Top 3 Tactical Watches: Tantalizing Tactical Timepieces

Many of us who are into weapons, firearms, gear, knives, and tactical stuff also have a watch fetish. Aside from telling time, watches can be such cool items. For me, watches are the only jewelry I wear, and I’m a self-proclaimed watch enthusiast.

This article will deal with tactical watches. In this day and age, everything seems to be “Tactical.” Want to sell an item? Declare that it’s tactical. Paint it black and slap some hook-and-loop fastener on it, and it’ll sell.

That said, those who engage in tactical operations are normally military or law enforcement personnel. Sometimes, medical personnel are involved. People who engage in special operations need to have durable, simple gear that works, no matter what.

I’ve been on a tactical operation or two in my time. Durability was always something I looked for in a watch. Aside from tactical operations, I always valued durability for my regular, day-to-day duties. When you frequently roll around on the concrete with professional criminals, you quickly find out which gear lasts and which will fail.

I’m glad to say that these days, I no longer have to subdue violent felons. Nevertheless, I can still tell what would make an excellent watch for hard-use wear.

Decisions, Decisions

These days, we have a few styles of watches to choose from. There are two styles of watches currently available: digital and analog. Some use batteries, others are solar-powered, and others are kinetic, powered by the motion of the watch on the wearer’s wrist.

I love watches that never need a battery change, as they make life a lot easier. In my opinion, this adds to the watch’s versatility, as you don’t have to send the watch back to the manufacturer or take it to a shop to change the battery.

G-Shocks and a Citizen watches.
G-Shock Rangeman and Citizen Eco Zilla. All solar-powered. Variety is nice. The digital watches are lighter than the Citizen by a wide margin. Photo: Jim Davis.

I enjoy both digital and analog watches. Of late, I’ve been more partial to the digital variety because… well, G-Shocks. I’ll get into that shortly.

But sometimes, I enjoy the classic format of an analog watch. As an aside, children in most school systems these days are not being taught how to tell time in the analog format (apparently, there are more pressing educational needs). So, if you want to leave younger kids in suspense, just wear an analog watch. Or use one to teach them how to tell time.

The Picks

I’ll include my picks of favorite tactical watches here. Of course, these are my personal picks, and my taste might differ from that of others.

The reason why I love G-Shocks is because they are awesome! How? They’re so damn durable, it’s ridiculous. On top of durability, they look cool. Yes, gear has to be functional and high quality first and foremost. However, looking cool is definitely a cherry on top of the sundae, so appearances factor into the equation.

Plus, G-Shocks have tons of features built into the watches (we’ll get in-depth into the features within the review).

Despite my G-Shock obsession, I decided to include an analog watch here. It’s a durable tank of a watch that has served well for many years.

And with all of that, we’ll get into the reviews now.

G-Shock Rangeman

G-Shock’s Master Of G Rangeman GW9400Y-1 is a striking watch. There are three color schemes currently: Olive drab with yellow highlights, Black with red highlights, and dark gray (it almost looks black) with gold highlights. I like this watch enough that I have two of them – the OD/yellow and the gray/gold. To own two of the same piece of gear speaks volumes for me. I think it’s one of the coolest-looking watches on planet Earth. The case is made from resin and is very durable.

It’s a sizeable watch that measures 55.2 long, 53.5 wide, and 18.2mm thick. That said, it’s not gigantic. Just large enough to let people know that it’s badass but not so huge that you get sick of wearing it.

Two G-Shock Rangeman watches.
The Rangeman comes in several color schemes. Here, the Dark Gray/Gold motif and the OD Green/Yellow color combo are seen. Photo: Jim Davis.

Aside from looking cool, though, this watch is packed with useful features. It’s water-resistant down to 200 meters, and it’s solar-powered, so there’s no battery to ever have to mess with.

Obviously, it’s incredibly shock-resistant, as G-Shocks are well known for, which is one of the main points that attracted me to it (and the entire G-Shock line).

Honestly, this watch has more features than I have any use for. But I’ll hit some of the very practical ones. There is an ABC feature (Altimeter, Barometer/Thermometer, and Compass) that comes in handy. I most often like to use the compass, and it’s pretty accurate. Day, date, and time are displayed and easy to read. There are alarms and a stopwatch, as well as a countdown timer. It stays current on time with Atomic World Time, for which it receives signals.

Rangeman, Glock 43X, Para 2, and Streamlight.
The Rangeman with other Everyday Carry (EDC) items: Spyderco Paramilitary 2, Glock 43X, and Streamlight. Photo: Jim Davis.

The LED light that illuminates the face is effective. It’s activated by the center button just underneath the watch’s window, making it very easy to find in the dark.

Speaking of the buttons, they are all metal and feature knurling, which makes them very easy to push because your fingers won’t slip off. They’re also durable.

The band of the Rangeman is one of the best, as well. It’s wide and features two roles of holes for the clasp to lock into. The holes are close together, so it will fit all wrist sizes very well because it allows small adjustments. Finally, the metal keeper won’t break, as it’s quite sturdy.

Overall, I really love this watch! As this is written, it’s available for $299.99.

G-Shock Mudman

G-Shock’s Master Of G Mudman, G9300-1, is another of their masterpieces. Like the other timepieces reviewed today, this one is not tiny (although it’s not massive, either). It measures 53mm long and is 18.5mm thick. The watch is black, and there are a few red highlights on it, which are just enough to add a bit of color. Judging by its appearance, this watch looks like it’s all business.

One of the bright spots with this watch is that it is solar-powered, negating the need for new batteries. This seems to be the way to go with watches these days.

G-Shock Mudman watch.
The G-Shock Mudman is solid and packed with useful features. It was also built to resist mud. Photo: Jim Davis.

As is common with G-Shocks, the Mudman is feature-rich. It includes a compass, thermometer, world time, alarms, light, countdown timer, stopwatch, and tons of other gadgetry. It also has a great LED light, so you can see the face well in low light.

The case is comprised of aluminum and resin, and it is as durable as any other G-Shock. The wrist strap is also resin, and it is very well done. There are lots of close holes for lots of adjustments, so it will fit any size wrist well.

The crystal is mineral glass, which resists shattering, adding to the durability of this watch. As this is written, the Mudman is available for $220 and qualifies for free shipping. This is a great deal!

Citizen Promaster Diver

Although its official name is the Promaster Diver (Model Number BJ8050-08E), the nickname that everyone uses to refer to it is the “Eco-Zilla.” If you ever get one in hand, you’ll immediately understand the reference to Godzilla because this is a solid, substantial watch. How substantial? It weighs a little over six ounces. It’s 18.6mm thick, and the case is 48mm wide. Sometimes, I don’t feel like wearing that much watch, so I’ll grab one of my digital watches, which are appreciably lighter.

This isn’t your typical, dainty dress watch that some people wear to dinner parties with executives and A-list personalities. It’s ridiculously overbuilt and brutally rugged. Both the case and bezel are made from stainless steel, so it’s easy to see how it weighs so much. The unidirectional bezel has cutouts that help the wearer grip it and turn the bezel to use the elapsed time feature.

Citizen Promaster.
Citizen’s Promaster “Eco-Zilla” is a large, heavy, bodacious watch rated to 300 meters as a professional diving watch. Photo: Jim Davis.

There is a mineral crystal that is shatterproof and has an anti-reflective coating. In all my years of wearing the Eco-Zilla, I’ve never managed to scratch or ding the crystal; it has held up well. And believe me, the Zillas that I’ve had have taken some knocks.

As with the other watches we’re looking at today, the ‘Zilla is solar-powered.

The hands on the ‘Zilla are very large and easy to see, even at night. In addition to their size, they are also luminous. The minute hand has an added splash of color with a brightly orange-colored outline. Aside from making it easier to see, the color also looks very cool. And speaking of cool, the lume on the hands and number markings is a striking blue color, which I really love. I’ve never seen this exact color used for other watches (although it might be, I just haven’t seen it). They also glow for a long time in the dark.

The face of the watch boldly states “Professional Diver’s” and directly above that in red, “300 Meters.” The same is also on the upper right part of the bezel, giving it a business-like look. On the back of the watch’s case is an engraved diver wearing an old-school diving helmet, which only adds to the coolness. Among the information engraved on the case is the phrase “For Saturation Diving.”

Finally, I’ll mention the polyurethane strap that secures the watch to your wrist in a bodacious way. The buckle and keeper are stainless steel and built to withstand a nuclear blast, so this watch won’t come off your wrist unless you want it to.

Given its weight, size, and general appearance, this watch embodies sheer badassery. If you want to make a fashion statement while having a real-deal watch that can take abuse and go with you into the depths of the ocean, look no further.

In Summary

Readers probably noticed that each watch reviewed here is solar-powered. I love that I never have to worry about switching out the battery. Each of these watches can go for months in the dark without needing to be recharged. Both digital watches go into “sleep” mode if they’re in the dark for any length of time, which extends the charge life even longer.

Each of these watches is extremely durable, fulfilling the #1 mission of tactical operations: survival. I’ve worn them for years, with the exception of the Mudman; I haven’t owned it for that long. However, it’s built as well as every other G-Shock I’ve owned, and I’m confident it will hold up every bit as well, given its lineage.

Finally, each of these watches looks (at least, in my mind) attractive. They check off all the boxes in my book. They’re not cheap watches, but neither are they overly expensive by today’s standards. Yes, you can get cheaper watches – but in most cases, you get what you pay for.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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