A tactical watch is a device specifically designed to cater to the unique requirements of people in the special forces and into extreme sports. Some features are critical for a tactical watch to be a good one. Here are some of those features to keep an eye out for during your next shopping experience.
A decent tactical watch should always function even after many impacts over the years. It should have a scratch-resistant crystal face and should still be scratch-free the whole time it’s in your possession. If it gets damaged, reading the time will become difficult so you want a timepiece made of decent quality materials that have been thoroughly tested.
Getting a face made of sapphire is your best bet. This is second only to diamond. Sapphire is one of the single most scratch-resistant materials on earth. It’s surprisingly affordable, too.
Regarding the case, go for something like high-grade stainless steel. You can also go for ceramic or polymer plastic.
It’s key to know what materials your watch is made of. It doesn’t matter how much it costs. If it’s made of poor quality materials or put together with poor workmanship, you’ll regret it. Check it’s been tested. If you stick with a reliable watch brand it’ll pay off in the long-run.
Accuracy is vital. If you’re on any kind of frontline, you’ll need to coordinate your device with others. If you’re on an extreme adventure, the last thing you want to do is recalibrate your watch because it’s gone out of sync.
Mechanical watches tend to be more aesthetically pleasing. But don’t be seduced. Quartz and digital watches are far more accurate. Thanks to information from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, we know what certification to look out for as a mark of Swiss accuracy and precision. This is considered to be a watch that a mechanical watch shouldn’t drift by any more than 6 seconds in a day. A quartz, however, shouldn’t drift by 0.07 seconds.
Military operations and outdoor adventures can be a full-on, 24 hour thing. Reading the time when it’s dark without the use of your hands to light it up, it a really critical feature.
When your hands are busy because you’re skiing, climbing, holding onto handlebars, a steering wheel, a weapon, a fishing pole or who knows what, you’ll find this feature invaluable. Flicking the wrist and tilting your head is all you’ll need to do. A good tactical watch will make this super easy.
Watches that can withstand water will have an ATM rating. This stands for ‘atmosphere’ and it represents a pressure unit that your device can take without breaking. A 5ATM watch will be able to withstand pressure which is the equivalent of 50m of water depth.
Be careful, though. A regular shower has water pressure and some watches can’t even withstand that, despite the marketing of the device telling you differently. The official ATM rating tells the truth. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t even snorkel with anything less than 5ATM. The higher the ATM, the more reliable.
Go for one that can boast at least 10ATM. You won’t have to think twice about entering water of any kind, including a sudden downpour of rain.
When to go digital
If accuracy isn’t a driving factor, there are good reasons to consider digital. Some people do like the way an analogue watch looks, but it’s probably safe to bet that if you’re looking for a tactical watch, looks are not at the top of the list of priorities.
Digital watches can be accurate (just not as accurate as quartz). Digital watches can offer some really sophisticated functions. A digital watch can offer critical information to keep your mission right on track.
Visually, digital watches are incredibly easy to read. If you’re working to a tight timeline, a digital display will show you in an easily digestible way how much time you have left. It’ll aid your pace and motivate you to keep going. You have a goal to hit!
These tips aren’t all written in stone. It’s true that not all tactical watches are designed to look good. But, that’s not to say that looking good isn’t important to some. Not everyone is the same. Not all tactical watches are the same. There are some really bold options out there for when discretion isn’t on your agenda.
Those timepieces that have a non-metallic band are more likely to have some bright colour options.
On the reverse, if you are looking for something less bold and more subtle, go for something made in a non-reflective material. It won’t give you away if you’re trying to play it safe.
What’s a good example of a tactical watch?
Torgeon makes devices that are high-quality with accuracy and precision to boot. They put the best components, made of the best materials inside their timepieces. It’s a commonality for all Torgeons to pass the most rigorous of industry testing.
The Torgoen T7T ($355 / £300) was made purely to cater for those in the special forces and/or extreme sports enthusiasts. This Swiss-made device has the recommended 10ATM rating as well as a quartz movement with dual timezones.
The mechanism comes in the highest-grade stainless steel with a PVD backplate. The face is made of sapphire which is both anti-reflective and scratch-proof. Under that lie luminescent hands and indices.
It has a rotating bezel similar to that of a dive watch.
It’s tough and built to last a lifetime.
The strap is interchangeable depending on your needs. Maybe a subtle black or a more flashy stainless steel if you want to be more formal.
To top off the experience, it comes in a waterproof gift box with a nifty release knob. Brilliant for keeping your valuables in.
This isn’t the only great tactical watch on the market. Check out our list of five tactical watches for adventurers.