The Best Simple Tactical Watches (avoiding digital disasters)

tactical watches

Digital nightmare or pure analog


Digital watches certainly have their place, and I cover one such ABC watch here, but sometimes, for outdoors use, and even street dress, a good analog is the best answer.

Watches 101

I want to give a little background information on watches before we begin.

Most watches today are quartz watches. These watches are actually very accurate and usually are available at really good price points. There are some expensive quartz watches and quartz movements for Switzerland vs. China are used in watches such as Sinn and Tissot.

Also, there are a number of, generally more expensive, manual movement watches which rely upon a manual winding mechanism, either by winding the crown, or even automatic winding movements that rely upon the movement of your wrist. These types of watches were really the first invocations of the wristwatch and are highly prized and even collector items. They certainly are not throwaways, as are many of the quartz watches.

What makes a watch a collectible or a keeper vs. a throwaway is not so much the quartz vs. automatic movement but rather the all the comp0nents. To a degree, there are parallels within the tactical flashlight industry. It is truly the construction, components, and features of high-grade tactical flashlights that differentiate between throwaways and keepers.




Obviously, the first component of a tactical watch is the movement itself. Technology has advanced enough in the watch industry to produce high-quality reliable quartz and automatic movements that are reasonably priced. What needs to be avoided is the department store “name brands” which don’t usually utilize a quality movement because the intent is to replace every Christmas. The only thing worse than buying one of these junk pieces is having someone give you one as a gift.

The crystal on the watch can be made of anything from cheap plastic and untreated glass to mineral and sapphire glass.  Mineral glass is more common and sapphire glass, which is, even more, scratch-resistant, is available on higher priced models. It is usually worth the difference since resistance to scratching in an outdoor environment is obviously important.

The casing on the watch can range from polyurethane to stainless steel. Both have good characteristics, however, stainless steel will outlast the lesser polyurethane.

The strap on outdoor watches should almost always be rubber, latex or Polyurethane. Leather and metal straps just don’t work out well with wet and hot outdoor environments. Additionally, scraping metal bands on rocks just sounds bad.

The crown’s function, aside from changing the date and time, is hoping to provide some ability to be waterproof. Does, the crown pop in or is it screwed down? Water tightness is enhanced with a screw-down crown.

Illumination is the final component and feature in a tactical watch. Simply, you need to see the time in darkness. Most dress watches do not provide this feature or it is weak at best.

So that’s it, the components and related features and functions to a quality tactical watch – movement, crystal, casing, strap, crown, and illumination. Now let’s see how some of my favorite analog watches compare.




The Luminox 3003 Original Navy Seal Dive Watch

Luminox comes in at a great price point and has a Swiss quartz movement with polyurethane band and case. The crown pops down vs. screws, but the watch is rated as water-resistant to 660 feet. Luminox has been around for years and produces a quality product that is great for outdoor use. The crystal is mineral but all in all, a great watch at an affordable price. Definitely not a throwaway. The luminescent treatment on this watch is excellent.


The Traser H3 Men’s Professional

The Traser Professional is definitely a step up with not that much of a price increase. For the additional cost, you get Ronda Quartz movement, really well regarded, a polyurethane and stainless steel case, screw-down crown, and even a sapphire crystal. All the features of a higher-end watch at a reasonable price. Again, this is not a throwaway and will last a lifetime. As with the Luminox, the luminescent treatment on the Traser is outstanding.


The Ball Fireman Automatic

The Ball is distinctly a step up both in price and quality. Here the movement is automatic, and, like the Traser, includes a stainless steel case, screw-down crown, and a sapphire crystal. So why the price difference. Essentially, the movement – automatic is more expensive than most quartz movements. This is personal preference but again, a keeper that you can pass down to your kids. Finally, although the luminescent treatments on the Luminox and Traser are outstanding, the Ball’s treatment is at an even higher level.




I actually like and appreciate good watches and it concerns me that so many are clueless in this area. Like all tactical gear, there is a level of knowledge that is needed to make the right decision.

When it comes to analog the three brands – Luminox, Traser, and Ball produce a number of options at various price points that offer almost unlimited choices. You simply can go wrong with anyone of these manufacturers.

Check out my top analog watch recommendations here.


Always be prepared. Be well.



One thought on “The Best Simple Tactical Watches (avoiding digital disasters)

  1. Made of patented stainless steel, the Bertucci A-2S Field Watch features a screw down crown and case back, scratch resistant mineral glass crystal, quartz movement and an ergonomic design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Next Post

9 Best Products for Every Day Carry (3 basic must haves)

Wed Jan 31 , 2018
Share on Facebook Tweet it Pin it Share it Email  What are the 9 best available everyday carry products?   I’ve concluded, and have previously discussed, that the three most common every day carry pieces of tactical gear are a knife, a flashlight, and a watch. It sounds so basic […]
3 mini tactical lights

Signup to learn about new gear