Interested in the best military watches?
The type you can depend on in various weather and terrain?
We hear ya.
When looking for a watch that is durable and offers features and functions you'd need for wilderness adventures, it makes sense to consider a military style watch.
Fashion isn't the top priority when you're out in the middle of nowhere, features and durability are.
Well get ready, because we have researched all that tactical watches for men have to offer and are about to share with you the six best of the best for 2020.
- Updated 2/9/2020
Best Men's Military Style Watches
If you're in a hurry, these are the two military watches we liked best in this review:
- Casio G-Shock Mudmaster - Editor's Choice for 2020 (Best Value)
- Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss - Classiest for Dressing Up
Table of Contents
- 1 What Kind of Watches Does the US Military Use?
- 2 What Makes a Great Army Watch?
- 3 What to Look for When Buying a Military Watch
- 4 Durability
- 5 Tactical Styles and Functions
- 6 Choosing the Best Military Watch for Your Needs
- 7 Comparison Guide
- 8 6 Best Tactical Watches for Men Review
- 8.1 1) Suunto Traverse Alpha - Cool and rugged
- 8.2 2) Casio G-Shock Mudmaster - Best value for the money
- 8.3 3) Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss - Classy military dress watch
- 8.4 4) Luminox 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch - For outdoor and indoor activities
- 8.5 5) Suunto Elementum Sports Watch - Feature-rich
- 8.6 6) Marathon WW194026 Swiss Made Military Diver's - Search and rescue watch
- 9 WINNER of the Best Military Watches for Men in 2020 Review
What Kind of Watches Does the US Military Use?
Among US ground forces in the mid-2000s, regulations allowed for watch purchases to be decentralized. This means that watches are not issued and individual units can purchase watches for their personnel or set standards for what is expected in watches purchased.
Rules for tactical situations will typically require that watches be made of non-reflective metals or plastic (and other limitations may be set as appropriate).
What Makes a Great Army Watch?
Watches must be reliable, and in most cases versatile. Watches used by the US Military tend to have plenty of features that will be of use to a soldier out in the field and have the durability to be reliable even in very rough conditions.
Even if you aren't in the military, these features can come in useful for camping, backpacking, and many other scenarios you may find yourself in, for example:
- Law enforcement use
- Tactical use
- Everyday use
What to Look for When Buying a Military Watch
The priorities one has when seeking a military watch may vary based on whether they are in the Marines, Navy, Army or Air Force, as well as the activities they tend to be involved in. Some key considerations include the watch’s water resistance, shock resistance, whether it is solar powered or runs off a battery (Or is powered by your movement, in some cases), offers GPS, the length of its battery life, whether it offers accurate chronograph movement and how durable it is.
When a watch is rated as water resistant it can come in contact with water to a certain extent, determined in advance through lab testing. Typically a watch will be classified by the by how deep it can be safely immersed in water.
As the water resistant rating is based on testing in a lab, it is important to keep in mind that real life experience (along with the aging of the watch's parts) means that the water resistance will likely decrease over time. No matter how water resistant a watch is, it is recommended that you have your watch tested occasionally to determine the current level of water resistance.
A watch with GPS will enable you to immediately get the coordinates of your current location in several formats (including MGRS which is used in the armed forces). This will help you navigate unknown trails as well as pre-plan routes for your adventures.
A watch labeled to be shock resistant will not be adversely affected by mechanical shocks. The ISO 1413 Horology Shock-resistant watch standard, adopted by many countries in the world, specifies minimum requirements to be qualified and approved. Testing is used to simulate the shock of dropping the watch accidentally from a meter of height onto a hardwood surface.
Solar technology allows the battery of the watch to be charged by light, either right from the sun or from inside light sources. Watches with this technology have a solar cell and a second battery that is charged by the power that is produced by that solar cell. Once these watches have a full charge, they can keep time for up to 11 months.
Long Battery Life
The majority of batteries in watches are silver-oxide or lithium batteries. Most batteries will last 18-24 months and some can last 5 years. The length of time that the battery lasts will depend in part on the particular watch, and the features that it offers, and how often you use them.
Accurate Chronograph Movement
Chronograph movement is a way to accurately tell time. Watches with chronograph movement are more accurate than watches that are self-winding or automatic.
Learn more about chronograph watches in the video below:
For those in the military and/or those living a rugged lifestyle, durability is key. Military watches should be made with durable materials that offer top-notch abrasion and shock resistance.
Lenses made of sapphire glass will deliver better abrasion resistance than mineral glass. With the exception of standing up to atomic situations, testing is conducted to give you the confidence your watch can handle what you encounter.
Tactical Styles and Functions
When seeking a tactical watch, it is likely that you are seeking more than the standard features of time, day of the week and date. A military watch should offer more advanced functions to include a compass, altimeter and barometer.
The compass and altimeter will be key in your ability to navigate and the barometer will deliver information on the atmospheric pressure which you can use to get an idea of upcoming weather.
Other features worth considering are a storm alarm, sunrise and sunset times and a moon calendar.
Choosing the Best Military Watch for Your Needs
Once you determine the features that are most important to you in a military watch, you can choose one that delivers those features as well as being durable enough to hold up during your adventures.
Next, we will introduce you to six top-rated options.
6 Best Tactical Watches for Men Review
1) Suunto Traverse Alpha - Cool and rugged
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a durable soldier watch that offers features that are appealing to outdoor adventurers.
Handmade in Finland, the watch includes a GPS system that will keep track of the path you have taken during an off-trail hike and the digital compass will help you orient yourself so that you can easily find your way back.
Topographic maps let you plan your routes and the built-in barometric pressure sensor will provide you with information on the weather and altitude that you can trust.
Automatic shot detection technology will maintain a record of your shooting and provide the GPS coordinates to review later. A location-based calendar will provide you with the moon rise and set times, which will help you to figure out the best times for hunting and fishing. The watch includes a stainless steel bezel and a nylon, water repellent strap.
The watch face is covered by scratch resistant sapphire crystal glass and includes a rechargeable Li-lon battery, which when in time mode will last for 14 days.
- A red backlight allows you to read the watch while wearing night-vision goggles without being seen
- The watch includes a built-in flashlight that helps you see in dark areas
- Includes Bluetooth Smart connection that allows you to get mobile notifications and see calls coming in
- Some feel that the watch's display could be sharper, making it easier to read in lower-visibility conditions
2) Casio G-Shock Mudmaster - Best value for the money
The Casio G-Shock Mudmaster starts off with a clock that covers 29 time zones so you can know the time where you are adventuring as well as at home.
This attractive, robust army watch receives time calibration radio signals which ensure that the time displayed on the watch is accurate. Shock, 200M water and mud resistant, this durable and rugged watch is built to keep mud and dust from getting into it, making this an excellent military watch for an outdoorsman.
The altimeter measures from -2,300 feet to 32,800 feet and can store 30 records of altitude, the date and the time. A barometer will help you get an idea of the atmospheric pressure to anticipate changes in weather and an alarm will go off should there be any significant changes, alerting you to possible weather concerns.
- A digital compass will help you remain oriented and keep you from getting lost as you explore new areas of the outdoors
- This watch by Casio includes a solar rechargeable battery and includes a power saving function where the display will go blank when left in the dark. The battery will last around six months once charged. The ability to charge the battery without electricity is ideal for outdoor adventurers
- The stopwatch measures in elapsed and split time, down to the 1/100 of a second, allowing you to pinpoint time with accuracy
- The thermometer can be impacted by the body heat of the person wearing the watch, making it difficult to get an accurate temperature reading, particularly when engaging in physical activity
3) Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss - Classy military dress watch
The Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss watch offers durability in conjunction with the features sought in a military watch.
This time-piece by Victorinox includes scratch resistant anti-reflection sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 330 feet, meaning that it can handle swimming and snorkeling. A luminous compass will help you find your way as you enjoy long treks in new places.
Offering a chronograph dial that features minutes, seconds and 1/10 seconds, the chronograph dials are easy to locate with a luminescent coating. This watch also features a date window at nine o’clock, luminescent hands and large, clearly marked numbers, making it easy to read regardless of level of light.
- The chronograph has a startup button at the 8 o’clock position, making it simple to use the start and stop functions
- Includes a 46 hour power reserve so that your watch is not left unable to function
- Lacks some of the features that other watches offer, like the different time zones and moon phases, which could be helpful depending upon your use
The Luminox 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch is worth considering, particularly for those involved in water activity either for work or play; the watch is water resistant to 200 meters.
This watch by Luminox has a self-powered system of illumination that will let the watch glow on a continual basis for 25 years, making it effective for low-light or no light adventures.
The dark rubber polyurethane band is 8 inches in length and 23 mm in width, making it a comfortable choice for your outdoor (and indoor) adventures.
The watch includes swiss quartz movement with an analog display and the durable mineral dial window offers durability no matter your endeavors. With an appearance that can be considered both rugged and classy, this special forces watch is a great all-around choice.
- This watch by Luminox glows up to 100x brighter than other luminous watches which makes it easier to see in dark conditions
- While the water resistance is a great benefit, this watch is lacking in other features that may be appealing to those who are looking for a military style watch
5) Suunto Elementum Sports Watch - Feature-rich
The Suunto Elementum Sports Watch is an army watch with a variety of features to enhance your outdoor adventures.
Offering a 3D compass, this army watch by Suunto will help you navigate the backcountry and the included altimeter will keep you apprised of your elevation.
Your basic time, date and alarm functions are available along with the tools to keep up with the weather and your course that the watch helped you to chart.
A backlight makes this watch readable no matter the level of light. Stainless steel casing and a sapphire lens ensure this military watch is indestructible regardless of the harsh conditions you encounter.
- This versatile watch fits in with your work environment as well as during your outdoor adventures
- The layout of this watch is very simple and intuitive
- Some find this watch hard to read, which is not ideal for when you are in rough conditions
- The watch does not display the “seconds” as part of the time, which can be an issue when looking for pinpoint accuracy when it comes to time
6) Marathon WW194026 Swiss Made Military Diver's - Search and rescue watch
The Marathon WW194026 Swiss Made Military Diver's has been built with the intent of being used for diving and search and rescue mission at sea; the watch is water resistant to 1000 feet.
Encapsulated tritium light sources can be seen on each hand as well as each hour position, making this special forces watch by Marathon easy to read regardless of lighting levels. Including scratch resistant sapphire crystal and surgical grade stainless steel, this watch offers the durability one desires in a military watch.
A unidirectional bezel triangle uses MaraGlow paint for low-light viewing. The watch includes a vulcanized black rubber strap that comes without holes in it and must be pierced before the the watch is worn for the first time, allowing for a custom fit.
- The tritium gas tubes glow without any need to be charged by an external light
- With the ability to be in water up to 1000 feet deep, this watch by Marathon is a great option for those whose work or play involves water
- Lacks the features that are available in some of the other military watches reviewed
WINNER of the Best Military Watches for Men in 2020 Review
Casio G-Shock Mudmaster
Updated 2/9/2020 - We love all of the features that this watch offers; the fact that it is mud resistant is ideal for those of us who spend a lot of time camping and hiking.
When seeking a tactical watch, a compass is a must and this watch by Casio includes a digital one, providing you assistance in staying on course during your adventures.
Being able to track your altitude up to 32,800 feet gives you the ability to track your climbs to the highest points you achieve and the solar rechargeable battery will ensure that your watch is working even when you can't use electricity to charge it.
Offering appealing features and durability, this reliable watch by Casio is our top choice when it comes to the best military grade watch.
We highly recommend taking the Mudmaster on your next outdoor adventure.