It used to be that no self-respecting man or woman would be caught without a watch on their wrist when they were away from home. Watches went from analog and wind-up to digital battery operated fairly quickly.
If you’re old-school you may have chosen to rebel against the digital trend and kept your analog watch. But for preppers, a watch is about much more than just knowing what time it is.
If you’re a prepper, you want a watch that will not only help you stay on top of the current date and time but one that also can help you navigate in unfamiliar terrain.
Although Quartz watches use battery power and mechanical (wind-up) watches do not, Quartz watches do not typically use batteries up too often.
In a SHTF situation, you would want to have plenty of batteries on hand for your Quartz powered watch whereas a mechanical one won’t require battery power. A more recent option is solar powered batteries.
Factors to Consider
Choosing a watch that you can depend on in a survival situation is a serious decision and not one that you want to make lightly. Consider accuracy of timekeeping, resistance to weather and water, and the type of power when choosing a survival watch.
In addition to its primary timekeeping feature, a survival watch comes with a range of additional features that can help you to survive in the outdoors or an extended hiking, camping, or SHTF scenario.
People often go out into the outdoors or wilderness for hiking or camping trips to get away from it all and lose track of time. But in a grid-down or bug out situation, when you need to find water, shelter, and food before dark, or keep your fire burning until daylight, knowing the precise time can be crucial to your survival.
Make sure you get a watch with a reputation for accurate timekeeping. Keep in mind that quartz movement is battery powered and make sure you are prepared for your battery to die or malfunction.
Water Resistant versus Water Proof
This is one area where you want to be particularly careful. Many ads for products use the words water resistant and water proof as if they mean the same thing but they do not.
Water resistant means the watch can be exposed to some occasional water such as rain, accidental submersion in a bucket of water or a creek. Some watches will indicate water resistance to a certain depth.
But a watch that is waterproof has been designed to be submerged in water for an extended period during activities such as scuba diving.
Type of Power
- Quartz or battery operated—these operate with battery power and the batteries can malfunction and/or run out at any time and will need replaced.
- Mechanically wound or self-winding—some watches require the wearer to “wind” them up every couple of days in order to maintain accurate time keeping. Other watches are self-winding as long as they are worn and being moved back and forth.
- Solar Powered or Photovoltaic cells—powered by the sun or with the ability to recharge batteries using the sun, solar powered watches require very little maintenance.
- Barometer – measures air pressure to assist in forecasting weather changes
- Altimeter – indicates elevation above sea level and can monitor whether you are at a higher or lower altitude than when you started out. Helpful for navigation to confirm you are descending or climbing.
- Temperature – self explanatory
- Sunrise/Sunset Times – displays anticipated sunrise and sunset times for the day.
- GPS – Having a backup reading of your longitude and latitude location can be handy. Just don’t rely on it working accurately in a grid-down situation or following an EMP.
- Compass – get a precise reading just by glancing at your wrist.
11 Budget Survival Watches to Consider
There are tons of quality watches on the market today. Choosing the right one is up to you. Here are some of the best survival watches priced under $100 for you to consider.
Disclosure: This post has links to 3rd party websites, so I may get a commission if you buy through those links. See my full disclosure for more.
G-Shock Watches by Casio
The Casio G-Shock models have long been a favorite of our military servicemen and well…everyone really. If you’re looking for reliability, choose a Tough Solar G-Shock watch to get a battery that will last up to 10 months after a full charge.
The watch recharges the batteries using solar power whenever it is exposed to sunlight. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 years or more.
G-shock watches come standard with features such as world time, daily alarms and auto calendar, and an adjustable resin band for comfort over long periods of wear.
In addition, the watches are both water resistant and shock resistant, something every prepper knows is a must have. G-shock watches under $100 include:
- G100-1BV This imported G-Shock watch by Casio is getting rave reviews. It is shock resistant AND Magnetic resistant which means it can withstand weak magnetic forces. Popular with military servicemen, it has an almost armor-like quality to the casing and keeps impeccably accurate time for years to come.
- GW6900-1 The imported Tough Solar Watch fits the bill for many preppers. It’s water resistant for marine water sports but not scuba depth approved. Japanese quartz movement powered by rechargeable solar power battery. Silicone band, stainless steel case and mineral dial window.
- G9000-1V This is a digital sports watch priced at just under $70 on amazon. Choose a model made in the USA. This watch is resistant to cold temperatures, water, mud, and shock. All the standard features with four multi-function alarms.
- DW9052-1V Imported with shock-resistant dial. Features afterglow backlight, timer, and alarm. Quartz style movement and water resistant up to 200 meters. Not scuba a scuba diving watch but okay for most other water sports.
- Casio Women’s “Baby G” BG169R-8 Sport Watch This is a women’s sport watch with Japanese Quartz movement and digital display. The dial window is made of mineral crystal. Water resistant to 660 feet, suitable for scuba diving recreationally. It’s built to last with a three-year battery life rating. Bezel is stationary, has hourly alarm-feature, phone number storage, and stopwatch.
Worthy competition against Casio. Sturdy and durable. Water resistant and shock resistant. Relies on Quartz power. Compass is dependable. Resin band and watch casing. Can be used underwater to 660 feet deep.
Available in 9 colors, this watch comes with the altimeter, Thermometer, Barometer, Alarm, Compass, and much more. Very accurate elevation readings and compass. Can easily replace your lensatic compass.
For preppers who are on a tight budget, this Silvercell Survival Bracelet is a bargain. It comes with a compass and flint buckle, and whistle as well as a paracord band. It’s water resistant but not water proof but the overall functionality is great.
This military style multifunction watch is a treasure for any prepper hunting for bargains. It’s imported, shock and water resistant to 30 meters.
The soft resin strap is done in military green and it comes with auto date, hourly chime, alarm, dual time, LED display, stopwatch, and 12 or 24-hour time display. Does not have altimeter, barometer, and other environmental features.
This little beauty has a band made of soft TPU for wearing comfort. It’s waterproof to 50 meters as long as you don’t push the action button underwater.
Large digital readout is easier to read time at a glance. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, there is no barometer altimeter, the bevel on the compass doesn’t move. It’s comparable in appearance to the more expensive Suunto Core.
If you can get by with a watch that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but will hold up to an accidental slip in the creek and still keep accurate time, try the Armitron Sport Watch.
It’s a good solid watch and is water resistant to 330 feet. Surprisingly lightweight for its large size, the Armitron is rugged and keeps time in both analog and digital.
Watches range in price from less than $10 all the way up to thousands of dollars. Finding a good one is a process of trial and error for most people. Before shopping for the best survival watch, consider how you will use the watch and what features will be the most crucial for your needs.