15 Best Survival Watches (Including G-Shock, Garmin & More!)
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Best survival watches

15 Best Survival Watches (Including G-Shock, Garmin & More!)

When I think of survival watches, a few images come to mind, notably G-Shock watches and the iconic image of Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing his Seiko H558 in the movies “Commando” and “Predator”. However, as technology within timepieces has advanced, so too has the ever-growing list of multifunctional and rugged watches.

Survival watches are tool-based timepieces that contain unique complications, making them invaluable in potentially life-threatening situations. Below, we will review the best survival watches currently available on the market and explore who these watches are tailored for.

About Survival Watches

Historically, one could argue that diver watches were the earliest form of survival watches. Typically, countries commission timepieces for their military. In the past, these included the iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Rolex Submariner, and Zodiac Sea Wolf.

However, with the advancement of modern technology, brands beyond the traditional watchmaking industry have entered the survival watch market. These brands now include G-Shock, Garmin, Suunto, and more. This shift can be attributed to the increased popularity of outdoor exploration, particularly following the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions globally.

Survival watches should boast key features that enable the wearer to use them in emergency or life-threatening situations. Examples of such cases include being stranded, navigating underwater environments, or even dealing with health-related emergencies.

What To Look For in Survival Watches?

Survival watches should ideally incorporate the key features mentioned below, making them genuine tools for the wearer. Let’s move forward and explore these features.

Build Quality

This is one of the most crucial aspects of a survival watch. The build quality must meet high standards because these watches are intended for practical, rugged use. You can typically expect the main case material to be 316L stainless steel or titanium. Additionally, having a sapphire crystal is preferred, but mineral crystal or Gorilla Glass (smartwatches) is also acceptable.

Water Resistance

This is crucial for anyone using their timepiece as utility equipment, as a watch with a higher water resistance rating can withstand harsh environments. Ideally, a survival watch should have a water resistance rating of at least 100 meters, allowing the wearer to swim with their timepiece without concern. You never know when an explorer might encounter the sea, and as the saying goes, “prepare for the worst”.

Survival & Safety Features

A diverse range of features is essential for a survival watch because you never know when you may find yourself in an emergency situation. These features may include compasses, GPS capabilities, a pulse oximeter, comprehensive health tracking functions, safety and tracking features, as well as enhanced mapping functions, to name just a few.


I firmly believe that every tool watch should feature lume on the dial or, alternatively, a backlight. This enables the wearer to read and operate their timepiece in low-light conditions. I wore my Omega SMP Bond while ascending Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia in 2017. 

During the early hours of the morning, when I and my fellow climbers began the second leg of the ascent, I could easily check the time on my Omega SMP Bond due to its strong lume. Therefore, I highly value watches with excellent lume, not to mention they look cool in the dark!

15 Best Survival Watches You Can Buy Today

Now, let’s review the list of 15 survival-type watches.

Timex Expedition North Tide-Temp-Compass (ref. TW2V03900QY)

The first timepiece is from Timex, which I will refer to as the Tide-Temp-Compass. This variant features a gunmetal gray case crafted from 316L stainless steel. With a case size of 43mm, it strikes a balance between being large enough for practicality and fitting the tool nature of the watch.

Survival-oriented features of this watch include an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, luminescent hands, and hour markers, as well as 100m water resistance. One of its more unique attributes is what Timex calls the “Tide-Temp-Compass movement’s bidirectional center hand”.

This function serves to indicate local tide and temperature conditions, ensuring the wearer is headed in the correct direction. The Tide-Temp-Compass feature is especially valuable for mountaineering or hiking enthusiasts. The Timex Tide-Temp-Compass sells for between $249 and $269, depending on the strap/bracelet configuration.

Suunto Core All Black (ref. SS014279010)

Suunto’s fitness tracking devices have surged in popularity over the past decade, earning their place alongside Garmin in terms of quality and demand. The Core All Black case is crafted from composite material, featuring an aluminum bezel and mineral crystal glass.

With a 49mm case size, a true round shape, and a thickness of 14.5mm, it’s akin to having a sleek electronic compass on your wrist, making it both stylish and well-suited for outdoor adventures.

This rugged timepiece boasts survival-oriented features, including an altimeter, barometer, compass, temperature sensor, storm alarm, sunrise/sunset data, and a depth meter for snorkeling. These functions fulfill essential needs for anyone exploring the great outdoors.

The Core All-Black sells for $219.

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1

G-Shock is renowned as a pioneer in survival watches, owing to its rich heritage and enduring popularity for being extremely tough. The Rangeman is a solar-powered timepiece equipped with a multi-band 6 function.

This means it utilizes radio waves to receive time signals from atomic clocks worldwide, including in Japan, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and China. Once the time is accurately set, the watch automatically synchronizes with the atomic clock daily.

As a proud owner of a G-Shock GWM5610 with solar and band 6 functionality, I can personally vouch for its exceptional timekeeping accuracy and convenience. With dimensions measuring 53.5mm in case size and 18mm in case thickness, the Rangeman is undeniably substantial on the wrist, but this ensures you’re always aware of its presence.

The Rangeman boasts an array of survival features, including ultimate shock resistance, 20-bar water resistance, an altimeter, barometer, world timer, stopwatch, LED backlight, and more. Having experienced a variety of G-Shock timepieces, I wholeheartedly recommend the Rangeman as the ultimate survival watch, given its unparalleled durability, reliability, and advanced technology.

The Rangeman costs $330.

Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar Tactical Edition

The Instinct Crossover Solar stands out as one of Garmin’s highly regarded smartwatches. Garmin boldly claims that this timepiece is “Built to military standards” and boasts an “Infinite Battery Life”. Let’s explore below to see why these claims hold true.

Garmin substantiates its claim of infinite battery life by incorporating solar power charging into this watch. Additionally, this Garmin model features a dual-layered bezel and 100m water resistance, designed to withstand the rigors of challenging environments.

This makes it not only thermal and shock-resistant but also aligns with the military standards claim. With a case size measuring 45mm in diameter and a thickness of 16mm, it strikes a balance on the wrist thanks to its short lug-to-lug length.

Alongside these attributes, it offers an array of valuable survival features, including dual-format GPS, stealth mode, a kill switch (not as sinister as it sounds), tactical activity tracking, safety and tracking functions, ABC sensors, weather reports, and more.

Furthermore, the Instinct Crossover Solar received the prestigious Red Dot Award in 2023, a globally recognized mark of excellence in product design.

The Instinct Crossover Solar Tactical Edition sells for $499, but it’s commonly discounted.

Alpina AlpinerX Sports Watch (ref. AL-283LBB5AQ6B)

The AlpinerX represents one of the more traditional Swiss watchmaking brands featured here. Inside the AlpinerX, you’ll find a smart quartz movement, ensuring precise timekeeping. This choice is apt, considering that automatic movements are more susceptible to damage or displacement if subjected to impact.

With a substantial 45mm case size, the AlpinerX offers a dual analog and digital display on the dial, justifying its larger dimensions. The watch boasts an array of features, including a screw-down crown that provides it with 100m water resistance, orange hands for enhanced readability, a rotating compass bezel, and sensors on both the dial and case for tracking altitude.

These, alongside the rest of the watch’s features, should suffice for most outdoor enthusiasts. The AlpinerX Sports is discontinued, but the secondary market indicates prices of less than $800.

Coros Vertix 2 Adventure Watch

Coros is a relatively new player in the smartwatch industry, founded in China in 2014. The Vertix 2 boasts a substantial case measuring 50mm in diameter and 15mm in thickness, aligning with the larger size commonly found in survival watches. 

It features a sapphire crystal, a titanium alloy case and bezel, an impressive battery life of up to 140 hours when using GPS, and up to 60 days of regular use. Additionally, it comes equipped with a compass, altitude sensor, barometer, heart rate monitor, and various mapping functions.

The Vertix 2 costs $699.

Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GWG2000-1A1

The Mudmaster, the second G-Shock mentioned on this list, stands as a higher-end offering compared to the Rangemaster. One of the key distinctions is its use of forged carbon in the bezel and a carbon fiber-reinforced composite case, elevating its quality.

Much like the Rangemaster, the Mudmaster also boasts a solar-powered timekeeping mechanism coupled with the multi-band 6 function. These features, which I wish every G-Shock had, prove invaluable for maintaining precise time without the need for manual adjustments during daylight savings.

Measuring 54mm in diameter, 61mm lug-to-lug, and 16mm in thickness, the Mudmaster is designed to withstand dust and mud, showcasing its ruggedness. 

In addition to ultimate shock resistance and 20-bar water resistance, it offers a comprehensive set of survival features, including an altimeter, barometer, world timer, stopwatch, digital compass, high-brightness double LED backlight, and a rarely seen sapphire crystal in G-Shocks.

This Mudmaster is undeniably one of G-Shock’s top tool watches, packed with a plethora of useful features. As a more premium G-Shock, this Mudmaster is priced at $800.

Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Master Series (ref. 3740)

The Bear Grylls Survival Ref 3740 stands as the second Swiss-made quartz watch featured here. Luminox proudly declares that this timepiece is “designed to be your trusty companion in any outdoor adventure”.

One of the standout features of this watch is its association with Bear Grylls, the former member of the British Special Forces. Knowing that it meets Bear Grylls’ seal of approval adds to its credibility and appeal.

The Bear Grylls Survival is meticulously crafted from carbon, with dimensions measuring 45mm in diameter and 14mm in thickness, ensuring a lightweight and comfortable wearing experience. 

What sets it apart is the luminescence achieved through a self-powered illumination system employing tiny micro gas light sources—a unique Swiss technology that guarantees luminosity for up to 25 years. These micro gas lights are strategically placed on the hands, dial, and even the 12 o’clock marker on the bezel.

This Luminox Bear Grylls Survival is listed at $995 directly from Luminox, and savvy shoppers can enjoy a 10% discount by applying a coupon code, making it an even more attractive purchase.

Garmin Fenix 7 Pro Sapphire Solar Edition

Garmin touts the Fenix 7 Pro Sapphire Solar as a watch designed for those who dare. This Garmin timepiece is available in three sizes: 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm, with the 47mm case version (with a thickness of 14.5mm) taking center stage.

This Garmin watch is loaded with a multitude of survival features, such as solar charging, Garmin’s exclusive Power Sapphire lens, an LED flashlight, multiple maps, weather reports, a pulse oximeter, ABC sensors, and much more. It seems Garmin is giving you everything but the kitchen sink.

Garmin’s reputation precedes it, but what sets this model apart is the premium materials used, likely enhancing its durability. While I may not have extensive experience with smartwatches in general, I’m inclined to consider Garmin for its versatile smartwatches, given its positive reputation and brand heritage.

Garmin places a premium price tag of $899 on the Fenix 7 Pro.

Marathon Pilot’s Navigator With Clip-On Wrist Compass (ref. WW194001BK)

The Pilot Navigator was born from a collaboration with Kelly Air Force Base in 1986, giving it a rich military heritage and genuine battlefield experience.

With a case size of 41mm and a thickness of 13mm, the Pilot Navigator is the smallest and most wearable watch on this list. Its high-impact composite fiber shell case ensures resilience against impacts while maintaining its pristine appearance. 

Tritium tubes on the dial, a great alternative to standard lume, provide excellent visibility in low light, and a sapphire crystal shields it from scratches. One drawback is its 6 ATM water resistance, which allows for wear in the shower but isn’t suitable for swimming.

However, considering its identity as an aviation timepiece, a pilot’s concerns would likely extend far beyond a water-damaged watch. The Pilot Navigator timepiece is priced at $450, and the additional clip-on wrist compass can be acquired for an additional $25.

Luminox Recon Nav SPC (ref. 8831.KM)

The Recon Nav SPC belongs to Luminox’s Recon series, designed for Navigation Specialists tasked with maintaining a vigilant patrol along designated routes until reaching their objective.

The Recon NAV SPC 8831 dial incorporates a user-friendly walking speed tachymeter, which can be read in kilometers or miles per hour. These timepieces are equipped with a movement featuring a GMT complication, enabling the wearer to track a second timezone.

With a case size of 46mm and a case thickness of 13.5mm, this Luminox watch offers practicality. Additionally, the watch strap includes three common map scales and an inch/cm measurement and comparison chart. It also houses a removable compass for added functionality.

Like the previously mentioned Luminox model, the Recon Nav SPC also boasts Luminox’s self-powered illumination system, utilizing tiny micro gas light sources that guarantee luminosity for up to 25 years. The watch features a sapphire crystal, ensuring durability. With a water resistance rating of 200m, it’s suitable for diving or snorkeling.

The Recon Nav SPC has been discontinued but can still be found in the secondary market for approximately $500.

MTM Black Status (ref. STATBBL2DBKR2MTM)

MTM is an American company with over 30 years of history, founded by Joe Casis, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces. The Black Status is a smartwatch with a sleek military aesthetic, thanks to its black-coated titanium case. Measuring 45mm in diameter and 16mm in thickness, it’s a robust choice.

The hands and hour markers are equipped with Super LumiNova for excellent visibility in low-light conditions. A layer of Sapphire Crystal protects the dial, and it offers a commendable water resistance rating of 100m, making it suitable for swimming.

This timepiece also packs several important features, including Multiple Timezones, Navigation, a Compass, Weather updates, an Alarm, a Chronograph, and a Countdown Timer. The primary focus of the MTM Black Status is its stealthy military appearance, combined with the brand’s strong ties to armed forces.

The MTM Black Status is priced at $750.

Suunto Vertical Titanium Solar Black

The Suunto Vertical Titanium Solar Black watch offers an impressive array of features, encompassing maps, an altimeter, a barometer, a compass, a storm alarm, weather forecasting, solar charging, heart rate tracking, and a diverse range of workout tracking capabilities. 

What’s particularly intriguing is that Suunto manufactures this watch in Finland, utilizing renewable energy sources. For individuals passionate about promoting green energy and who aspire to minimize their carbon footprint, choosing this Suunto timepiece is a meaningful step in the right direction!

The watch case comes in at 49mm by 13.6mm thick. It weighs only 74g and incorporates Glass Fiber Reinforced Polyamide in its case, Titanium Grade 5 for the bezel, and a sapphire crystal for the display. The strap is made of a comfortable silicone material. 

One area where this Suunto model stands out compared to its competitors is in battery life. It can last up to an impressive 60 days in daily mode, a significant advantage for extended outdoor adventures when charging opportunities may be limited. This makes it an incredibly valuable feature to have.

The Suunto Vertical Titanium Solar sells for  $839.

Casio Pro Trek Pathfinder PAG240-1

The Pro Trek Pathfinder features a double-layer liquid crystal display with a register ring equipped with triple sensors. It comes equipped with Tough Solar technology, offering directional, barometric pressure, altitude, and temperature measurement functions.

With dimensions measuring 51mm in diameter, 57mm lug-to-lug, and a thickness of 15.3mm, this Casio timepiece won’t easily slip under a cuff. One notable convenience is its large buttons, allowing users to operate it even while wearing gloves. 

The buttons are also well-protected from knocks and unintended bumps by guards on each side. The resin strap is securely fixed to the lugs of the case using screws.

While the Casio Pro Trek Pathfinder is a versatile watch, excelling in no particular area, it provides ample functionality for the average hiker or outdoor enthusiast.

The Pro Trek Pathfinder is available for $280, making it one of the best value propositions on this list.

Garmin Tactix 7 Pro Edition

Garmin proudly labels the Tactix 7 Pro as “Built for the field,” positioning it as Garmin’s ultimate smartwatch.

Survival features abound in this remarkable Garmin watch, encompassing GPS functionality, a Power Sapphire lens, an integrated flashlight, night vision capability, safety and tracking features, ABC sensors, weather reports, a multitude of workout-related trackers, an aviation mode that empowers wearers to navigate aircraft to precise locations, and much more.

What sets this Garmin watch apart is the fusion of tactical GPS with solar power. Garmin goes the extra mile by encouraging owners to share images of themselves wearing the Tactix 7 Pro in various environments, whether it’s in the gym or atop a mountain summit.

This timepiece is a “beast” of a Garmin watch, ready to handle anything thrown its way. The Tactix 7 Pro represents the pinnacle of Garmin’s survival watches, and its premium status is evident in its price tag of $1,299.99.


In essence, survival watches live up to their name—they are timepieces you’d want to have by your side during times of danger or an emergency. The watches featured above are more than capable of enduring rugged conditions while offering multifunctionality.

They empower wearers with a wide array of tools, from navigating in the right direction to withstanding water exposure and much more. Therefore, if you’re frequently outdoors or have a spirit of adventure, it’s worth considering some of the watches mentioned above as your reliable companions.

About Exquisite Timepieces

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