As an EMT, paramedic, or firefighter, you’ll be used to working in stressful settings to deliver healthcare to the sick and injured or get people to safety.
This requires efficiency and competence, as well as mental resilience, however, having the right equipment also comes in very handy.
Though often overlooked, one of the most important pieces of gear for emergency services staff is a wristwatch. A proper EMT watch will enable you to record a patient’s vitals, administer the correct medication, and of course, keep track of time.
Not any old wristwatch will do, however. You’ll need one that’s sturdy and durable enough to withstand the elements, which is why we’ve set out to find the best watches for EMTs and firefighters on the market.
What type of watch does an EMT or firefighter need?
As we said above, we’re talking about a very specific type of wristwatch here. The ideal one for EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters will be:
- Equipped with the right features such as pulse-counting aid, military-style clock format, and the ability to set reminders/alarms
- Made of lightweight, durable materials that are able to withstand outdoor elements
Who needs to buy an EMT Watch?
These watches are specifically designed for EMS and public safety work, however, they can also be beneficial to anyone working in the health sector, as well as those working in outdoor settings. We’re talking firefighters, field nurses, and paramedics, to name just a few.
Why buy an EMT watch?
EMT watches allow you to track and record a patient’s vitals - their temperature, respiratory rate, pulse, blood pressure, and, where appropriate, blood oxygen saturation.
Some specialized EMT watches allow you to measure pulse and breathing rate even if you don’t have the right medical equipment at the emergency scene - and this could literally be the difference between life and death.
Such a watch will enable you to monitor a patient’s current health status, which means you can then make a judgment on the next steps to take and what treatment to administer. It can also flag up any health irregularities that need immediate attention.
EMT watches also enable you to facilitate the timely administration of medication.
This is important because some medications should only be administered at specific times or when the patient is stable, and with an EMT watch, you’ll know whether or not to administer the medicine, or when to do so.
These watches also enable you to track the rate at which the administration of the drug is occurring. In some cases, if the process is not happening at the right pace, it could lead to more complications and health risks.
Finally, you’ll need an EMT watch for documenting the specific time and date of various treatments, tests, and assessments - which is one of the key roles of a first responder.
A good EMT watch that displays the time in military format and gives the date and day will ensure accuracy in time-sensitive, pressurizing situations.
Once the patient is moved to the care of a physician, they can use the details you took down to determine whether the victim’s health is progressing or deteriorating - so precision and accuracy are key here.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Casio is renowned for its innovative and well-made watches and is one of the oldest manufacturers of quartz watches - both digital and analog. The GA100-1A1 is from Casio’s G-SHOCK line that is specifically designed for military personnel.
For this reason, you can pretty much guarantee that this watch is going to be super durable and resistant. It has a resin band for superior durability and 200-meter water resistance. It’s also shock-resistant and has anti-magnetism properties.
The large, 35mm-diameter face displays the time in military format as well as the day so you can easily document vital details, and it’s also equipped with a 1/1000-second stopwatch, velocity indicator, World Time, and 5 alarms to provide unmatched precision and performance.
The three-dial face design incorporates one analog dial in the center, with digital dials on either side, and the oversized buttons have checkered, anti-slip surfaces to make operations swift and sure.
It also has a mineral glass face for excellent protection and an LED light with an auto light switch and selectable illumination duration (1.5 seconds or 3 seconds).
- Excellent durability and shock resistance
- Digital and analog display
- Anti-magnetism and 200m water resistance
- World time
- Velocity indicator
- 5 alarms
- It may feel bulky on small wrists
Timex is a watch brand that has truly stood the test of time - they’ve been around since 1854, when they set out to make clocks available to the masses, combining European clockmaking with American ingenuity.
Their Expedition Gallatin watch is a great option for EMTs, firefighters, and other health personnel. First of all, the watch features Timex’s legendary durability, and has a battery capable of lasting up to 10 years!
This watch is perfect for outdoor use and has a rugged design and water resistance of up to 50 meters. It has an adjustable and durable 22-millimeter nylon, double-layer strap, and a 44-millimeter resin case with an acrylic lens that stands up well against daily wear and tear.
The black dial allows the Arabic numerals to stand out clearly so you can easily check the time, while the date window at 3 o'clock is also easy to read.
The Gallatin is also equipped with a bright, Indiglo light-up watch dial and luminous hands so it’s easy to tell the time in the dark and low light situations. It’s also one of the lightest watches on our list, weighing in at just 1.44 ounces.
- Rugged nylon strap is easy to slip on and off
- Water resistance up to 50 meters
- Black dial makes time and date easy to read
- Bright, Indiglo light and luminous hands
- Lightweight design
- Affordable price
- Not equipped with some of the advanced features of military-style watches
From Casio’s trusted G-Shock line comes the G-Rescue series, and these watches are designed and engineered for rough and rugged activities. This watch has an extremely impressive amount of features packed into it.
It has excellent water resistance up to 200m, making it suitable for professional marine activity, as well as a shock-resistant design that offers superior durability against daily wear and tear.
It includes a chronograph with 12 and 24-hour formats for maximum versatility and a 50mm resin case with a mineral dial window for a high level of protection.
The G-7900A also features “Flash Alert”, meaning it flashes with a buzzer that sounds for alarms, and also features an hourly time signal, countdown timer, time-up alarm, countdown timer progress beeper, and stopwatch auto-start.
It also offers 9 time zones (48 cities), city code display, and moon/tide graphs, and is Low-Temperature Resistant (-20 C / -4 F) - making it perfect for outdoor use.
- Casio’s G-Shock line provides excellent durability and shock-resistance
- Water-resistant up to 200m
- 12 and 24 hour time formats
- Flash alert features
- Low temperature resistant
- World time zones
- The colored strap may get dirty quickly with outdoor use
This is a watch best suited to medical staff frequently required to take a patient’s vitals. Speidel has been making watches since 1904, and this watch is specifically designed for medical professions.
It has a range of features that will make your job easier: including a pulsometer scale for 30 beats so you can easily take a pulse reading without having to do a calculation, and reliable, 3-hand Japanese Quartz Movement.
The white dial makes telling the time easy, and there are 12 and 24-hour markers as well as a date window to make recording details as efficient as possible.
The second hand is also colored red so that it’s highly visible, and luminous markers and glow-in-the-dark hour and minute hands are ideal for low-light situations.
The watch is water-resistant up to 50M meaning you can wash your hands, swim, and shower without having to worry about causing the watch damage, and the strap is made from 100% silicone for comfort.
The smooth surface of the silicone strap is also super easy to wipe clean, so you don’t need to worry about dirt build-up.
- Pulsometer scale for 30 beats
- 3-hand quartz movement with 12 and 24-hour markers
- Date window
- Luminous markers and glow in the dark hour and minute hands
- 50M water resistance
- Comfortable, easy to clean silicone strap
- The numbers are a little small for some people
Even though the F108WHC-7BCF is from Casio’s Classic collection, this is a great option for those looking for a simple, yet reliable and sturdy digital watch.
With a 7-year battery life, you needn’t worry about it running out in a couple of years, and the resin band and 42mm resin case provide great durability.
This watch is equipped with a 1/1,000, 24-hour stopwatch, daily alarm, day/date calendar, and a digital display with quartz movement, so it’s easy to read and allows you to take down details accurately and efficiently.
It’s also water-resistant up to 50m, so you needn’t worry about it when frequently washing your hands or when working outdoors in the rain.
It also has button guards to protect against accidental operation, as well as an illuminator so you can easily read the face in the dark. It’s available for a very reasonable price too, making it ideal for those on a budget who still want a quality watch that will last.
- Durable resin band and case
- 1/1,000, 24-hour stopwatch
- Day/date calendar
- 7-year battery
- Water-resistant up to 50m
- Daily alarm
- Button guards
- Being white, the watch discolors at a pretty fast rate
Seiko is another renowned watch brand that has been around since 1881 and is known for introducing one of the world's first quartz wristwatches as well as the world's first quartz watch with a chronograph complication.
The Seiko Diver’s Deep Blue watch has self-winding automatic movement so you needn’t worry about replacing the battery as it employs a simple spring mechanism to move the hands.
This is a super sturdy watch with a stainless steel case and black resin strap as well as a Hardlex Mineral Crystal face which provides excellent durability and protection.
It’s also extremely easy to read thanks to the well-labeled markers and large white-colored circular markers which indicate hours.
There’s also a calendar next to the 3 o’clock button that shows the day and date - perfect for when you need to record the specific date and time when an event occurred.
With 200m water resistance and a screwed-down crown and case back, this watch is one of a few out there that allow you to comfortably dive to depths of more than 50 meters for an extensive period, should the need arise.
The watch has a diameter of 42mm and a thickness of 13mm, plus it weighs in at about 9.6 ounces, so it’s definitely not a lightweight watch - something to consider if you’ve got particularly slim wrists or are seeking something that won’t weigh you down.
- Self-winding automatic movement
- Durable stainless steel case and resin strap
- Very easy to read thanks to markers
- Calendar displaying date and day
- 200m water resistance
- It’s heavy, which may be an issue for some wearers
Luminox is a brand that combines the precision of Swiss watchmaking with the durability demanded by the US armed forces. The Luminox Original Navy Seal Series 1 watch is prized for its self-powered illumination system and steadfast durability.
The self-powered illumination system allows the watch's hands and dial markers to glow 100 times brighter than other luminous watches on the market, and will provide continuous illumination for more than 25 years - that’s pretty impressive, right?
It's also water resistant to 200 meters (20 ATM, 660 feet), making it suitable for recreational scuba diving. Thanks to the large stainless steel watch case that spans 1.7 inches wide and 0.4 inches thick, this watch is extremely robust and resistant.
It also features a unidirectional rotating bezel with engraved 5-minute Arabic numerals in white for increased readability and coin-edged detailing for an improved grip.
There’s a date function at 3 o'clock as well as a comfortable polyurethane (PU) diver's strap in black.
Other features of this military-grade watch include a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, multi-jeweled Swiss quartz watch movement, double gasket crown, and an impressive 4-year battery life.
- Features Luminox’s unique self-powered illumination system
- Water-resistant up to 200 meters
- Date function and unidirectional bezel
- 4-year battery life
- Super durable and robust construction
- Some wearers found that the strap lacked durability
Designed specifically for outdoor expeditions and adventures, this Timex x Mossy Oak watch also offers great durability for female EMTs and firefighters.
With an adjustable 16mm nylon strap and 33mm resin case with acrylic lens, plus 100m water-resistance, this watch offers great protection against the elements.
It also features a 100-hour chronograph with lap and split times, a 24-hour countdown timer and a month, day and date calendar so you can also keep track of time when jotting down details.
Other features include 3 daily, weekday or weekend alarms with 5-minute backup, as well as 2 time zones and a 24-hour military time mode.
One of the best features of this watch and Timex watches in general are their Indiglo back-light technology, which incorporates an electroluminescent panel as a backlight for even illumination of the watch dial, making checking the time in low light situations easier than ever.
Featuring Timex’s legendary durability and quality, you can expect this watch to offer a battery life of up to 10 years. We also like the contrast of its striking black and blue design.
- Adjustable nylon strap
- 100-hour chronograph with lap and split times
- 3 alarms
- Military time mode
- 2 time zones
- Indiglo backlight technology
- Some users found that the band ran small
The watches we have included above come in a range of styles and sizes, some being digital, some analog, and others a mixture of the two.
Which watch is best for you will depend on a few factors: your role and the specific features you need in a watch, as well as personal taste or size requirements.
To help you break things down and better identify the best watch for you, we’ve put together this handy buyer’s guide assessing the most important features to look out for.
In this article, we’ve taken a general approach to finding watches that will suit EMTs and firefighters, but only you truly know the type of watch that suits the role and tasks you carry out daily.
With a huge range of watches to choose from, you’ll need to decide whether you want a digital watch or one with mechanical movements, or alternatively, a hybrid that combines the two.
An ideal starting point is to consider what you want to get out of the watch. You want to use it to tell the time, but do you want other elements like Bluetooth connectivity, alarm alerts, and multiple time zones?
To choose a watch suited to your job role and lifestyle, consider your daily routine and needs, as well as the most helpful features a watch can offer you.
We’ve provided some ideas below...
Seen as EMTs are frequently on the go and are placed in sometimes dangerous situations where they’re exposed to the elements, durability is likely to be your number one priority when it comes to sourcing a watch.
This is why it’s important to check the material of the watch casing and face. Stainless steel and resin are good options, while for the glass a scratch-proof mineral crystal offers good protection. Watch straps can often be replaced so the material of these is of lesser importance.
By this, we mean how easily you can read the clock’s face. You may not think too much about this, but the design of the clock’s face, and the colors used, will have a massive impact on the rate at which you can register the time and other details.
For example, if the watch is analog, check out the color of the face and numerals to ensure you can easily read them, and also assess their size - as you don’t want to be squinting to read them.
Some clocks specifically designed for medical staff may feature a red hand to provide better visibility and make counting seconds easier.
If you opt for a digital clock, or a military watch that features both analog and digital, check that you are happy with the layout and that it’s not cluttered or difficult to read.
Often military watches have a lot of features, and if you don’t need all of these, you may want to opt for a more simple design that’s easier to read.
Even though watch straps are able to be removed and replaced, it’s still worth considering the material the strap is made of and how comfortable and durable it is.
For example, stainless steel straps are the most durable, but this material is also the heaviest. Titanium and tungsten are lighter than stainless steel, so they may be better for EMTs and paramedics.
Rubber watch straps are a less fashion-forward option, but they do offer plenty of benefits. They’re comfortable and lightweight, and they’re still pretty durable. Silicone straps are also very easy to clean. Rubber watch straps also offer great water resistance and can be easily dried off.
There are also some watch straps made from materials such as nylon. Nylon offers good durability and is also adjustable, but may be harder to clean due to it being a material rather than a surface you can easily wipe down.
Size and weight
The size and weight of the watch are important aspects to consider. On the one hand, the bigger and heavier the watch, the more durable and resilient it is against the elements, but on the other hand, you don’t want a watch that’s going to weigh you down significantly.
The ideal watch for an EMT will combine lightness with strength to provide durability but also comfort.
There are many watch manufacturers to choose from, and this can make picking a watch difficult, especially with such competitive prices.
Brands such as Timex and Casio have been in the game for years, while Luminox is famous for its military-grade watches. Just be wary of any unknown brands, as, while they may be cheap, they’re unlikely to deliver in terms of durability and reliability.
Important features to look out for
Depending on your role, you may require some or all of these features...
In a medical emergency, EMT workers are required to check the vitals of a victim. To measure pulse rate, they need to count in seconds, but conventional watches only feature minute and hour hands.
This is why watches designed specifically for medical staff will feature a second hand or ‘pulsometer’ - so this is something to consider if you’re looking for an analog watch.
Water-resistance is another feature to look out for. Even if your job doesn’t involve going near water, water-resistance offers better protection to your watch when you’re continually washing your hands, which is particularly important if you’re a medical professional.
The higher the water resistance rating of the watch, the more water it can withstand. The watches on our list range from 50m to 200m, with the higher-rated ones usually considered military-grade or suitable for diving.
Military Time Format
Firefighters or paramedics are likely to benefit from a watch that displays the time in military format, ie. using the 24-hour clock system. This means that the day begins at 0 and ends at 24 hours. So 4 in the morning will be 0400, but 4 in the afternoon will be 1600.
This way of telling the time is clearer for many people and avoids confusion between the AM and PM - which may be particularly important for personnel who are required to jot down the details of an emergency or event.
Many watches will feature some kind of luminosity, and we’d say this is pretty much an essential feature for anyone working as an EMT, firefighter, or in a healthcare role.
This means the watch’s hands or face is able to be lit up in low-light situations, meaning you can easily check the time and date even in total darkness.
Having a date display is pretty important, as EMTs and firefighters are often required to take down important details and record events.
Having the date and even the day of the week on your wrist is definitely a big help, as it can be difficult to keep track of the day when you’re working long hours.
Having this information available on your watch is convenient and makes recording details an easier and more efficient process.
Think about other features that will be useful for the tasks you carry out in your day-to-day role.
If you’re looking for a range of features, you’re more likely to find these in a digital watch, as these often have several alarms and a stopwatch, which can come in useful both in and out of work.
Some military-style watches may feature multiple time zones and an array of other features, but this does mean that the face of the watch becomes more crowded and can be more complex to operate.
If you don’t need all of these features, it’s worth considering whether such an intricate watch is necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good watch for an EMT?
The best watch for an EMT will be durable with a high level of shock resistance, and will ideally feature an analog and digital display for maximum versatility. Ideally, it will also have good water resistance.
Other useful features will include alarms, a stopwatch, and a date display. The watch will also strike a balance between comfort and durability, so it’ll be lightweight but also strong enough to stand up against the elements.
In our opinion, the GA100-1A1 from Casio’s G-Shock range is an excellent watch for EMTs and firefighters.
Can firefighters wear smartwatches?
While we haven’t included any on the list, some firefighters and EMTs opt for a smartwatch, which can track a range of data and connect to your smartphone to sync information and provide more accurate timing.
A smartwatch can offer many great features for EMTs and firefighters, but you need to ensure that it’s both shock-resistant and water-resistant, otherwise, it’s going to be very difficult to protect it against the elements.
Do firemen wear watches?
Many firefighters will have an on-duty watch that is designed to endure the elements and is robust and durable, and an off-duty watch that is more fashionable and perhaps a little less heavy.
Why do EMTs wear watches?
EMTs wear watches because they are required to take a patient's vitals, and having a watch with a clear second hand or stopwatch makes this far easier to do so.
It also means they can easily check the time and date without having to think about it, as they are frequently required to jot down patient details and results.
We hope this article has been helpful in assisting you in your search for the perfect EMT or firefighter watch. Here’s a summary of the key details to take away from this piece:
- Durability is key for EMTs and firefighters, but you don’t want the watch to be too heavy
- EMTs and medical staff may benefit from a medical watch with a pulsometer or second hand
- Watches which display the date/calendars are very useful for EMTs and firefighters
- Stopwatches and alarms are also very useful
- Water resistance is essential for EMTs and firefighters
- Shock resistance is especially important for firefighters
- Some EMTs and medical staff will also benefit from a watch that displays the time in military format
Don’t forget to think carefully about the tasks you carry out in your role, and what features can best serve these in a watch. There are plenty of options to choose from, and watches today are available for a wide range of prices, so you should have too much choice, rather than too little!