wiTactical watches – they’re ideal for anyone looking for a reliable time piece that can relay important data. The best tactical watches are built well enough to endure poor weather conditions. They can also normally take a few knocks without losing their functionality.
Got yourself a solid quality tactical watch from a reliable manufacturer? You’ll be hard pressed to find yourself in a situation where your watch isn’t incredibly useful. Whether you’re underwater or miles up in the mountains.
Find yourself in a self defense situation? a good quality tactical watch should be able to withstand all the bumps and scrapes associated with this.
Tactical watches often have key, survival related features too. Things such as GPS information, weather information and more can be incredibly handy. They’ll help you navigate effectively through your environment. This info will also give you an insight into whether you should consider seeking shelter or not.
In the list below we’ll be covering the best possible tactical watches available on the market in 2020.
Best Tactical Watches 2020
Tactical watches should be sturdy enough to withstand anything you can throw at them. But still light and mobile enough to not feel awkward on your wrist. We recognize that everyone has a different price in mind, so we’ve split our reviews up. We’ve divided them respectively into the best watches you can source for under $1000, $500 and even $150!
All of the watches featured below will be sturdy and reliable. Price differences tend to indicate differences in features/functions rather than materials. Of course the materials each watch is composed of can play a part in their pricing too.
Best Watch Under $1000
Garmin Tactix Charlie [Premium Product]
The Garmin Tactix is a significant feat of modern electronics. The 1.2″ screen is high resolution and glare free. It can be used in regular mode or switched to night vision compatibility mode. Particularly useful for those of you who already own a set of goggles.
It’s built to be incredibly hard wearing – the titanium bezel is coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC). This material further increases how hard wearing the device is.
It has its own navigation system with GPS and GLONASS compatibility. Why rely on mobile networks when you could be relying on satellites?
Further expanding upon it’s multiple uses – it has a built in altimeter, barometer, compass and even gyroscope.
You can get up to 12 days of battery usage with full functionality enabled (smartwatch mode).
You can also switch over to GPS mode. Expect to get about 20 hours to 35 hours of usage when combining this feature with battery saving mode.
It has features integrated specifically for tactical use. For example, you can drop waypoints on your GPS. You can also sync up with other watches to share GPS data and coordinate your movements effectively.
This watch also doubles as a fitbit, with its new training status tool. It’s capable of monitoring you during aerobic exercise and letting you know if you’re training efficiently or inefficiently. You can also access information relating to your heart rate and calories burned.
The device can also pull in notifications from a paired smartphone. Displaying them on your wrist so you can stay updated on the go.
This is honestly among the best tactical watches available in 2020. If your budget allows for it, this is your best option.
Best Watches Under $500
Marathon Military Navigator – Quartz Watch
It’s pretty common to find that tactical watches are awkwardly sized. Trying to cram in such a wide variety of features and still end up with a reliable & rugged design can result in some compromises being made in terms of sizing.
That’s not the case with this watch, though. The Marathon Military Navigator is built to a reasonable, fashionable size. Despite this – it’s still built to literal US government specifications.
This watch is officially MILSPEC. Meaning it’s not just built for tactical purposes, it’s actively issued to troops. This model has previously been issued to troops in BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan.
The small, compact size of the watch makes it inconspicuous and easy to transport. It also won’t get in the way if you’re wearing a fairly constricting uniform.
If you’re wondering what MILSPEC entails – it basically boils down to this: it has to have a ridiculous level of durability & functionality.
It’s self lit with tritium gas tubes. Tritium experiences radioactive decay – photons are emitted during this process. Properly sealed – tritium is completely harmless. Using the power of tritium decay – this watch can self illuminate continuously for up to 25 years.
If you can find a product more energy efficient, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Looking for a watch that’s going to consistently, accurately tell the time? This is your go-to.
Functionality aside – it also looks great. Aesthetics probably shouldn’t be the guiding factor if you’re shopping around for a tactical watch. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to look good too.
The only ‘downside’ to this watch is that it’s targetted more towards casual users. As such it’s not chocked full of crazy features like recoil detection and GPS tracking. Realistically though, whether or not you view this as an actual negative is entirely up to personal preference.
Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition
Garmin have truly built up a reputation for consistently putting out the most authentic tactical watches on the market. They consistently manufacture timepieces that are built up to a U.S Military compliant standard. This military theme becomes self evident pretty quickly. Primarily when you look at both the aesthetics and the feature list of each watch.
This Garmin instinct GPS watch comes alongside a powerful portable powerbank with up to 2200 mAh of charge. It’s wearable, so it coincides quite nicely with the wearable wall charger that is also included with this product. It’s unlikely you’ll ever need to make use of the powerbank unless you’re expending multiple days at a time outdoors. Without using the GPS you can expect to see functionality of just
it’s ideal for any sort of outdoor activity such as fishing or hunting, it even comes with night vision compatibility.
(The legality of the use of night vision to hunt depends on where you are geographically in the world. So check with local governing laws.)
If you’re planning on using it during the day time, that’s fine too, it’s glare free.
The use of tactical design philosophies really becomes self evident pretty quickly. Especially when you look at both the aesthetics and the functionality of this watch. Garmind brand watches all share these design philosophies. So you can expect to see some recurring features such as GPS navigation. Along with GPS dual-waypoint projection (so you can see your buddies) stealth mode and more!
The watch also fully includes jumpmaster functionality. Jumpmaster is a program that effectively allows the watch to make complex, military-tier calculations. These are done on-the-go when skydiving. They make use of the barometer and electronic compass onboard to figure out what the best route to take is. Namely from the High Altitude Release Point (HARP) to the Desired Impact Point (DIP). It can even be formatted to utilize the military grid reference system.
It’s also built to a military standard when it comes to durability too. It’s built to the military-standard-850g requirements. These make it necessary for an item to be able to repeatedly withstand exposure to harsh conditions. Namely harsh conditions it is likely to see throughout its service life. These conditions can include shock/trauma, water exposure and thermal variation.
Overall this is a great quality piece of kit. It can fulfill effectively any duty you would possibly require of a tactical watch.
Suunto Traverse Alpha
This tactical watch was engineered by the legendary SUUNTO, a Finnish company. Their first commercial product? a compass that hit the market more than 80 years ago.
They’ve evolved a long way since their humble routes. But you can tell the spirit of exploration has always been a guiding factor in their design philosophies.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha has a unique, minimalist style display. It’s been built from the ground up with hunting & traversing the outdoors in mind. So it can convey some pretty complex data to you with a sleek, low power interface. This interface comes with both back lighting and night vision compatibility.
Some of the information this interface provides you with includes:
A built in, easy to use and clearly identifiable compass. It wouldn’t be SUUNTO without it.
Sunrise/Sunset alerts are a great addition. These can help skilled hunters get a feel for when they can start expecting to see movement from their prey.
A moon phase calendar (based on your location) with moon rise/moon set information. This can help in a very similar fashion to the sunset information.
Graph information for barometric pressure to help you identify looming changes in the weather.
GPS functionality straight out of the box. (You can also synchronize with your smartphone if you choose to)
Programmable GPS routes that are ideal for hunting, hiking or even patrolling a perimeter.
Best Watches Under $150
Suunto Core – All Black – Mens Military Outdoor Watch
This is another stylish and reliable product by Suunto.
The Suunto Core All Black Mens Outdoor Watch has been crafted with very unique, futuristic black/digital aesthetics. The watch looks great regardless of the time of day thanks to the high quality back-lighting.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s absolutely packed to the brim with special features. Although this is normally the case with Suunto watches.
It has an integrated compass to indicate roughly what direction you’re orientating yourself. It also has a thermometer display which has accurate temperature compensation to make up for body-heat. This display is located just under the data output from the altimeter/barometer. Which conveys information to you relating to your height above sea-level and atmospheric pressure.
This altimeter/barometer has an automatic feature which senses movement – it flicks between them both according to how fast you’re travelling.
For example, it’s good to know how high up you are. But it’s great to know this when you’ve just fallen out of a plane.
There’s even a built in weather trend indicator that works utilising atmospheric data. This watch is a potential lifesaver. If you’re planning a longer journey and are worried about re-routing to avoid adverse weather, this will come in handy.
Casio Men’s G-SHOCK GA 100-1A1
The Casio men’s G-shock is an awesome purchase if you’re looking for a tactical watch with solid value for money. It might not be satnav/computer, but it’s still sturdy and displays a variety of vital information. Let’s look at some of these below:
Timekeeping – It wouldn’t really be a watch if it couldn’t tell the time. Not only does this display time via analogue, it also has a digital display. Once you’ve correctly set the time you can effortlessly check the time in 29 time zones. With support for coordinated universal time and daylight saving time – you can guarantee that you won’t be losing track of time anywhere anytime soon.
The watch is built for resiliance, it’s manufactured from a seriously hardy resin. It’s also built for water resistance up to 200 meters. (seal-able with a metal clip).
Key Things To Keep In Mind
If you’re deadset on purchasing a tactical watch, you should seriously consider the features you’re looking for. Only going to use this watch to tell the time? There’s absolutely no point in budgeting 1k for it.
Likewise, cheaping out on a watch you’re going to rely on to convey vital, potentially life-saving information? Also a bad play.
There are a handful of key things to keep in mind when you’re browsing around, namely:
If you’re looking for a tactical watch, odds are you’re going to be exposing it to some trials and tribulations. If you’re looking for a guarantee of quality, make sure you’re purchasing from a trusted and reliable manufacture. You may need to pay an extra 50-100 dollars, but this will save you money. It all adds up when you don’t have to replace your watch after three weeks.
Keep an eye on customer reviews too. If you’re doing your shopping on Amazon, you may find an abundance of reviews. Particularly servicemen or other professionals who have thoughts to share on the quality of a particular product.
You’re always better off trusting reviews from people who rely on these devices in professional situations. Casual users simply don’t expose them to enough wear and tear to trust their opinions.
Waterproofing and weatherproofing are another key factor when assessing durability. If you’re planning on swimming or exposing yourself to other harsh weather conditions this will be absolutely critical.
Features are honestly one of the biggest factors affecting price. So if you’re playing it smart with your money, this is important. Seriously ask yourself what you will need and what you won’t need.
Are you planning on taking the watch skydiving? A solid choice would be a device with an altimeter and barometer. But if you’re not planning on taking it skydiving, these features only present you with an unnecessary, additional cost.
Temperature display is also important, but how important? If you’re planning on exposing yourself to colder or warmer temperatures, a thermometer can be absolutely vital. In the upper end of the heat spectrum, a few degrees can make a huge difference. They can be the difference between “I desperately need a drink” and “I may actually die”.
On the lower end, it’ll tip you off to the presence of ice. It’ll also inform you of how well you’ll need to conserve energy. It’ll even let you know what kind of animals may be out on the prowl. (this only really matters to hunters).
Price is obviously a pain-point for many people. Luckily we’ve managed to consolidate the list above to encompass a fairly wide variety of prices.
There’s nothing wrong with sinking some cash into a premium quality watch that’ll last you several years. Especially if you’re a private contractor or someone who earns a comfortable living.
It’s important to make sure you’re not wasting money on cheap junk. The watch you recieve should be of a suitable quality; do you really want to waste money replacing it every few weeks?
50 dollars can go a long way. It can be the factor determining whether a watch lasts 5 months or 5 years.
Thanks for reading. We would love for you to let us know if you thought our article was informative. Also feel free to let us know if there’s anything you think we should add to the list.