Best Overall: Suunto Core
The Suunto Core is the best tactical watch you can get for the price. It has all the features you could ever need and is more than durable (5 years of hard use and more). You’ll find that it fits almost all wrist sizes and that the battery is easily removed if it should die on you. The large face makes it super easy to read and with the barometer and storm alerts you will be able to explore the great outdoors with more confidence. If terrain and weather won’t stop you from having a good time, then the Suunto Core is your go to watch that will take a licking and be with you every step of your journey.
Longest Battery Life: Casio G-Shock Sport Watch
No matter which Casio tactical watch you pick, you are sure to get a great, long lasting watch. The battery life of the Casio G-Shock Sport is long (up to 5 years) and you’ll find yourself changing it fewer times than any other watch. Plus, if you do need to switch out the battery, doing so won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Simply buy the battery from any box store and unscrew the back to replace it.
- Easy to read digital facing
- Water resistant
- Lightweight and Not bulky on the wrist
- Resin band
Budget Pick: Armitron Sport 40/8254BLK
For a more than reasonable price the Amitron offers many of the features of the more expensive options on our list. If you are looking for something reliable that doesn’t break the bank, this Armitron is the way to go.
- Comfortable and durable
- Allows you to set five alarms
- Water resistant
- Comes with the dual time display
How We Picked
If you’re a person who works outdoors, you need more than just a standard watch. You need one that can withstand all the elements whether it is rain, wind, sand, or surf. You want one that is rugged and will be able to be used in any altitude and any time of the day or night. You want a tactical watch that can withstand the bumps and bangs of your job.
You see standard watches often times get scratched up and often break under rigorous pressure. But when you’re out on the job you want one that’s going to be durable and dependable. You want a tactical watch that is comfortable as well as accurate.
But at the same time, finding a tactical watch can be a pain. With so many on the market today and all the different features that come with them, picking the right one to suit your needs takes time. That is why we have developed a list of the 10 best tactical watches that are great for anyone who is an outdoor enthusiast or for anyone that has a job that isn’t behind a desk all day long.
#1 Armitron Sport 40/8254BLK
Armitron offers you a rugged tactical watch that is designed to be clear and easy to read in any lighting. You’ll find that the buttons are very responsive even with the lightest touch. You’ll also notice that the size of this tactical watch is relatively large in comparison to the competition.
The Armitron tactical watch is water resistant up to 330 feet and made with a stainless steel timepiece giving it the sturdiness that anybody would strongly want out of a tactical watch. But just because it is made from more durable materials does not mean that it is excessively heavy (only 4.80 Ounces). On the contrary, you will find that the Armitron is very comfortable to wear. Furthermore, the digital clock is illuminated with an EL backlight, which is super sharp to read.
Like many other tactical watches, the Armitron comes with a stopwatch, a timer, and allows you to set five separate alarms. You’ll also notice that you can set a second time zone. It comes with a compass bezel. When it comes to the strap, the Armitron utilizes a comfortable resin band that contorts to your wrist and is quite thick to ensure reliable long term use.
The Armitron is a decent tactical watch overall. While a few users have noted that the watch is difficult to read in direct sunlight, that’s the case for most digital watches. Simply turn away from the source of light to get a clear reading. So, if you are looking for a strong durable watch, the Armitron should be a perfect fit.
- Comfortable and durable
- Allows you to set five alarms
- Water resistant
- Comes with the dual time display
#2 Palada Men’s Digital Sports
Are you currently looking for a watch that holds up to hard use and even has a battery life of a year and a half? Then, at the very least, you’ll want to check out the Palada tactical sports watch. The Palada is a digital watch that is easy to read even in direct sunlight and if using at night, the back light is strong enough for you to see the entire face without any problems. The numbers on the face of the watch are big which allows you to see them clearly even if you have poor eyesight.
You’ll notice that the Palada is very similar to Suunto Core, but fortunately without the hefty price. Although it does not show the altitude or the barometric pressure that the Suunto Core tactical watch provides, you’ll find that this watch comes with an alarm as well as a stopwatch. The Palada shows a compass bezel, however it is just for show and has no practical use.
When it comes to being waterproof, the Palada can withstand 50 meters according to the manufacturer, though a few reviews from users of the watch have reported it going deeper without any problems. And if for whatever reason the watch does fog up, setting it out in the sun to give it time for the moisture to evaporate will usually do the trick. We recommend to remove this watch before applying sunscreen or bug spray as the chemicals have a tendency to cause spots to appear on the watch.
The Palada is a great tactical watch for the price. It has the same look and feel as the name brand Suunto Core, and if you have any issues with it whatsoever the company offers great customer support.
- Water resistant
- Displays military and standard time
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Long battery life will
- Very bright light
#3 Suunto Core
If you’re looking for a watch that provides you with more than just the basic clock and date, you may want to check out the Suunto Core. The Suunto Core is a rugged and dependable tactical watch that can take any abuse you throw at it and will last for years. You will also find that this tactical watch is more than just stylish, as it fits comfortably around the wrist and is solid as well as lightweight (2.26 ounces). According to the manufacturer it will keep on working in temperatures down to -20° C/-5° F and up to +60° C/+140° F.
You’ll notice that the Suunto comes with a built-in thermometer, allowing you to accurately track the temperature outside. However, keep in mind that if you really want 100% accurate outside temperature you should take the watch off your wrist.
Now for those who go out hiking, you’ll find that this tactical watch does have a working compass, as well as a barometer that allows you to accurately track the weather so you don’t get stuck in a storm. Another great feature about the Suunto is that it will track your vertical movement and it will keep track of your climbing sessions.
Here is an excellent review by PreparedAirman, who wore this watch for 5 years.
If you’re looking for a tactical watch that has plenty of extra perks, then you should check out the Suunto Core. The only issue that you may come across is that the width of the watch is rather wide, so that is just something to be aware of. Other than that Suunto is a brand with outstanding reputation, so you can’t really go wrong here.
#4 Casio G-Shock Military Watch
Looking for the ultimate tough watch? Then you might want to check out Casio’s military tactical watch. The Casio is built to last to take all the bumps, bangs and bruises that you can throw it thanks to the Gravitational Shock that is designed to sustain being dropped in free fall over a hard surface from a height of ten meters. The watch is also very comfortable and not nearly as heavy (2.08 Ounces) as what you would think when you first look at it.
Water resistant up to ~656 feet (200 meters), the Casio Military is armed with a CR1220 battery with a life of ten years and features both digital and analog movement.
This Casio also has a blackout feature that keeps light to a minimum giving you a sort of ‘stealth mode’ watch. One thing to note however is the face of the watch is reflective when direct light is shining on it (like most digital watches). So if you do use this Casio tactical watch for military operations you may have to get a cover for it. If you are worried about the blackout design of the watch being difficult to read, don’t worry, the hands on the watch are white and clearly seen. Also, when you are using the back light you’ll notice that it doesn’t quite hit the hands on the face but still gives you enough light to see the time.
The Casio is a great tactical watch at a reasonable price. So if you’re looking for something strong and durable that you can bang around and not have to worry about it breaking then this is the watch for you. Plus, it has a countdown timer, stopwatch and is water resistant.
- Rugged and Dependable
- G shock technology
- Comes with the calendar that is displayed on the face
- Perfect for any outdoor activity
- Long battery life
#5 Timex Expedition
If the style of a watch is important to you, then this Timex might be something for you. It has a very appealing retro style that dates back to the 1930s. You’ll find that the nylon band fits nicely around your wrist and doesn’t chafe like some of the other watch bands. This is especially nice for those who like to wear their watches 24/7.
You’ll notice that this particular Timex isn’t nearly as loud as some of the other watches from this brand. Many people have had issues with the sound of ticking disturbing their sleep, but with this stylish Timex you will not have that problem, it is super quiet. As for the illumination of this Timex you will find that it is very bright, but not obnoxiously bright..
One issue that you may come across when it comes to the back light is that it is activated by pushing down on the crown. Now you may accidentally turn on the light due to wrist movements that hit this button so just be aware of what you are doing and turn off the light as quickly as possible when you don’t need it, that way you can save battery life.
You also need to be aware that the Timex is not made like a standard watch. You will find that instead of screws in the back that hold the watch together it is mounted as a whole and the face is screwed onto the base. The design of the watch does make it difficult to replace the battery. If you have a Fossil watch, then you will understand better how to switch out the battery for this Timex, or you can go to a jeweler to have the battery switched out for you.
While up for debate, we think that this is overall the best looking watch on our list. You could wear to pretty much any event and it should fit to pretty much any wardrobe. If you are satisfied with features and want something stylish, the Timex is definitely a good choice.
- Dependable and Durable
- Classic design
- Water resistant
- Offers a chronographic measurement of up to 30 minutes
#6 Casio G-Shock Sport Watch
The Casio G-Shock tactical watch will not only look stylish on your wrist, but it comes with some pretty amazing features. You’ll find that the digital face is easy to read no matter if you use military or standard time. The light shines brightly giving you kind of a mini flashlight if you need it. But what is truly amazing about this Casio is the amount of abuse this watch can handle.
You’ll find that the Casio will last a very long time. There are even some reviews that claim that their watches have lasted 20 years or more with a battery change every five years. Also, you’ll notice that the crystal facing doesn’t scratch easily, and the band fits snug against the wrist without chafing.
The Casio is water resistant up to up to ~656 feet (200 meters).
One of the complaints that you may experience is that the buttons are a bit small. Of course, this issue is more directed at those with larger fingers, but for the average person, you’ll have no issues with adjusting the watch or using the settings. Also, for those with larger wrists, you may need to switch out the band because the Casio does have a fairly small band. Other than that there is no doubt that the Casio will be your go to watch for all your outdoor adventures.
Like all tactical watches, you’ll notice that this particular Casio comes with a stopwatch, and also features a countdown timer. It is very comfortable and very affordable. Plus, it comes with a pre-programmed calendar so you don’t ever have to wonder what day of the week or month it is.
Great Review by TechnologyMafia:
Casio G-Shock are very popular for a reason. They last forever, offer all the essential features you might want and still come with a relatively fair price tag. This could be the watch you’ll wear for the next 20 years and keeping that in mind, it’s almost a steal.
- Easy to read digital facing
- Water resistant
- Lightweight and Not bulky on the wrist
- Resin band
#7 cnBro Digital Watch
The cnBro tactical watch is sleek and easy to use. This watch offers all the bells and whistles you would expect from a tactical watch without the bulkiness or added weight. Many people have found that this watch gives them the feeling that they aren’t actually wearing a watch and you’ll notice that it contours to your wrist.
cnBro offers you a calendar that displays the day as well as a functional compass. When it comes to lighting, you’ll have no issues with the LED back light that is bright enough for you to see the face without having to squinting your eyes. The cnBro is a minimalist tactical watch that has a long battery life, as long as you don’t overuse the back light.
If you are a big swimmer, you may want to check out a different watch as this one may say it is waterproof, but some reviewers have noticed the face fogs up quickly. Also if you’re planning on using this around water, you may not want to press any buttons until after you have dried it off. Some people have noticed that after it gets wet, the buttons pull water into the face which ruins the face. But as long as you dry it off after you leave the water, it will continue to work.
Considering the price, the cnBro is a decent tactical watch. The face doesn’t scratch easily which is great for those extracurricular activities outdoors. It won’t last as long as a Casio or a Suunto, but it also won’t cost you as much.
- Easy to read
- Well lit with LED backlight
- Comes with a digital compass
#8 Armitron Sport 40/8284BLK
Looking for a tactical watch that won’t break the bank? Then you might like the second Armitron on our list. This tactical watch is rugged and lightweight and can be used all day every day. You’ll notice that the Armitron Sport has a large band that will fit any size wrist. The metal links of the band are durable and sturdy and fitted together tight enough to where you won’t pinch your hair. Plus, the face of the watch is bigger than other watch faces ensuring you a clear view of the time, date, and although the watch does show a compass, it is ineffective and used for decoration.
Now when it comes to using this tactical watch, it is super easy to set the time, and press the buttons. Often times other tactical watches have small buttons that users with large fingers have issues with pressing but with the Armitron, you won’t have this issue no matter how big or small your fingers are.
The battery life will last a really long time and you’ll notice that the battery is easy to change out thanks to the watch being designed with screws in the back. That way you don’t have to take it to a jeweler to get the battery switched out.
As for the lighting, you’ll find that the button is easy to press and the light itself is bright. Everything you could need from a watch is provided with this Armitron Sport tactical watch. The only issue you may face is the buttons being too sensitive and are easily pressed.
The watch is water resistant and can sustain up to 330 ft. of depth. So if you take it diving, or just swim with it, the Armitron won’t get foggy or damaged by the water. It is wise though to wash it off after playing in the ocean as salt water does have a tendency to damage the band.
For the price, the Armitron is a great watch to own for taking outdoors or everyday use. Again, for this price tag you can’t expect a Suunto/Casio but it will also hurt much less in case you actually manage to break it.
- Reliable and sturdy
- Reasonably priced
- Digital face makes it easier to read
- Bright when backlight is on
#9 Casio GA-110TS
Casio brings you a tactical shock resistant watch that displays both digitally and analogical. The hands on the watch are clearly marked ensuring you can read it with ease, and the digital date and day are displayed. Like the other Casio watch on this list, the GA offers you an array of features. You’ll find that the GA has the standard stopwatch feature, as well as a countdown timer. Plus, it can handle your diving expeditions within ~660 feet, and comes with a timer and an alarm.
The back light shines brightly giving you a clear view of the hands to tell the time. However, you won’t really be able to see the date or day digital displayed when the back light is on as the light floods out these features. When you press the light, it only stays on briefly even if your finger is still pressing it down. This is to help save battery life and is pretty effective. Some reviewers have noted that this can be a bit of a pain, but at least you’ll still be able to see the hands on the face.
The Casio GA is a great sport watch that you can beat around and abuse without worrying about it getting scratched or breaking. Next to the Suunto watch on our list, Casio is definitely one of the best most well known and popular watch brand and has been for decades.
The Yihou will give you everything you want from a tactical watch and then some. You’ll find that the Yihou is very durable and rugged, which allows you to wear it all day, every day and it should still look brand new months down the road.
The features that Yihou offers you are simple. You’ll get the standard analog style face along with a digital display of the date, day, and even military time. This watch also features a stop watch, and an alarm.
You’ll find that the plastic band doesn’t chafe and is smooth against the skin. You do however have to wear it a few times for it to mold to your wrist, but other than that, it’s a great band that won’t fall off or crack after a few uses. Plus, if you ever have to change the battery, you can access it easily by removing the screws instead of taking it to a jeweler and charged extra.
Now, when it comes to the lighting, you’ll find that the Yihou displays a bright light that can flush out the digital features on the face. But, you’ll still be able to get a clear view of the hands so you can see the time.
All in all, this another great watch and an absolute bargain for the low price. Other than that the Yihou certainly could turn some heads and we really like the looks.
- Easy access to battery
- Comes in multiple colors
- Displays day, and date
Buying Guide for the best Tactical Watch
Before you go out and purchase that new tactical watch, you may want to consider a few things as not all watches are created equal. Some tactical watches offer you more robust features, while others only provide basic usage. Here are a few things you should look at before throwing money down on your new watch.
The first thing you should look at when buying a tactical watch is its features. There are many watches out there that will give you lots of perks and some that are very basic. But if you’re a huge outdoor enthusiast, then you will need your watch to provide you with several features that include a compass, barometer, altimeter and water resistance. These features often times don’t really affect the price of the watch. You can find tactical watches with all these features for around $50.
But let’s say you aren’t into the great outdoors and just need something that will take a beating. Well, then you may not care about the other features, but instead look for a tactical watch that allows you to set timers, or an alarm. Plus you might find that working outdoors, a digital watch is too hard to see. With these features in mind though, you’ll be sure to find the perfect watch to suit your individual tastes and requirements.
Another thing that you need to look for is weight. Tactical watches can sometimes be bulky and add extra weight to your wrists that could result in carpal tunnel syndrome. Luckily though, there are several watches on the list above that are strong, durable, and incredibly lightweight.
The type of material used for your watch can make or break you, and that is literal. Some bands have links in them that can oftentimes pinch the skin or hair on your arm causing you to hurt yourself. And other times, you may find that the plastic band around your wrist chafes when it gets wet. The best kind of material you should look for is a tactical watch with a resin band. It may look like plastic, but it is in fact far more durable, and it won’t chafe, pinch or break as easily as a standard plastic band would do.
When it comes to the great outdoors, the last thing you want is to get lost. That is why there is the option to get a tactical watch that has a compass on it. Sometimes the compasses are digital and require you to adjust them and other times, you’ll see a watch that appears to have a compass on it, but it is not functional and only used as eye candy. So if you are looking for a tactical watch with a compass, be sure that it actually works.
Digital vs. Analog
There are some tactical watches that provide you with both types of displays on the same face. Often the date and day will be digital while the clock has hands. Now, it’s important to note that digital watches do have a few more perks than standard analog watches. For instance, you’ll find that a digital tactical watch is more likely to have the barometer and altimeter than a standard watch.
Plus, with a digital watch, you’ll notice that the backlight is far brighter and clearer than what you’d get from a standard watch. So before you buy your next watch, you’ll need to really look at these features. There are a few that are dual and allow you to see the hands and the time in digital form. But those often are more expensive.
Sound and Alarms
Next, you may want to take heed when it comes to the sound of the watch. There are some watches, like those from Timex that have the distinct ticking sound from the second hand running. This sound can be really loud and can cause irritation when trying to sleep. But, if you get a digital tactical watch, the sound level will not be a problem at all.
Also, you will need to find a watch that has a very distinct sound level if it has an alarm. You’ll be surprised by some tactical watches that offer you different sound levels and tones for different alarms that you set. Plus, they may even have a vibration for the alarm, which can be especially useful when you don’t want to draw attention (from game animals while hunting for instance). So, when it comes to getting a watch with an alarm, you’ll want to do a bit of research on the sound level before purchasing it.
Now, when it comes to the alarms, some tactical watches allow you to set multiple alarms. Plus, they come with stop watches or even countdown timers that allow you to keep track of your workouts or hiking trips.
Tactical watches are watches that you should be able to use under any situation and circumstance. This obviously includes weather related situations and activities that involve water and moisture. You’ll be surprised at how many tactical watches aren’t water proof or even water resistant. There are some that will even get damaged at the first drop of rain.
Of course, if you are looking for a reliable and sturdy watch that will take a licking, you want one that can handle water too. After all, you don’t know what the weather will do, and the last thing you want is for your watch to fog up or even die because it couldn’t handle the moisture.
Now if you’re big on enjoy snorkeling or even free diving, you’re going to have to pay attention to the depth the watch can go. Generally speaking, here is how much water you can expect your watch to handle according to the following water resistance rankings:
- 33 Feet: the watch is suitable for wearing while outside raining or doing dishes at home, but should not be used for swimming or total water immersion.
- 100 Feet: the watch can be used for showering and quick immersions in water.
- 164 Feet: the watch is good for all of the above, but you’re taking a risk if you’re using it for swimming. If you take a quick dip in the pool or a lake, you should be okay.
- 328 Feet: the watch should not be used for scuba diving, but can still be used for swimming and water sports.
- 656 Feet: a watch with this kind of water resistance means that it can be safely used for scuba diving expeditions. Such a watch will need to be installed with a sapphire crystal or a similar material.
When it comes to the battery, you want one that will last. You don’t want to have to change it every other month or even once a year. Most tactical watches have a substantial battery life and can last years without having to change them out. Watches made by Casio can last for years with everyday wear and tear. But the one thing that will drain the battery fast is the lighting feature. So be sure that when you get your watch, the battery doesn’t drain quickly due to the back light.
Tactical watches come in a wide array of styles. You’re sure to find a watch that suits your individual style be it rough and rugged with a bulky face to a more sleek design that reflects the 1930s. No matter what your style may be, you are sure to find the perfect tactical watch without losing the features that you want.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to throw a lot of money for a watch that has all the bells and whistles that you want. You’ll find that a decent tactical watch isn’t all that expensive and that you can easily find one for any budget. There are some that are super cheap that will cost around $20 to ones that go up into the hundreds. But those in the higher price range may actually not be as reliable as the cheaper versions. So, just be certain that before you fall in love with a particular watch that it is in your price range. And if it’s not, you are sure to find the same style at a cheaper price.
Also, when it comes to prices, you might notice that there are some times during the year that the price goes up. You don’t have to pay the more expensive prices because of supply and demand. It would be best to monitor the price of the watch and wait a few days before purchasing it to get a better deal. And if you’re planning on getting a tactical watch as a present, buy it well before the big holiday to save some money.
The last thing you need to pay attention to before buying your tactical watch is the back lighting. There are some digital watches that are like flashlights. They are bright and obnoxious, but show you very clearly what the time is. If you have bad eyesight, then these might be the perfect match for you. But be aware that there are also some watches where the back light may flush out the digital numbers on the watch making it hard to read.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that the back light can drain the battery relatively quickly if you get a watch that allows the light to remain on. Also, there are some that only light up for a brief time before going out to save battery life. So, just be aware of the different lighting that can occur and plan accordingly. If you are someone who is prone to knock your hand about, then getting a watch with a light that goes out will be better for you than one that stays lit until you turn it off.
As far as illumination is concerned, your best bet is getting a watch that has an LED lighting. LED provides a brighter light and last longer than any other type of lighting that comes with your tactical watch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the purpose of a barometer?
A: A barometer helps you to measure air pressure and when it is on a tactical watch, it helps you to determine what the weather will be like. Many people who are sports or outdoor enthusiasts, find that having a barometer on a tactical watch is very useful especially if the gauge drops. This indicates that bad weather is on its way and will help you plan for the storm before it hits.
Q: What is a tactical watch?
A: Tactical watches are far more durable than a standard wrist watch. They are often a bit heavier and have features on them to suit the your outdoor needs. A tactical watch varies by manufacturer and individual needs. Some people just want a rugged watch that will take bangs and bumps while others need one to help with their occupations. Tactical watches come in all shapes and styles and don’t necessary have to be only for special forces or athletes.
Q: Which is better a digital or analog watch?
A: Digital watches are by far the easiest watches to read. Instead of having to count the space where the hands are, you can just glance down to find the time. Plus, digital watches often come with more features since they are basically small computers on your wrists. But, analog watches are easier to maintain and last longer since the battery is mostly used for the back light. You can find tactical watches that require you to wind them up to keep them going unlike digital watches that run strictly off a battery.
You’ll also find that digital watches don’t last nearly as long as an analog watch. But, still, when choosing the right tactical watch for your needs, don’t rule out either one. It all depends on the manufacturer.
So, there you have it, a list of the best tactical watches you can find. And even though this list isn’t extensive, it shows you the kind of watches that are available for any budget. So it doesn’t matter if you are an avid hunter, or amateur hiker, or a policeman or even a soldier, you need a watch that is reliable and dependable, one that won’t let you down when things get tough.
And sure, you could go for a standard wrist watch, but then you run the risk of breaking it or scratching the face during your extracurricular activities. Don’t let that happen to you. Get yourself a tactical watch. Don’t let Mother Nature or any situation stop you from doing the things you want to do.
Product Boxes: Last updated on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API