on your wrist. The strap is the only thing preventing the total loss of your new, expensive, tactical watch. Therefore, it needs to feature design and construction with durable, comfortable materials.
Leather straps are a no-no for tactical watches. Leather absorbs water, and it’s vulnerable to cracking with UV rays. We recommend you look for models with rubberized, molded straps. A hypoallergenic rubber-molded strap stops any irritation you might get on your wrist using a traditional leather strap.
Silicone molded straps are another option, and they feel more comfortable against your skin. Silicone is waterproof, durable, flexible, and thermally stable. It’s the best choice for a tactical watch strap. Some models include a silicone strap with the watch, but they are a cheap accessory to buy separately.
Tactical Watch FAQs
According to several operators, SEAL teams prefer using brands like Suunto, Marathon, and Luminox. Luminox is a firm favorite thanks to the specialized models purpose-built for use in the ocean.
What’s the essential stand-out feature in a tactical watch?
When reviewing the best tactical watch, look for models that have plenty of useful functions. There’s no point in choosing a watch with loads of tasks if you don’t ever use them. Comfort, readability, and mechanical function are all critical factors when selecting your tactical watch.
What are tactical watches, and how can they benefit me?
Manufacturers design and build tactical watches with military personnel and law enforcement officers in mind. These watches are sturdy and durable, with high-visibility hands and faces. A tactical watch is water-resistant, shock-resistant, and it has plenty of functions like barometers and altimeters.
Where should I order my tactical watch?
We recommend you order your tactical watch through Amazon. Amazon has a no-questions-asked returns policy and buyer protection. The shipping is fast, and you’ll be wearing your watch in a few days after finalizing your purchase.
The Best Tactical Watch – The Verdict
By now, you should have your eye on a tactical watch that suits your lifestyle requirements, and your budget. In case you’re battling with your decision on the best tactical watch to take home, why not rely on our top choices?
- The Suunto Core is a fantastic model with a fully electronic interface. You get an altimeter and barometer, weather trends, sunset and sunrise times, and a storm alarm. This model is an excellent choice for use on land or in the water.
- The Luminox Recon Point Man wins our award as the best premium tactical watch in this review. With 20-bar water resistance, unidirectional rotating bezel, and a molded rubber wristband, this watch is a top choice for SEALs and other military operators.
- The Casio G-Shock “Master of G Rangeman” model is the best G-shock model and works on the G-shock’s classic chassis. This model has plenty of functionality, with sensors and indicators for a variety of functions. The price of the G-Shock is affordable, making it our best budget buy in this review.
Choose the tactical watch to suit your operating environment. Whether you’re a SEAL, Ranger, or Airman, one of the watches in our review will provi9de you with all the timekeeping you need.