8 Tough Digital Watches for EDC in 2018

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You've got the toughest gear in your pockets, but what about on your wrist? If you're constantly up against jobs too heavy for a dress watch or like to spend time outdoors, a “tough digital” watch in your EDC is the way to go. They're better built for any adventure than most analog watches, thanks to their shock resistance, rugged construction, and outdoor-friendly features. That's why you'll see plenty of military and law enforcement opting to go digital for those tough missions, too. In this updated guide, we're highlighting 8 more excellent digital watches tough enough for EDC.

What to Look for in a Digital Watch for EDC

Digital watches (and their considerations) can be surprisingly different from their analog counterparts. In general, they push function over form, and tend to cram a ton of information into their displays compared to most traditional watches. To get the most out of your digital watch, pick one with…

  • Shock and water resistance: To make sure your next watch can really stand up to some abuse, get one with shock absorbing materials like urethane in the bracelet and bezel, or even one equipped with suspended internals. For light splashes, 30M water resistance should hold up, but consider one with 200M+ if you plan on swimming with it.
  • A good battery or power source: A potential drawback to going digital is the risk of a dead battery. Most watch batteries last several years at a time, but spending a bit more can get you a solar powered watch that recharges itself.
  • Legibility: While digital displays can be easier to read than hands on an analog watch, sometimes all the other sensors can overwhelm the face of the watch. Pick a watch with the right balance of information and legibility. Another benefit of digital: electronic backlighting for telling time in the dark.
  • Specialized features: If you have a specific use case in mind, look out extra features that would come in handy. For example, some GSHOCKs can tell altitude, atmospheric pressure, and even the temperature outside. Other watches include GPS, weather alerts, world time, and more.

Now that you know what to look for, here are eight examples of digital EDC watches worth your time.


Timex Expedition Grid Shock

This offering from Timex is designed to handle anything you can throw at it. Timex boasts that their watch can stand up to “life’s outdoor torture tests” including shock resistance, water resistance, and overall wear resistance. The watch also features silent vibrating alarms, reminders to hydrate, and the standard stop watch and countdown timers. The Grid Shock is an interesting looking choice in the world of tough digital watches.

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Timex Expedition Digital Compass

The Expedition Shock with Compass differs from the models of previous years mainly because it includes a digital compass. Ideal for traversing the outdoors, this watch can tell you which direction you’re headed. The tough design, shock resistance, and light up dial all result in a sturdy watch that’s ideal for EDC use.

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GSHOCK GA-700UC

The GA700 series from GSHOCK feature some of the most iconic designs in the world of rugged digital watches. The new UC series separates itself from the past models with their use of more subdued, military-inspired colors. This digital-analog hybrid has hands like you’d see on an analog watch, but backed with some useful digital features like world time, daily alarms, and hourly chime, and a super bright LED light for the face. The new models come in tan, olive green, and dark grey.

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GSHOCK SW5600E-1V

The SW5600E from GSHOCK isn’t the newest out there, but this iconic design has held up over the years. It’s what most people associate the “GSHOCK” name with, and for good reason. The blacked-out 45mm resin case features heavy duty shock resistance, an easy to read display, and several timer and alarm features. As far as GSHOCKs go, this is one of the more toned down and slimmer models.

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Apple Watch Series 3

While the Apple Watch isn’t the toughest on the list, the new Series 3 features some improvements over the last two models that make it even more worthy of your wrist. This update has on-board GPS tracking, 50M water resistance, and is available with LTE capabilities as well. This new watch from Apple allows you to leave your phone behind on your next workout or adventure, perfect for enjoying your time away from a computer screen or office. Watch purists (like myself) may scoff at the notion of an Apple Watch, but the features do make everyday life a bit more convenient.

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Casio Pathfinder Sport

The Pathfinder with Triple Sensor from Casio has a ton of features to prepare you for your next outdoor adventure. In addition to extreme shock resistance, the Pathfinder features an on-board compass, altimeter, and barometer. There’s pre-programmed sunrise/sunset data, world time, city code display, and several other timing features. If you're looking for an affordable watch that’s ready for the great outdoors, the Pathfinder is an excellent option.

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Suunto Traverse 

Suunto has earned their place in many EDCs for their excellent GPS-enabled outdoor watches. The Traverse is ready for the trail, thanks to the programmable GPS routes, storm alerts, and distance/altitude readouts. The composite case is waterproof, lightweight, and comfortable — ideal for spending time outdoors or at home.

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Garmin Tactix Bravo

Garmin’s Tactix Bravo is a tough digital watch that was designed with military/tactical use in mind. This timepiece features several specs that nothing else on this list can achieve. The watch has a dedicated menu that’s full of tactical features like skydiving calculations, projecting waypoints, and full GPS/GLONASS positioning data. The display is night vision goggle-friendly and the case is fully matte finished to eliminate any reflective surfaces. Even if you don’t often find yourself in tactical situations, the Tactix makes a great fitness tracking device, and just plain looks cool.

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For more tough digital watches, check out the picks in our previous guide.

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Discussion (15 total)

Honestly, I prefer my casio pro trek 3000. It's atomic, solar charged, and has compass, altimeter and barometer. Plus I've put it through hell for a year and still works as good as the day I bought it. Some decent choices on here though.
Choosing between Casio G-Shock, Suunto and Garmin, I stopped at Garmin Fenix 5x, which I don't think the toughest watch, but the functionality (and owners' reviews) helped me to make the choice I'm still pleased with. One thing I miss in Fenix 5x: eco-drive solar from my previous EDC (dress) Citizen CC 3007-55E Satellite Wave (cal .150F)
Of any G-Shock, GWG-1000 Mudmaster should be on this list :)
Love my Apple Watch.
Great List Ed. I have never tried the Apple Watch myself, but I find it very intriguing that it is on the list with such other tough watches. I had no clue that it was as rugged as these other. Maybe I will have to check it out.

I agree with some of the others here that G-Shock watches have earned a top spot on my list of go-to rugged watches. The DW5600E-1V is my top pick. Folks should check out the G-Shock GPR B-1000 solar/GPS watch that just came out
Thank you!

I don't think the Apple Watch is the toughest out there, but I thought the added water resistance and features that they built into the new one made it worth mentioning. I have the Gen 1 Apple Watch, and it is surprisingly sturdy. I wouldn't do anything crazy with it, but they did design the hardware to be worn on the wrist every single day.
Lol!

I have some Casio G-Shock, and some "rugged" watches. I just have to bang them on croncrete to see th difference: few may brake, many will have marks and tears, G-Shock will be just as new.

That's a deep difference: G-Shock ar not meant to endure harsh condition, violence, or whatever, they are built to pass through it and look as if nothing happened. It's different.
Not a single all metal watch? The Casio Waveceptor is far better than that baby G-Shock. it does everything that one does, plus a full metal case and band AND it changes the time for you at DST and checks it every night. For $20 less, too.
That one wasn't really on my radar, care to share a link to the model you're talking about. Thanks for the feedback!
I'm also a fan of the GWM5610-1 from Casio. It's a bit more expensive that the other basic GShock above, but the solar and atomic time keeping functions are worth it to me.
Solid option!
Some solid choices. That Pathfinder is pretty cool. I go with a Casio Mudman that I really like.
I've had a Mudman in my shopping cart so many times, but never pulled the trigger. I'm afraid they'll be way too big for me. Awesome watch though!
I have skinny ares and the 9000 MM is not so bad, may be under a long sleeve shirt, but ok in the spring, summer
When your six five like me the question isn't wether it will to big but rather wether it will be big enough