With the abundance of military watches on the market, the choice can be overwhelming. Lucky for you, it’s our job to sift through them to determine the best options (in our opinion) in several categories.Enter your text here...
Now, while you’ll find similarities between many products, to say there’s a one-size-fits-all option for everyone is simply not true (hence the reason for this review).
So today, we’ve put together a list of best military wristwatches while going over the different features of each one in detail. And by the end of this article, the decision should be easy (or easier), based on whichever you determine best suits your EDC needs and style!
What’s a Military Watch?
Quality military watches are designed to withstand some of the harshest elements and situations, while also offering a feature-rich platform. They’re used in military/recon, medical, law enforcement, outdoor, and other settings where ruggedness and function are non-negotiable.
While the features/functions do vary between these high-tech gadgets, here’s a small list of the ones that we recommend your watch has at the minimum, aside from a clock of course.
- Waterproof/ water-resistant
- Easy to read/illumination feature
- High-impact, heavy-duty design
If you want to spend a little more, you can get more features such as solar power capability, bluetooth connectivity, inclement weather alarms, barometer (measures air pressure), altimeter (measures altitude), thermometer, GPS, and GLONASS (GLObal NAvigation Satellite System). These addons do come with a higher price tag but depending on your intended use, these can be absolutely necessary.
Then of course, it depends on the watch you get because some have certain features while other designs don’t. Read on to learn more.
How Do You Choose The Best Military Watch For You?
When it comes to deciding on the ideal military watch, there are a few things to consider.
Rolex Explorer II
Garmin Tactix Delta
Garmin Instinct Tactical
Timex Ironman Rugged
Intended use/watch features
You don’t have to be a professional in any of the categories mentioned above to have a feature-rich military watch (if you like it, that’s all that matters). However, they are designed with survival and being able to take on any situation in mind.
Whether you’re jumping out of a plane, swimming, hiking, part of a rescue team, or patrolling the street, you need a good multi-functional EDC watch.
We should also mention that there are a few different types of military watches such as pilot’s watches, field watches (multi-purpose use), dive watches, and the digital watch.
Pilot’s watches were designed for aviation, and have larger dials that are easier to see, and generally a more sophisticated appearance. Field watches are generally sleeker and minimal by design. Designed for soldiers in WWII, they needed to be light and accurate.
Dive watches were designed for, you guessed, divers. Many dive watches are very luxurious as well but they must function without compromise. They should be water/pressure resistant up to 100 m (330 ft) of which many of our choices exceed this. They have a bezel that turns, and that was used to time dives before the introduction of dive computers. Most watches still have a bezel and are useful for many situations.
Dive watches and other watches also have a crown that screws down or push/pulls for additional protection against water.
Now, you’ve probably also heard of analog (traditional clock face), smart watches, digital watches (refers to display), compass watches, GPS sports watches, hybrid (Digital - Analog), and solar (has a solar battery that does need charging and can run via sunlight exposure or artificial lighting).
These vary in functionality, aesthetics, cost, applicability, battery life, etc. However, many military watches actually have one or several of the above features, and that’s the real beauty of having a multi-functional watch. Again, the more features, the more costly, but you can pick and choose the features and functions that you want.
Look for quality at a price that you can afford in the design that you have a preference for.
For example, metal/steel bracelets are most expensive, they may be less comfortable on average compared to others and are generally heavier. But they last longer than the others and are aesthetically pleasing although not suitable for all occasions!
Then you have the leather strap that is going to be the most comfortable and versatile. However, resin, nylon, rubber and silicone for example, are going to be realistic for outdoor activities and tough environments.
Really, each has its pros and cons but you’ll have to decide which sounds more appealing for your intended use.
Lastly, screen size, case size, and the overall watch size should be considered depending on your wrist size and preference. Military watches are typically larger than other watches as far as case diameter and thickness. This is intentional to be able to see the dial and easily operate the pushers/features.
Typically though, 39-42mm case diameter is ideal for most people, with 40mm being generally more versatile.
You should also refer to sizing information based on your wrist size to ensure you get the correct size.
There are three basic movement types of a watch: mechanical, automatic, and quartz. A watch’s movement operates the time functions and other features such as the calendar, dual time zone, and chronograph (stopwatch).
A mechanical watch functions by a clockwork mechanism where a mainspring that stores mechanical energy is either wound by hand or operates via a self-winding mechanism. There are various intricacies within a mechanical watch that contribute to its function. For this reason, mechanical watches are often used in luxury designs due to the additional craftsmanship of these timepieces.
An automatic watch functions via the movement of the watch wearers wrist and thus it’s an automatic movement. It’s also called a “self-winding” watch and contains a small weight or rotor that spins and winds the mainspring. An automatic watch doesn’t need winding as it’s worn but will when it’s not worn.
A quartz watch is battery-operated and typically less costly than a mechanical or automatic watch. But they are generally the most accurate out of the three for keeping time and operate via an electrical mechanism that vibrates a small quartz crystal, driving its function.
Ultimately, your budget is going to be a determining factor in the watch that you choose. Typically, the cheaper a watch the fewer features it’s going to have. The quality of that watch may not be as good either. But it depends.
If there’s a watch that offers additional features that you desire but it’s more expensive, consider a different brand/model that offers those features at a cheaper price. If you’re dead set on one model, however, consider waiting and saving up a little more so that you can get the watch that you really want.
1. Casio W59-1V-Best Budget Military Watch
On a tight budget? We totally get it which is why we chose the Casio W59-1V as the best budget option.
Casio is a leader in making hi-tech, high-quality watches, most known for its proven G-Shock line that’s highly favored amongst military men and women. This model is very similar to the much-loved F91W, with the difference being that it’s waterproof up to 50m (165 feet), which is why we chose it instead. Plus, it’s within everyone’s price range.
This watch is equipped with an easy-to-read digital watch face display w/ micro-light illumination, a daily alarm (don’t want to be late), a 1/100 stopwatch, an hourly time signal, day-date display, and an auto-calendar (so much convenience).
It’s a smaller sized watch with a 36mm case diameter which many prefer.
The wrist strap is a resin material which is a durable plastic that has a more sporty/casual look. Resin bands are also stiff in shape compared to other options (e.g. steel, nylon, leather).
The Casio WF9-1V is no doubt a solid contender for best watches under $20 from one of the best watch brands around.
The price of Casio W59-1V varies, so check the latest price at
2. Rolex Explorer II 216570-Best High-End Military Watch
When most people think of high-end and luxury analog watches, they think of Rolex, a Swiss brand that has been around since the early 1900s. They're known for their iconic Submariner dive watch that is very popular (and very pricey).
But the Explorer II seems to be a highly-sought after model not just because of the function, but aesthetically, they’re right up there. It’s also priced right at or even below $10,000 which is much cheaper than other models.
The white dial is super modern looking with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face for ultimate protection against during use. This watch is made with oystersteel which is resistant and resilient to corrosion and harsh environments.
A feature that we really like is the orange 24-hour hand shaped like an arrow, and the hands are luminescent with chromalight, making the dial easily readable anytime of the day (and boy does it light up). Then you have a 24-hour display feature with a fixed bezel that circles in 24-hour graduations allowing you to tell between night and day. This is especially useful for the adventurous.
The Explorer II also has a screw-down crown for additional water-resistance protection and reliable functionality. The oystersteel bracelet offers an oysterlock safety clasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link. Other features include a self-winding automatic chronometer movement, and a GMT 2nd Time Zone Feature which may come in handy.
If you want a high-end watch that’s an excellent value, The Explorer II is hard to argue against.
Rolex Explorer II
The price of Rolex Explorer II 216570 varies, so check the latest price at
3. Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-Best Military Watch Overall
In almost any discussion about the best and toughest military-grade watches, you can bet that mention of the G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400 is going to come up… a lot.
It’s an uber cool timepiece (at least to me it is) with many useful features, and a heavy-duty design made for shock resistance. Not to mention, it’s in the lower-mid price range.
The GW-9400 is a later iteration of the Master of G series, equipped with solar power capability that eliminates the need to recharge while providing the same accuracy as the quartz-operated watch that it is. The watch has a battery life indicator, power-saving feature, and the approximate battery life is 7 months on a full charge without further light exposure).
The GW-1000 is built like a tank using a shock-resistant triple sensor to ensure reliability in any situation that requires barometric pressure, temperature, and direction readings, as well as maintaining altitude details.
In addition, the high-impact pushers and metal-covered main sensor pusher protects against damage. Pressing the sensor button takes you to a sensor screen of which you can differentiate between modes via a distinct audible tone. Therefore, you don’t need to see the screen to use this feature.
The LED backlight with afterglow allows for easy readability in darker settings (always necessary).
Other notable features include sunrise/sunset data at sea level), time recording, elapsed time measurement, a full auto-calendar, mud-resistant case, digital compass, and more. The watch can also tolerate low temperatures of -10 C/14 F so it’s pretty resilient.
The resin band is super-durable w/ an attractive black and red color scheme, and there’s so much to love about this incredible watch.
The price of Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400 varies, so check the latest price at
4. Garmin Tactix Delta GPS Watch
Garmin is (and has been for a while) among the best when it comes to top-tier quality wearable technology.
The Tactix Delta is truly a drool-inducing option that stands out from the rest, offering an overwhelming number of features… where to start. It’s very similar to the Fenix 6x but has some upgraded features and is no doubt the better of the two.
This tactical watch is built to military standard (MIL-STD-810) to ensure max durability and reliability. It’s solar-powered, offers night vision capability and stealth-mode that disables traceable features, has a GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) for complex navigation), and outdoor sensors for more possibilities.
It’s equipped with an altimeter for elevation data, in addition to a barometer for weather monitoring, and a 3-axis electronic compass. The Tactix Delta also has built-in fitness and sports apps with performance metrics, heart rate data monitoring, and a safety tracking feature to detect potential danger.
A cool feature (among many) is the body battery energy monitor that detects your current state of being based on your heart rate variability, stress, and sleep to suggest more activity or rest. Plus, the advanced sleep monitor is always a nice addition.
It’s great that Garmin is doing a lot for the health industry and these features can go a long way in promoting better health.
The watch is designed with a black DLC (diamond-like carbon) coated steel bezel and scratch-resistant 1.4” sapphire glass display with a tacticool black dial, which according to Garmin, is 36% larger than the previous models. A larger screen is also a welcome feature.
Another interesting feature of this watch is that it has a “kill switch” that erases all device memory in potentially crucial situations. The Delta also has 32GB memory/history which is nothing to scoff at.
The Garmin Tactix delta is truly a super military watch!
Garmin Tactix Delta
The price of Garmin Tactix Delta varies, so check the latest price at
5. CASIO G-Shock Mudmaster GWG-1000-1A3
Yet another, but not the last Casio watch on our list. It would not be complete without the Master of G, GWG-1000 that many would say is the ultimate tactical G-Shock watch. And since it’s a G-Shock, we have no doubt it’ll stand up to the most grueling of activities... and mud (hence the name Mudmaster).
It has triple sensor version 3 capabilities for reliable direction, barometric pressure, and temperature functionality. The new bezel is also more durable and resistant to debris.
The GWG-1000-1A3 is made with tough solar power technology, a smart electronic crown w/ quick-lock that makes it stand out from the others. It also has multi-band atomic timekeeping that receives standard time radio waves from 5 countries.
The face of the watch has large Arabian numerals w/ a double LED light, protected by a sapphire crystal so that you can read your watch in any environment.
You will not be disappointed with this watch!
The price of CASIO G-Shock Mudmaster GWG-1000-1A3 varies, so check the latest price at
6. Marathon GSAR Mil-Spec Watch
Switzerland-based Marathon is a classic brand worn by military personnel and anyone who appreciates luxury and superior function. This mil-spec watch uses Tritium gas tubes that glow without battery or solar power which is amazing technology (hence the price point) that the others on the list don’t have.
It’s made for deep water pressures at 300m, ideal for tough missions and the GSAR (Government Search and Rescue) model operates via 25 Jewel Swiss made ETA 2824-2 self-winding mechanical technology.
Sapphire glass and stainless steel material will hold up to almost anything you can throw at it! The watch also comes with a durable vulcanized rubber strap.
Overall, Marathon is killin’ it in the watch arena!
The price of Marathon GSAR Mil-Spec Watch varies, so check the latest price at
7. 5.11 Tactical Field Watch
A little change of pace from the previous options, 5.11 Tactical is becoming increasingly more popular and their products are freakin advertised everywhere!
The Tactical Field Watch is inspired by military forces and it definitely embodies the look, while being a very versatile option.
The display is made from scratch and chip-resistant mineral crystal glass, and the watch can withstand water pressures up to 330 feet or 100m which is good enough for most uses. Plus you get a unidirectional ratcheting dive bezel. Military time is displayed on the inner dial with a yellow date window (pretty cool). It also comes with a unisex Nato nylon webbing band to ensure securness and comfort. The 5.11 comes in two tactical colors.
The 44mm case size is rather large but awesome!
For under $200, this is an excellent timepiece that looks every bit what it was intended for.
The price of 5.11 Tactical Field Watch varies, so check the latest price at
8. Garmin Instinct Tactical
Another top of the line watch from Garmin, the Instinct Tactical is a favorite choice. It’s Constructed to U.S. Military standard 810G for durability and water resistance up to 100 meters.
It has many of the same features and complications as the Tactix Delta including night vision, 3-axis compass, and barometric altimeter, in addition to multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo). Plus, you get Stealth mode and Jumpmaster for operational applications.
You can sync it with your smartphone and take advantage of the features. Watch has 16GB memory/history which is plenty for most uses. This watch does not have solar power capability like the more expensive version of the Instinct. But you can get up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, and up to 40 hours in UltraTrac battery Saver mode.
This may be an inconvenience to some but charging infrequently isn’t really a big deal.
The Instant Tactical is a viable option at a mid-lower range price point.
Garmin Instinct Tactical
The price of Garmin Instinct Tactical varies, so check the latest price at
9. Seiko Prospex
Not only does this analog watch offer amazing functionality, but it’s freakin’ sexy. It’s also big with a 43mm stainless steel case but you’ll turn heads with this diver-inspired timepiece.
The Seiko Prospex maintains life via solar-power and is powered by Japanese quartz movement. It’s also water-resistant to 200 m (660 ft). The stainless steel exterior with black and blue face is perfect for those who like a classic look.
Luminous hands make reading your watch a breeze plus you get three chronograph subdials for timekeeping which Seiko is a leader in.
This watch is not cheap but it’s much lower in price than many options of lesser quality. Plus it’ll look amazing on your wrist!
The price of Seiko Prospex varies, so check the latest price at
10. Timex Ironman Fullsize Rugged 30
As a functional piece with attractive features all under $50, consider this watch from Timex. The Ironman series is popular for rough use and hey, if it breaks, you’re not out much. But chances are it’s going to last you a good while.
The Ironman Rugged 30 edition is among the larger options that has a large black digital display, with an indigo backlight for low light or any situations. Not to mention, at this price point, it offers a 100-hour stopwatch, a customizable alarm, and interval/countdown timers.
Plus, it’s water-resistant up to 100m (330ft) which is fine for activities such as swimming and snorkeling. The resin strap is also made to endure more than casual activities.
With an expected 10-year battery life, Timex durability, and many more attractive features, this watch is rather impressive.
Timex Ironman Rugged 30
The price of Timex Ironman Fullsize Rugged 30 varies, so check the latest price at
We truly hope that you enjoyed our list of best military watches for 2020. It wasn’t easy, but we included watches of all price ranges and we’re confident that none lack in quality. These are must-have EDC tools for any environment and situation, and whether you want something more basic, or feature rich (e.g. solar power, gps, heart-rate monitoring, night vision, etc), there’s something for everyone.
Have a question about any of the watches in our list or want to share your favorite military timepiece? Leave your comments below. Also, checkout THE 10 BEST TACTICAL FLASHLIGHTS [HANDHELD & WEAPON MOUNTED]