Like fatigue pants and aviator shades, the best military watches are all built to stand up to the rigors of life in the trenches, the cockpit, or the ocean depths—but that’s really just a bonus. Because in addition to being tough as army boots, each one promises to lend a subtle hit of rugged flavor to your regular ol’ civilian staples.
Military watches fall into three overarching categories: field watches, diver’s watches, and pilot’s watches, each of which boast their own unique histories and function-driven design flourishes. The field watch, for example, was created in WWII to be uncomplicated, easy to read, and reliably sturdy—qualities you’ll appreciate whether you’re crouching in a foxhole or just running to catch a flight. Diver’s watches were originally built for navy frogmen, but their tough, waterproof cases make them the perfect accessory for conquering the urban jungle, too. Pilot’s watches might be the most specialized of the bunch, but their oversized cases (made to be worn over a flight suit) and dials jammed with esoteric markings make them that much more of a high-flying style statement for civilians.
These days, if you’re in the market for a military-inspired timepiece you’ll have plenty to choose from: dive watches approved by the Navy SEALs, faithful repros of WWII pilot’s watches. Whatever your preference (and whatever your budget), any of the wallet-friendly tickers below will be faithful allies in the ongoing battle of fit dominance.
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The Best Military Watches Add a Rugged Edge to Your Regular Civvies