Your watch is cool, but how well will it serve you in a firefight or a sandstorm? Has it been to Helmand province in Afghanistan, the WWII battlefields or Viet Cong-controlled jungles of 1970s Vietnam? Would it withstand the rigors of an army base mess hall?
Military watches can be many things and have a wide-ranging history — far too varied and complex to easily fit a single definition or be sufficiently treated in a few paragraphs. That's why we've gathered coverage of some of the best examples here, and you'll find that what they tend to have in common are impressive specs and compelling stories.
From the vintage field watches of the 20th century's big wars to today's tactical watches, from dive watches for naval frogmen to pilot's watches made for freezing cockpits, the watches below are each worthy of your attention.
21 of the Best Military Watches and Their Histories
We examine some of world’s most famous military watches and delve into their origins, from the Fifty Fathoms to the MilSub and more.
Out of Iraq: The Story of an Issued Military Watch
A former Marine speaks about the Marathon TSAR he was issued while in the service and how he used it downrange.
The 10 Best Field Watches
Field watches should be reliable, legible and simple.
We Field-Tested Two Military Watches in the Army and This is What We Found
Two field watches accompanied us into the actual field for some serious testing.
What's the Most Legit Modern Military Watch You Can Buy?
Watches with serious specs and mean looks are plentiful, but modern military watches are quite different than issued ones of the past.
These Are 10 of the Best Tactical Watches
We explore what makes a watch “tactical” and pick out some of our favorites for actual use in the field.
10 Important Military Watches from World War II
From the A-11 to the Panerai Radiomir to the little-known A.T.P, we explore the Second World War's horological gems.
Joys of the Cheap American Military Watch
They’re cheap, they’re plentiful, they were issued to genuine badasses — what’s not to like here?
Elite Naval Commandos Wore This Vintage Military Watch in the 1970s
When the IDF’s Shayetet 13 needed a badass dive watch for special ops, it was the Eterna Super Kon-Tiki that delivered.
The Fascinating and Humble History of the NATO Watch Strap
From military roots to modern style.
The History of the Rolex Military Submariner
If the Rolex Submariner is the most famous dive watch, then the Rolex Military Submariner, or MilSub, is the most famous military-issued dive watch.
This Is the Seiko Watch Made for Japanese Pilots During WWII
Known as the Seikosha Kamikaze, this obscure pilot’s watch has an incredible story to tell that forms a little-known facet of Seiko history.
This Vintage Longines Is the Essence of the Purpose-Built, Time-Only Watch
First released in the 1940s, the Longines “sei tacche” and “tre tacche” models epitomized functional design.
This Serious Tool Watch Was Designed for a Special Tactical Unit
The EZM 1 is emblematic of the function-first approach that’s won German brand Sinn its dedicated fans.
This Watch Was Exactly What Pilots Needed in 1953
The Glycine Airman was an initially made for commercial pilots but later became popular with US military pilots in the Vietnam and Korean wars.
One of the Very Best Military Watches Is Back
The Benrus Type 1 was only ever available to military divers, commandos and spooks. Not anymore.