If you’re trying to pick the right watch to add to your own wristwatch collection and you’re a guy, then you probably have stumbled upon the category of the military watch. Exactly what is a military watch, though? The definition has been debated quite a bit in watch forum circles, and there’s really no definitive answer.
Some might say that it’s any watch that a member of the military might wear. That seems like a cop-out definition, because it means any watch can be a military watch. Perhaps a much more suitable way to define the military watch is to imagine them in a foreign country engaged in continuous combat. In such a serious life-or-death situation, what would a uniformed warrior want on their wrist?
What Is a Military Watch and What Are Its Features
This leads us to what really defines a military watch. Here are 10 characteristics and features that most experts agree to pertain to such a style:
- There’s no bling factor. Some guys like eye-catching features like gold plating and lots of diamonds on the dial. For soldiers in the field, these features are absolutely worthless. In fact, they’re dangerous. When they’re hiding in the bush playing hide-and seek with the enemy combatants, the last thing they want is something that catches other people’s attention.
- Elegance goes out the window. It’s true that military watches are rather more subdued in their appearance compared to some of the gaudier types. But these watches also don’t have the same affectations as dress watches. For example, you won’t find Roman numerals on dial. There won’t be special designs on the face. Everything is simple instead. That’s why many military watches make for great casual timepieces.
- Expected arrangements. Instead of anything unusual, you usually have a classic black dial with light colored hands and indices. The date function is on the 3 o’clock, though in some cases it’s on the 4 o’clock.
- Wide case diameter. This is usually the first thing you notice on a military watch. While there are some watches that are just 40 or even 39 mm wide, others are bigger. The point of the bigger size is to make the design much easier to read for the time. You don’t have to concentrate and squint.
- Large numbers. The emphasis on readability is also the reason why these wristwatches tend to use large numbers on the dials. Often all the numbers from 1 to 12 are featured. In some cases, there may be smaller numbers to indicate the 24-hour military time. The watch may even be digital instead of analog.
- Timekeeping accuracy.Most watch snobs like to collect only mechanical watches instead of quartz watches. For a soldier, such considerations are immaterial and can even be fatal. Who cares if it’s mechanical when bullets are flying everywhere? The main advantage of quartz watches is that they’re much more accurate in keeping time, and you’re not off the real time by a few seconds or maybe even a few minutes each day.
- Reliable power. It’s not a secret why military watches don’t have to be powered by some sort of cool movement. It just needs to be reliable, and often that means being powered by a battery.
- Usefulness in the dark. Did you know that luminous hands were first developed for military use? While nowadays you can find this feature in many different kinds of watches, it remains a crucial factor in any military watch.
- Special functions. Some military watches are actually smartwatches. They offer a wide variety of functions that can help soldiers and other outdoorsy types in the field. These special functions include GPS, chronometer, ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass), thermometer, and perhaps even Bluetooth connectivity. These functions can help in various specific missions.
- Durability. This is another must-have characteristic of the military watch. It has to be tough as nails, and it should not break down just because you bump it against a rock. It should also be highly waterproof, meaning that you can swim while wearing it. This should keep you from worrying if it rains hard or if you have to wade into a pool of water. The strap is also highly durable, and the famous NATO strap first started out for military use.
Military watches are all about function, and the main function is to help you survive a combat tour of duty. The style considerations are not really important. It’s ironic that this low priority on appearance is actually what makes a military watch so cool-looking.
It gives the impression that you’re a man who’s confident and self-assured, and that you don’t give a damn about decorative purposes. It also provides you with a connection and a sense of brotherhood with people willing to serve their country in uniform. For men everywhere, that’s a sense of camaraderie that’s hard to ignore.