One of the most revered pieces of kit that anyone who dabbles in tactical operations, next to guns and bullets is their watch. Aside from the nitty gritty, keeping track of time and managing it is at the top of the priority heap. From mission planning to execution; operators rely on time to get the job done the most efficient and effective manner possible. Tactical timekeepers come in all shapes and sizes. Most former action guys prefer the obnoxiously large faces and heaviest bodies possible [I am one of them]. Why? Some will say, for easy identification purposes, others make the argument that we are trying to compensate. Albeit, preference is preference. In the early days, we all bought the simplest digital faced watch we could find. Those were the days of budget meets abundance and the nearest NEX, MCX or PX filled both of those gaps. It wasn’t after I got out of the Corps’ that I developed a snobbish attitude towards watches. Unlike many of my buddies who jumped on the Rolex or Breightling band wagon, I kept to the budget aspect of my watch buying habit…There was an unfortunate Rolex sub mariner story in china while doing some private stuff that resulted in an ass chewing from my wife and ultimately the 5k dollar watch being promptly returned.

 Throughout time my taste for a timekeeper has changed, as I get older I appreciate looks along with functionality, in my line of work there is a constant; PRACTICALITY? Can I work in them while still looking halfway decent? I have taken the 3 watches that always seem to find themselves on my left wrist no matter what I’m doing.


Special Ops Watches

The Warrior by MTM is a simplistic watch and rugged as hell

The Warrior by MTM is a simplistic watch and rugged as hell

Special Operations aka “Spec Ops” A term that was essentially made famous by all our Navy SEAL brethren who made a movie or wrote a book, or…endorsed the latest hair care product. The fact of the matter is this; everyone is a little more familiar with this term in recent years past. MTM burst onto the tactical watch market and did so swinging for the fences. The first timekeeper in this round up is none other than the Warrior by MTM. A watch that has quite literally taken everything that I have thrown at it, and in a couple cases thrown it at. The Warrior is on the less technical end of the spectrum within MTM’s collection. The Warrior watch is not cluttered with a bunch of chronographs or other fancy dials or gauges. Nothing but a good ole fashion analog face with a small window for the date. MTM outfitted the hour and minute hands with tritium filled tubes which will keep its unmistakable glow for up to 25 years without additional outside light sources. The bezel on the Warrior turns in a full 360 degrees with 60 deliberate increments. Designed for the end user to set milestones if needed during an op. The Warrior’s body is constructed from 316L stainless steel or titanium depending on which warrior you choose. The face of each Warrior is made from a carbon fiber composite, similar to the stuff NASA uses for their space going vehicles so you know this watch will stand up to the harshest conditions. Telling time with MTM’s Warrior is easy and unmistakable. My Warrior has been from one end of hell to the other and back. Throughout the 8 years of hard use I have depended on my Warrior in the sandy conditions of Iraq and mountainous environment of Afghanistan. The sapphire crystal is scratch less and clear as a bell!


I am not saying that preventative maintenance is nonexistent with the Warrior. I have had to replace 2 rubber bands throughout the duration of my ownership; that said, MTM stands behind their products to the extent of shipping quite literally anywhere on the planet. All it took was a simple email and MTM had a replacement band with the hardware included to my APO in Afghanistan. MTM’s bands are durable and will stand up to…life but sweat and elements will do a number on just about any material over time.

MTM offers a plethora of different bands to purchase to fit your specific needs

MTM offers a plethora of different bands to purchase to fit your specific needs


mtm-7Should you decide to purchase the Warrior, MTM gives you the option to outfit your watch with the band of your choosing. During the check-out process, a complete customization is at your fingertips. From color to band, MTM will assemble your watch to your liking and laser etch a one of kind number into each crown.  The Warrior time piece does not run from perpetual motion like Rolex, MTM guarantees their lithium ION batteries for 10 years before they suggest that the end user sends the watch in for maintenance and replacing the battery. The sapphire is virtually scratch proof (to moderation), the tritium tubes in the hour and minute hands is as reliable as the Glock you carry and has the US Nuclear Regulatory Committees (US NRC) stamp of approval. If you are looking for a completely practical timepiece, that is aesthetically pleasing, yet simply functional; the MTM Warrior is the Tactical Timekeeper you have been looking for!

Each Warrior watch has a unique number assigned to it for easy identification purposes

Each Warrior watch has a unique number assigned to it for easy identification purposes

mtm-6Black Out

As the Global War On Terror progressed at the blistering pace that it did, operators typically flocked to Luminox simply because of the price point and availability…more because of the price. E3s and E4s typically “balled on a budget”, Luminox fit this bill perfectly! We usually replaced the metallic bracelet with a waterborne nylon strap and left it in place for months at a time.

Luminox SEAL Blackout watch is an affordable and reliable tactical timepiece made for real world operations

Luminox SEAL Blackout watch is an affordable and reliable tactical timepiece made for real world operations

lum3To this day, the Luminox is still one of my go to watches for reliable timekeeping yet looks good while in place. I have since done away with the waterborne nylon and kept the bracelet in intact as the Luminox Navy SEAL colormark is a watch that can be worn in a formal setting and will remain functional while you’re speaking gun if needed. The Luminox SEAL watch is as simple as the next. Analog time keeping that has the typical hour, minute and second hands; all equipped with Luminox self-powered illumination. Although reliable, the self-powered illumination is not tritium filled like the MTM but will keep an unmistakable glow for quite some time.  The 3150 series by Luminox is held in place by an ultra-light carbon bracelet that is PVD plated and a stainless-steel retention clasp. Looking through the tempered scratch resistant mineral crystal is clear and concise and the subdued numbers are easy to identify. The quartz movement keeps the hands moving; secured in the polycarbonate casing ensures that the end user can beat the hell out of the watch yet sustaining its reliability. Should you want to keep integral time, the carbon reinforced unidirectional bezel ratchets into place with every click. Luminox named the watch after a group of dudes who swim for a living (or give the perception to anyway) so the colormark is water resistant to 660 ft. This watch is tailor made for the hard end user that is on a budget.lum7

The Formula for Time

tag-leadTag Heuer has been making watches since the 1860’s, some would say that their collection is timeless…that statement itself doesn’t make much sense considering that time is their sole purpose within their industry. Confused yet?! Bear with me, my point is coming up shortly! Although Tag has not necessarily been in the tactical industry per se, they have been the benefactors of a lot of veteran friends of mine that treated themselves with quality timekeepers. We procured one of Tag Heuers newest releases; the Formula 1 casual sportswatch is a slim fitting, minimalistic timepiece. Nothing fancy (other than the name) clad in black the hour, minute and second hands do not have tritium filled tubes or a proprietary self-powered glow in the dark system. I purchased the Formula 1 because I do some executive protection stateside and nothing screams tactical more than a big watch with a FDE band with a bunch of big knobs sticking out of the side. Unlike High Threat Protection (HTP) overseas the name of the game stateside is to fit in as much as possible all the while staying functional. This watch maintains the low profile required by most clients that employ guys like us to keep them safe.

tag2The Formula 1 sportswatch is held in place by a fully adjustable rubber strap which is clasped by a stainless-steel retention clasp. Tag Heuer constructed the casing with stainless steel coated by black titanium carbide that holds up to the daily rigors that I put the watch through. The black titanium carbide bezel is fixed that displays the Tachymeter markings. Minute markings appear on the face for quick reference. At first glance the watch is powered by an ion battery which is responsible for the quartz movement underneath the scratch resistant sapphire crystal. The Formula 1 is equipped with 3 sub dials that measures time in 60, 30 and 1/10 second intervals. This watch is for casual wear but if you drag your knuckles around like we do, it is worn in more formal outings when I’m not providing close protection for people who need it.


Spec Box

MTM Warrior

Movement: Swiss Quartz

Case & Band: 316L Stainless Steel/Titanium

Band: Self-Adjust linked bracelet/Ballistic/Leather

Finish: Brushed Silver/Black DLC

Bezel: Unidirectional, Rotating Bezel

Crown: Locking, Screw Down

Glass: Sapphire Crystal

Index & Hands: Tritium Gas Tube (25-year lifespan)

Water Resistance: 660 Feet

Case Size: 50.74mm

Weight: 8.2 oz Stainless/5.5oz Titanium

Battery: 10 year lithium ION

Packaging: Watertight tactical case

MSRP: $800.00 Stainless $950.00 Titanium

Manufacturer: MTM Special Ops Watches 


Luminox SEAL Colormark


Movement: Swiss Quartz

Case & Band: Carbon reinforced polycarbon/Ultralight carbon bracelet w/plated stainless clasp

Finish: Black DLC

Bezel: Unidirectional, Rotating Bezel

Crown: Locking, Screw Down

Glass: Tempered Scratch Resistant

Index & Hands: Luminox self-powered illumination

Water Resistance: 660 Feet

Case Size: 44mm

Weight: 7.5 oz

Battery: Lithium ION

Packaging: Luminox padded box

MSRP: $400.00

Manufacturer: Luminox


Tag Heuer

Movement: Swiss Quartz

Case: 42mm stainless steel

Band: Self-Adjust Rubber strap (22.9mm)

Finish: Carbide coated

Bezel: Locked/Numeral

Crown: Screw down

Glass: Sapphire Crystal

Index & Hands: Black

Water Resistance: 660 Feet

Case Thickness: 11.5mm

Weight: 5.5oz

Battery: Lithium ION

Packaging: Tag Heuer Formula 1 packaging

MSRP: $2,050

Manufacturer: Tag Heuer

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Nathan Simpson says:

    Great read. I appreciate the real world review of some quality watches. I like that you picked three that cover different price points. Are these the only watches that you have tried, or just the ones that you recommend? Seems like you are pretty high on the MTM Warrior. Which model of the warrior do you recommend (stainless steel or titanium)? Appreciate the insight. Thank you.


    • Scott Lambin says:

      I personally run all 3 of these watches. My Titanium Warrior is my EDC and when I’m working in non permissive environments, it is tough as hell and has never failed me…its my second one, only because someone felt that they needed the first one more than i did. I wear the Tag for more formal events and outings and the Luminox…whenever i feel like it…typically in the US though. Should you purchase the MTM let them know that The BrassTacs sent you over.

      Thank You,


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