Best Survival Watch Buying Guide – Things you need to look out for

During a survival situation, having the right survival watch with critical functions such as GPS navigation, altimeter, barometer and digital compass would increase your chances of survival.

However, one would need to recognize that the materials used to build the multi-function watch is equally as important in order it to withstand harsh conditions like dust, mud, water and low temperature environment.

The last thing you would want is to have your survival watch malfunction during a SHTF situation. A survival watch must minimally be able to withstand the weather when bugging out. There are 3 main components of the watch you would need to look out for. These are the watch case, watch band and dial window.

If you are running on a tighter budget, you can check out the best military watch under $100 too to get watches with great features like atomic time keeping, shock and water resistant at an affordable price.

In this article, we will be going through the 3 main materials you will need to look out for when selecting your timepiece.

Watch Case

The watch case is the part where it contains the movement and dial. It is used to protect normal wear and prevent water from entering the inner workings of the watch.

Resin Plastic

This is the common type of watch casing material you would see in a G-shock watch due to its cost-effectiveness, resilience and water-proof properties. Digital watches usually adopt this plastic material and is commonly used for sports.

Stainless Steel

One of the most popular casing material would be stainless steel due to its longer lifespan, chemical and water resistant properties as well as requires minimal upkeep. Another benefit of using stainless steel casing is that it can be restored back to its original condition with polishing cloth for fine metals.


Ceramic has scratch proof, chemical-resistant properties and is very durable even under extreme weather. This material is known as hypoallergenic which means that it does not contain any sort of coating or metals. In this case, people with sensitive skin can wear a ceramic case watch.

Watch Band

A good watch band provides stability when wearing the watch. The strap would also prevent moisture from building up on your wrist. Some common watch band suitable for a survival watch:


A type of high-impact plastic that is durable, chemical resistant and last a long time. G-shock watch usually uses Polyurethane resin which makes the watch band tough and long-lasting. The material is neither too soft or hard in order to provide comfort to users without compromising its shock resistance and durability.

When the humidity is low, a typical G-shock resin band with proper care can usually last up to 5 years. In a humid environment, you can expect to change the band in less than 2 years when crack appears.

Some common care for a watch band are taking it off before bathing and cleaning it. This would prevent droplets of water getting trapped in the band causing the band to spoil faster.


Another common watch band material is rubber. In terms of comfort, rubber watch band would be more flexible and comfortable compared to resin, and generally less expensive than other materials. However, it does crack easier if not cared properly due to the sweat and exposure to weather.

Stainless Steel

Lightweight, corrosion-resistant, weather-proof, durable and long lasting are the main characteristics of stainless-steel watch bands. These stainless-steel watch bands are generally much more expensive than the resin band due to its material quality and stylish appearance.

Dial Window

The dial window or commonly known as the watch glass is a transparent covering within the face of the watch. Getting the right dial window would be essential because replacing one watch glass would be extremely costly. In fact, we could be better off getting a new watch entirely compared to changing the dial window.

Acrylic glass

The cheapest among all the watch glass material. Acrylic crystals are less scratch resistant compared to sapphire. It will develop small marks and scratches on its surface even if it does not receive any rough treatment. However, an acrylic glass would not shatter upon impact like a sapphire crystal would.

Hence, it is not recommended to use acrylic glass for your survival watch. You would usually encounter this glass material in children’s watches due to its inexpensive price and light weight.

Mineral glass

A mineral glass is a typical tempered glass made from silica. These mineral glass materials are usually heated or chemically treated to withstand scratches making it a better option compared to acrylic.

Some watch manufacturers would apply sapphire coating on mineral crystals to compromise between scratch-shatter resistance. These hardened mineral crystals are mostly used in diver watches because sapphire crystals are prone to shatter into pieces under high pressure while mineral glass can withstand the underwater pressure.

To achieve the best of both words, mineral glass with sapphire outer coating would provide you a dial window that could survive even the worst condition and the perfect material for a diver’s watch.

Sapphire Crystal

On a Mohs hardness scale, a sapphire has a hardness rating 9 out of 10 while an acrylic plastic has a rating of around 3. Sapphire glass is strong and has the best scratch-resistant compared to acrylic and material glass. Both top end Seiko and Citizen watches have sapphire crystal glass as their watch face material.

Interestingly, a sapphire is more scratch resistant than a mineral glass but it can shatter upon extremely hard impact especially under high pressure.

However, mineral glass would crack first and then shatter into small shards afterwards making mineral glass more suitable as a diver watch.

Another factor to consider when selecting the dial window for your time piece is the AR (anti-reflective) coating. The AR coatingsare useful in reducing the light reflection at a glass surface making it easier for users to read their watch face.

Technically, a watch without coating would reflect about 8% of the incoming light while the one with single sided coating would reflect only about 4.5% of the light.

To sum it all up, the three main components you need to consider when purchasing your survival watch are your watch casing, watch band and the dial window.

Personally, I would go for highly durable materials such as ceramic casing, resin band and sapphire coated mineral glass dial window when selecting my time piece. Even though these materials may cost more but it will be worthwhile in the long run due to its durability and low maintenance cost.

Atif Mallo

Atif Mallo is a freelance blogger with huge interest in technology, science, life hacks and health. He loves coffee, cheesecake and chess. Drop a line in comments to leave feedback for him.

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