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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.

collage of 3 watches
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What makes a watch “tactical?” Does it have to look stealthy? Does it need to be digital or analog? Does it have to give the user readings in temperature and barometric pressure or feature a compass?

Truthfully, there’s no definition of what constitutes a “tactical” watch. Many of the timepieces used by men and women in the military or in police departments have a certain rugged look to them, but any watch that can fulfill the needs of a professional working in the aforementioned fields could conceivably be considered appropriate for “tactical” use. That said, "tactical" apparel and gear of all sorts is now "tacticool" and has a strong appeal to many in today's civilian culture (though some consider it problematic), and watches easily fit into this image.

What Makes a Tactical Watch?

So what are some common traits that many of these watches tend to exhibit? Here are a few that come to mind:

-Ruggedness. A watch that can’t stand up to the rigors of the field is useless to a professional soldier, police officer, outdoorsman or woman, etc. Shock resistance, water resistance and scratch resistance are key.

-Reliability. Whether quartz-powered or automatic, a tactical watch needs to work. If you look down and your battery is dead, or that sweep seconds hand is no longer sweeping, the watch is useless.

-Stealth. While a tactical watch doesn’t need to be black PVD-coated or feature a matte finish, any minimization of reflection is a good thing, at least in a military environment. This is why some militaries require their soldiers to cover their watches.

-Legibility. A watch that can’t be easily read, whether analog or digital, provides little utility to the user.

-Extra Features. While not strictly necessary, modern digital tactical watches often provide stopwatch functionality, timers, temperature readings, etc, which can be extremely useful in the field.

The Best Tactical Watches

Below, we’ve outlined some of the best options for tactical watches currently available, some of which were chosen from personal experience in the military. Whether you’re active military or police yourself, or you simply want something to wear while angling, hiking or hunting that’ll stand up to the rigors of the field, we’ve got you covered.

Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V

Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V

Casio amazon.com
$74.95
$48.67 (35% off)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A longtime favorite of military personnel, this fairly basic G-Shock has everything you need and nothing you don’t: 200m of water resistance, an ultra-durable resin body, a multi-function alarm, 1/100-second stopwatch, hourly time signal, auto calendar, and 12/24 hour time formats.

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Diameter: 48.5mm
  • Water Resistance: 200m

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    Timex Command Shock

    Timex Command Shock

    Timex amazon.com
    $96.32

    Crafted in a mold similar to that of the G-Shock, the Timex Command Collection of watches is built to take a beating. Water-resistant to 100m as well as heavily shock-resistant, they feature Indiglo light-up dials, durable metal and resin cases and stopwatch and countdown timers.

    • Movement: Quartz
    • Diameter: 54mm
    • Water Resistance: 100m

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      Casio G-shock Mudman GW-9300-1JF

      Casio G-shock Mudman Gw-9300-1jf

      amazon.com
      $223.00

      If you're looking for a bit more out of your G-Shock but still want the brand's signature toughness, look no further than this radio-controlled tank of a watch with Tough Solar charging. With world time, tide tabled and more, it's the perfect tactical companion.

      • Movement: Quartz
      • Diameter: 46.3 mm
      • Water Resistance: 200m

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        Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar PRW-3510Y-8CR

        Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar PRW-3510Y-8CR

        amazon.com
        $350.00
        $239.31 (32% off)

        G-Shock isn't the only tough, feature-packed watch line coming from Casio. Some might argue that the Pro Trek family is even better suited to the likes of outdoor activities because that's what it's built for — and, yes, that also perhaps makes it appropriately "tactical" especially in an all-black execution. At the very least it's got all the functionality and looks you want in a tactical watch with myriad sensors, compass, solar charging and more.

        Movement: Quartz
        Diameter: 53.4mm
        Water Resistance: 200m

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        Suunto Traverse Alpha

        Suunto Traverse Alpha

        amazon.com
        $1,138.00

        One of the ultimate outdoorsman’s watches, the Traverse Alpha offers GPS navigation, shot detection and recording, weather alerts, a red backlight for nighttime use and a small light to illuminate one’s surroundings (just don’t activate it accidentally). A rugged, stainless steel knurled bezel ensures that you can knock it around.

        Movement: Quartz
        Diameter: 50mm
        Water Resistance: 100m

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        MWC P656 Titanium Tactical Series

        MWC P656 Titanium Tactical Series

        mwcwatches.com
        $449.00

        A little tank on your wrist (though not the dressy/elegant Cartier kind). If all you need is the time and date, this thing will survive almost anything you can throw at it. The tritium tubes provide illumination so bright you’ll be forced to cover the watch on night exercises, should you go on any. Aquatic sabotage on the agenda? You can even take it diving.

        Movement: Seiko NH35A automatic
        Diameter: 42mm
        Water Resistance: 300m

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        Marathon Navigator

        Marathon Navigator (No Date)

        marathonwatch.com
        $360.00

        Originally produced for pilots and parachutists, the Marathon Navigator was recently upgraded with sapphire crystal. We field-tested one of these bad boys and we can assure you, its fibershell case, quartz movement (with date or no-date) and 12-hour bezel held up perfectly well.

        • Movement: ETA FØ6 high-torque 3-jewel quartz movement
        • Diameter: 41mm
        • Water Resistance: 60m

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          Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Outdoor Explorer

          Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Outdoor Explorer

          luminox.com
          $995.00

          This Bear Grylls chronograph is an analog-display watch that’s nearly as feature-rich as many of its digital counterparts. With a GMT hand, rotating dive bezel, tachymeter scale, removable compass, tritium tube illumination, a chronograph, of course, a date window and a 46mm carbon-reinforced polycarbonate case, this watch is perfectly suited for overland navigation.

          • Movement: Ronda 515 quartz
          • Diameter: 46mm
          • Water Resistance: 200m

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            Garmin Tactix

            Garmin Tactix

            $899.00

            Packed to the gills with tactical features, the Charlie is geared toward military and law enforcement professionals, though anyone can of course take advantage of all that it has to offer. With navigation, health tracking and even Jumpmaster features, this may be the ultimate tactical watch.

            • Movement: N/A
            • Diameter: 51mm
            • Water Resistance: 100m

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              Marathon Anthracite Large Diver's Automatic (GSAR)

              Marathon Anthracite Large Diver's Automatic (GSAR)

              Marathon marathonwatch.com
              $1,600.00

              An all-black, automatic, tritium-lumed dive watch with an extra-grippable bezel and crown that ships on a rubber dive strap? It doesn't get much more tactical than that. Marathon's long history of designing and building specialized military watches should put you at ease.

              • Movement: ETA 2824-2
              • Diameter: 41mm
              • Water Resistance: 300m

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