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Before we get into the more intricate details of a survival watch’s feature set, it is important to first discuss what a survival watch is exactly. Like the name suggests, it’s more than just a timekeeping device, but a robust, multipurpose gadget which at the very least, aids you while hiking and camping in the wilderness.

For someone who knows how to use a good survival watch in the middle of nowhere, this little gadget can end up saving lives in an emergency situation. So, what are the features that make the survival watch such an important tool for adventurers from all across the world? That’s precisely what we are going to find out next.

The ABCs of the Survival Watch

There are three basic technologies that are to be expected from any good survival watch, termed together as the ABC of survival watches. These would be:

  • A – Altimeter for staying aware of your present altitude from the sea level while navigating the wilds
  • B – Barometer for predicting the weather, especially the prospect of rain
  • C – Compass for basic navigation

Water Resistance Ratings

All of the world’s best survival watch models will have high water resistance ratings, along with the ABC features already detailed. Now, it should be duly noted that there are various levels of water resistance and if you do not understand them well, you may end up investing in the wrong watch.

For example, a watch meant to survive heavy rain with ease may not have a rating that’s necessary to survive a dive underwater. Go through the following list to know what the various ratings on survival watches signify:

  • 3 ATM – Regular use, can survive rain
  • 5 ATM – Can survive short to medium swimming sessions and heavy rain
  • 10 ATM – Can survive heavy rain, long swims and even snorkeling
  • 20 ATM – Can survive heavy rain, long swims, long snorkeling sessions, impact from water sports and even medium range diving sessions
  • 100 ATM – The diver’s watch, which can withstand even high water-pressure during scuba diving


An adventurer’s survival watch has to be highly shock-resistant, or what we generally call robust. However, as we are discussing survival-grade watches here, specificity is of paramount importance. Your survival watch should preferably have the much-desired ISO 1413 Shock-Resistant Standard rating.


Solar Cell

Survival watches should preferably be automatic watches with a solar cell. An automatic watch converts the mechanical energy of the wearer’s movements into the necessary energy to power the watch. However, a solar cell ensures that the additional features which might be dependent on additional power sources are never lacking power either. The sun is not always visible enough to power the solar cell in every climate or in every part of the world all the time of course, but even a few minutes of sunlight could be enough to keep your watch going for days.

Not that this is a comprehensive list mind you, because advanced, high-tech survival watches have even more to offer nowadays. Nevertheless, even the highest-end watches must have these basic features to qualify as a true survival watch.

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