Tool watches are those timekeeping tools that except for telling the time, also feature one or more useful functions. Besides being the ultimate jewelry to adorn your wrist, tool watches bring many options on the table for the wearer.
Diver watches, Pilot watches, GMT watches, Anti-Magnetic watches, and Medical watches are only some of the best watches that were born out of necessity. The main function of the watch, which is telling the time, is just a fraction of what tool watches can offer.
Smartwatches, for example, even though watch connoisseurs tend to be a bit skeptical about them being mentioned along with classic genuine watches, also fall into the category of tool watches. Equipped with the ultimate wrist technology; the features, sensors, and options of a smartwatch make it also a great tool watch.
Without further ado, below you will see some of the most useful tool watches categories and the best tool watches per each category. Read on…
Along with the basic medical tools like a thermometer, blood pressure cuffs, and a stethoscope, the toolbox of a healthcare professional would not be completed without a medical watch.
While working in this fast-paced environment with multiple daily tasks, keeping track of time must never be overlooked. A few seconds can literally mean life or death for the patient, therefore an accurate and legible tool watch is a must-have.
How can a medical watch be a tool watch? Well, if you can depend on its accuracy, a medical tool watch can help healthcare professionals complete several essential tasks in a timely manner. Calculating breathing rate, counting pulse, and keeping track of patient’s medication schedule are only some crucial tasks medical tool watches can help with.
Best Medical Tool Watch – Hicarer Fob Watch
- Water resistant & Durable skeleton case
- Luminous hands & Glows in the dark
- Can be pinned to the chest of your shirt
As mentioned above, a smartwatch features the ultimate wrist technology one can possibly have on their wrist. It has nothing to do with the centuries old watchmaking craftsmanship heritage and this is the reason why the watch aficionado community prefers to keep them out of the world of watches. However, countless options, features, and sensors can not pass unnoticed.
How does a smartwatch fall into the category of tool watches? Don’t be silly! GPS, Alarms, Bluetooth, Calendar, Wi-Fi, Smartphone compatibility, and Health Monitoring Sensors seem like really useful tools to me. A durable and efficient smartwatch is probably the best worthwhile wristwatch you will ever find. Smartwatches are sophisticated, and these tool watches are manufactured with functionality in mind.
Best Smartwatch – Fossil Gen 5
- 18 hours of battery life
- Swim proof
- Heart rate monitoring
- Compatible with Android & iOS
GMT watches also known as dual time watches, feature a mechanism that can tell the time in two different time zones. It is a small engineering complication that was born right after the jet age.
With people traveling in different time zones, the necessity of a dual time watch became higher. While no watch brand is credited as the inventor of dual time or GMT complications, Rolex was the first watch brand that presented one in 1954. A GMT watch is one of the most useful tool watches you will ever find, with millions of wrists relying on this dual timekeeping feature.
GMT watches work in a simple way. The Rolex GMT-Master II 16760, for example, introduced in the 80s, featured an extra hand, to read three different time zones at the same time.
GMT watches come with the main hour hand that is used to track the local time and another hour hand that helps to keep track of the time in another time zone. The second hour hand can be positioned on a sub dial, or it can be pointing on a 24-hour bezel. Sometimes both hour hands use the same hour markers to keep track of both time zones.
Best GMT Tool Watch – Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk
- Luminous hands and markers
- Dual time (GMT complication)
- Date Window, Solar Powered
- Pilot’s slide rule (calculate fuel burned, distance speed…)
As you will notice by the name already, this category of tool watches is made with ultimate durability in mind. They are the perfect companion for outdoor activity lovers as well as professionals who face harsh environmental conditions in their daily work.
Firefighters, Agricultural workers, Construction workers, Mechanics, and Mining workers are only a few of the professionals whose jobs tend to be more dangerous when compared with the average. And if by any chance, your job requires wearing a durable watch, a survival type of watch is what you need.
Survival watches have nothing to do with your grandpa’s pocket watch. They are made with durable materials and the case is created to withstand shocks, drops, dust, water, and whatever can put your wristwatch to risk.
Best Survival Tool Watch – Garmin Fenix 6S Pro
- Heart Rate Monitoring & Respiration rate
- GPS, Glonass, Galileo
- Barometer, Altimeter, Compass, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
- Weather, Calendar, phone compatible
Anti Magnetic Watches
The name says it all, but few of us actually know how an anti magnetic watch works and who can profit the most out of it. Anti magnetic watches feature a soft iron case that can endure the negative impact magnetic fields have on the watch mechanism. The movement, the balance spring precisely, can become shorter and oscillate faster when magnetized. This corrupts the accuracy of the watch, by either making the hands run faster or slower.
Rest assured, as, with an anti-magnetic watch on your wrist, precise timekeeping is guaranteed. Thanks to the Swiss watchmaking industry; engineers and scientists working around Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) can now take accurate timekeeping for granted. Vacheron Constantin is credited as the world’s first watch brand to create an anti-magnetic watch. Attempts were made in 1846, however, the Swiss watch manufacturer would have to wait until 1915 to present to the world the first anti magnetic pocket watch.
Best Anti Magnetic Watch – Sinn 857 UTC
- Magnetic field protection up to 80,000 A/m
- Anti fogging crystal (Dehumidifying technology)
- Luminous hands and markers
- 20 bar/200 meters of water resistance
Tool watches have been around for centuries, and their first function, which is telling the time, has now evolved to adapt with the world changing at full speed. Pilot watches, for example, were made to equip the wrists of aviation crews all around the planet. And they are still needed to this day.
Pilot watches have specific features that separate them from the rest of the watch types. Mentioning here the large and legible dial, with luminous material. Continuing with flight markings in the bezel to help measure fuel burnt and wind correction angle. A GMT or dual time function to calculate the destination time as well as track the local time is also necessary.
Not to forget about an anti-magnetic case to make sure the watch will always keep track of time accurately. Last but not least, a leather strap. It is lightweight and more comfortable when compared with a metallic bracelet. A NATO strap is also recommended. They’re even more fashionable and an excellent escape from the classic.
Best Pilot Watch – Blakeslee Chronograph Legion
- Chronograph and Tachymeter
- Luminous hands and hour markers
- Date window between 4 and 5 o’clock
- 5ATM/50meters of water resistance
Ever since Rolex invented the world’s first water resistant wristwatch in 1926, the watchmaking industry has not stopped making their own waterproof or better say diver watch. Even though a diver watch is commonly sold to watch lovers as a “suitable tool for recreational scuba diving or other water-based activities”, it was first invented to help professional divers with their underwater expeditions.
To this day, dive watches are the main choice of professional diver crews when it comes to accurate timekeeping underwater. A diving watch is one of the most commonly used tool watches that even you might happen to have on your wrist. If yes, keep in mind that the bezel is used to count how many minutes have elapsed while underwater. Some of the best diver watches also feature a helium escape valve, whose main intention is to keep your watch undamaged after passing the water pressure line.
Some of the best diving watches to ever be made? Breitling SuperOcean, Rolex Submariner, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and Omega Seamaster Coaxial. Affordable luxury? Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout, Casio G-Shock Frogman, Victorinox I.N.O.X., and Seiko SKX007K.
Best Diver Tool Watch – Seiko SKX007K
- 200 meters of water resistance
- Day and date window display
- Luminous hands and hour markers
- Japanese Automatic movement
Born out of necessity, field watches are those timepieces that feature a relatively small case diameter with a canvas or leather band, and a reliable movement. These type of tool watches AKA Infantry watches, were made for battle purposes.
Field watches started to show up approximately a century ago and paved the way for the concept of wristwatches. At the time, men used pocket watches because a wristwatch was considered a women’s right. The concept changed during World War 1 as countries found it suitable to equip their soldiers with wristwatches.
A field watch has to be easy to read, have a second hand to make sure it is working, and also have large numbers. The majority of field watches also feature a 12-24-hour format, to eventually tell the time in both ways.
Best Field Watch – Hamilton Khaki Field Auto
- Luminous hands and hour markers
- Anti reflective & scratch resistant sapphire crystal
- Stainless steel case
- 12–24-hour format
Features That Make A Good Tool Watch
Ease of use is of utmost importance in a tool watch. A dive watch, for example, requires luminous material that makes readability underwater simple. A pilot watch must have the necessary flight markings in the bezel to help the pilot’s wind correction angle and measure fuel burnt. A survival watch, the best companion of an outdoor activity lover, must have a fitting battery lifetime. This allows the wearer access to the necessary features during mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, or others.
First things first, a good tool watch must be as durable as hell. This ensures that the functionality of a tool watch will not be compromised by the surrounding environmental conditions. It must be water-resistant, endure dust, dirt, as well as low and high temperatures. The selection of materials that make a tool watch is also important. A good watch with robust construction, made of stainless steel, titanium, or strong resin; guarantees durability against shocks and drops, water, dust, and dirt.
Accuracy in a tool watch is significant. Not only should a tool watch tell the time correctly, but depending on the type, it should also provide accurate data. Weather circumstances, location, health monitoring sensors, barometer, compass, altimeter, are some of the vital features that outdoorsmen, for example, take for granted on a survival watch.
Editor’s Final Thoughts
We hope you have found what you were looking for in our curated selection of tool watches mentioned above. Regardless of your occupation on a day-to-day basis, a good tool watch can be found for every job position or activity. Therefore, if you find value in a tool watch, appreciate its functionality and robust construction, you might also like our selections above.