Tactical watches were originally designed to be task specific; created specifically for mountaineering, piloting and other outdoor activities. Other men’s watches may look pretty, but can they, as the Timex saying goes, lick each other? You could say that the very first wristwatches, designed for soldiers in WWI, were, technically speaking, tactical watches. Today, although specific features can be incorporated into specialized watches for everything from space flight to scuba diving, they are best known for a sort of rugged aesthetic, with big faces and big, easy numbers. to read.
They are usually accompanied by a very secure fabric or NATO strap which dries quickly. Their chunky nature might be a bit too casual to wear with a suit, but it makes them the perfect accessory to wear with today’s casual wardrobe; complement a sturdy cotton or flannel shirt with khakis or jeans and, of course, boots. We also love them with tweed sports coats and heavier textured costume materials. What’s best is that the style seems to come in a wide price range, so you can choose one on a whim to build your watch collection or make an investment purchase that can turn into a heirloom. family. Here are some of our favorites.
As the name suggests, the Altitude is based on a classic pilot watch model, with a robust and modern look. It’s available in ten different color and strap combinations, but we love the subtly retro appeal of this graphite case and khaki Cordura nylon strap. This model features a quartz movement and glow-in-the-dark hands and numbers.
Nixon Grateful Dead
Okay, technically it’s not a tactical watch unless your mission is to identify other Grateful Dead fans or get a lot of attention during the pre-concert parking lot party. . However, the textured strap matches the aesthetic and we can only celebrate the watch’s eco-friendly solar charge and recycled ocean plastic construction.
Amazfit GTR3 Pro
The modern equivalent of the tactical watch is of course the smartwatch. We think the styling of this one from Amazfit fits the bill, especially with her round face and textured band. The face of the touchscreen is made of tempered glass and has an anti-fingerprint coating. It also has GPS capabilities and works with Alexa.
Jack Mason Solar Chronograph
Yet another entry into the sustainability category, this tactical chronograph features a recycled stainless steel case and recycled ocean plastic strap. Water resistant up to 100 meters, the dial features a rotating compass bezel controlled by an additional crown and an audible alarm.
Aviator’s watches originally had extra long straps so they could be attached to the outside of their sheepskin jackets. Now they just look super cool wrapped around our wrists. This one from Shinola features clean styling in black, white, and silver with an Argonite 705 quartz movement, coin-rimmed bezel, and sapphire crystal. We also love that it’s made in Detroit, Michigan.
Traser Type 6
For a real aeronautical heritage, we went directly to the source, Cockpit USA. Known for its historically loyal collection of leather jackets and apparel, the expertise of the flight crew extends to watches as well. For just under $ 500, it’s built like a tank, featuring dual-case construction, bidirectional rotating PVD-plated bezel, K1 mineral crystal, and Swiss quartz movement, not to mention that signature NATO strap.
Luminox x Bear Grylls
Luminox’s collaboration with explorer, adventurer and badass Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls began in 2020 and now has 11 different models (two are out of print!). Just as tough as their namesake, each features a multifunctional design and advanced materials. We chose this one for its all-steel construction. We especially like the “GMT” bezel, originally developed in the 1950s for PanAm transatlantic pilots to keep track of local time and Greenwich Mean Time.
Apple Watch Edition Titanium Case
As above, the modern equivalent of the tactical watch is the smartwatch, so we had to add an additional version, this titanium version from Apple with a tactical-inspired braided band (made from recycled yarns and silicone threads for comfort and stretch, no clasps or buckles needed). The latest Apple Watches feature even larger screens, swim-proof and crack-resistant crystal, and the ability to measure your ECG and blood oxygen level. Damn, can that cook too?
Airfight Titanium tank
At first glance, you might not even be sure you’re looking at a watch since the face of the Titanium is modeled after an airplane dashboard. The minutes are counted on the top of the watch, from 0 to 60, then bounce back to the start; the time is displayed in a window in the middle. A “fuel gauge” indicates the remaining power in this self-winding watch. Its price is a bit atmospheric on its own but well worth it in conversational value on its own.
Montblanc 1858 Monopoussoir Chronograph
Another timepiece that lands squarely in the investment category, this automatic Montblanc is inspired by a series of watches designed for mountaineering in the Roaring Twenties and 1930s. It features a bronze case, face design vintage inspiration and a beige fabric strap. While staying true to the sporty nature of a tactical watch, this chronograph has a formal quality that would look great with a suit or even a tuxedo.