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Exploring The Best Survival Watches

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: July 2, 2019
Exploring The Best Survival Watches

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While a survival watch may seem like a quaint idea, you need to think about how tough it actually might be out in the bush or during a SHTF situation. The best survival watches are not just about telling the time or setting an alarm. These devices have a lot of different functions that make them worth considering as part of your preps.


Survival watches are made from a variety of materials. Paracord is popular because it is lightweight and serves another purpose if you need some easy to get to cordage.

Timing Of Medications and Tourniquets

It can actually help you get the most out of your supplies if you have a timer. Cooking food for longer than you have to for example is a waste of cooking fuel and time. If you have a stove that takes fuel you may be surprised how much better you do in terms of consumption if you pay more attention to times.

If you need to take medications or use a timer for any medical related use then a survival watch can fill that role too. Tourniquets, for example, are only meant to be left in place for so long. It is important to know how long you have a tourniquet on. Medical professionals can better assist you if you get to them and have an idea of the time you applied it.

Remember that during a SHTF scenario or medical emergency you may not have the mental faculties to have a good sense of time. When you are not on a schedule and things are happening fast it may seem like 30 minutes have passed when it has really been 10.


You don’t want a watch that cannot take a significant downpour or be submerged for a bit. What if you have to swim or your boat capsizes. Maybe you have to ford a river? Even a major storm could put a lot of water stress on your watch even if you have rain gear on. The best survival watches are waterproof.

Digital Versus Hands

Younger people are used to all digital timepieces whereas a lot of us grew up with a combination of digital and hand faces. A digital piece means you can have a smaller display in most cases. Watches with hands on them have mechanisms that are tough but they usually take a battery just like any other watch. Digital is going to be easier to find but I am going to include a few non digital options too.

Glow In The Dark

Some watches have displays that are meant to be easily read in the dark. A lot of watches have a button that allows you to illuminate the dial when you need to. This is a nice touch because you don’t have something glowing all the time that might cause unwanted attention when trying to hide out or get from point A to point B.

Price Point

Watches are less expensive for what you get than they once were. The best survival watch is not going to be hundreds of dollars, but it may be as much as over $100 depending on what you get or add to it. There are plenty in the $20 range. So if you haven’t bought a quality watch in years don’t just assume that what is coming out now is garbage just because the price has gone down so much.

WuuYe Survival Watch
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This classic watch features a paracord wristband and a convenient clip in and out release. There is a lot hidden in this band. Not only do you get a compass that is easy to read yet small enough to be comfortable, you get a whistle, fire starter scraper and flint, a whistle, and a thermometer. In a survival situation, the band can be unraveled to allow for 3 meters of paracord. The face glows in the dark so no need for a backlight.

Some of the pictures indicate that there is an alcohol prep pad and fishing gear hidden in this one but I did not see it in the main description.

BlueStraw Digital Survival Sport Watch

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If you are looking for a watch that can mix it up a bit, this is the one for you. You get three different bands that you can switch out depending on the occasion. If you are out for your morning jog then maybe you don’t want the survival grenade band on your arm?

I am impressed with how many features are packed into this watch and it is water resistant down to 30m!

While you can enjoy a compass and easy to read watch, there is also a fishing kit that includes swivels, hooks, weights, and floats. That is way more inclusive than I would expect. Thank you for a kit that includes a swivel! If you have fished much without a swivel then you will understand how frustrating it can be. It can be done but that doesn’t mean it is fun!

A whistle, firestarter, scalpel blade, alcohol prep pad, and aluminum foil are also included so this watch offers a good mix of food procurement, fire starting, and medical supplies.

JN Store Camping Watch

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This is another budget-friendly survival watch with a decent fishing kit included considering it has to fit in such a compact space. This watch only has the paracord band so if you don’t really care about the multiple bands that the previous watch has, you can save some money with this option.

While this has all the typical paracord and time reading features of your typical survival watch it also has things like safety pins for holding stuff together. While there is a fire starter and scraper there is also some tinder to get you started. The whistle can help alert others to your location or scare off wildlife if needed.

  Fanmis Mens Military Digital LED Watch

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I like the blue lighted dial on this one. I know that doesn’t mean much in a survival situation but luckily the rest of this watch seems to be solid.

This is a basic sports watch. There are no hidden fishing kits or anything like that. However, for your money, you get a watch that is water resistant for 50 m, an easy to use stopwatch, quartz movement, and a dial light that you can turn off and on as needed. A calendar is built in to help you keep track of the days.

Alarm mode and a shock resistant design make this a tough watch that you can rely on during the wettest conditions. For those that like to keep it basic, this is a watch to consider.

This watch also has the advantage of being wearable for those that have small wrists. You can adjust this timepiece to fit wrists from 6.5-9.25 inches.

Ibreathtech Paracord Wrapped Survival Watch

This watch looks a little slicker than some that I have found. The paracord bracelet has a quick off and on clasp. With this design, you get a compass, blade, fire starter, and thermometer. Of course, the paracord band can be unraveled and the cordage used for a variety of needs. I was impressed that you get 12 feet of paracord instead of the 9 feet on other watches.

If color matters then you will be glad to know that this comes in 4 different color combinations.

An emergency whistle is another bonus.

Don’t Be Tempted To Put A Survival Band On An Expensive Watch

During the course of my research, I noticed that there are a lot of survival bands for sale that claims to fit the Apple Watch or iWatch.  Okay, I know that everyone reading this may not live out in the sticks and they may have an iWatch but why would you want to take such a sensitive instrument out during a survival situation? I guess if you got caught out and had a survival band it would be better than nothing but I say that you should get a reasonably priced survival watch and leave the expensive high tech every day one in a safe place.

Adjusting Watch Size

A lot of these watches are made with a paracord band. You can undo some of the paracord and use a lighter to seal the end after reattaching the clasp end. If you don’t want to reduce the amount of paracord you have at your disposal you can always just attach the watch to your pack.

Most watches are made to fit wrists in the 7″-9″ range unless otherwise specified.

Be realistic about what any survival gadget can do.

While a watch is nice to have when other timepieces fail, the results you get from all these watches with special features and gear also depends on you. If you have never got a fire going with a good firestarter than you are probably going to have an even harder time with a basic starter like those on the watch bands.

If you really want to be confident with any piece of survival equipment then nothing is going to compare to real practice. If you really want to be able to get the most out of your survival watch then I would recommend getting two and using one for practice.

Basically, all the watches I mentioned are under $20. It is better to spend more and practice than to find yourself in a dire situation with something that you can’t really use.

Do you have any suggestions for a great survival watch? Have you ever made your own? After seeing the various types of watches available it almost seems like making your own would be a neat project and be fairly inexpensive to do.

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16 Responses to “Exploring The Best Survival Watches”

  1. One advantage of hands over digital: during the day you can use the hands to determine North – assuming you don’t have a compass on hand.

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