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If your line of work or hobby finds you in harsh environments, it’s imperative that you have the best tactical watch. That’s why we’re going to be looking at 10 excellent entries that are sure to fit your needs.
Whether you’re camping or jumping out of a plane, we have a watch just for you. Each one is built to serve a variety of purposes, and our reviews will help point you to the right one. Before we get started, we wanted to share a couple of our top picks.
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Out of all the fantastic entries we looked at, SUUNTO’s Core impressed us the most. It was easily the best overall in terms of quality and price. It’s packed with useful features and is highly-versatile in its operation.
One of the most-used watches of the Navy SEALs, Luminox’s Recon Pointman is built like a tank. This hefty timepiece was made for durability. It can withstand great underwater depths and boasts incredible visibility.
Let’s take a more detailed look at our favorite picks, as well as the rest of the entries. We’re sure there’s a model that is made for your particular needs. We reviewed some really pricey units, but also some budget-friendly ones. We wanted to ensure that everyone has a chance to enjoy one of these unique watches.
The SUUNTO Core is packed with features and is expertly-crafted. It sports a fully-digital display that hosts a bevy of functions that are sure to keep you well-informed. We like that its battery is user-accessible and can be changed when needed. There’s even a low-battery indicator so you’re always aware of this.
Watches in general can range from light to heavy. We’re pleased to say that SUUNTO’s Core is exceptionally lightweight. This makes it a great watch to wear year-round. The strap is very comfortable and, frankly, you hardly notice it’s there.
The face of the Core is quite large. Some users may find this to impede certain wrist movements, but we appreciate the size. The easier it is to read information, the better. Thankfully, the rotating aluminum bezel is smooth and doesn’t dig into your skin.
The glass face is pretty durable, but it certainly can get scratched if you’re not careful. Fortunately, the high-grade material hides any imperfections rather well.
Buttons around the watch are positioned like any other. From here, you can adjust the time and its many other settings. Each one is textured to provide you with great travel and feedback. Like the rest of the Core, these feel solid and responsive.
The only negative mainly lies in the bezel. Being aluminum, the coating wears off quickly if you’re not careful. This is understandable, though, as SUUNTO wanted to keep the Core as light as possible.
Simply tapping the Core’s buttons makes changes and accesses its many features. Some of this gets a little tedious from time to time, but the sheer number of tools makes up for it a bit.
If Navy SEALs use it, you know it has to be great. Heck, even USAF Nighthawk Stealth pilots wear Luminox’s Recon Pointman – and for good reason. These are some of the toughest, most reliable tactical watches for your money.
No matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, the Pointman is the companion you want to have with you. One of its many impressive features is that it glows in the dark. That may sound like an easy feat, but it works regardless of whether it’s been exposed to sunlight.
Remember those watches and toys you had as a kid that needed to be under a source of light before they could glow? Not so with the Pointman. It’s equipped with special glass capsules that allow the glow feature to work for 25 years straight if necessary.
The reinforced carbon casing ensures you’ve got a watch that’s going to last and can take a beating. If you have to be underwater, your Pointman can go to depths of 660 feet. Even better, it’s rated for scuba diving, marine activity, and other fields that require deep submersion.
A pull-out dial makes it easy to adjust the time. And since it automatically illuminates in darkness, you don’t have to blindly feel for a button. If your job calls for marine activity of any kind, this is definitely the watch you want. The Pointman’s water-resistant construction means it’ll stay protected.
One look at the SureFire 2211 tells you that you’ve got a whole different kind of animal on your hands. It’s easily one of the biggest watches we reviewed. Why? Because it’s equipped with a 300-lumen MaxVision Beam flashlight.
If that sounds like a lot of light, you’re right. The good news is that you can select lower settings if you don’t need such blinding radiance. The 2211’s lumens are adjustable between 15 and 60, as well.
This beefy watch lets you choose between a SureFire or Luminox timepiece. The latter sees quite the hefty hike in price, but adds Swiss Quartz movement. The former is basic Quartz.
Both are rechargeable via a micro-USB adapter. A built-in gauge keeps you alerted to when it’s time to plug the watch in for charging.
It’s important to note that there is quite the difference in weight depending on which model you go with. SureFire’s weighs the most, clocking in at 7.7 ounces. Luminox’s version reduces this considerably, weighing just 4 ounces. That being said, both are equally bulky due to the built-in flashlight.
All things considered, if your job requires you to work in the cover of night, the 2211 is right up your alley. It’s a ‘surefire’ way to shed some light on any situation.
Pushing buttons on either side of the watch activates the flashlight. If you often find yourself in need of illumination, the 2211 was built with you in mind.
Casio’s G-Shock Rangeman is quite unique. This hefty watch is jam-packed with features and cool technology. But our favorite part is its solar capabilities. That’s right, built right into the face of this watch is a tiny solar cell that keeps your battery charged up.
Impressively, the Rangeman can stay powered for up to 23 months without needing light. There’s a small indicator on the face that tells you how much battery is left.
The LCD face can perform several different functions and display them accordingly. If you’re far from home or base and need help, there’s a built-in compass to give you some direction.
With the barometer, thermometer, and altimeter, you’ll be able to check pressure and weather conditions. There are plenty of alarms and atomic time, as well. You get a built-in calendar and full date display, too.
The Rangeman is another tactical watch that is water-resistant and can be used extensively under water. You can take your watch with you to depths of up to 660 feet without fear of damage.
Aesthetically, the Rangeman is a beast. It’s quite bulky, giving it lots of protection. The buttons are textured nicely for easy operation. We like the wrist band Casio used here. It’s large, yet comfortable and easy to use.
With its onboard memory, the Rangeman lets you store up to 40 records, like alarms, dates, temperature information, and more. The buttons for programming feel great and are easy to use.
The built-in lighting lets you see the face in dark environments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay lit for very long.
Garmin’s Bravo is one of the pricier watches we reviewed. But it’s also one of the more sophisticated. Its all-digital display is a stunning work of craftsmanship. It shows you each of its robust features in crystal-clear clarity.
The menu system Garmin used here is both attractive and intuitive. And while the Bravo can display colors, it uses them sparingly and only when necessary. This helps to break up the menu for better readability.
The Bravo has many of the same functions as a smart watch. It’s Bluetooth-ready; it can play music; it has built-in GPS navigation, and more. If you want to count your steps, it does that, too. You can check the weather in great detail, and it even has an altimeter.
The Bravo comes with its own proprietary charger. You can expect to get around 7 to 10 days of use from a single charge, depending on the frequency of features used. If you use it solely as a watch, you’ll get about 3 weeks.
This unit is also water-resistant, allowing you to take it to depths of up to 328 feet. This is quite impressive for such a technologically-advanced watch. Speaking of which, Garmin’s Bravo is also night vision-friendly.
If your field requires you to wear night goggles often, this is definitely the watch you want. The Bravo’s display shows up without any distortion or loss in clarity.
Garmin gives you the option to choose either a nylon strap or a silicone wristband. Both are quite tough, but if you’re looking for durability, go with the nylon version. It’s a bit more expensive, but you’re guaranteed greater usage.
Garmin made the Bravo very user-friendly. Its menu is a cinch to navigate and its features are highly-accessible. And with its wireless connectivity, you can easily update and utilize its many options.
If you want a Garmin tactical watch but don’t want to break the bank, the Instinct is a great alternative. It doesn’t have quite the robust features as the Bravo, but there’s still plenty to appreciate.
The Instinct’s main draw is its rugged build-quality. It’s made to withstand tough environments thanks to its premium components. Need to go underwater? No problem there; the Instinct can be submerged in depths of up to 328 feet.
It’s also shock-resistant, giving you greater durability in your rigorous day-to-day activities. If your line of work calls you to be outdoors, the Instinct was made with you in mind. It’s equipped with 3 different types of navigation systems to help track your location.
If you get lost and need to find your way back, Garmin’s TracBack system will point you in the right direction. This handy feature traces your steps and creates a path back using the very way you came in. Couple this with the built-in digital compass and altimeter, and you’ll be on your way to a safe return.
A heart and activity monitor helps to ensure you stay within proper rates so you don’t overexert your body. Other useful features include night vision mode, wireless connectivity, and ultra-tough construction.
There’s a lot to work with here, and Garmin makes it a breeze. The menu navigation functions much like the Bravo. There’s no color on the Instinct, but it’s still very easy to read and understand.
Garmin makes the list again, this time with the Charlie edition of their Tactix line. This is another very rugged watch that is built to stand up to rigorous use. The full-color display provides you with more detailed data than similar models.
The Charlie is the perfect companion for high-altitude missions. It’s equipped with the Jumpmaster tool, allowing you to switch between HALO, HAHO, and static jumps. This handy feature shows you important information, like your rate of speed when descending and altitude level.
GPS and GLONASS are available, with maps at the ready to provide you with optimal navigation. You can also monitor your heart rate and other vitals. There’s an in-depth training program, too. This gives you guidance to ensure you’re getting the best exercise regimen for the best results.
Wireless connectivity lets you seamlessly sync your smart device to the Charlie. Update maps, make phone calls, read text messages, and more. You’re sure to stay connected in every way possible.
Garmin’s Charlie is one solid watch. For as robust as it is, it’s not heavy at all. It rests comfortable over your wrist thanks to its soft yet durable band. Buttons and controls are easy to use and feel very sturdy.
We wish the resolution was higher, as some images can appear a bit fuzzy. Aside from that one minor gripe, the Charlie is an excellent tactical watch. It may be better suited to a specific market, but it’s great at what it does.
Be prepared to spend some money, though. It’s one of the more expensive entries we reviewed. But it’s also chock-full of useful tools and features that are hard to come by.
Garmin’s menu system is easy to manage. And although it is quite robust, it’s made to be very user-friendly. Some images suffer from lower resolution, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker.
If some of the other entries’ features and prices intimidate you, check out the Timex Command. This digital watch scales back all the bells and whistles to deliver an east-to-learn unit that’s plenty capable.
Maps, GPS, Wi-Fi, and things of that nature are gone. But it’s also much easier for those who are just starting out and want a straightforward tactical watch. The Command is equipped with hydration reminders and a light-up face.
Its casing is stainless steel and the entire unit is water-resistant. It can be taken to depths of up to 330 feet under water. The wrist strap is made of silicone and feels quite nice. The watch weighs just 2.6 ounces, helping to add to the overall comfort.
On top of displaying time and date, the Command has chronograph functions, too. You can set alarms and timers with a combination of tones and vibrations, to boot.
Although it’s limited in its functionality, the Command makes the perfect watch for those wanting a solid timepiece. It has handy features for those just wanting the basics, with a price that’s much more manageable.
Casio offers a less feature-rich version of the G-Shock Rangeman with the GA-700UC. We really like the face on this one. It sports both analog and digital time with high readability. There’s also a super illuminator with Afterglow for greater visibility.
The GA-700UC has more daily alarms than most similar models, offering a total of 5. As its name suggests, it is shock-resistant. You also can take it under water to depths of up to 330 feet.
Other handy features include world time with 31 time zones across 48 different cities. You can see time in 12-hour or military format. A handy built-in calendar helps you keep track of appointments and other important reminders.
The GA-700UC’s resin band is durable yet comfortable. This helps keep the weight down to a paltry 2.4 ounces. We found that the large face wasn’t so big that it bothered our wrist. It’s a very comfortable watch to wear, and best of all, it’s very user-friendly.
The GA-700UC’s buttons are nicely textured, providing great travel and feedback. This watch is very well-constructed, giving it a solid and durable feel that you’ll be pleased with.
Are you on a tight budget? Would you like to have a watch that’s affordable but still has some tactical benefits? Then you should definitely check out SMAEL’s Sports Military. Its dual digital and analog display shows time in either standard or military format.
It’s also water-resistant. To help keep costs low, it can’t be submerged to quite the same depths as other entries. But it’s still capable of around 170 feet.
Other features include a backlight and hands that are luminous for greater visibility. Aside from the time, the date is displayed, too. There are two alarms and a stopwatch feature for good measure.
The construction of SMAEL’s military watch is nowhere near the quality of other entries. But this is certainly understandable. This allowed them to deliver a budget-friendly option for those who don’t want to pay for a premium model.
Features are limited, but that’s what makes it so easy to use. You get plenty of information displayed on the face to keep you in the know. The lights work really well, too, for such an inexpensive watch.
Obviously, tactical watches are going to tell you the time. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We will show you everything you need to know before you purchase a tactical watch.
First of all, you don’t need to be working in security or military to need a tactical watch. You will learn that tactical watches are great for hikers, runners, climbers, nature lovers, and everyone else who wants a useful watch.
Tactical watches come with plenty of features that the other watches can only dream about. Plenty of tactical watches come with a compass, GPS, atomic timekeeping, shock resistance, backlights, and plenty more.
If you are serious about survival, then a tactical watch should be considered a survival tool. Some of the high-end models come with sensors that respond to your environment. The best tactical watches come with an included barometer (measures changes in atmospheric pressure), altimeter (measures the altitude), and a thermometer (measures the temperature.) But, that’s not all! You can find tactical watches that inform you of incoming weather changes like storms, snow, and heavy wind.
Since tactical watches are created for security personnel, soldiers, and people who enjoy extreme sports, it is only natural to expect a couple of features from them.
You don’t need to be on the extreme side of life to enjoy tactical watches. But, you should know a couple of important features that you need to consider.
Tactical watches are durable, but you need to make sure that they continue to operate without a hitch. If you want to ensure that your new watch will last you for a long time, then take care of it.
You should often clean your tactical watch. We tend to sweat while wearing a watch, and that leads to grime accumulating. Look at all of the nooks and crannies of your watch, and use something small to clean them. Make a habit out of it, and your watch will last you a long time.
Even if your watch is water-resistant, don’t dunk it in water to clean it. Just because a watch claims to have 33ft (10 meters) of diving capability it doesn’t mean that you can keep it submerged in the water.
There will come a time when you will have to repair your tactical watch. Don’t take it to anyone besides a certified dealer. They are experts, and they will repair your watch better than a random repairman.
You have noticed that all of the tactical watches inform you of their water-resistant capabilities by informing you of their diving capability. But, what does it mean?
Is it possible to dive with a watch that claims to be water-resistant up to 98ft (29,9 meters)? No, and the reason is water pressure. If your tactical watch isn’t meant for diving, then don’t dive with it. The moment you hit the water, the pressure immediately shifts. The pressure shift forces the watch to go above its water resistance level, which could cause the water to pour inside.
The rule is simple – if you want to dive with a watch around your wrist, then a diving tactical wristwatch could be what you need.
While plenty of watches can work fine while being wet, the water isn’t a problem during showers. The real problems are shampoo and soap. They are highly corrosive, and they will damage your watch.
If you accidentally splash some soap on your tactical watch, then clean it as fast as possible. Plenty of people have never had problems with showering with a watch on. But, our advice is to take your tactical watch off during a shower.