Paratroopers, marines, active explorers, soldiers, military personnel, hikers, and bonafide adrenaline junkies (as well as those who may be prone to hopping out of a plane every now and again) will have found use in a military wristwatch at least once in their lifetime.
In fact, field watches and military watches are growing in popularity year by year and it's not hard to see why. They are considered an integral part of a luxury watch collection for many. Some swear by their functional designs and their legibility. Others love the look of them. Some military wristwatches represent the utmost tier in premium watchmaking, with innovative functions, robust materials and an instantly recognisable look. Choosing the right tactical watch can make the difference between a successfully timed critical task or a failed operation. But if a military watch isn’t saving your life, it will at least helo you to "up your game" in terms of it looking cool and stylish on the wrist. Designed to strengthen your chances of survival - or to look cool - here are some of the most popular military watches to own right now.
Luminox Navy Seal watches represent some of the brand’s most successful and dependable watches for night missions. In 1992 Luminox put itself on the map having worked closely with Navy SEAL’s Nick North, developing a watch that has since gone on to prove itself as one of the world’s toughest maritime commando watches for over 25 years. The Luminox Navy Seal 3583 watch is a 45mm tool crafted from the brand’s patented Carbonox material and features a tempered scratch-resistant mineral glass front, a 200-meter water resistance, and a unidirectional rotating bezel.
One of the unique features of this popular tactical watch is its coloured light tubes, crafted from sapphire crystal. They’re designed to light the way to accurate timekeeping when caught in dark situations or during the night. The watch also features a deep blue dial with chronograph counters placed at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, offering small seconds, 12-hour, and 30-minute functions respectively. In the dark, the 12 o’clock hour marker and the minute hand illuminate in a glowing orange colour to contrast against the remaining green glowing elements.
A tactical watch may indeed save your life, and some tools have been relied upon for years, especially those that have been manufactured by a prestigious and renowned watchmaker like IWC Schaffhausen. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium model was the first to mark a watch crafted from Ceratanium and is powered by the Calibre 79420. Aside from its useful 44-hour power reserve, the lightweight and durable IWC military watch also features luminous white Arabic numeral hour markers and the brands’ signature triangular marker at the 12 o’clock location. It’s also a double chronograph and so features an additional split-seconds hand for intermediate timings, a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock, a 12-hour sub-scale at 6 o’clock, and a small seconds dial at 9 o’clock.
When choosing the best military tool watch for action, you should consider whether the watch can cope with extreme temperature fluctuations, as well as whether it has a reasonable water-resistant capability. The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 is fairly new to the brand’s catalogue and is powered by the Calibre 5. It features an impressive 300-meter water-resistant stainless steel case, topped with a pane of anti-glare sapphire crystal glass. The dive watch is perfect as a tactical companion or as a rugged and strong daily companion for plenty of outdoor use. The sunray brushed black dial is home to luminous hour markers and hands, whilst the unidirectional black rotating bezel is equipped for effortless measuring of time whilst underwater.
Some tactical watches focus strongly on balancing aesthetics with functionality and that’s exactly what Panerai has achieved in the design of the Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech. Its design is super light on the wrist and is forged from layers of carbon fibre, compressed at high temperatures whilst under high pressure. This process forms its sleek 300-meter water-resistant case. The solid tactical watch is limited to just 33 pieces worldwide and features a striking green rubber strap to match the model’s green hands and indexes. These appliques are also treated with Super-LumiNova and set against a carbon dial. The tool watch is powered by the Calibre 9010, which offers an impressive 3-day power reserve. With the Panerai Submersible Marina Militare Limited Edition watch you get more space donated to simple timekeeping, with the single hour and minute hands taking centre stage, accompanied by a small second sub-dial located at 9 o’clock, balanced by a date window at 3 o’clock.
A tactical watch could save your life, but whether you are utilising a military watch for critical time measurements, for navigational purposes or for diving tasks - watches like the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 instantly achieve that all-important chic military look with its strikingly unusual camouflage dial achieved through a patchwork of light and dark grey shades. In the dark or during the night, the watch’s matt-treated colours, including a 42mm ceramic “circle within a square” case, prove particularly functional and discreet. The 100-meter water-resistant case, when paired with its anti-glare sapphire crystal glass front and matt-treated aesthetics, avoids any undesirable glare on the wrist. The dial consists of two overlapping inserts and features cutaways for the Arabic numeral hour markers, as well as black Super-LumiNova-treated hands. It completes its striking and stealth-like look on an ultra-resilient black rubber strap with a black PVD coated stainless steel pin buckle
Despite looking and operating similar to a smartwatch, the Garmin Tactix Delta Solar Edition watch is actually built to MIL-STD-810 military standards. The solar-charging tactical watch is full of features and modes designed for the field. It also comes with ballistics features for prices calculations. A fibre reinforced polymer case construction features a metal caseback and knurled buttons, a well a Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coated steel bezel. Measuring a staggering 51mm diameter, this tactical watch is sure to get noticed on the wrist and comprises several health monitoring features, alarms, stress tracking features, 10 different sensors, GPS, barometer, heart rate alerts, 26 daily smart features, an abnormal heart rate detector, timers, and over 40 fitness functions. If you’re not fussed about your military watch having a classic analogue dial, a watch like the Garmin Tactix Delta Solar Edition watch is certainly worth taking a look at. It also features Jumpmaster, Night Vision, AB Elite software, and Kills Switch modes.
Watches don’t come more robust and ready for action than Casio G-Shock watches and for their price-point, they also pack in a whole load of innovative functions and tactical features for assistance with tasks out on the field, on the frontline or in the gym. The Casio Rangeman was first introduced to the military watch genre in 2013. It offers a tough construction and the highest tolerances for its role on the wrist as a survival watch. Its substantial 54mm diameter certainly packs a punch on the wrist, plus it offers features like 200-meter water resistance, a tough sapphire crystal glass front, and a shock-resistant triple sensor to keep track of pressure, altitude and temperature. As one of the top military watches to own this year, this tactical watch for every imaginable mission is powered by a tough and reliable solar movement and conserves its energy by requiring only a little amount of light to keep accurate timing.
This special edition Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO timepiece is inspired by the brand’s role in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi action film, Tenet. From a practical point of view, the watch is ready for wearing in all environments thanks to its lightweight yet tough case crafted from titanium. The key colour of the movie – red – is seen in the second hand, which sits against an otherwise all-black dial design. The stealthy 100-meter water-resistant field watch comes in its own special Tenet packaging and will, no doubt, prove a highly desirable collectable for fans of the movie, devoted Hamilton enthusiasts, and military watch collectors alike. Interestingly, the Hamilton Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO Limited Edition watch of just 888 pieces worldwide does not feature the digital screen shown in the prop used for the Tenet film itself. Instead, the 46mm watch is analogue powered by the H-10 automatic movement and features carbon coloured Arabic numerals for easy referencing of the time at a glance.
Although not a definitive guide to every military watch out there, this list featuring some of the best tactical watches and Armed Forces-inspired watches should give you some idea of the diverse range of models and features out there. It should also give you an indication of the key elements to look out for when searching the market for a quality military watch for all manner of field-related tasks, and outdoor exploration.