15 Best Military Watches: Tactical Watch Review

NanaDC watch reviews
Editor's Choice
Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical
Garmin Instinct
9.8
  • U.S. military standard 810
  • Insane battery life through solar charging
  • Dual-position GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo
Best Value
Casio Pathfinder
Casio Pathfinder
9.4
  • Solar-powered (6 months battery life)
  • Digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer
  • Quartz movement with digital display
Toughest Watch
G-Shock Rangeman
G-Shock Rangeman
8.9
  • Solar-powered with quartz movement
  • MB6 atomic timekeeping
  • Water resistant to 660 feet

I went binge shopping on Amazon to find the best military watch to wear on my outdoor adventures.

I spent thousands of dollars and tried 30+ different military wristwatches.

After 143 hours of hiking and testing each tactical watch thoroughly, I ended up with just 15 that I liked.

Some were trash.

And one was the clear winner that I ended up wearing daily.

This guide will help you find a good one without having to worry about being as disappointed as I was with some watches I ordered.

Not to mention the money I wasted on them… Although, in most cases, I was able to get it back thanks to Amazon's 30-day money-back guarantee.

Anyway, let's jump right into this guide so you can find your perfect tactical watch.

Army watches aren’t solely for the officers at the Navy or Air Force, but they're perfect for adrenaline junkies too.

They may be out of your ideal price range, but these watches' functionality and durability will make up for it.

To give you a heads up, here are some of the best tactical watches on the market today for servicepeople:

Most Heavy-Duty Smartwatch: Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical, Your Military-Grade Outdoor Watch

The Garmin Instinct is military-grade, with water resistance up to 330 feet and it can withstand shock and heat.

Besides its strength, this one has a premium look and elegant design.

Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical, Solar-Powered Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with Tactical Features,...
23,068 Customer Reviews
Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical, Solar-Powered Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with Tactical Features,...
  • Vastly extended battery life through solar charging
  • Rugged GPS Watch is water-rated to 100 meters and constructed to U.S. military standard 810 for...
  • Built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter plus multiple global navigation satellite systems...

You don’t need to worry about getting lost somewhere since this military-grade smartwatch has GLONASS, GPA, and Galileo, which works with the global satellite systems used by armed forces.

It’s perfect for camping, trekking or hiking as it has TracBack (used to trace back your steps), barometric altimeter and 3-axis compass.

Say no more to stress in a fully loaded day! This amazing gadget will help you monitor your stress levels and heart rate.

That's something you won't usually get from other watches.

The new 2020 version comes with solar technology and an extended battery life that will last you a 54 days or more!

There’s no need to search for a charging port and carry a charger wherever you go.

This is certainly one of the best tactical watches available, if not THE best.

Read my full Garmin Instinct review here.

Casio Pathfinder Multi-function: The Defence Watch

Hikers and wanderers, arise! Casio’s PAG241-1CR Pathfinder has all the features that make a perfect adventure companion.

On Sale
Casio Men's PRO TREK Stainless Steel Quartz Watch with Resin Strap, Black, (Model: PAG-240-1CR)
  • Black solar-powered sport watch with multiple features including digital compass, altimeter,...
  • Approximate battery life: 6 months on full charge (without further exposure to light)
  • 51-mm stainless steel case with mineral dial window

With its dual-layer LCD, the tactical watch has a large register ring to back up its rotating mechanism that stores direction memories.

The PAG241-1CR Pathfinder also has an uneven surface design to rotate the ring easily with your fingers. You can also automatically switch on its light senses with just a tilt of your wrist.

As you go through changing weather conditions and calamities, the built-in altimeter, barometer, and thermometer are a great help.

Even with all these power-consuming functions, this Casio serves its purpose with its solar powered battery-recharging system.

I think the highlight of this one is its Bearing Memory feature. This function continuously displays the directions that it detects in a graphic format. Unlike typical watches, this memorizes these directions so you can easily follow the course from your previous trip.

This is a truely unique feature that none of the other tactical watches have.

Timex T49612 Expedition Trail Series: Heavy Duty Compass

Start your next adventure with Timex T49612 Expedition Trail Series. It is certain that this is considered as one of the most excellent choices because of its genius features.

Timex Men's T49612 Expedition Shock Digital Compass Olive/Black Resin Strap Watch
  • Designed For Outdoor Torture Tests
  • Shock Resistant to I.S.O. Standards
  • Digital Compass

This is one of the best choices designed to sit on your wrist comfortably. A durable nylon strap and a lightweight bezel and resin case hold it in place and make it sturdy. Furthermore, these watches have a heavy-duty buckle for tight fastening.

Thanks to the watch’s quartz movement, its digital display readout will always be accurate. Its water resistance is up to 200 meters or 550 feet, while its shock resistance is in compliance with the ISO standards for military personnel watches.

At a low price, the Expedition runs with 16 compass points. Featuring Timex’s classic Indiglo night-light, you can use these military and tactical watches without having to search for a light source.

Casio G-Shock GA100-1A1: Will Not Miss Out A (Milli)Second

Casio’s G-Shock GA100-1A1 is a fighter with its water resistance of 200 meters and strong magnetic resistance. Although it has an all-black appearance, its LED light feature with afterglow will make sure it is not a problem.

On Sale
Casio Watch (Model: GA100-1A1)
6,335 Customer Reviews
Casio Watch (Model: GA100-1A1)
  • Water Resistance Depth: 200.00
  • Case Diameter: 51 Millimeters
  • Band Size: Mens-Standard

Equipped with auto-calendar that is pre-programmed until the year 2099, you will surely not miss a date—literally.

Proving its excellency, the G-Shock GA100-1A1 analog tactical watch boasts its 1/1000-second stopwatch function with speed indicator. The 1/1000 second stopwatch has multiple measuring modes that include lap time, elapsed time, and split time.

Along with this feature are the 29 time zones and world time swapping function.

Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Ultimate Multisport GPS Smartwatch

When it comes to mind-blowing features, nothing beats the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Smartwatch.

And it's getting better and better with every upgrade.

Although we are incredibly impressed with its predecessors, this one has some goodies that make it more exciting than any previous models of the Fenix products.

Garmin fenix 5X Plus, Ultimate Multisport GPS Smartwatch, Features Color Topo Maps and Pulse Ox,...
  • Ultimate multisport GPS watch that estimates heart rate at the wrist and includes color Topo maps...
  • Wrist based Pulse Ox Acclimation sensor, a non medical device that provides awareness of your...
  • Fit for adventure with rugged design that features scratch resistant domed sapphire lens plus...

While a bit chunky on how it looks, this beast comes with a sapphire crystal and band that fits snugly to your wrist. The wristwatch is surprisingly comfortable, which is crucial to allow free movement while engaging in physical activity.

The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Sapphire is considered the king of GPS watches as it’s packed with features like a pulse oximeter (oxygen saturation), an altimeter, and comes with pre-loaded topographical maps.

The storm alarm is one of the highlights of this watch, as it detects drops in barometric pressure.

Casio G-Shock Rangeman: Designed For Your Comfort

In addition to the G-Shock watch series, the Rangeman is loaded with a ton of features that make it one of the best military watches when it comes to extreme outdoor activities.

On Sale
CASIO Men's GW-9400-1CR Master of G Stainless Steel Solar Watch
4,166 Customer Reviews
CASIO Men's GW-9400-1CR Master of G Stainless Steel Solar Watch
  • Solar-powered digital watch in stainless steel with multiple displays, red contrasts, and textured...
  • Quartz movement with analog display
  • Protective mineral crystal dial window

The Rangeman is one of the rugged ones that can withstand even the toughest environmental conditions. This one can also keep track of different readings such as altitude, barometric pressure, temperature, and directions.

The design of this Casio keeps its functionality at your fingertips and make it as user-friendly as possible.

ALSO READ: Filippo Loreti Watches Review

I can definitely say that this watch, although a tactical watch, offers utter comfort.

Timex Men's Expedition Field Chronograph Watch

Your next addition to your collection could be this one.

Timex Men’s T49905 Expedition Field Chronograph Black/Brown Leather Strap Watch
7,510 Customer Reviews
Timex Men’s T49905 Expedition Field Chronograph Black/Brown Leather Strap Watch
  • Adjustable brown 20 millimeter genuine leather strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference. On...
  • Black dial with date window at 4 o'clock; Arabic numerals in increments of 5 up to 60
  • 30-minute chronograph measures to 1/20th second

Despite its rugged style, Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Watch promises excellent experience since it was created to survive the most difficult hiking trails while matching your corporate wardrobe.

By the way, I wrote a separate round-up about the best survival watches.

Luminox Evo Navy Seal: Recommended By US SEALs and Pilots

This one is made of polyurethane case and matching durable polyurethane band which includes a buckle clasp, which makes this one of the more unique watches used by troops.

Luminox Men's 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch
739 Customer Reviews
Luminox Men's 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch
  • Luminous black watch featuring notched unidirectional bezel, contrast white markers, and date...
  • 44 mm Polyurethane case with mineral dial window
  • Swiss quartz movement with analog display

Highlighting an analog-quartz movement, unidirectional bezel, and a durable mineral dial window, the US Navy SEALS and the US Air Force Pilots highly recommend this tactical watch.

The Luminox Evo Navy Seal analog also holds off circumstances where there is low to zero light source.

This prominent feature makes every dark mission manageable with this on your wrist. On its pitch black dial are white contrasting markings. Moreover, you can see a handy calendar at it's three o’clock.

The unidirectional textured bezel features highly visible minute indexes for easy readability. It is also water resistant up to a depth of 660 feet.

Marathon Military Navigator: Tried And Tested By Troops

As the name suggests, the Military Navigator is an excellent tool for the troops, especially for pilots and parachute missions that require the best military tactical watches.

It showcases its functions made in accordance with MIL-PRF-46374G Type III, Class 1 US Government Specification.

This one weighs very light and will not disappoint you with its fiber-shell case. The case has a water resistance of 60 meters and is shock-resistant.

The Military Navigator is built with special acrylic crystal engineered to highly resist rapid pressure changes. This is especially useful so that the case does not shatter easily, making it perfect for special forces.

To ensure great built quality and high accuracy, the Military Navigator Pilot’s quartz is made in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. Fancy, right? With its high torque, 3 jewel ETA F06 quartz movement, this model provides the most accurate timekeeping.

The ETA F06 movement is accurate to -0.3/+0.5 seconds per day. It also includes an End of Life (EOL) indicator that will advance the second's hand once and every four seconds to notify you that you need to change the battery.

The Military Navigator is issued and worn by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Luminox Men’s 8831.KM Recon: The Bright And Luminous

Coming to you with its reinforced polycarbonate bezel and case, this Luminox is one of the best tactical water resistant military service style watches worthy of your attention.

Luminox Recon Nav SPC Rubber Mens Watch 8831.KM
  • Style:Casual
  • Case:Black polycarbonate
  • Movement:Swiss made quartz

On its dial are luminescent white and green hands and markers that will enhance reading visibility.

This one features three different hands. It also has a date display window at the three o’clock position, a raised scale, and a compass.

Processing on a quartz movement, it has a water resistance of 200 meters.

The most unique feature is that it comes with a removable compass. I think it’s necessary for the watches to have this option so the field watch you’ll wear will be lighter.

Suunto Core All Black Military Men's Outdoor Sports Watch

It is possible to be loaded while still weighing just over two ounces with this tactical watch.

Just like most, these watches are packed with traditional functions like dual times, a date display, barometer, compass and an alarm.

SUUNTO Core, All Black
  • Suunto Core: This classic outdoor sports watch is packed with intelligent features like a Storm...
  • Essential for Adventure: This watch has dual times, a date display, and alarm, plus predicted times...
  • Suunto Sports Watches: Versatile and durable, Suunto sports watches are great for running, swimming,...

But of course, it's built with its own awesome features. It can predict the possible time for sunset and sunrise, which can help you maximize daylight hours.

In addition to its altimeter and barometer, it has a depth meter that gives an accurate water depth reading up to 30 feet.

Here comes the most amazing part. You can go on days without your local weather forecaster because this one will keep you updated. While you’re out on a hike or having a camp, Suunto Core will be responsible for your weather updates.

The Storm Alarm can sense approaching storm despite the sky looking bright. A rapid drop in air pressure over a three-hour period can activate it. Once its senses changes, the Alarm Storm will sound and flash, notifying you that unpleasant weather is fast approaching.

Hamilton Khaki Field: Elegant And Functional

At first glance, the Khaki Field might look like your typical office watch. However, it won't take a spot in this round-up just for nothing.

On Sale
Hamilton Men's HML-H70455533 Khaki Field Black Dial Watch
  • Round stainless steel watch with black dial featuring white Arabic indices and date window at 3...
  • 38 mm stainless steel case with sapphire crystal dial window
  • Automatic self-wind movement with analog display

True to Hamilton’s military heritage, the Khaki Field is built to last with its reliable and high-quality materials.

It consists of a stainless steel case, three-hand time display, dark dial with light and luminescent numerals, a durable NATO strap binds it.

Recalling Hamilton’s great hand-wound timepieces, this sturdy tactical watch is designed exquisitely. What I like most about this tactical watch is, despite it being one, its style does not fall short on elegance and class.

Luminox SureFire: Well Lit Watch

The Luminox SureFire is built and designed for the life outdoors. Sitting securely on your wrist, its white-on-black design is constructed of very light hard-anodized aerospace aluminum.

SureFire 2211 Rechargeable Variable Output WristLight with Watch, 300 Lumens, Anodized Body
  • Straps to support-hand wrist for instant access to 300 lumens
  • Precision faceted reflector creates perfect MaxVision Beam that’s wide and evenly dispersed
  • Ambidextrous switching activates three levels of useful light: 300, 60, and 15 lumens

The adjustable nylon band that is durable enough to hold its own little tactical LED handgun light in place complements it.

Running on a Swiss quartz movement, it's sure to deliver most accurate readings.

It utilizes a virtually indestructible LED and optic. You can activate its brilliant 200-lumen beam just with a press of either two button-type switches.

The SureFire comes with a USB cable that you can use to recharge the lithium-ion battery. Through its built in LED fuel gauge, you are alerted when to recharge it.

SMAEL Men's Military Analog Digital Watch

Are you planning to go to a new adventure? Start it with SMAEL Men’s Military Analog Digital Watch. This steal is perfect for both indoor and outdoor activities such as fishing, climbing, swimming, trekking, running and more.

It made it to the best 15 due to its multifunctionality.

Its functions include auto calendar, daily digital alarms, stopwatch, and countdown timer. Its shock and water resistance also makes it very suitable for individuals who seek thrill and adventure.

As for its aesthetics, the SMAEL Men's Military Analog dons a fashionable sporty design. It has a large dial face, numbers with lights that display time even in the dark, and a military-style outlook.

Breitling Super Avenger II Military: Worth The Price Tag

The Super Avenger Military is just one of the most water resistant watches. Out of all the military style watches on this list, it is the most reliable timepiece that functions up to 1,000 feet underwater.

Found on its display are luminous markers and a well-defined stainless steel crown for easy usage. A stainless steel body makes it highly durable.

Sold on a limited edition, this timepiece has a 48-mm anti-reflective case on a dial that features a 24-hour military time display.

Furthermore, its strap is made of synthetic fabric which military units commonly used for special operations. The heightened bezel rotates in one direction making it one of the most perfect watches for diving. You really can’t argue why this is considered one of the best choices with automatic movement.

Summary: The Best Military Watches

  • Garmin Instinct: Best Garmin Tactical Watch (Editor's Choice)
  • Casio Pathfinder: Best Casio Military Watch
  • Timex T49612 Expedition Trail: #1 Timex Military Watch
  • Casio G-Shock Rangeman: The Finest GShock Military Watch
  • Suunto Core: Best Suunto Watch for Military
  • SMAEL Men's Analog Digital Watch: Excellent SMAEL Military & Tactical Watch
  • Hamilton Khaki Field: Most Elegant Field Watch
  • Marathon Military Navigator: Best Army Watch
  • Luminox Evo Navy Seal: Best Classic Military Style Watch
  • Breitling Super Avenger II: Top-rated Military Dive Watch

Factors To Consider When Buying Military Watches

Basically, the point here is that the best field watches focus more on functionality and durability.

To claim your money’s worth, it is only fair to purchase one of the field watches available. To help you with your decision-making about what gear to buy, there are a few considerations when you’re in search of the perfect tactical watch.

Buying A Military Watch

It is a necessity for the best field watches to be resistant to elements and tremor. This means they're both shock resistant and water resistant AND scratch resistant.

You need to make sure that your tactical watch does not only last a long time but also performs remarkably as if it is fresh from the box.

  • Power source. For maximum reliability, a great tactical watch should be either solar. or kinetic-powered.
  • Night vision. The dials have to be readable in the dark.
  • Additional features. A GPS can be a huge advantage over traditional military inspired watches. An altimeter, barometer, and storm alarm is also something you'd want.

Modern Military Watch Brands

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still got questions? Here are frequently asked questions and their answers.

What is a Military Watch?

It has distinct features that make it different from typical watches and suitable for military and marines operations, as well as search and rescue missions. Although classic models were primarily used by the military, today, many brands of watches made efforts to revive these timepieces and market them to civilians.

They are meant to withstand extreme conditions, moisture, dust, and impact. They are usually made of durable material and have a simple yet rugged style.

On top of their high durability, they also have incredible features designed to help military in the field like navigation systems, altimeter, barometer, and luminous digits and hands.

Overall, EDC watches are one of the most highly sought-after tactical watch types on the market because of their wide range of features and use-cases.

While most classical military timepieces were analog ones, today you have the choice between remakes of those and highly advanced digital watches or smartwatch versions that come with any feature you can imagine.

What Watch Does the Military Use?

Today, the military uses the Marathon Navigator (Swiss made and one issued by the government) and Casio G-Shock because of the high level of accuracy and durability they have. These watches passed the military standards overall.

Back in the day, military men were issued watches meant to use in the field with basic functions, but it’s not designed to last. In 1999, the MIL-W-46374 which is considered the stricter official specification for army watches was issued for the men in service. These watches should have a high level of accuracy, must be shockproof and can survive the harshest conditions.

The government still issues combat watches to the military men, but they are allowed to provide their own as long as it passes the US Military standards for these timepieces.

Why Do Military Wear Watches Backwards?

One reason the military wear their watches backwards is that it will allow them to check time conveniently while aiming at a target, which happens most often when they’re in the field.

Another reason is that military men should be discreet and should avoid being seen or heard at all cost. Recognizing that most tactical watches have luminous digits and shiny casings which may reflect light, wearing their watches backwards seems logical to prevent unwanted attention from potential enemies.

Third, it also protects the watch itself from getting damaged.

Where to Buy Military Watches?

Buy tactical watches only from credible stores like Amazon. They have the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee that protects its buyers.

Verdict

In my opinion, the best tactical watch is the Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder. As you go on a hike or start training, this Casio stands strong as it is built to endure tough conditions.

Packed with great functions (like the built in altimeter, barometer, and thermometer), user-friendly design, and a price that won’t hurt your pocket, the Casio Pathfinder is an easy choice.

The Bearing Memory feature will ensure you a smooth and worry-free journey. Plus, you never have to worry about its battery draining in the middle of the day because it is solar powered!

However, if you're looking for truely the most advanced tactical watches for military without being worried about the price too much, you'll want one with built-in GPS and more advanced mil spec features.

The Garmin Instinct comes with GPS and many more advanced features and is far more than "just another one of many basic options". I highly recommend going for this one if you need more than a simple watch.

Overall

We really can’t run from the fact that military watches make the most versatile timepieces. The best tactical watches may be a little too pricey, but the features and outstanding quality you get in return are priceless. If you still think they're too expensive, check out our list of automatic watches under 500.

These watches are not only handy in times of hikes, training, and other heavy outdoor activities, but they can also be helpful in a typical and normal day. Investing in this type of timepiece is the right way to do!

Links, prices, and images were pulled from the Amazon API. Last updated on 2021-07-24.

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