9 Best Tactical Watches Categorized Based on Specific Purposes

By Derrick Ferrell
Updated on
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The Rundown
  • Best Overall
    An all-around-excellent watch featuring a solar-powered battery, superior water resistance, and reputable durability.
  • Best Altimeter (ABC)
    This rugged solar-powered watch features an accurate, user-friendly altimeter and keeps on ticking even in extreme cold.
  • Runner-Up Best Altimeter (ABC)
    Another durable altimeter watch that costs less than half the price of our top pick in this category.
  • Best Durability
    The most durable resin-case tactical watch—perfect for those who like it rough.
  • Best Military Standard
    Classic aesthetics and functionality come together watch that meets the MIL-SPEC.
  • Best GPS (Smartwatch)
    This smartwatch stands out for its accurate navigation, physical activity monitoring, and usefulness in the field.
  • Best Premium Smartwatch
    The ultimate military smartwatch with dozens of navigation, fitness, and tracking features worthy of the title.
  • Best Field Watch
    This watch is a classic, retro military, and one of the top-quality field watches.
  • Best Lightweight
    One of the best lightweight, easy-to-read analog watches of its kind.

Imagine you’re executing a time-sensitive operation in uncharted jungle territory. Seconds count, and you need to carry out a command at a specific time to save your troop.

You look at your watch and find that it is dead. Or broken. Or the sun creates an unreadable glare. As a result, you miss your time mark, and the mission fails.

This may sound like an unrealistic scenario, but the truth is that having the right military watch is just as crucial as having quality protective gear and weaponry. But with so many “tacticool” watch brands, it may feel challenging to choose the one that will provide the best benefits in combat and maintain usefulness in civilian life.

Read on to learn why we—the veterans find these are the best tactical watches on the market and how you can choose the right one for your needs.

Best Overall
Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400 Black Plastic Band
G-Shock Rangeman GW9400
An all-around-excellent watch featuring a solar-powered battery, superior water resistance, and reputable durability.
What we like
  • Solar-powered
  • Water-resistant
  • Affordable price tag
  • Durability
What we don’t like
  • No vibration alarm
  • Display is a bit dimmer than other field watches

Casio creates some of the most popular watches for men, and this model is no exception.

The Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW9400 is the best tactical watch on the market, plain and simple. It provides all the features you want in a reliable, durable product without any annoying drawbacks.

This Casio G-Shock is a solar-powered compass watch with an analog display, plastic strap, and stainless-steel case. Its solar-powered battery means it will never die as long as you have access to sunlight, and it utilizes quartz movement to ensure accurate time.

This watch offers several features beyond telling time and setting alarms. It includes a compass, thermometer, and barometer, and its water-resistance makes it suitable for US Navy seals and scuba divers.

Perhaps the best aspect of this Casio G-Shock model is its price. We struggled to find any other watch of this quality and design below the $300 price point. If you’re on a budget but still need a model with the best features, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Some customers complained that this watch’s display wasn’t bright enough for their liking, but we didn’t experience that problem. Still, you may want to test out the model before purchasing it to make sure you can read the screen well.

Also, though this watch has five different alarm settings, vibration isn’t one of them. If you need a silent alarm option, you’ll want to go with a different model.

Overall, however, this Casio G-Shock model is unmatched in the military watch world. Superior battery life, water resistance, durability, and reliability make it one of the best tactical watches overall.

Best Altimeter (ABC)
Casio Men's Pro Trek PRW3500 Solar Powered Atomic Digital
Casio Pro Trek PRW3500
This rugged solar-powered watch features an accurate, user-friendly altimeter and keeps on ticking even in extreme cold.
What we like
  • Solar-powered
  • Low-temperature resistance
  • Digital compass with bearing memory
What we don’t like
  • Heavy compared to other military watches
  • Screen not scratch-resistant

Need a high-quality military watch that can measure altitude quickly and accurately? Then you’ll want to try the Pro Trek PRW350.

This solar-powered sports watch offers a range of useful features through its Triple-Sensor Version 3 functionality, including a digital compass, barometer, thermometer, and more.

Perhaps its most practical feature is the built-in altimeter, which can measure altitude ranging from -700 to 10,000 meters (-2296 to 32,808 feet). You can save your altitude measurements manually or auto-log cumulative ascent and descent to save time.

When you reach high elevation levels, the temperature cools down significantly. However, this watch can withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit without a problem. It is also water-resistant up to 660 feet, so you can wear it while swimming and scuba diving.

The price point of this watch is also incredible. You can purchase it from most manufacturers for less than $250, and though it doesn’t include advanced features like moon phase tracking, we found it to have all our necessities for military use.

Some customers have noticed that the watch feels heavy on their wrists, but weight and durability often go hand-in-hand. Others have reported that the screen isn’t scratch-resistant, though it does have a mineral dial window to prevent cracks. But all in all, this is still the best altimeter model on the market.

Runner-Up Best Altimeter (ABC)
Suunto Core All Black Military Men's Outdoor Sports Watch
Suunto Core
Another durable altimeter watch that costs less than half the price of our top pick in this category.
What we like
  • Affordable
  • Excellent altimeter
  • Storm alarm
What we don’t like
  • Not so long battery life
  • Compass is sometimes imprecise

The Pro Trek PRW3500 may have the best altimeter, but the Suunto Core brings up a close second place. If you’re on a tight budget, you will love the price point of this model, and the range of excellent features it offers.

This model’s best feature is its accurate altimeter that measures elevation, shows ascent and descent, and records your data. The Core also features the typical barometer and compass tools, along with a handy storm alarm that senses drops in barometric pressure that could indicate an upcoming storm. Its silicone strap is comfortable and water-resistant, so you can wear it through sweat and rain without a problem.

If you care about your model’s style, you’ll appreciate that the Suunto Core comes in several designs. The typical black-dial model is sleek and simple, but you can also choose from orange, yellow, and green varieties.

One significant downside of this watch is its short battery life. Unlike solar military watches, you’ll need to change the battery of the Core regularly. Unfortunately, some customers report having to buy a new battery three times a year for this model. We recommend keeping a spare battery with you if you plan to bring it on your deployment.

Customers also have mixed opinions about the accuracy of the compass readings. Our model seemed to work well, but yours may be hit or miss.

The other great features of the Core, however, make it worth the unmatched price point. Outdoor Gear Lab considered this model the “most fully-featured altimeter watch” they tested, and while it came in second place for us, we would still recommend it highly.

Best Durability
Casio G-Shock GX56BB-1 Black
G-Shock GX-56BB-1
The most durable resin-case tactical watch—perfect for those who like it rough.
What we like
  • Ultra-strong resin case
  • Water-resistant, mud-resistant, and shock-resistant
  • EL backlight with afterglow
  • Mineral glass dial window
What we don’t like
  • A bit bulky

One essential component of military watches is durability. If a watch can’t stand up to heat, water, dirt, and harsh weather conditions, it won’t do any good for a soldier.

The Casio G-Shock GX56BB-1 is one of the best military watches we have found in terms of durability. This tactical watch’s water resistance and shock resistance allow it to withstand harsh conditions without damaging its internal mechanisms or cracking the screen. Triple-layered construction and quartz movement also add to its protections.

This model has a solar battery and a low-power mode, so you can trust it to work when you need it. Just make sure you keep it outside your sleeve so that it can access sunlight during the day.

Another great feature of this model is its stylish design. It utilizes a matte black strap, black dial, and a digital gold display, creating the attractive military look you would want in a tactical watch.

Some customers feel that the G-Shock GX56BB-1 watch looks bulky on the wrist, but we didn’t mind the overall size. We prefer a large case size over a case that cracks easily.

Though this watch comes with EL backlight technology, some users found the digits hard to read. We didn’t encounter this problem ourselves, but you may want to test the watch’s readability before purchasing it.

Experts call the G-Shock GX56BB-1 a “jack of all trades” due to its durability and affordable price point. If you need a reliable watch to bring into combat or a survivalist situation, you can feel confident choosing the Casio G-Shock GX56BB-1.

Best Military Standard
Marathon Watch WW194007 Tsar Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Diver's Quartz Watch Black
Marathon Watch WW194007 Tsar
Classic aesthetics and functionality come together watch that meets the MIL-SPEC.
What we like
  • Water-resistant up to 1000 feet
  • Swiss-made military issue design
  • Tritium gas tubes create an easy-to-read display
What we don’t like
  • Pricey

The Marathon Watch WW194007 Tsar is an impressive military model with a quality build. This Swiss-made watch utilizes three-jewel high-torque quartz movement to keep the hands ticking smoothly. Additionally, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal makes up the watch’s face instead of glass, so it has the level of durability you want in a military watch.

One of this watch’s coolest features is the tritium gas tubes that illuminate the face, allowing you to read the screen in any light (or lack thereof). It comes with a comfortable rubber strap, but you can also purchase a stainless-steel band for a classier look.

This watch’s unmatched water resistance—up to 1000 feet—makes it ideal for search-and-rescue missions. Even better, its battery life is about three years, and customers found the battery easy to replace when the time came.

Something military personnel need to understand about field watches is that you get what you pay for. This model is pricey—around $1,000—but it offers superior durability and quality, making it worth the money. When you purchase an excellent watch like the WW194007 Tsar, you can expect it to hold up to years of use.

Perhaps the only drawback of this watch is a relatively insignificant feature: the rubber strap is vanilla-scented. Marathon probably added the smell to mask the unpleasant rubber scent, but we honestly could do without that addition.

Otherwise, this Swiss-made watch is close to perfect, especially for divers or search-and-rescue personnel.

Best GPS (Smartwatch)
Garmin Instinct Tactical, Rugged GPS Watch Tan
Garmin Instinct Tactical
This smartwatch stands out for its accurate navigation, physical activity monitoring, and usefulness in the field.
What we like
  • Reliable navigation
  • Meets military shock-resistant and water-resistant standards
  • Heart rate and activity tracking
  • Accurate altimeter, barometer, and compass
What we don’t like
  • Not so long battery life
  • Small case size

Many modern military watches come with built-in GPS, but the Garmin Instinct Tactical offers one of the best navigation systems on the market.

This tactical watch features a range of useful tools, including activity monitors, heart rate tracking, and an altimeter, barometer, and compass. It uses multiple navigation satellite systems to provide the most consistency for its GPS tracking, and you can also connect it to your smartphone to receive text notifications.

You may expect a tactical watch of this quality to be on the higher end of your price range, but this model falls right around $200. Compared to some of the most popular models, like Apple Watches or Fitbits, you can’t beat the Instinct’s price.

Even better, the Instinct is much more durable than other smartwatches. Its fiber shell case adheres to military standards for water resistance, heat resistance, and shock resistance, so you can feel confident bringing it into combat or survivalist situations.

Though Garmin markets this model as a rugged outdoor watch, its rechargeable battery life is less than ideal. It lasts up to 14 days in smart mode, 16 hours in GPS mode, and 40 hours in battery-saver mode. If you plan to spend a few days away from electricity, try to limit your navigation use.

Though the case size looks big in pictures, some customers found the display too small to read at a glance.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a top-notch military watch with navigation, you can’t go wrong choosing this model.

Best Premium Smartwatch
Garmin fenix 6X Sapphire, Premium Multisport GPS Watch Black
Garmin Fenix 6X
The ultimate military smartwatch with dozens of navigation, fitness, and tracking features worthy of the title.
What we like
  • Reliable GPS
  • Modern-attractive design
  • Advanced training features
  • Sunlight-readable digital display
What we don’t like
  • Pricey
  • Navigation drains battery

If you’re looking for a smartwatch with all the bells and whistles, the Garmin Fenix 6X is the tactical watch for you. This model features a rugged, sophisticated design, a 1.4-inch sunlight-readable digital display, and a range of useful features.

Unlike other watches on the market, the Fenix 6X includes advanced training features, such as grade-adjusted pace guidance, to optimize your physical activity. Its heart rate monitor is also more accurate than other military watches.

The Fenix 6X uses multiple global navigation systems to enhance the accuracy of its navigation readings. As a bonus, the watch comes with thousands of pre-downloaded maps, so you may not even have to use the navigation to get around.

This model’s innovative features allow for contactless payment through Garmin Pay, offline music streaming, and smart notifications from your cell phone. These features are excellent bonuses compared to other field watches.

As with other GPS watches, using the navigation feature drains the battery. But keeping the watch in smartwatch mode gives you a solid 21 days of use between charges, and turning on the battery-saver setting will extend its life to 80 days.

Additionally, you can expect this watch to cost close to the $1,000 mark, making it pricier than many other smartwatches. But again, The Fenix 6X is a flagship watch, and the price surely matches the superior design.

Best Field Watch
Hamilton Men's H70555533 Khaki Field Stainless Steel Automatic Watch with Brown Leather Band
Hamilton Khaki Field
This watch is a classic, retro military, and one of the top-quality field watches.
What we like
  • Self-winding analog display
  • Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face
  • Stainless-steel components
What we don’t like
  • The move seems not to last more than 30 hours

Some military personnel prefer the simplicity of a field watch, and Hamilton Khaki Field is no doubt a legend that brings all the additional features you would want while maintaining a classic design.

This automatic tactical watch features a durable leather band, black dial, sapphire crystal face, and stainless-steel bezel within a sophisticated design that you can’t find in a digital watch. It also comes with a quality stainless-steel case to keep it safe while not in use. There’s no doubt about it—this tactical watch is attractive.

The Hamilton Khaki doesn’t include any special features or tools, but it doesn’t need to. It’s an all-around top-quality tactical watch, and it tells time clearly and attractively without wasting space over unnecessary features.

This model boasts water resistance up to 330 feet, making it suitable for swimming and snorkeling. While its water resistance doesn’t compare to other models, you can still feel confident that it will hold up to the shower, a storm, or light swimming.

Automatic watches rely on the movement of your wrist to wind them. Some customers reported that the Hamilton Khaki loses time—about 15 seconds a day— when not in use, which adds up. Other customers did not have this issue. Our advice is to try out the watch for a few days before deciding how well it keeps time.

Watch expert calls this model “a wonderfully crafted timepiece with Swiss quality and pure American-military usefulness,” and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. If you’re looking for a high-quality, attractive, automatic watch, the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic is one of the best around.

Best Lightweight
Luminox Men's 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch Black
Luminox EVO Navy SEAL
One of the best lightweight, easy-to-read analog watches of its kind.
What we like
  • Water resistance up to 660 feet
  • Lightweight feeling
  • Easily readable display with tritium markers
What we don’t like
  • Polyurethane band
  • Not as durable as other tactical watches

This Luminox watch features a readable design that creates an optimal combination of simplicity and quality. Its numbers are white on a contrasting black display, and it utilizes tritium markers to optimize clarity in low-light situations. It also includes Swiss quartz movement in an analog display, an embossed polyurethane band and case, and a date calendar at the 3-o’clock position.

The Luminox EVO Navy SEAL is comfortable enough to wear day and night, and because it isn’t as bulky as other models, you won’t risk catching it on clothing or cracking the face with everyday use. Customers say it keeps time almost flawlessly, which is an essential quality in a military watch.

Though the polyurethane band enhances comfort, it also cracks and breaks more readily than other materials. Thankfully, Luminox sells replacement bands for under $20, but you should expect to replace the band a few times over the years.

Some customers have also stated that this Luminox model does not hold up to intense activities as well as other tactical watches. You may need to treat it with extra care to ensure that it stays in working condition.

Overall, this Luminox model is an excellent watch for its price range—around $300—with all the features you would want in a straightforward tactical watch.

Final Verdict

The best military watches are durable, reliable, and strong, and all the models above fit the bill.

If you want an all-around excellent watch, try out the Rangeman. If you need a reliable altimeter, the Pro Trek PRW3500 will serve you well. If you want the best military watch at a high price, the Marathon Watch WW194007 Tsar is a fantastic choice.

The one you choose ultimately comes down to your personal preference and budget. You don’t have to break the bank to get an excellent tactical watch, but you should expect the highest-quality watches to be the most expensive.

Think about what qualities are most important to you in a military watch—Navigation tools? An altimeter? Water resistance?—and look for models that meet your needs within your price range. If you still aren’t sure which tactical watch is right for you, check out our buying guide to help narrow down your options.

The Ultimate Tactical Watch Buying Guide

Man holding tactical watch in military clothes
Photo by Max Shevchenko

The best military tactical watches feature the right balance of useful tools, design qualities, and durable parts. However, what you consider to be the best watch may look completely different from your comrades’ choices.

Check out our ultimate tactical watch buying guide to determine what qualities make up the best tactical watch for you.

Must-Haves for Military Watches

Military-grade watches stand out from traditional ones in several ways. The best tactical watches have these qualities:

  • Easy to read: Men and women in the military need to read their watches quickly and accurately. The best tactical watches on the market feature a bright, clear, legible display that takes no more than a second to read.
  • Durable: Being in the military means you often have to navigate harsh conditions. Military watches need to be durable enough to withstand the combat, inclement weather, and rough impacts of everyday military life. Many tactical watches utilize a sapphire crystal face because the material is known for its durability.
  • Water resistance: Military personnel never know when they will have to endure pouring rain, walk through a marsh, or swim across a lake, and taking off their watch is probably the last thing on their minds. Tactical watches should be water-resistant up to at least 100 feet to meet military-grade standards.
  • Shock-resistant interface: Military watches also need to be shock-resistant. One shock could ruin a traditional watch’s mechanisms, so tactical watches often have particular features that help them withstand sudden movements and impacts.

If a watch does not meet these four standards, it is probably not suitable for military use.

Categorize Tactical Watches Based on Your Needs/Preferences


An analog watch has a traditional clock face display rather than a digital one, and these watches utilize internal mechanisms to indicate time rather than electronic structures. Analog military watches are classy and often more reliable than digital ones because their design is backed by over a century of history and innovation.


As opposed to analog, digital watches utilize electronic structures, such as liquid crystal or LED, to display the time in a numerical format. Some military personnel prefer to wear a digital watch because to show the time in 24-hour military format. These watches are also more modern than analog ones and often come with advanced features.


Sports watches are durable, lightweight watches that athletes often wear during sporting events. Their water resistance makes them ideal for wet conditions and sweat.

These watches meet many of the same qualifications as military watches, and a few of the models above fall into the sports watch category.


Compass watches include a fully functional compass inside a watch interface. Though most military training academies do not allow compass watches during training, you can bring these models along once you graduate.


GPS watches utilize advanced global navigation systems to provide directions and identify your coordinates. These models have become more prevalent in recent years as GPS systems continue to increase in availability.

While military officers 30 years ago wouldn’t have dreamed of having a navigation system built into their watches, these models are now relatively standard in the armed forces.


Smartwatches include a wide range of innovative features, such as Bluetooth compatibility, smartphone notifications, music streaming services, messaging, calling, and more. Though all these features are not necessary for military watches, they can make your life a lot easier.

Band Materials

Tactical watches can come with a range of band materials. Some of the most common tactical watch bands include:

  • Nylon: You can’t go wrong with a nylon band. Nylon is durable, breathable, comfortable, and has excellent water resistance. Though it may not be as classy or stylish as other materials, it is undoubtedly one of the most practical.
  • Polyurethane Rubber: Polyurethane rubber is one of the best band materials for swimmers and divers, as it offers top-quality water resistance. It is also durable and flexible, so you don’t have to worry about cracking or tearing it during regular use.
  • Silicone: Silicone is more temperature-resistant than other materials, but it has a low tensile strength. You should be careful about stretching silicone watch bands to prevent them from tearing.
  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel bands are timeless, classy, and elegant. Watches with these bands tend to be pricier than those with rubber or nylon ones, but they offer unmatched quality and durability. And you may not expect it, but stainless steel does carry some water resistance, so you can wear these bands while swimming and diving.

Many watch brands offer interchangeable bands for their models, so you may want to purchase a few different options to customize your watch.