Whether you spend your weekend practicing advanced survival training ops, competing in extreme obstacle course racing, doing the Bird Box challenge (under no circumstances, please!), or managing a really intense singles scene during game-night at the local drinking establishment, make sure you’re fully provisioned with the right equipment, including an excellent tactical watch.
Tactical watches offer everything, including GPS and exercise tracking, various forms of illumination, and, oh, yeah, they even tell time pretty accurately. Check out our list below for some timepieces that offer not only awesome tactical performance but impressive style performance as well, all at a variety of price points since there’s definitely a tactical watch out there for every budget.
Leave it to the Swiss to create a watch that is not only accurate and rugged but damn good looking, too. Manufactured in Niederwangen, Switzerland, Traser is a division of a company that specializes in self-powered illumination. The technology is so distinct that special forces operatives around the world wear Traser watches. The “Tritium Gas Light Source” makes the face easy to see in low- or zero-light conditions without pressing any buttons. The dial illuminates continuously for twenty-five years or more and is guaranteed for the first 10.
The Suunto is a multisport watch, complete with GPS to literally keep track of your workouts. The watch’s built-in “intelligent” battery life management system will remind you when the watch needs charging,while offering up to 120 hours of continuous exercise tracking, seven days with 24/7 tracking and GPS, or up to 14 days when used just as a watch. It’s perfect for long, arduous training sessions, racing, or extreme adventures.
If your workouts are starting to resemble preparations for a war against the Persian Empire with 300 of your closest friends, this is the watch for you. Officially endorsed by Spartan Race, Inc., the 1001 features Luminox’s Carbonox case with crown protection, a sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating, and a stainless steel case back so the watch can take as much of a beating as you. It also features Luminox self-powered illumination, with a constant glow for up to 25 years in any light condition and a black rubber signature strap with black textile inlay. Aroo.
Casio updates its iconic G-Shock brand with the latest addition to its Full Metal 5000 line. Updated with an all-new band material, the new model combines a metal bezel and resin band. Featuring the iconic square bezel, brick pattern on the face, and screw-lock case back, it was created with the brand’s mission of “Absolute Toughness.” The GMWB5000-1 boasts a lightweight and extremely durable resin band, tough enough to handle just about any activity, day or night. The watch also features “Tough Solar” technology, recharging with even a low-light sun exposure.
From the people who first brought us satellite connected way-finding, the Garmin Instinct features a built-in three-axis compass and barometric altimeter, plus multiple global navigation satellite systems to keep you fully oriented in even the most challenging environments. The long-lasting battery helps you stay connected with smartphone notifications and automatic data uploads to the Garmin Connect online fitness community (show off). The TracBack feature navigates you back along the same route to your starting point for when those trail markers get a little hard to find. You can even use the Garmin Explore website and app to plan trips in advance. The chemically-strengthened, scratch-resistant display is high-contrast enough to read even in bright sunlight.
First developed in 1986 at the request of Kelly Air Force Base, the Navigator is manufactured in Switzerland to United States government specs and has already been put through its paces by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It features those aforementioned self-illuminated tritium gas tubes to assist in low light viewing for the hour indices, as well as on the hour and minute hands. A fiber-shell, high-impact case and stainless steel back complete a sturdy package.
Oorah! Semper Fi! Grab this officially licensed Aquaforce Marines Watch with a reliable quartz movement, luminous hands, and the USMC’s eagle, globe, and anchor insignia on the face. The watch is water resistant up to 50 meters. Oh yeah, and it’s only 50 bones.
A new addition to venerable Timex’s assortment, the DGTL features a resin case and strap in gray, black, and red or green and gray. Combining both digital and analog displays, it features the brand’s signature Indiglo light up watch dial, a stopwatch, alarm, and is water resistant up to 50 meters.
Here’s one extra for the guy who’s looking for a beater watch that he doesn’t have to worry about. For the ultimate in thrifty simplicity, the Tru-Spec provides reliability in a rugged package. The quartz battery keeps things running and accurate, while the web band is sturdy and comfortable.
If you’ve already got a tactical watch in your closet, branch out into something a little more elegant with the best watches under $500.