Best Watch For EMTs & Paramedics (1)

Best Watches for EMTs & Paramedics – Reviews with Comparison

Best Choice

G-Shock Tough Solar GWM5610 - EMT Watch

G-Shock Tough Solar

Best Value

Marathon Timex - EMT Watch

Timex Marathon

EMTs and Paramedics have super demanding jobs and need a tough watch to match. Now, there are two schools of thought on what makes the best EMT watch:

1) A lot of features and you're happy to pay for watch that will last, or  

2) Something cheap and basic that you can throw away should it become too gross.

Either way, we've got something for you in our EMT watch picks below. We also have a buyers guide at the end to help you decide which EMT watch is best for you. 

Note: This guide focuses on EMTs, but our recommendations are also suitable for paramedics and EMS in general. We've also covered our favorite watches for nurses here

EMT watch reviews

4.5

Best Choice

G-Shock Tough Solar GWM5610 - EMT Watch

Super tough with solar power and atomic timekeeping. As maintenance-free as you can get.

  • Solar powered 
  • Auto-light feature to keep hands free
  • 200m (660ft) water resistance

G-Shocks are clear favorites amongst EMTs because they are super practical. Renowned for being extremely tough, and packed with great features at an affordable price.


They are easy to read, water resistant (200m) and the silicon band is simple to clean with minimal risk of patient contamination.


The good
We like the GWM5610 G-Shock because it's relatively small (compared to other G-Shocks), has an EL backlight powered auto-light feature so you can turn it on and still keep your hands free. And is solar powered so there's no risk of the battery dying when you need it most.


Add in the atomic timekeeping function that automatically syncs the time every night and you've got yourself a super reliable set and forget watch.

The bad
The retro square design is not exactly loved by everyone. But we don't really mind as the practical benefits of this watch make up for its rather bland design.


If you're a deep sleeper, we'd recommend using a different alarm such as a cell phone or alarm clock as the alarm on the G-Shock GWM5610 may not be loud enough to wake you.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Auto-light
  • Solar powered
  • Tough as nails

Cons

  • Retro square design not for everyone
  • Alarm sound can be too soft
  • Atomic timekeeping signal strength depends on where you live

Specifications

  • Movement: Solar Powered Digital 
  • Crystal: Mineral
  • Case: Plastic
  • Case size: 47mm
  • Band material: Plastic
  • Water resistance: 200m (660ft)
  • 24 hr time: Yes
  • Seconds display: Yes

Check latest prices

G-Shock Tough Solar GWM5610

4.0

Best Value

Marathon Timex - EMT Watch

The entry-level model from Timex is functional, cheap and will get the job done. 

  • Super affordable
  • Large, easy to read display
  • 24 hour time

Sometimes you just need a watch to be just that; a watch. Easily read the time, a few functions (including 24hr time) and you're set. 

This basic Timex watch is just that. The cheapest watch in this list, it's ideal for those that just need a basic watch whilst on duty. 

The good

At this pricepoint, the Timex Marathon is considered a 'throw away' watch. With such a small investment, you don't really need to think about the purchase. You can buy one and if it doesn't live up to expectations, you can buy another one after a month or two of usage and give this one to your kid brother or relative. 

The durability is good, but it is not a G-Shock. It's plastic case does protrude and offers protection from bumps and scratches, but don't be surprised if a solid knock causes damage to it. 

With supersized numbers, readability at a quick glance is great. This includes easy-to-read seconds. 

If you need a cheap watch that just functions well as a watch, there's little risk in trying a Timex Marathon as your first EMT watch. 

The bad

The numerous nooks and crannies in the Marathon can trap organic matter more than some other watches in this list. So, you'll need to take a little more care cleaning and washing this watch.

Some buyers haven't been impressed with the size of the band. Suggesting it's on the skinny side if you're an adult male.

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Great readability
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • Basic functionality
  • Not as durable as others in this list

Specifications

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Crystal: Acrylic
  • Case: Plastic
  • Case size: 43mm
  • Band material: Plastic
  • Water resistance: 50m (150 ft)
  • 24 hr time: Yes
  • Count seconds: Yes

Check latest prices

Marathon by Timex

Best Low Light

Luminox Evo 3051 Navy Seal - EMTs

When luminosity counts, the Navy Seal delivers with a punch. 

  • Fantastic luminescence
  • Rugged and durable 
  • Bold design

Designed by the Swiss for super challenging low light conditions faced by navy seals, the Luminox Navy Seal is a popular alternative for EMTs. 

There's a lot to like about the practicality of this watch, but I personally really enjoy the bold, striking design and readability of the numbers. It screams, "I'm here to work, but I will look good doing it".

We've also recommended the blackout version as one of our favorite watches for law enforcement officers

The good

Boasting lume that is 100x brighter than it's competitors, the tritium lume makes it unbeatable for low-light situations where every second counts.

The tough polyurethane case is designed to weather all sorts of bumps and scratches. With sleek crown guards to prevent any damage to the crown.

As it's designed for navy seals, there's no surprise that it comes with 200m water resistance. Water is the natural state for the Luminox Navy Seal. 

The striking design allows this watch to transcend the work/life boundary, so it will not look out of place if you decide to wear it off-duty too. 

The bad

The plastic band may need to be replaced after a year or two of solid use. But, given the accumulation of fluids and other organic matter that builds up on any EMT watch, it's probably not a bad idea to replace the band semi-regularly anyway. 

Whilst still affordable, the Luminox Navy Seal is more expensive than the other watches on this list. Making it more of an investment than a cheap throw away watch. So, if you're a new EMT and not exactly sure whether it's for you, then this may not be the best watch for you.

Pros

  • 100x brigher lume than competitors
  • Rugged and durable
  • Striking design
  • 200m water resistance

Cons

  • Band may need replacing
  • Most expensive in list

Specifications

  • Movement: Japanese quartz 
  • Crystal: Mineral
  • Case: Polyurethane
  • Case size: 44mm
  • Band material: Polyurethane
  • Water resistance: 200m (660ft)
  • Count seconds: Yes

Check latest prices

Luminox Navy Seal Evo 3051

Seiko 5 SNK809 - EMTs

This automatic from Seiko combines classic simplicity and affordability into an impressive package. 

  • Automatic
  • Easy to read
  • Affordable

Seiko 5’s have a fantastic reputation for packing higher-end features into an affordable, durable and classicaly designed watch.

There are numerous Seiko 5’s to choose from, but we’ve gone with the SNK809 model because of its easy to read color scheme, mainstream appeal and affordability.

The good
The military inspired Seiko 5 SNK809 is born from the Seiko 5 range that first hit shelves in 1963. The “5” references the 5 features that were introduced for this series, which are still relevant today.

These are:

  1. In-house automatic movement 
  2. Day-date complication at 3 o’clock (this was rare in 1963)
  3. Water resistance
  4. Recessed crown at 4 o’clock
  5. Super tough mainspring inside a durable case

They’ve had a lot of time to make alterations and improvements since they launched, which has allowed them to continue to increase quality, whilst advancements in Japanese mass production efficiencies have allowed them to keep costs very affordable.

The 37mm size suits a wide variety of tastes and doesn’t pose any issue to wear underneath jackets or other work clothes. The luminosity is provided by Seiko’s own Lumibrite and displays luminous dots every five minutes for easy reading.

The bad
One of the reasons we like this watch is that it’s hard to find real faults with it. This is especially true considering its sub $100 price point and Seiko automatic movement. If we were being super hard to please, we’d push for slightly more functionality from the automatic movement such as hand winding and hacking (so we can re-sync the time easier).

Whilst the strap is durable, we’d probably opt for a non-canvas option to help avoid nasty pathogens from accumulating.


Finally, the simple and flat design is not to everyone’s taste -- but we think the understated, flat design looks great and is super practical for EMTs.

Pros

  • Automatic movement
  • Recessed crown at 4 o’clock is less likely to hinder a bent wrist
  • Durable case, mainspring and strap
  • Affordable, especially for an automatic

Cons

  • No hand winding or hacking functions
  • Canvas strap is tough, but can trap pathogens
  • 37mm size might be on the small side if you have larger wrists.

Specifications

  • Movement: Japanese automatic 
  • Crystal: Hardlex
  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Case size: 37mm
  • Band material: Nylon
  • Water resistance: 30m (100ft)
  • Count seconds: Yes

Check latest prices

Seiko 5 SNK809

G-Shock DW 9052 - Paramedic Watch

Affordable. Durable. Simple. A great entry-level choice for EMTs. 

  • Affordable G-Shock
  • Comfortable strap design
  • 200m water resistance

The second G-Shock in our list of best EMT watches is the DW 9052. I consider it the entry-level G-Shock for EMTs. You can find slightly cheaper G-Shocks, but this comes at an unacceptable performance trade off. 

The good

The tough case can withstand everything thrown at an EMT (and then some). The lugs are also designed with durability and comfort in mind, as the straps can move freely inside the lugs. This allows the straps to better hug the wrist and provides a more comfortable wearing experience. 

No, you won't get the same functions like solar power or atomic timekeeping that you'll get with the GWM5610 G-Shock, but you'll also pay about half the price. Making this a very affordable watch, perfect for those that aren't looking for a lot of additional functions. 

Water resistance of 200m is a great addition at this price point. You don't need to worry about the elements or other liquids your day. 

The dial layout is easy to read, with two separate displays for the time and the date, separate by the middle section that counts every 10 seconds. 

The bad

Whilst the dial readability is good, I don't really like the middle section that allows to keep track of 10s increments. I find it of limited use and this space could have been used to make the time and date displays bigger. The middle 10s count display also makes the watch look a little busy. 

Like all G-Shocks the DW 9052 is a bulky watch at 47mm in diameter and 15mm thick. Whilst the thickness is great for absorbing shocks,it becomes an issue for catching on things and if you need to wear it underneath a jacket in winter. 

The mineral crystal display offers substantial scratch resistance, but it will get scratched over time. The scratch resistance could be improved with a sapphire crystal but that would certainly increase the price.

Pros

  • Affordable G-Shock
  • Super durable
  • 200m water resistance

Cons

  • Dial can be busy until you get used to it
  • Basic model - so no advanced features. 

Specifications

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Crystal: Mineral
  • Case: Plastic
  • Case size: 47 mm
  • Band material: Plastic
  • Water resistance: 200m (660ft)
  • 24hr time: Yes
  • Count seconds: Yes

Check latest prices

G-Shock DW 9052

EMT Watch Buyers Guide

We’ve consulted with some paramedic friends and scoured the watch and EMT forums to determine the features that matter for EMTs. Naturally, some of these factors will be more important to you than others.

Easily cleaned

Any watch worn by an EMT is going to need to be cleaned. A lot. An unavoidable part of being an EMT is that you are going to get all sorts of bodily fluids splattered across your wrists and hands. Don’t just think about the face, but the rear casing, band, buttons and even the bezel (if it has one) will need to be routinely washed with soap and/or alcohol.

Water resistant

Internal watch components hate water, soap, alcohol (rubbing and EtOH) and other fluids, so a watch that has good water resistance (please don’t say waterproof -- there is no such thing) should be high on your list of must-haves.

Count seconds

Either a digital watch that displays seconds or an analog with a second hand will generally be required for taking a patient’s pulse etc. Some work environments may even stipulate specific requirements such as an analog with a second hand MUST be worn. Obviously you need to adopt this guide to your own circumstances.

Dial color

Dial readability in an instant is a must. A dark background with contrasting hands is a great option. Black dials are very popular amongst EMT’s for this reason.

Luminosity

This is particularly critical for night shift duties. Standard practice is to use a non-radioactive photoluminescent material to provide the luminosity. However, this means that the watch needs to be exposed to a light source to “recharge”, which may not be possible on a long night shift with the end result being a watch with poor luminosity and difficult to read at night.

If luminosity is important to you, then your best bet is to get a watch with tritium gas inserts or a back-lit LED. An auto light feature is the next best option which automatically turns on the light if the watch is tilted towards you to read it. The lights up if you turn your wrist.

Band type

The band needs to be easily washable as it should really be washed whenever you wash your hands. It should also be easily replaceable as chances are you’ll go through a few.

Band material is also an important consideration as they can be a hotbed for bacteria and other threats to patients. Metal links can trap a whole range of nasties, while leather and nylon can also absorb hazardous pathogens. So, the best choice is a plastic/silicone band.

Durability

Wondering whether your watch is going to be able to withstand all the small bumps, scrapes, dings and scratches that it will inevitably receive whilst on EMT duty is not really something you want to be worrying about. A watch with a proven track history of absorbing shocks and abuse should be an important consideration if you're thinking of the watch as anything more than a throw away investment. 

Size

Whilst watch size generally comes down to personal preference, there are a couple of additional points an EMT needs to factor in which may lead to a smaller size being preferred. The first is a bulky watch is more difficult to wear underneath a sweater or jacket. Secondly, a larger watch may impede your wrist movement during important procedures such as giving CPR.

If you have any doubt, start with a smaller watch. 

Price vs Features

Price is clearly going to be a factor. We’ve left it last because there are two different schools of thought when it comes to how much an EMT should spend on a watch.

The first says that just use a very basic watch that fulfils most of the above criteria and replace the watch whenever it breaks or gets too dirty. This is also a great strategy for those that are a little unsure about what watch they should be wearing on duty as a paramedic, especially new recruits.

The second school of thought suggests that it’s worthwhile going for something a little more expensive that you shouldn’t have to replace as often. This will give you a watch that has more features and should fulfil all of your requirements.

Whatever path you decide to go down, leave room in your budget for some replacement bands as these will most likely get pretty gross quickly.

Popular culture

Popular culture has caught onto the fact that G-Shock are the unofficial choice of EMTs, with numerous shows featuring G-Shocks on the wrist of characters employed as EMTs.


My favorite is Shameless, where several G-Shocks can be spotted such as this one:

Shameless EMT Watch G-Shock

If you're looking for a watch that will help you 'fit in', then G-Shocks are an obvious choice.

Final verdict

Don’t overthink the decision to find the best watch for your job as an EMT.

Do you just want something to get the job done with a minimum of fuss? If this is you, then go for the cheapest option in our list, the Marathon by Timex.

If you are after something that quenches your thirst for features without breaking the bank, the G-Shock Tough Solar is best for you.

About the Author Andre Wallace

Andre loves movies, wine and of course, watches. He currently alternates between a Tag Heuer Aquaracer and an Omega Speedmaster. He's hoping he can one day give up his boring finance job to write about watches.

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