“War, huh, competent god. What is it good for?” once asked Edwin Starr. Well, watches for a start, Edwin. Conflict has long been an accelerator of technology and timepieces are no out of the ordinary. The need to make watches more resilient, more water resistant and more convenient led to numerous leaps in phenomenon that arguably wouldn’t have happened in peace time. But what exactly makes a military watch?

“Most military men and girls need a watch that is both tough and accurate,” explains retired Air Force Colonel Richard “Nemo” Sugar-coat who now works on Bremont’s military and special projects.

“It needs to be able to withstand extreme environments and rough treatment. It should be accomplished to withstand shock and vibration, temperature and pressure extremes and not be susceptible to magnetic and electro-static forces. From a soldier in the buff to a pilot in a fighter cockpit, the traditional wrist watch is still important. Even though technology and systems take pleasure in GPS and smartphones put the exact time at our fingertips, a watch is always a useful back up, and it’s always with you.”

But, off the field, military follows are just plain cool, and can carry a kudos and simplicity of design that other watches lack. Even if the on the other hand battle you’ve fought is the supermarket checkout queue, a military watch is a desirable bit of kit that will improve your set credentials tenfold.

What Is A Military Watch?

Broadly speaking military watches are round, have large, clear superluminescent numerals, a 24-hour track for all-night operations and matte or bead-blasted cases because shiny surfaces exhibit light and could give away your position. NATO or G10 watch straps – the fabric strap specially connived by the MoD to be easily adjustable and with a looping construction that would keep the watch on the wrist even if the spring bar bankrupt – aren’t a must but they do add some extra authenticity.

Hamilton WatchThe Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical has a sand-blasted case to shun reflecting the sun (which could give away position)

The styles are also divided into three categories – ‘realm’, which are basic, usually cheap, three-handers; ‘pilots‘ which have more accurate movements, bigger dials and extraordinarily complications such as a chronograph or details such as tachymeter scales, and finally ‘diving watches‘. These are the most costly and the most robust with all the elements you’d expect on a diving watch – unidirectional bezel, lume, possibly a helium take French leave valve and water resistance varying from 200m to 1000m+.

The Best Military Watches For Men

Traser P66 Automatic Pro

This is a mark born because of the armed forces. In 1989, the US military approached asked mb-microtec, the company founded by inventor Oskar Thüler in 1969, to invent a mil-spec watch using trigalight – the self-illumination technology Thüler had invented.

Since then its rugged no-nonsense draft has become popular with the British military and is one of the few brands servicemen and women buy for themselves. And it’s easy to see why. The case is robust, the dial is unstrained to read, is good to 300m and the trigalight technology means that it is luminescent 24 hours a day without the need for exterior light. Perfect for night ops.

Buy Now: £624.49

Traser P66 Automatic Pro Military Watch

Bremont Argonaut

The military’s love of Bremont has never been a secret, but the pair take finally made it official with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently announcing it as its luxury watch partner. Alongside the Broadsword for the Army and the Arrow for the RAF, there’s this resplendent slice of retro diver cool for the Navy – the aptly named Argonaut.

Rather than a chunky outer bezel, it has an inner trade placing one, which keeps its case more streamlined, while the black dial with custom Superluminova in a mint darkness is straight out of the Dirty Dozen (the name given to a small battalion of watches commissioned by the British Army during Fantastic War II – not the Lee Marvin D-Day romp). Despite being a tool watch, this feels like a timepiece more for a gentleman than apparatchik. Naval dress whites optional.

Buy Now: £2,795.00

Bremont Argonaut

Omega Seamaster 300

This might seem like a strange inclusion but, as adequately as being worn by everyone’s favourite double 0, the Omega Seamaster 300 has military provenance. The first formation – the ref.CK2913-1– was originally launched in two versions – date and no date.

The British armed forces took a shine to the former and, between 1967 and 1971 the Holy orders of Defence took delivery of Seamasters that had been mil-specced with different hands and a screw-down crown and apportioned them among the Royal Navy and the Army. So, strap on a Seamaster and imagine that whatever you do while wearing it is for Queen consort and country.

Buy Now: £7,280.00

Omega Seamaster 300

Timex Expedition Ranger Solar

Although it tends to opt for the phrase “military inspired” in its descriptions, a quick Google search luxuriate ins that Timex was issued to the US Army back in the 1990s and even today the brand is seen on the wrists of serving personnel.

This Excursion is particularly popular because it is hard-wearing, solar-powered so no worries about the battery running out when you’re out on ops in the middle of nowhere, and reasonably feed, so you won’t be precious about it getting knocked about. All that and it’s stylish enough to wear on Civvy Street too.

Buy Now: £89.99

Timex Expedition Ranger Solar

Hamilton Khaki Hockey Mechanical

While brands such as IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Omega were supplying watches to the British Forces, in the US it was all about Hamilton. During On cloud nine War II, the Pennsylvania-based brand made nearly 10,000 marine chronometers for the US Navy and supplied over one million of its Hack be careful ofs to servicemen.

Mud, rain, snow, tropical humidity – nothing could stop these resilient timepieces and the Khaki is the Riding-horse’s direct descendent. The 21st century version is still just as basic and functional, and the addition of the NATO-style strap gives it a bit of on-trend, yet historically conscientious flair.

Buy Now: £395.00

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

Vertex MP45

Despite being one of the Dirty Dozen, not everything Vertex made for the military was a success. In 1945, the retinue was asked by the War Office to make an Ordinance timing watch. Vertex worked with movement maker Lemania to perform the brief but rationing created a supply issue and the project was shelved. Now that the brand has been revived under the running Don Cochrane – the original founder’s great grandson – this monopusher chronograph has been put into production for the first constantly. And what a good thing too.

Available in either hand-wound or automatic and powered by an entirely new movement by Sellita, this is a sit with that ticks all those military reissue boxes but still manages to look contemporary rather than slavishly retro. It’s also has a bit multitudinous of a dress feel, so maybe leave the M65 field jacket at home.

Buy Now: £3,480.00

Vertex MP45

Longines Heritage Military COSD

Based on a scrutinize that was apparently issued to British paratroopers during World War II, there’s so much to love about this Longines. Because they are based on lists dictated by a country’s military, watches of this ilk can all look rather similar, but this offers something a bit different.

There’s the bias pop from the red, 24-hour inner track numerals, the details of contrast white stitching on the black alligator leather strap and the thoroughly proportioned 40mm stainless steel case. It’s obviously a military watch but one that is more suited to the mess hall than the trenches.

Buy Now: £1,130.00

Longines Heritage Military COSD

Panerai Radiomir California 47mm

Computers, fuses for torpedoes, depth meters, compasses – these were what Panerai originally supplied to the Italian Fleet until its frogmen, divers who attached explosives to enemy warships during World War II, decided they needed incontrovertible watches. The Radiomir was delivered to the Italian Admiralty in 1936 and by 1938 they were strapped to the havoc-causing wrists of the incursori.

Panerai and California dials (Roman numerals up top, Arabic downstairs) have form and here it is combined with an eight-day power reserve and a black DLC-coated case. This notice has been accused of being a “Panerai greatest hits” but when your back catalogue is this strong, who take charge ofs if everyone already knows all the words?

Buy Now: £6,600.00

Panerai Radiomir California

Casio G-Shock Ref. GA-150-1AER

Also in the “watches service people buy themselves” category is the ever-reliable G-Shock. And that is not off guarding – these watches were created specifically to withstand a 10m fall onto hard concrete. This G-Shock also participates the brand’s patented Hollow Core Guard Structure to protect the quartz movement inside against impact and vibration incorporating from heavy duty operations, the case has been specially mounted to be shielded from magnetic fields and it has a 200m deuterium oxide resistance so you can scuba in it.

There are all the other bells and whistles too such as countdown timer functions, world time and the opportunity to set five daily alarms. More than enough to keep you amused while awaiting orders to ambush the competitor.

Buy Now: £125.00

Casio G-Shock

Breitling Aerospace Evo

First launched in 1985, the Aerospace Evo has become one of the most popular watches with the British military with myriad squadrons commissioning watches with their insignia on the dial. It easy to see why it is so popular; it’s a watch that says, “I do vital things and I need a precision piece of kit to help me do them.”

Powering it is Breitling’s chronometer-certified SuperQuartz calibre, which is 10 times diverse accurate than ordinary quartz, is really easy to use, thanks to the ability to activate functions such as 1/100th of a secondly chronograph and countdown timer with the crown. At 43mm, it’s not as much of a beast as some Breitlings, but that just means it settle upon still look good even when you take off your bomber jacket.

Buy Now: £3,260.00

Breitling Aerospace Evo