Survival watches have come a long way, and although most people consider situations like this as ones to be avoided, that doesn’t always work out. Therefore, the smart outdoors enthusiast will always tell you it’s best to prepare for the worst. Technically, any watch can be used in a dire situation, even as a navigational tool while using the sun’s positioning in the sky.
However, there are specific watches that are designed with features that are intended for dire situations or outdoor needs, including things like thermometers, altimeters, and even onboard GPS and full-color maps. There’s something for just about every budget and need, and having one of these watches is a surefire way to improve your odds of facing any dire situation when you’re adventuring. We’ve done the work of rounding up the 10 best survival watches that you’ll find on the market today. Check them out below and learn how to find your perfect timepiece.
Our Top Survival Watch Picks: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
1. G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400
The G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400 offers multi-band atomic timekeeping for accurate time around the world, as well as an altimeter and temperature resistance. Made of durable plastic with an LCD, this watch belongs to the G-Shock family, which is known for its premium durability. It also offers water resistance up to 200 meters and a lightweight feel at just under six ounces. It operates using solar energy to save on batteries and includes a buckle closure for easy adjustments and a good fit regardless of arm size.
The Rangeman GW-9400 offers multiple alarm settings, 24-hour time, and it’s got so many features that some new users have even reported feeling a little overwhelmed at first glance. Fortunately, Casio does a good job of explaining everything in the manual, as well as in a two-part YouTube series, making it easy to get to know your survival watch and find the best features for your needs, no matter what those might be. It offers a record-keeping setting, as well as two illumination settings that automatically shut off after one or three seconds to save power.
This solar-powered sport watch features a digital compass, barometer and thermometer, altimeter, and an EL backlight. It also shows world time for 31 time zones and 48 major cities, and includes a full auto calendar, countdown timer, and five daily alarm options. A premium resin band provides better quality and durability, and the impressive battery can last up to six months on a single charge with no additional light exposure.
The Pathfinder is water-resistant up to 100 meters and the watch will charge as long as it’s exposed to light. It offers a quartz movement and digital display, along with a 51-mm case made of durable stainless steel. Kiss plastic goodbye because the Pathfinder Sport Watch is going to provide years of durable use, thanks to its upgraded materials and premium construction. Whether you’re trying to get a read on a compass at night or just want an easy-ready display in any conditions, this watch delivers. Plus, it has a full-auto LED backlight with afterglow feature, making it great in low light, poor visibility, or for nighttime use.
3. Men's Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron Black Polyurethane Strap and Black Dial Watch
The Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster is a serious watch for serious adventurers. Whether you want to track time, find your location, or even know your elevation, this multifunctional watch has features galore that will serve a host of needs. It also has a sleeker finish, while still offering that sporty look that so many people love. The steel case features black ion accents and an altimeter that measures up to 32,000 feet. It also uses Eco-Drive charging and operational technology so that it charges in any light and never needs a battery or replacement.
The comfortable and durable strap is made of premium polyurethane and the watch offers water resistance up to 200 meters. Plus, like all Citizen watches, it comes with a standard 5-year warranty, giving you peace of mind in your purchase. Whether you’re climbing mountains or just hitting the trails, you’ll love the multifunctional features of this timepiece, along with its ease of use, giving you a reliable tool no matter where you go. Plus, when you never have to worry about a battery, you can spend more time enjoying your adventures.
4. G-Shock GG-1000
Another member of the G-Shock family, the GG-1000 is a mid-range survival/sporting watch that delivers just about everything that you want in a comfortable, durable package. The Casio watch is made of premium stainless steel and features twin sensor technology with mud-resistant buttons and a digital compass. There are also temperature readings and the Multiband technology adjusts time based on radio signals. With five daily alarms, a stopwatch, and a countdown timer, this multifunctional timepiece offers everything you need. Plus, it has a calendar and 31 different time zones programmed into the watch.
This lightweight watch comes in at just 3.4 ounces and it offers water resistance up to 200 meters. Known as the MUDMASTER, the premium construction will provide years of durable use, no matter how rough you get. Plus, it includes the shock resistance that people love from the G-Shock family and it features a dual analog-digital display that’s versatile enough for any need. The resin case is durable, and the quartz movement ensures accurate timekeeping for any outdoor or sporting need.
5. Suunto Core All Black Military Men's Outdoor Sports Watch
The Suunto Core Military Men’s sport watch features weather tracking, sun tracking, temperature and air pressure trends, and much more. There’s an included compass, as well as an altimeter that will keep track of your vertical movements. It operates in all temperatures and includes a storm alarm to give you advance notice in case of severe weather. This watch does have one unique feature that is more difficult to find: 400 locations that are preset with sunset and sunrise times to help you plan all of your adventures.
This sport watch is much more modern and stylish than most of the survival watches out there, which makes it great for the adventurer that also wants something that looks as good as it works. It offers a silicone band for premium comfort and durability, along with a quartz movement to keep near-perfect time. This sports watch is much more forward-thinking than a lot of the models on this list, offering something for just about everyone to appreciate.
6. Timex Men's Expedition Gallatin Watch
For the budget-minded adventurer, the Timex Men’s Expedition Gallatin Watch delivers premium performance at an affordable price. It’s from a leader in the watch industry, after all, and includes all of the features that you expect from such a brand. This watch is water-resistant up to 50 meters and features a premium mineral glass display that is scratch resistant. It also has a battery life of up to 10 years, and the tactical dial ensures that you get the information you need in an easy-to-read format.
The Gallatin weighs in at an impressive 1.44 ounces, making it one of the lightest options on the list. It comes with a fabric band and buckle closure with a luminous display. The quartz movement offers accurate timekeeping and the 44mm display is big enough without being oversized. This watch doesn’t include alarm settings or a rotating bezel, but for the money, it delivers capable performance and just the right features. If you’re looking for a watch that’s simple, affordable, and looks a lot fancier than it is, this model is the one for you.
7. Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch
Another budget-friendly option, the Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch is a great choice for those who need a functional watch that just gets the job done. This watch is full of features, starting with a 24-hour time mode for those who prefer to keep military time, along with a countdown timer that goes up to 24 hours and three different alarms that are audible and offer vibrating features. It meets ISO standards for shock resistance and will keep up with you, no matter where you go or how rough the road gets.
The Expedition Grid Shock watch includes the Indiglo light-up display and digital date and time, along with a thermometer, altimeter, and water resistance up to 100 meters. There is also a chronograph so that you can track your treks and smash your goals, and the rugged design ensures that it will withstand anything that comes its way. For the price, you get an impressive set of features with this watch, giving you the perfect sporting or survival timepiece even if you don’t want to spend a small fortune. Plus, it’s from Timex, a name that you can trust.
If you want a survival watch that’s as stylish as it is functional, the Blackout watch from Luminox is one of the best that money can buy. This timepiece features a rubber band and durable case that is reinforced with carbon for added protection. It also offers water resistance up to 200 meters and has a calendar function so that you can keep track of the date. This is a heavy-duty watch that weighs more than most on this list. It also doesn’t include some of the features of other high-end models, making it more of a style option than function, for most.
Still, the Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout watch does offer a durable, reliable sport watch for those who need it. Even without a chronograph or altimeter, many users find this to be their best choice when they want something stylish that mimics the cool military styles used by the pros today. Luminox is a leader in stylish, functional timepieces and each model comes with a limited warranty from the manufacturer. If you want sport function with military-style, this watch does the job.
9. Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk Dual Time Watch with Date
The Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk is another great timepiece from Citizen, a leader in high-quality watches and timepieces. This survival watch comes standard with time and date features, along with the patented Eco-Drive solar technology that requires no battery changes because the watch is always charging when exposed to light. Unlike many of the watches on this list, this model is made of premium stainless steel to offer a more upscale finish and eliminate that cheap, sport look of many watches available today.
This watch from Citizen also includes a date window, dual-time display, and a slide rule inner chapter ring for pilots. There is a low-charge warning, and the watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters. The hands also offer the luminous display option so that you can see in any conditions, and the Japanese quartz movement ensures accurate timekeeping at all times. Plus, it comes with a limited warranty from Citizen, giving you peace of mind that you’re buying from a brand that you can rely on.
10. Seiko Men's SNK809 Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless-Steel Watch with Black Canvas Strap
The Seiko Men’s SNK809 is a simply designed watch that is anything but boring. This premium timepiece features automatic movements and a built-in calendar for easy date tracking. The stylish analog display includes a black background with silver details and the nylon strap provides comfortable wear for any adventures or outdoor activities. The scratch-resistant case is also water-resistant to 100 meters and the watch includes a 40-hour power reserve with the patented technology used.
This is another lightweight option that weighs less than three ounces and includes a spring for automatic winding. Some people might prefer a model that doesn’t require winding or that offers automatic charging like many of the solar models available, but for those who prefer to rely on good old mechanics, the winding SNK809 offers style, sport features, and durability for a reasonable price. It’s a smaller watch that is ideal for those with smaller wrists, too, making it a good choice for anyone who feels that the standard sport watch is a bit too bulky.
How to Choose the Best Survival Watches for Your On-the-Go Gear
There are so many features, as you can see, when it comes to comparing the best survival watches on the market today. Ultimately, it comes down to just how many features and functions you want, as well as which ones are most important to you, in your decision. When looking at the various features, here are some things to keep in mind to help you choose the ideal survival timepiece, no matter what kind of adventures you have in mind.
The construction of the watch is probably your paramount concern when you’re in the market for a good sporting or survival timepiece. If you noticed in the reviews, most of the watches include scratch-resistant cases, durable construction, and premium materials like stainless steel, carbon reinforcement, nylon, rubber, plastic, and more.
The goal here is to choose a material that is durable, but also comfortable to wear. After all, the last thing that you want is to constantly battle an uncomfortable watch when you’re out on the trail or another adventure. All of these materials provide quality, but it will be up to you to decide which you like best for your adventuring or survival needs.
You’ll notice that most of the watches on this list include a compass or built-in navigational features. Some high-end digital models even include built-in GPS and other elements. However, not everyone needs this level of tech in their survival watch. You should consider a model that has navigational features, even if you think you’ll have a separate compass or GPS on your outings because it’s always good to have a backup in place.
Some watches include a standard analog compass that can be used to track location. Others interact with the sun to help you find your position. Still more include digital location features that can help you find your way in any conditions or location. This will add to the price of the watch, but it’s usually an upgrade worth making when you’re buying a survival watch.
Water or Weather Resistance
Again, most of the watches on this list have some kind of water resistance. If you want a fully submersible watch for diving or other adventures, you’ll want to choose the ones with premium water resistance and waterproofing. However, for basic survival use, any of the watches on this list will get the job done, with resistance ranging from 100 to 200 meters or more.
Think, too, about the materials used for construction here. A stainless-steel watch, for example, might not be as good of a choice if you’re going to spend a lot of time getting wet. Rubber or nylon, on the other hand, could provide more comfort and durability without slippery issues of metal or other materials. Most of this is common sense, but it’s so often overlooked because people don’t realize the importance of the most basic elements of a survival watch.
It’s About What You Want
With any of the survival watches on this list, you’re sure to make a great investment. The laundry list of available features might seem daunting at first, but it’s about taking the time to get what suits your survival needs. Consider the factors discussed here, along with anything else that is important to you. If you’re on a budget, for example, stick to more affordable watches and find the best features for the money.
As long as you take the time to do your research, it will be easy for you to find the best survival watch. There’s a model on this top 10 list for just about everyone and now that you know more about what you are looking for, you’ll have a great new timepiece in no time at all.