Richard's Top Five Tactical Watches under £2000 in 2023

Richard's Top Five Tactical Watches under £2000 in 2023

Richard Brown


WatchGecko Top Choice Series

Tactical watches are big business. Between those required for genuine Special Operations purposes and the multiple models you see on high-profile TV shows such as Jack Ryan on Amazon, there is little escaping this exciting genre. You only had to look around the World Time Exhibition in LHR last year to see how many were on display. Modern tactical watches have hugely evolved in both style and construction to deliver information for modern warfare rather than the classic military watch such as the Dirty Dozen collection.

So how are we defining a Tactical Watch?

For this exercise, I define a tactical watch as a simple 3-hand watch designed primarily with military functionality with exceptional legibility in low light conditions. Whilst you could argue that some dive watches could fit this criterion I am going to restrict this Top 5 to relatively modern products, many of which will have alternate construction methods representing cutting edge military technology. This list is by no means conclusive however, based on over a decade around tactical equipment, these are my choices. One omission that may surprise people are the uber-tactical watches being designed by many brands where the indices, hands and dials are all black. These are fashion watches and have no military value, so don't be fooled into thinking they are genuine tactical watches.

No.5 Luminox Navy SEAL series - £400-£500 depending on model

Luminox Navy SealLuminox Navy Seal - Credit WatchGecko

There are a number of watches in this series all of which have the honour of carrying the badge of the US Navy SEALs on the case back. These watches, such as the 3050 and 3501, are battle proven and represent excellent value for money when you consider the specifications. Not only are you getting highly advanced tritium illumination but your watch will weigh next to nothing thanks to Luminox's proprietary Carbonox case material. If you're looking for a tactical watch, there's no good reason not to buy one of these.

No4 Traser P96 - £260-£300

Traser 96Traser 96 - Credit WatchGecko

You can't mention Luminox and not mention Traser because the two operate hand in hand within the US and other militaries. These two brands battle it out like Mercedes and BMW, and there isn't much to pick between them other than the fact that Trasers can be a little cheaper. The P96 ODP Evolution is, in my opinion, the best Traser to have come out of the factory in years and represents everything a modern tactical watch should be. It's a real strap monster with supreme legibility, super tough lightweight construction, tritium, and arguably more sophistication than a bold Luminox.

Traser 96Traser 96 - Credit WatchGecko

No.3 Casio G Shock GW-M5610U-1BER - £135

Casio G-ShockCasio G-Shock - Credit WatchGecko

If you want to go full blackout but avoid silly fashion analogue models available, a way to do that is with a Casio G shock inverted LCD screen. One of the best models for this is the GW-M5610U-1BER, which is a fine tactical watch due to its considerable functionality. With this model you get a unit that will blend seamlessly with your black Special Operations uniform and is highly legible in both night and day. You also get multiband accuracy and solar power which means. no matter how long your mission, your watch will never let you down.

No.2 Geckota Phalanx S01 Gen 2 - £699

Geckota Phalanx S01 Gen 2Geckota Phalanx S01 Gen 2 - Credit WatchGecko

Let's be 100% clear; this watch is not in here because the brand is connected to WatchGecko. This watch was designed from the ground up to be a pure Special Operations unit with all of the analogue functionality and covert appearance that you would expect in a fully professional tactical watch. The Gen 2 has recently been released which offers a fully lumed bezel allowing for underwater navigation. Decimal time ensures accuracy and the internal ETA 2824-2 guarantees reliability. This is the only non-carbon or polymer watch in the Top 5 so if you're looking for a full steel tactical watch you'll need help finding one more fit for purpose

geckota phalanx S01 Gen 2Geckota Phalanx S01 Gen 2 - Credit WatchGecko

No.1 Nite Hawk - £325-£375

Nite Hawk Nite Hawk - Credit WatchGecko

The Nite Hawk takes the number one spot, not just because it's the last tactical watch I tested but because I can't put it down. Coming in as the new polymer model on the market it's challenging iconic names that have been around since the Gulf War. Weighing just 70 g, the carbon fibre polycarbonate case means that the watch weighs nothing on your wrist yet still gives a full 200 metre water resistance. The T100 tritium dial available must be seen to be believed at night. Don't worry, if it's too bright for your operation there is a T25 model as well. The Hawk has one of the best bezels I've ever used which is cut in a way that makes operation with gloves so easy and it has a large dial which is not cluttered and well spaced out, giving a tactical look and exceptional legibility.

Nite Hawk Nite Hawk - Credit WatchGecko

No doubt people will argue it's no better or worse than a Luminox or Traser but for me the design ethos of the Hawk, and the fact that Nite have tried to create something different, really resonates.

That concludes our eighth feature of Top 5 Series, do you agree with our opinions or would you have chosen a different model for your number one spot?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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