Here are my picks for the best EDC watches you can get right now, broken down into automatic and quartz choices.
It’s no secret that watches are a big part of an everyday carry kit. And while there are a ton of great options out there at every price point, it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. Recently we talked at length about how to pick an EDC watch. Today, I am going to recommend several options at various price points.
In this post, I’m going to share my top picks for EDC watches – all at different price points – so you can find the perfect watch for your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for something flashy or something subtle, I’ve got you covered. On top of that, I broke them down into automatic watches and quartz watches.
Before we jump in, just remember that (for the most part) any $100 watch will get the job done. There was a time when my watch buying experience was limited to the new Timex Expedition that Wal-Mart had. And you know what? I was perfectly content with it. It wasn’t until I went down the horology rabbit hole (thanks to the internet) that I felt the unnecessary need and desire for a better and better watch.
Now, let’s take a look at some of my top picks for an EDC watch.
The Best AUTOMATIC EDC WATCHES
Under $1,000 Automatic EDC Watches
Seiko SPB143 Prospex – If this is your budget, you can do no wrong with this one! I think it’s probably the greatest watch of the last several years from any manufacturer. It has an awesome movement with a 70 hour power reserve and it’s sized just right with a low profile which includes a real diving bezel and of course awesome lume. There are countless reviews and videos out there to see, but trust me it’s stellar. It really could be an entire one watch collection.
Formex Swiss Automatic Field Watch #0660.1.6523.121 – Not many brands pack as many design features into a watch like Formex does. This is a good looking watch with a titanium case and retro dial markers. I love it, but you could save a few bucks and get the Bunker below.
McDowell Time Rockville – For the money, I don’t think many watches can come close to the spec sheet here. What sets it apart is the amazing bracelet with on-the-fly adjustment and a USA assembled watch movement. The lume is out of this world and it has a beautiful, classic, dive watch look. mcdowelltime.com
Glycine Airman 42 GL0063 – If you want something with some history behind it, good looks, and durability, then any watch from the Glycine Airman line could be for you. This 12-hour dial version has GMT functions which let you track another time zone. On top of the good looks, it’s a unique watch that you won’t run across often. I love that both of the dual crowns are screw down, that the watch has a domed sapphire crystal, AND that the watch has great lume. Prices vary by country so check around.
Benrus DTU-2A/P Field Watch – Coming in at $600, the Benrus is everything you could want in an EDC watch….most of all the history! The DTU is an exact replica of the original, military-issued watch from the 1960s but with upgraded features. Inside the bead-blasted steel case is a Sellita SW200 Automatic which will give you years of trouble-free service. The black analog dial markers are coated in Super-LumiNova and topped off with a cool domed acrylic crystal.
As you can see, in this price range you are getting a lot of features and solid specifications which makes it hard to pick a watch!
Under $500 Automatic EDC Watches
Seiko Turtle SRPB – If you have around $500 there’s no better EDC watch in my opinion. It looks awesome, has history behind it, and has proven to be a beast. It wears much smaller than the dimensions would lead you to believe.
SWC Bunker – The best of all worlds here: titanium, great lume, good movement, and made by guys that love watches. After two years of wearing mine, I can attest to its dependability and how it holds up to wear and tear. Plus, it’s incredibly light so that you really don’t even know it’s on the wrist.
Steinhart Nav B-Uhr Automatic – I included this particular Steinhart because it slides in at just under the $500 mark. You can’t go wrong with any of the Steinhart pilot watches. German made with a real Swiss movement, this watch has a long history in both purpose and brand heritage. The 22mm lugs let you put any strap combo on it you could think of. Too bad these don’t have a screw down crown though.
Momentum Atlas Automatic – This good-looking automatic field watch has a Miyota 9015 movement inside with a display case back. This is a cool feature because their movement has been jazzed up with gilt components. It doesn’t make it better, but it’s a nice touch over the regular 9015 version. Plenty of lume here under the sapphire crystal which is all housed in a titanium case.
Aquatico Sea Star Automatic – This guy could also be on the $300 list if you snag it during one of Aquitico’s amazing flash sales. For $360 you get an all around great watch. The lume is awesome, it’s got a reliable Seiko automatic movement inside, double domed sapphire crystal, and a ceramic bezel. Definitely a lot of watch for the money. Just don’t count on the bracelet. Of all these micro brands I have tried, the bracelet is absolutely horrible. But don’t let that stop you, buy it and immediately throw it on a NATO or a nice quick-release from Ritchie.
Under $300 Automatic EDC Watches
Orient Kamasu – I mentioned the Mako USA II as my first choice above, and I have reviewed it in detail here. It’s similar in looks and style to the Orient Kamasu. Both the Mako USA and Kamasu are solid choices, but the Kamasu has some very good aftermarket bracelet options that are game changers. Buy the rubber strap version then grab a Strapcode Bracelet and you have one heck of a watch. It checks all the important things on the list: solid guts, great lume, and proven durability.
Islander ISL-41 Field Watch – This watch is an outstanding value. If you love the look of a Hamilton Khaki, but want something more reliable, then this could be your watch. Seiko movement inside, solid lume, and a screw down crown…all for $200. What more could you want?
Orient Defender – This watch makes a lot of my ‘favorite’ lists….and for good reason. It’s a proven performer with a cool dial. The lume is horrible, however, so if that could be a deal killer for you, consider yourself forewarned. The Defender is what Instagram guys call a ‘strap monster’ because it looks good on a NATO, it looks good on leather, and it looks great on a quick-release silicone. The second generation has a hacking seconds hand, meaning the second hand stops when you unscrew the crown and pull it out. This helps to set the exact time, in case you’re a perfectionist. Prices fluctuate, but sometimes you can grab this for under $150. For the price, you won’t be disappointed in looks or features with this one.
MWC A-11 1940s Military Watch – This guy could be on either list as it uses a hybrid automatic movement that uses a battery. What? Yes, it’s a battery powered automatic. The battery powers the oscillator and moves the hand and watch gears making it (technically) a semi-automatic. Either way, it’s a great watch with a screw down crown, good lume, and real world charm. You can read more about the movement on MWC’s website.
Pagani Design PD1706– Before you say WTF, let me explain. I am not one who judges a watch or piece of gear before I actually handle it. Pagani makes a bunch of homage and slight-replica watches that you can get on Amazon. However, they don’t try to pawn it off as the real thing; their branding is all over it. I recently picked up this Tudor-style GMT and, honestly, it’s amazing for $100! In fact, the bracelet is better than some $500+ watches I have handled. Inside, they say, is a Japanese automatic movement. I’m not sure what they mean by that, but the two I own are as accurate as any Seiko NH35 I have. Keep in mind that only 1% of the population can actually distinguish the watch you’re wearing by sight, and this is proof that you should just buy what you like. If you want to see if an automatic watch is something you’d like, this would be a great test case.
Under $1,000 Quartz EDC Watches
Victorinox INOX V241781 – The INOX comes in several variations from a carbon case to a paracord strap version; all of them are beasts. When it comes to a quartz analog watch, there is absolutely nothing more robust than an INOX. You can see all the torture tests they put it through on YouTube. Just don’t expect to read the dial in the dark, the lume is horrible.
Hamilton X-Wind H77912135 – To begin with, I have a love/hate relationship with Hamilton watches. They all look so good, but the lack of a screw down crown on the automatics irks me to no end. But that’s not the case here. The X-Wind has a screw down crown, so it makes the cut. This is an insanely cool watch. You get true watch heritage. Both the leather strap and steel bracelet versions are out there, and both look fantastic depending on your preferences. However, not enough lume for my taste; be aware in case that’s a deal breaker for you.
Bear Grylls Survival MASTER by Luminox – Now I’m always hesitant to add these branded pieces to any list, but in the case of Bear Grylls I’ve made an exception. The dude jumped out of a plane and broke his back when his parachute didn’t open, but still went on to be an awesome TV host, survivalist, and storyteller! How can you beat that? I have owned several other Luminox watches and all have been decent, so I am expecting the same longevity here. You definitely pay a premium for the name as well as from the fact that it’s made from “ocean-bound” recycled plastic. I would like to know exactly what that means, but we can read between the lines and give credit to trying to appease the tree huggers. The watch has all the needed features (plus some) and the double pusher chronograph works flawlessly. Screw down crown, great bezel action, and a steel case all topped off with a sapphire crystal – this watch should give you lots of trouble-free adventures.
Shinola Traveler 42MM – Shinola is one of the brands that you pay a few bucks more for, but you can feel good knowing that the company has American roots. The 42 MM Traveler caught my eye last year and certainly didn’t disappoint when I finally got it in my hands. It has all the things you need including a Swiss quartz movement made from both Swiss parts and a few imported pieces and then assembled stateside in Detroit. It also has a sapphire crystal, a very cool textured dial, and it’s all sealed up with a screw down crown. I really love the 6 o’clock date window, too; it gives the dial a beautiful layout with the two sub dials up top. I was surprised in the lume department, it’s not a north star but it does last a decent amount of time. Overall, it’s a rugged piece with the looks to match.
Marathon TSAR Quartz Medium – If you need a no-joke EDC watch that can do it all, then this Marathon is a very good option. Built for search and rescue operators, these Military-issued watches are built tough. High end stainless steel encases a Swiss ETA quartz movement and offers 200M of water resistance. The dial markers are covered in Maraglo as well as a set of tritium tubes, so seeing this guy in the dark won’t be an issue. The TSAR has a long history of reliability, and this watch proves that it’s worth investing in a high-end watch for serious situations.
Under $500 Quartz EDC Watches
Victorinox Maverick – This has it all…except amazing lume. However, the Maverick is so good in all the other areas, I will let it slide. It’s been a staple from Victorinox for years and has proven to be a champ. 100M of water resistance and a real Swiss Quartz movement make this watch a keeper. Plus, it’s sharp looking.
Marathon GPQ WW194004 – Depending on the color version, these can go as low as $300. Of all the watches on this list, this one is probably the biggest hitter! Purposely built as a standard, Military-issue watch, the Marathon has tritium tubes, a sapphire crystal, and a Swiss ETA quartz movement. The fiber shell case is bomb-proof and looks awesome on the wrist. A note on size, these are 34mm and may feel a little small on the wrist for some.
Bulova Lunar Pilot – Often referred to as “the other space watch,” this quartz classic is all business with the looks to match. The highlight here is the high-end quartz movement inside and real sapphire crystal topping off the cool chronograph dial.
Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GWG-1000-1A3 – I don’t think you can get more EDC than a Casio Mudmaster! I wish these were a tad smaller, because I would wear one all the time. If you want a watch that has everything and the kitchen sink, this is it. The Mudmaster is not only waterproof, but dirt and dust proof. Besides all the basic timing functions, the Mudmaster can also measure altitude and outside temperature. I think one of the coolest features that this digital watch has is an anti-reflective sapphire crystal. On top of that, it’s solar powered and you can sync the time via radio signals from all the timing stations around the world. Note: prices hover around $475, so shop around.
Under $300 Quartz EDC Watches
As you can tell from the list below, once you get into the $300 and under range it’s a very competitive wrist watch market. I personally own or have owned every single watch on this list. Any one of them will make you very happy.
Bertucci A-11T Americana – The Bertucci is always my first choice to grab for any camping trip or outdoor adventure. I mentioned it several times above, this watch has almost everything you need. I love that it’s a quartz with a screw down crown. It comes on a heavy duty NATA and Bertucci sells a ton of awesome leather NATOs also. Make sure to also check out the new Bertucci A11T Chronograph they just released. If crazy lume is your thing, make sure to see this guy, the Bertucci A-4T Super Yankee Illuminated.
Hawaiian Lifeguard Association HLA5401 – I was introduced to these HLA Divers a few years ago and I believe they are one of the absolutely best quartz divers on the market. First, they have a legitimate 200M water resistance made possible by a screw down crown and case back. Additionally, they have awesome lume and a great dial. It’s strange to see that many quartz watches really skimp on the lume, but not so with the HLA. In my non-scientific test of leaving it next to my bed, I can tell you it lasts almost the entire night. The 120-click bezel is tactile but firm, and they come on their very own quick release straps. This watch made our most durable quartz watch list.
Vaer S5 Calendar Field – You really can’t go wrong with any watch from Vaer, quartz or automatic. The reason I like the watches so much is because of the water resistance and durability of their watches (touted on their website and verified in real life). That says something! It’s almost impossible to find a watch with so many features at this price point that has a screw down crown and a decent quartz movement. The lume is halfway decent also.
Citizen Nighthawk – I have raved about this watch before and you can read my review here. In a nutshell, you get a super cool dial that can be used for flight calculations, Citizen’s eco-drive solar technology, and a watch that can do it all from dressing up to handling a backpacking trip.
Citizen Garrison AW0050-82E – I have owned this watch for at least 5 years, if not more. It has a classic field watch look with the convenience of solar quartz. A great all-rounder except that the lume is lackluster. For an inexpensive watch the bracelet isn’t horrible and the case and watch are finished very nicely.
Tissot PRC200 Chronograph – I included this one because most days it’s just under $300 on Amazon. You get a real Swiss brand watch with good looks, legit 200M of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, and working chrono functions. The bracelet is OK, but this watch looks good on any NATO strap too.
Citizen Promaster Titanium – I won’t spend too much time on this one. It’s amazing and with the titanium case you can forget you are wearing it. Like many of these quartz divers, the lume is only ho-hum.
Citizen Promaster BN0151-09L – I am adding this as an alternative to the Titanium Promaster above because the lume is way better. Also, you can find stainless steel bracelets for these on eBay. This is a watch to buy on Black friday, for whatever reason it drops to around $100, same for Prime Day.
Under $100 Quartz EDC Watches
Casio Duro – This is a classic in its own right. Casio’s quartz diver has stood the test of time. They last forever and look good on so many straps. Usually around $50, you should buy one for that reason alone.
GShock DW5600 – This is the old standby from Casio. It’s a durable, long-lasting, digital watch that can handle a ton of abuse. I have an in-depth review here. This watch had made several of our watch buying guides.
Timex Expedition Shock – There are several variations of this watch from Timex, all of which are fantastic. The world of sub-$100 digital watches is crowded, but stick with the two main guys: Timex and Casio. The Timex Shock is on par with the Casio and does it all very well.
Timex Expedition Scout – I really don’t think there’s a better value for an EDC watch out there than these from Timex. I have owned several of them, and even with a push/pull crown they have proven to be water resistant in a lot of situations. The other neat feature that can’t be beat is the backlit dial from their Indiglo. As an added bonus, the Scout comes with a really nice canvas or leather strap. You can get these in a 40mm version or a 42mm version, and Timex also sells a chronograph dial Scout. If you hunt around on Amazon, you can grab a Scout for $30. They also make awesome gifts, and the watch itself looks way more high-end than the price would make you think.
Casio Edifice EFV-550D-1AVUDF – Here’s another relatively inexpensive watch that delivers on many fronts. There are a bunch of sub-$100 Casio Chronographs, and any of them would be a decent choice. The bracelets are only mediocre, but that’s to be expected at this price point. They have a good build-quality and look amazing. Plus, you know the thing will last.
These are just a few of the many great options out there for an EDC watch. There are plenty of other brands and models that would also make great choices. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Do some research and find the EDC watch that’s right for you.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.