Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) have a super demanding job and need a watch that is up to the task. After speaking with LEOs (police officers and military police) and conducting other online research, we’ve determined the best watches for LEOs have the following attributes:
Wrestling, bashing down doors and other high impact activities on top of general day-to-day duties require a watch that is capable of taking a real beating in a variety of environmental conditions including resistance to water.
Until you rise the ranks, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to outlay a lot of money for a watch that can easily get misplaced, broken or even stolen.
Something flashy has the potential to go down the wrong way with superiors and colleagues as it can be single you out for thinking you’re better than others and perhaps not a team player. Best to fit in for a few years, earn your reputation then upgrade to something more suited to your personality.
The consensus is that digital is easier to read and more accurate at a quick glance for most LEOs. Every minute can matter, so readability and telling the time quickly are important.
This one is little subjective as rookies doing night and morning shifts may very well need strong illumination and a night light. Others may require a stealth watch if they are in a tactical position.
Taking the above attributes into account, we’ve reviewed many watches and narrowed our choice down to the following top 5.
The G-Shock GWM5610 Solar is about as close to a set and forget watch as you can get. With a solar power source and atomic timekeeping, you really don’t need to worry about anything.
Add in the toughness of a G-Shock watch, water resistance of 200m (660 ft) and a discrete square form factor, you’ve got a watch that many LEOs swear by as their main duty watch.
The downsides are minimal. It’s solar powered, so if you’re using the light for an extended period of time it will reach its limit and stop working until exposed to sunlight again.
Of course looks are subjective. But, I think it’s fair to say this isn’t the sexiest watch on the list. That is great whilst on duty as it won’t draw attention, but the flip side is you may want another watch when off duty.
Bottom line is this is a fantastic watch for the on duty LEO. It is roughly double the cost of the other G-Shock on this list, so whether you choose this will depend on whether you like the convenience of solar power and atomic timekeeping in a discrete package.
The entry level G-Shock by Casio has a lot going for it. It’s cheap, super tough, shock resistant and has enough basic features to get the job done.
Given the price, popularity and unassuming nature of this watch, there is very little downside to purchasing one. If you like it, chances are you’ll upgrade models to something like a GWM5610 Solar (also in this list), G-Shock Mudman or Rangeman down the track.
Worst case if you do decide it’s not the right watch for you, at least you haven’t spent much money on it and it hasn’t drawn any unwanted attention. If you’re starting your career as a police officer, we think this is the best G-Shock option.
We are big fans of the Luminox 3051 as it’s easily one of the best tactical watches for LEOs. We’ve previously written about this watch specifically for police officers and whilst it is the most expensive in our list, it is still an affordable option for most.
The readability of this watch under ALL conditions, including darkness and underwater is what really makes this watch stand out (pun intended) from the rest. The tritium in the hands and markers is made from a radioactive isotope that slowly decays over time. This is different from most other watches that use phosphorescent inserts that need to be recharged by an external light source. The Navy Seal pedigree means this watch has top, reliable water resistance too.
We’ve feature the black out version here to complete the tactical, military watch feel. But you could easily opt for the regular/non-black out model (we’ve featured it in our Best Watches for EMTs & Paramedics guide). The case is made from stainless steel with a Carbonox coating which increases durability and provides the nice black matte finish.
This watch clearly isn’t for all LEOs. And we accept that. We’ve included it here as a good tactical option or those that value luminosity above everything else.
The Suunto Core All Black (or Military) is a popular watch that comes packed with a host of features. An affordable Altitude, Barometer & Compass (ABC) watch that has a good backlight when you need it. Other features include a storm sensing function that recognises a drop in air pressure and sends you a warning. Note, there is no GPS function. If you need GPS you’ll need a Suunto Ambit3 or similar model.
The popularity of this watch has led to it achieving cult status, which has only increased since the release of the popular Equalizer movies where Denzel wears a slightly modified version of the Suunto Core All Black.
The biggest downside to this watch for a LEO is actually its good looks as it has the potential to draw a little too much attention from superiors.
This watch is one to consider if you’re after a feature packed watch with sleek good looks. This could easily be your 24/7 watch, which is certainly something to consider as it means you’ll never have to remember to change watches for duty.
If you’re comfortable wearing a slightly flashy watch, there’s very little stopping this from being the watch for you.
The Seiko 5 SNK809 is an entry level automatic timepiece that has packed great build quality, versatile styling and durability at an affordable price.
It is an automatic, which means it is self winding with arm movement. Once fully wound, it has a 40 hour power reserve. You will need to move around 8 hours each day to ensure it maintains power and accuracy, but this should be fine unless you’re an officer normally chained to a desk.
This simple yet stylish stainless steel watch can easily be dressed up for any formal events with a new strap/bracelet. It’s simplicity also means it isn’t overly flashy, so it shouldn’t catch any unwanted attention.
The biggest drawbacks are that it’s an analog that clearly doesn’t have a lot of the digital features and instant readability of the digital watches in this list. This may be a huge issue depending on the requirements of your job.
If you are in the market for an affordable, durable and simple automatic that you can wear 24/7, the Seiko 5 is certainly worth exploring further. Potentially a great option for police officers as they start to move up the ranks.
Are you a LEO with more suggestions we should review? Please feel free to let us know what you’ve been using below and whether you’d buy it again.