Military Watches: Only the Toughest and Most Dependable

The name says it all really: military watch.

Luminox 8801 face with resin case and analog faceIt conjures images of a timepiece that can handle the pressure, face the tough times without yielding, and above all, remains dependable and accurate day in, day out. Without fail.

Comparison Guide

Included in the below table are the following 7 attributes:

  • Picture
  • Watch
  • Material
  • Band
  • Face
  • Awesome Feature
  • Overall Rating out of 5
ImageWatchCaseBandFaceCoolest FeatureOverall Rating Out of 5
image of rugged analog seiko with beige nylon strap and stainless steel caseSeiko SNE331Stainless SteelNylonHardlexDate4.8
front image of the solar power g-shock all black resin watchCasio Men’s GW7900B-1ResinResinMineral CrystalSolar Powered4.2
front view of the digital and analog Casio Men's GA-110TS-1A4 G-ShockCasio Men’s GA110TS-1A4 G-ShockResinResinMiner CrystalAnalog and Digital4.5
close-up of the Timex t49825 with a stainless steel case, analog face, and three sub-dials all blackTimex T49825DHStainless SteelStainless SteelMineral CrystalSlide-Rule Bezel4.3
front view of analog swiss watch with chronometerVictorinox AlpnachStainless SteelStainless SteelSapphireAutomatic self-winding4.5
image of the T49612 digital all black watchTimex T49612ResinResinAcrylicCompass4.3
close-up of all black analog watch with date windowTraser 3 P5900Stainless SteelNylonMineral GlassTritium Illumination4.2
image of the timex T2N931DH analog with chronographTimex T2N931DH Field WatchStainless SteelCalfskinMineral CrystalChronograph4.4

You’re not far off there, a military watch is designed to withstand all kinds of abuse just like the brave men and women who make those sacrifices to devote their lives to protecting our country and way of life.

That means it’s also tough, able to adapt to any environment, and completely reliable. These watches can take whatever punishment you can dole out. Dry, hot, sandy conditions of the desert, no problem. The wetness and humidity of the tropics, done. The bitter cold and harsh winds of the Arctic, absolutely.

These watches are always water-resistant, they’ll keep ticking even when covered in mud, and they’re able to weather the rough impacts that go along with the most difficult job in the world.

The word “convenient” does not exist in the vocabulary of a soldier. But at least your watch can be, as most military watches are equipped with a variety of useful features that not only tell time, but also determine elevation, determine weather patterns, give temperature readings, even track your heart rate and they can also point you in the right direction when traveling.

But above all else, a military watch should be one piece of equipment you don’t have to worry about.

What’s So Special About Military Watches?

There are a number of facets that make up a really great military watch.

Casio g-shock analog with subdial and chronographMany of them have features like an altimeter, a stopwatch, barometer, a thermometer even. Their water and impact resistance make them suitable for any rugged environment.

The bands vary in strength and durability and use tough materials at the face so you need not worry about scratching or cracking the window.

These watches are ready when you are for whatever.

Essential Components

While required functions can vary, there are a few key components to look for in any fine military watch:

The Band: Comfort and Durability

Since these watches are meant to be able to handle all types of situations, you’re not going to find much in the way of flash or fashion. The bands you’ll find on most are all about utility and practicality. There are a number of options available and all of them suitable for any budget:

  •  Luminox navy seal all black analog with polyurethanse bandRubber or plastic: Light, durable, flexible, and more affordable than metal or leather bands. They’re obviously waterproof which makes them good for use in and around the water, since they won’t corrode and will dry fast. The only negative here, is that they tend to wear out quicker than other bands and may have to be replaced more often.
  • Nylon: Comfortable, easy to replace, and can be trimmed to reduce any overhang at the end. Extremely durable and quick to dry as well.
  • Metal: Very durable, comfortable, easy to clean. However, it can be difficult to adjust the size of the band as you’ll need to add or remove links that may be designed for adjustment but they’re not exactly inviting you to perform the process either. You may need to get them re-sized professionally. Metal bands that don’t fit exactly right can pinch your wrist or pull out your arm hairs which can be irritating.
  • Leather: While they can be very strong and comfortable they also can take a long time to dry if they get wet and can irritate your wrist. This is a high maintenance option that does not adapt well, will start to degrade in both aesthetics and strength, and before long, it’ll begin to stink to high heaven on your arm.

The Case: Three Main Options

For the most part, you’ve got three main choices: stainless steel, titanium, and resin.

Everyone knows what stainless steel is so I won’t go into detail. I will say that it’s an excellent choice for most timepieces and close up of casio pro-tech digital with chronographdefinitely less expensive than either titanium or resin.

  • Titanium is known for its strength while remaining entirely lightweight. In fact, it’s just as strong, tough, and durable as stainless steel, however it’s also about half the weight. That makes it easier to wear on your arm and with all of the pitfalls and risks that come with being a part of any military, you want your case to be rugged while also rust and corrosion resistant, impact resistant, and of course, lightweight. Titanium offers all of these things.
  • Resin is light and non-corrosive but there have been concerns about it’s durability. Older cases tend to crack after a few years which kills their waterproofing. However, better manufacturing is thought to have significantly improved the quality of resin cases but only time will tell if that is indeed true.

The Face: It’s Gotta be Scratch Resistant

The three main watch faces are sapphire crystal, mineral glass, and acrylic.

  • Sapphire crystal watch faces are the very best. They’re the strongest which makes them extremely scratch resistant. But you’re also going to pay handsomely for that type of durability. Sapphire crystals are made by crystallizing aluminum oxide at extremely high temps. While sapphire watch faces are the strongest they’re also the least forgiving, which makes them susceptible to cracks if you really smash them.
  • Mineral glass watch faces are good quality and are found in a lot of moderate and high end watches. While not as hard or scratch resistant as sapphires, they’re close, and getting closer all the time. Improvements in the coating that is used to harden crystal faces have enhanced their scratch resistant properties while also reducing glare which is important when you’re in direct sun.
  • Acrylic (aka plastic) watch faces are the least expensive, but also have some major downsides. They scratch easily and aren’t nearly as rugged as mineral or sapphire. They are extremely cheap though and easy to replace if damaged.

The Movement

Casio Men's GW7900B-1 digital watch with compass and rubber strapWatches can do so much cool stuff these days it can be easy to forget their main purpose is to tell time! The two main methods watches use to keep time are quartz and winding.

  • Quartz: Works by measuring the very predictable vibrations of quartz crystals. The battery in the watch helps keep the quartz vibrating and measures the vibrations to tell time. Very little energy is used to keep the quartz vibrating which means quartz watches can last a very long time with a single battery.
  • Winding: Works by using a combination of gears, springs, and oscillating mass (think very small tuning fork) to keep track of time, but the main drawback here is that you need to make sure they stay wound. The upside is that they don’t need a battery which means you don’t have to worry about your watch dying when you’re in the back-country. Unfortunately, due to the intricacies (and some modicum of human element of course), these are not as accurate at quartz.

The type of watch, band, case type, face, and timekeeping mechanism are the basic features you need to review and consider before deciding which one to buy. The watches included on this site are a mix of different features but they all have one thing in common: dependability.

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