Tactical Timekeeping: 7 Things to Look for When Choosing a Watch to Wear On Duty

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Tactical Timekeeping: 7 Things to Look for When Choosing a Watch to Wear On Duty

Here at Rockwell Time, we’ve got mad respect for our military members, veterans, and first responders, and we specialize in custom watches for each branch of service. We truly believe they’re the backbone of this great nation, the picture of patriotism, and the glue that holds our country and communities together.

For military members, choosing a timepiece that fits the needs of active duty can be tricky. The right watch is just as crucial as any other piece of gear and can be a game-changer on the job. But unlike your uniform or sidearm, you probably weren’t issued an official timepiece. In addition, the regulations and requirements for a military wrist watch are pretty vague.

You’ve got better things to do than embark on a blind hunt for the perfect active-duty accessory, so we’re here to narrow down the search and help you find a timepiece worthy of the uniform.

Watches for active military members should be…

1. Durable

The day-to-day duties of active military members can vary dramatically. One day, you’re sitting at a desk. The next, you’re jumping out of a plane or crawling through mud. Obviously, you need a watch that can handle it all. It’s got to be incredibly durable, so look for watches made with impact-resistant material like resin or stainless steel and sapphire, crystal, or tough PMMA face to avoid scratching.

2. Accurate

In the military, every second matters. A watch worn by a member of any branch needs to be accurate and reliable, which is why most military members these days choose digital over analog. You may also need a precise dual-time-zone function, which is a standard feature of most tactical digital watches.

3. Easy to Read

Another reason digital watches are preferable to many active duty members over traditional analog and automatic watches is that they’re easy to read at a glance. Even for an expert clock reader, the ability to see the time immediately is crucial. In addition, a digital tactical watch should allow for military time, something that the 12-hour cycle of an analog clock can’t offer. And who really wants to do that math?

4. Water-resistant

Whether you’re serving in the Navy or the Army, having a timepiece that can handle moisture is crucial. For some, a dive watch with a higher water and pressure resistance may be necessary. For others, a watch with 10 ATM (atmospheres) resistance will do the job nicely.

5. Long-lasting

Finding a timepiece with a long battery life is essential for active duty military members. Chances are, you’re not carrying watch batteries with you at all times. So, finding a reliable piece that isn’t going to fade out on you and leave you in a bind is a must. Some military personnel opt for an automatic or analog watch for this reason. If you choose to go digital, make sure you’re aware of how many hours of battery life it has so you can purchase a replacement battery before it stops ticking (figuratively speaking).

6. Compatible with an Active Lifestyle

Whether you’re surviving boot camp or just trying to get in that daily workout, fitness is a huge part of military life. A digital watch can offer features such as step counters, calorie trackers, and chronographs with lap memory to assist you in reaching your fitness goals.

7. Covered by a Good Warranty

You need a watch as faithful as Old Glory herself, so it’s important to make sure yours comes with a good warranty. Most military watches come with one-year, limited coverage. However, some quality watch retailers will offer you a two-year warranty for no additional cost. Keep in mind, though, that most warranties are meant for manufacturing defects and do not cover regular wear and tear, battery replacement, loss, or theft.

Before you purchase your dream watch, make sure you understand what the warranty does and does not cover. Will they give you a discount on a replacement if your watch gets damaged in the line of duty?

Bonus: Branded

Although it may not affect the job in terms of functionality, we know you take pride in your branch and deserve a watch that honors your service and those who serve alongside you. Custom branded watches that feature the emblems of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines, along with a “Thin Green Line” design are a great way to rep for your branch of the military.


Our armed forces work hard (and even that’s an understatement) to keep our country safe and deserve top-quality gear that is reliable and built for their unique and active lifestyle. For military members, a watch isn’t a fashion accessory. No. It’s a tool that’s crucial for getting the job done. If you’re looking for a timepiece that you can be confident will be an asset to the mission, it is imperative to find a military tactical watch that is durable, accurate, practical, and long-lasting.

Rockwell Time’s Hero Mission:

We believe that members of our nation’s military deserve our highest thanks. As a small token of our appreciation, customers who purchase any Rockwell Time watch or sunglasses at the retail price can receive a free item from our Hero Mission Collection when they use the code “THANKAHERO.” If you or a loved one is a military member or a veteran, we invite you to take advantage of this deal as our way of saying “thank you” for your service.

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1 comment

Looks great and rugged

Steve Peters

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