Military and security work puts a high value on punctuality, for the obvious reasons. Getting good patrol coverage of a high value location, or logging incidents for law enforcement, means keeping close track of exactly what time it is. In war, success comes from coordinating different forces and assets so their effects hit the target at the vital moment. You can’t coordinate if some elements aren’t perfectly synchronized. And the key to synchronizing, and knowing what time it is, is obviously having a good watch.
The problem is that operations are hard on watches, and the average one you pick up in your local retailer isn’t going to stand the pace for long. Between impacts, abrasions and general rough, plus the dirty conditions you’ll soon use it in, it’s guaranteed to break down at the worst possible time. You’ll save a lot of trouble by getting a watch designed for heavy duty use, and there are a few really good ones available.
The ideal duty watch is going to be rated as dustproof and water resistant to at least 100 meters. That should guarantee that nothing gets inside to mess it up. Look for a good tough case as well. Models like 5.11 Tactical’s HRT Titanium are practically indestructible, but that does come at a price – bulk. If you wear your watch on your wrist, a chunky case is going to snag on your sleeve a lot, and it can even catch on fast ropes or web gear, sometimes giving you a painful friction burn. Consider getting a cover that fits over the strap; this will protect the face from scrapes when you’re not actually looking at it, and also give it a smoother profile that’s less likely to get caught up in stuff.
Of course you don’t need to wear it on your wrist. A lot of soldiers prefer to carry their watch around their neck on a length of 550 cord. That keeps it neatly out of the way, but also makes it awkward to look at. Some people aren’t mad about wearing a thin, touch cord around their neck either. An alternative is a watch holder that will fit onto body armor or load-carrying equipment. These protect the face and let you fit the watch to your gear in a convenient place. Of course, they also mean the watch is on your gear, not on you; but, if you’re on operations and it’s never out of arm’s reach that’s not a major problem.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, no matter how tough it is, your watch can still break or get lost. I almost lost my HRT Titanium when I caught it on a door frame and one of the strap pins snapped. I wasn’t quite distracted enough by the pain in my wrist to miss the noise of the watch hitting the ground, but not far off it. It’s not a bad idea to tuck a spare somewhere into your gear. Something like a Casio G-Shock is fairly inexpensive and very tough. In fact these are ideal as a primary watch, so get two; keep one on your wrist and one in a pouch or pocket.
A good watch is going to cost a few dollars, but it’s not worth cutting corners here. Try to get away with a cheap one and it will end up costing you more, because you’ll always be replacing them. Spend a bit more to start with and you’ll always have a watch you can rely on.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.