15 Best Survival Watches For the Adventurous At Heart

Mar 10, 2021
15 Best Survival Watches For the Adventurous At Heart

When someone hears the term ‘survival watch’ for the first time, it will probably come off as either intimidating or ridiculous. Skeptics would say that any timepiece can be used as a ‘survival watch’ in grave situations if the person is resourceful enough, while some would just brush it off and live their whole lives not knowing what a ‘survival watch’ really is.

But let me tell you this; I have seen a good amount of disaster and apocalyptic films to say that a survival watch can save your life when the situation arises. All jokes aside, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world for one to make use of a survival watch. It is a great type of timepiece to invest in if you’re an adventure junkie, a watch connoisseur, or simply someone who likes the functionality and durability of a survival watch. From Casio to Citizen, let’s find out more about survival watches, their advantages, and our picks of the best ones in the market. 

What Is a Survival Watch?

Before laying out some options, we must first establish what a survival watch truly is. Honestly, there really is no single definition for this because even a normal wristwatch can already be very useful in difficult circumstances (if you know how to make the most out of it). Some people believe that survival timepieces are synonymous or at least similar to military, outdoor, or field watches. This is because there aren’t many brands that release collections or models specifically using the term ‘survival’. Technically speaking, pieces that offer practical multifunctionality and high durability can be considered a ‘survival watch’. 

As the watchmaking industry continues to evolve through the years, many innovations have been made in terms of design and technical specifications. There has always been more than meets the eye when it comes to watches, but because of the advancement of technology, various functions and features can be squeezed in to a single timepiece today.

Multifunctionality is probably the most prevalent characteristic of modern-day survival watches. The following are just some interesting functions you can look out for: compass, barometer, altimeter, thermometer, solar battery power, and many more. 

Our Picks: 15 Best Survival Watches 

Now that we’ve established what a survival watch is or can be, you can check out the list of survival watches we have curated below. 

1. Casio Pro Trek (PRW-6600Y-1JF)

front view of Casio Pro Trek Ref. PRW-6600Y-1JF watch

What better way to begin this list than with a piece from the Casio ProTrek collection. Casio is a very well-known brand even among the general public. Chances are, you have seen or heard of them at least once in your life, especially since they’ve made numerous digital breakthroughs through the years. Moreover, a lot of people are not aware that Casio is also one of the most popular brands that offer relatively affordable survival watches. Some pieces from their Pro Trek collection and Casio G-Shock series are often regarded as great survival watch options. This model of the Casio Pro Trek is one that definitely lives up to its reputation. 

Design Specifications

Right off the bat, it has a very rugged and voluminous structure to it, which are pretty common traits in survival watches. This Casio Pro Trek PRW-6600Y-1JF watch comes in a grey colour with touches of white, silver, black, and green in the dial. It features a case and bezel made out of stainless steel and resin that is paired with a Dura soft strap. The dial displays numeral hour markers in white and luminescent hands. It also has a sub-dial and a digital time display at the bottom area. Lastly, there are various city codes stamped around its bezel for world time function. 

Functions and Features 

Moving on to the technical details, this piece features a triple sensor technology: an altimeter, a barometer, and a compass. The dial also features LED lights, a world time setting, a 1/100-second stopwatch, and a countdown timer. The Casio Pro Trek PRW-6600Y-1JF utilises a Multiband 6 feature and runs on a calibre 5571 movement. Lastly, this model is built to handle low temperatures while having a water-resistance of up to 100 metres. 

2. Suunto 9 Baro Black (SS050087000)

front view of Suunto 9 Baro Black Ref. SS050087000 watch

Next, we have an entry from Suunto, another pretty well-known brand whose philosophy is deeply rooted in creating timepieces suitable for adventurers and thrill-seekers. The products they offer all stem from that desire to come up with accurate, durable, and reliable pieces without having to compromise style and functionality. Moreover, as a brand that originated from Finland, Suunto is also committed to continuing its heritage, both in design and technical innovations. The Suunto Baro Black from the Suunto 9 collection is a clear reflection of the brand’s consistent evolution over the years. 

Design Specifications

When you first lay your eyes on this masterpiece, you will immediately feel the Nordic vibes Suunto is known for. It has a very minimalist look overall, but is still highly advanced and functional which is the true essence of Scandinavian designs. The Suunto 9 Baro Black is a smartwatch that has a glass fibre case, a stainless steel bezel, and a silicone strap. This particular piece comes in all-black aesthetics, but the Suunto 9 is available in different colours and materials.

Functions and Features 

Suunto advertises this model as a watch that is “built to last”, which is perfect for such a robust and multifunctional piece. The Suunto 9 Baro is a touch screen watch with various functions such as sleep and activity trackers, a GPS/navigation system, a heart rate counter, multiple weather functions, and so much more. This timepiece has a water-resistance of up to 100 metres and a battery life ranging from 25 hours to 14 days. Lastly, you can also connect this watch to a compatible device with the Suunto app. 

3. Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar (PRW3500T-7)

front view of Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar Ref. PRW3500T-7 watch

Up next is yet another timepiece from the Casio Pro Trek collection. This is a significantly different watch in comparison to the previous Casio Pro Trek one we tackled earlier, but it does have the same sturdy and well-built look to it. Although it does seem quite intimidating at first glance, especially with all the visible numbers and features, you can just tell that this watch was really created to withstand extreme circumstances, making it a great survival watch. 

Design Specifications

The exterior of the Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar screams rugged in all angles. It comes in a stainless steel case with a bracelet and rotary bezel of the same material. The bezel is stamped with directions which can serve as a compass, while the main dial features a digital display in full auto LED. While this piece is mainly in grey and black, it is also available in other colours. 

Functions and Features

In terms of functions and features, this one offers more than the first one mentioned. It features a Triple Sensor Version 3 which provides more accurate altitude, barometric pressure, and direction readings. This model also includes a Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm, which serves as a notification when changes in pressure and weather occur. In addition, the Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar runs on rechargeable solar power and is resistant to lower temperature (-10 C). Other key features include: a thermometer display range, world time featuring 31 time zones, an alarm function, a countdown timer, an auto calendar, and others. Lastly, this model has a water-resistance of up 200 metres. 

4. Citizen Promaster Altichron 

front view of Citizen Promaster Altichron watch

Citizen is a brand that incorporates social responsibility in the pieces they create. They are known for creating the first ever light-powered watch in the world. This just shows how they truly value their principles as a brand while remaining dedicated to producing quality craftsmanship. The Citizen Promaster Altichron is a perfect mix of their commitment to the environment, their consumers, and the world. They created this model with the adventurers and risk takers in mind. 

Design Specifications 

This specific model from the Citizen Promaster line has a very modern and cool vibe around it. The colour combination of dark orange and black makes it look so sleek and elegant but with a hint of ruggedness. The exterior includes a brown ion-plated stainless steel case and rotating bezel, paired with a black and brown calf inlay nylon strap. The black dial features large Arabic numerals, luminescent hands, an altimeter, a compass, and a date component at 3 o’clock.  

Functions and Features

This model has an Imperial altimeter, a sub-altimeter, and a compass function. It also has a water-resistance of up to 200 metres, making it suitable for swimming, showering, and snorkeling. Lastly, the Citizen Promaster Altichron utilises light power technology. 

5. Casio G-Shock Rangeman (GW-9400J-1JF)

front view of Casio G-SHOCK Rangeman Ref. GW-9400J-1JF watch

Now, we have another piece from Casio but from their infamous Casio G-Shock collection instead. This is probably one of the brand’s most well-known collections. What makes this a great survival watch is the different functions it offers and its renowned shock resistance. 

Design Specifications 

With this watch, you definitely can’t miss the adventurous and active feel it gives off. The Casio G-Shock Rangeman comes in a 53mm resin case, along with a strap of the same material. It is a purely digital watch with several buttons around the case that signify specific functions. It has a very futuristic and almost masculine style, especially with the bulky structure and colour combination. 

Functions and Features

The Casio G-Shock Rangeman runs on the Casio Calibre 3410 movement. It also has the typical-Casio triple sensor feature and utilises the Multiband 6 component. Lastly, this model has a water-resistance of up to 200 metres. 

6. Suunto Traverse Graphite 

front view of Suunto Traverse Graphite watch

The Suunto Traverse collection is known for offering timepieces that are perfect for trekking and hiking adventures. It is a great survival watch option, especially with its advanced navigation system. 

Design Specifications 

In terms of design, I would say this is more rugged-looking than the previous Suunto 9 model, but the Nordic vibes are still present. This particular piece comes in composite case material, paired with a stainless steel bezel and silicone strap. It also makes use of graphite, giving it a very intricate and modern look overall.

Functions and Features

The key characteristics of this piece lie with its well-integrated GPS and GLONASS navigation systems, its tracking component, the sunset/sunrise time feature, and the storm alarm. It also includes other features that are present in Suunto watches, such as a digital compass, an altimeter, an activity tracker, sports modes, and many more. Lastly, it boasts up to 100 hours of battery life. 

7. Luminox Atacama Field Automatic 

front view of Luminox Atacama Field Automatic watch

Luminox is a relatively young brand that offers high performance sports watches. They are known for using illumination technology in their durable and reliable timepieces. Luminox is a good brand for survival watches because of its collaborations/involvement with different sectors of the military. 

Design Specifications

The Luminox Atacama Field Automatic is probably one of the most inconspicuous pieces on this list. Compared to the other watches, it may seem quite ordinary but that doesn’t make it any less great. The beauty of this watch lies in its simplicity and high durability. It comes in a stainless steel case and fixed bezel, paired with a black leather strap. The black dial consists of luminescent markers, hands, and numbers with touches of orange. Moreover, it also has a date component at 3 o’clock. 

Function and Features 

This watch runs on a Swiss automatic movement and utilises Luminox self-powered illumination. Lastly, this piece has a water-resistance of up to 200 metres. 

8. Casio G-Shock Master of G Series (GWG1000DC1A5)

front view of Casio G-SHOCK Master of G Series Ref. GWG1000DC1A5 watch

In the hundreds of watches I have seen, the Casio G-Shock Master of G Series (GWG1000DC1A5) watch is probably the most visually complex piece I’ve ever encountered. It is a timepiece that has a cinematic feel to it, perfect for a futuristic action film. I mean, the different features seen in the photo can already tell you that it would make a great survival watch. 

Design Specifications

The G-Shock Master of G Series is a very bulky and sturdy piece. The huge black case, paired with the camouflage strap, gives off that military vibe. The dial itself is packed with many components such as city codes, indexes, Arabic numerals, luminescent hands, a sub-dial, and a digital time display. 

Function and Features 

For features and functions, this model has an auto-calendar and a solar rechargeable battery. It receives radio signals, which makes the time even more accurate. Furthermore, it is shockproof and has a water-resistance of up to 200 metres. 

9. Suunto Core All Black 

front view of Suunto Core All Black watch

This model is what the brand considers a true outdoor watch. At first glance, you immediately feel the futuristic but minimalist vibes that are very typical of Suunto. This is a good candidate for a survival watch due to its versatility in structure and function. 

Design Specifications

The Suunto Core has a very robust and resilient design. It comes in a composite case, paired with a strap made out of elastomer. The monochromatic palette of this specific model goes really well with the digital display. 

Function and Features 

In terms of technicalities, this model offers similar functions as the previous ones we have discussed in this article. The highlight of this piece is that you can use it anywhere and everywhere. It also has a battery life of up to 12 months. Other features include a digital compass, water-resistance of up to 30 metres, an altimeter, and weather-related functions. 

10. Garmin Instinct Solar – Tactical Edition

front view of Garmin Instinct Solar - Tactical Edition watch

Garmin is another brand that really specialises in creating products that are meant to withstand a variety of conditions outdoors. They make great pieces that utilise high technology, and their watches are perfect examples of that. The Garmin Instinct Solar makes a good survival watch as it was really designed to endure anything. 

Design Specifications 

This particular smartwatch has a very modern and sleek design especially with the use of black in the whole piece. It comes in a fibre-reinforced polymer case and a silicone strap. 

Functions and Features

Honestly, there are so many other features and functions that this watch offers, but it would take up an entire page just for it. In terms of functions, this smartwatch is way ahead of its time. Some of its features include an alarm clock, timer, stopwatch, wrist-based heart rate, hydration monitor, GPS, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, and many more. There are also different tactical features included, such as stealth mode, night vision mode, and dual grid coordinates.

11. Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Land Series – 3782

front view of Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Land Series Ref. 3782 watch

 

I think among all the timepieces I’ve mentioned in this article, this is the only collection that really uses the term survival in its name. For those who don’t know, Bear Grylls is a famous British adventurer who has his own show called Man versus Wild. He signed a long-term collaboration with Luminox, which is very on-brand for both parties. The Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Land Series – 3782 is said to be a watch heavily inspired by what Bear Grylls deemed necessary as a seasoned adventurer. Just judging by its name, you can already tell that this piece goes beyond what a normal survival watch is.

Design Specifications

In terms of design, this Luminox Bear Grylls watch has a very modern and eccentric look. It is the type of watch that makes you want to go on different adventures just so you can use it. It comes in a black carbon case, paired with a black strap. The dial includes luminescent indexes and hands, Arabic numerals, and a chronograph feature. The touches of orange give it a refreshing and stylish side.

Functions and Features 

This model runs on a quartz movement and has detailed chronographs to calculate walking speed. Furthermore, it has a water-resistance of up to 200 metres. This is definitely one of the best analogue survival watches out in the market. 

12. Victorinox INOX Carbon

front view of Victorinox INOX Carbon watch

If you’re one to value durability and reliability above all, then this is a great survival watch to consider. Victorinox is known for manufacturing high-quality timepieces that are meant to handle harsh circumstances. As mentioned earlier, there really is no exact definition for what a survival watch is and, to some, a durable timepiece can be the best option for them. 

Design Specifications 

In terms of design, it has a very simple yet cool look. The texture and colours give a really interesting vibe to the whole piece. It comes in a 43mm carbon case, paired with a black textile strap. The dial includes LumiNova numerals, hands, and indexes. 

Functions and Features

This survival watch runs on a quartz movement and boasts a water-resistance of up to 200 metres. 

13. Timex Expedition Camper

front view of TIMEX Expedition Camper watch

Some people may be shocked to find Timex among the brands that offer good survival watches. However, the Timex Expedition Camper is a good option for those who don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars. It is a reliable outdoor watch that definitely lives up to its name. 

Design Specifications 

For the design, this piece has a very simple and comfortable look to it. It seems like the type of timepiece that would make you forget that you’re wearing a watch. The exterior comes in a 38mm resin case, paired with a fabric strap, both of which are in black. The dial, also in black, includes Arabic numerals, luminescent hands, and a date component at 3 o’clock. 

Functions and Features

In terms of technical details, the Timex Expedition Camper has an Indigo light-up watch dial and runs on a quartz movement. Lastly, it has a water-resistance of up to 100 metres.

14. Garmin Fenix 6s Pro and Sapphire Editions

front view of Garmin Fenix 6s Pro and Sapphire Editions watch

Although this model comes in a variety of sizes and colours, the Garmin Fenix 6s Pro and Sapphire Editions watch is an elegant option for all the tech-savvy ladies out there. Garmin is known for making timepieces that are truly of high technology and this smartwatch definitely satisfies that reputation.

Design Specifications 

The exterior of the Garmin Fenix 6s Pro offers a very refined, classy, and modern look to it. The combination of the fibre-reinforced polymer case in rose gold and the white strap gives a luxurious finish to the entire model. 

Functions and Features

As it is a smartwatch, it comes with various functions and features, such as a sleep monitor, a hydration tracker, surf-ready features, a heart rate counter, and a whole lot more. However, what makes the Garmin Fenix 6s Pro a great survival watch are its expedition mode, a navigation system, and safety features. Lastly, its battery life can range from six hours to 34 days and it has a water-resistance of 100 metres. 

15. Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Chronograph Master 

front view of LUMINOX Bear Grylls Survival Chronograph Master watch

Last but definitely not least, we have another piece from Luminox’s collaboration with Bear Grylls. This makes a great survival watch option for those who prefer analogue watches that truly embody high-quality craftsmanship. 

Design Specifications 

The overall design gives the watch very rugged and adventurous vibes. It is the type of piece that screams “Don’t you dare mess with me” in the nicest and coolest ways possible and a great candidate for those who want reliable quality analogue watches that are just as multifunctional as digital ones. It comes in a Carbonox case, paired with a rubber strap, both in dark grey/black. The dial has luminescent hands and indexes plus 3 sub-dials. 

Functions and Features

This watch is powered by a RONDA 5030.D movement and has a compass loop accessory. Lastly, it has a water-resistance of up to 300 metres. 

Why buy a survival watch? 

There are truly so many reasons as to why survival watches are great to own. Nowadays, people have become so reliant on smart technology that it is difficult to tell what level most of us are when it comes to survival skills. Thankfully, a high-quality watch will be a dependable and trustworthy companion in times of trouble.

We never really know when a disaster will strike or when an unimaginable circumstance will occur, so purchasing something that’s both handy in harsh times and reliable for daily usage is a great asset. However, its advantages are not limited to dire situations; having a multifunctional watch can bring a lot of convenience to the wearer daily. In addition, since there are many survival watches out there, you won’t even have to look that far to find one perfectly suited for you. There is an array of timepieces out there that vary in price, design, brand, and features. 

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, I do agree that any watch can be a survival watch, as long as you know how to maximise its potential. However, the watches mentioned in this article are perfect examples of timepieces that offer multifunctionality, durability, and accuracy that would make surviving outdoors less difficult than it actually is. I’ll end this article by saying that choosing to invest in a survival watch is also investing in yourself in the long run. 

 

If you want to know more about oversized watches, check out this feature on the best big watches and find which one suits your big personality!

Photo credits: All photos courtesty of the brands’ official websites.

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