Best Law Enforcement Watches
Part #1: Police Academy and Patrol Duty
By: Matt Wright
Much has been written, said, and suggested about the best type of police officer watches or military timepieces. Now, never having served in the military, I will not pretend to know what type of watch would best suit a soldier in any given environment. However, being in law enforcement for almost 20 years, and having worked in various units throughout my particular department, I think I can at least offer some insight into the world of law enforcement watches and the type of timepieces that may serve a police officer well given their particular assignment.
As a police officer, things can change, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Tastes, assignments, family dynamics, etc. With those changes, I don’t think it would be fair to make the “one watch fits all” claim. Rather my approach to this series of articles would be to offer up my experiences within my department, and which watches I feel might best suit similar assignments. I would also like to try and illustrate how, as a police officer, you could still enjoy this hobby while pursuing a level of watch enthusiasm that expresses your particular taste and keeps within the constraints of your budget and assignment.
Police Academy and Patrol Duty
Most major departments will have their own police academy. Smaller agencies will hire state licensed peace officers after they have been through some sort of Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC). Either way, the first few years for most law enforcement careers begin with learning the laws of your state (or federal laws if you are in a federal agency), the policies specific to your department or agency, probably some rigorous physical training, and then on to a patrol-type assignment. With that, I believe it’s best to have a rugged law enforcement watch that can handle sitting in the classroom counting down the minutes until your next push-up session, handling a firearm and throwing some rounds downrange, doing CrossFit until you’re hugging the toilet, or working on your pursuit driving skills on the driving track.
The Casio GW2310-1 is the perfect watch, in my opinion, that fits the bill for what you need during your first few years of law enforcement. The GW2310FB is the same exact timepiece except it has the negative display and features more black detailing. Here is a quick rundown of what I consider the key features of these Casio law enforcement watches:
|46.4mm||22mm lug width|
|4 Daily Alarms||World Time (UTC)|
|Casio’s Tough Solar Powered Tech||Timer|
|Multiband 6 – Atomic Timekeeping||Stopwatch|
|Shock Resistant||12/24 hour Formats|
|200m water Resistance||Full Auto Calendar to 2099|
First off, this watch looks great on the wrist. I personally have the negative display model (pictured in this write up) that I wear when in uniform, and it does not disappoint. I have an 8” wrist, so on me it has the “tactical watch” look without being overly bulky. At about 46mm in diameter, the watch does not wear as large as it sounds. The display shows the time, month, date, and day of the week, which makes it easy to remember what day it is when you are working overnight (having a watch to help you keep your head on straight when working overnight shifts can become essential in law enforcement). Since on patrol you are outside or exposed to light most of the time, the solar powered feature ensures your watch will be constantly charging.
The Casio GW2310-1 charges on either direct sunlight or by exposure to fluorescent light. Keep in mind, direct sun will always be your best energy source for this watch. The display has a HIGH, MID, LOW charge indicator, letting you know what level of charge your watch currently has. It also has a power save (PS) function that, when turned on, after a few hours of not being used shuts the display down. I find if I have not worn my watch in a couple of days, the display will be off with the PS indicator flashing. I will grab the watch out of my watch box, and within seconds after putting it on the display lights up. A great feature to help save the solar cell when you are not wearing your watch.
As far as an accurate law enforcement watch goes, the Casio’s Multiband 6 – Atomic Timekeeping function ensures you will always be set to the most accurate time possible. For those that are not aware, the Multiband 6 capability means this Casio GW2310-1 receives a time signal every night to ensure it’s accurately synced with atomic time. Where you live depends on what signal you get. My watch gets the signal from Fort Collins, CO. It’s fun to hold it up to your iPhone as the minute is about to switch, and see your watch and the iPhone turn over at the same time – “Dead on balls accurate” (My Cousin Vinny). There are rumors that the Fort Collins signal will be going away soon, but I would not let that steer you away. Real world use within a law enforcement watch? When you are on that fatal crash scene and the medics call the time of death, you will be sure the correct time is marked for investigators that may be showing up soon.
The 12 or 24-hour format capability allows you to set the time display that best suits your needs. It also ensures you will be able to mark “military time” with just a glance. The stopwatch and timer functions are useful for timing a workout or for gauging your response times. The lack of a crown is also appealing because it prevents “crown dig” when shooting firearms or if you are pursuit driving. Although if we are going be honest, most watches are not made with the idea of shooting a gun or having to drive a car in a high intensity situation.
I could go on and on about the features of the Casio GW2310-1 and how well it can serve as a law enforcement watch for cadets in Police Academy or officers on normal patrols. This is a tough watch that any watch enthusiast would enjoy owning. The Casio GW2310-1 is a great watch that will be a valuable tool in your first years on the streets. You can pick one up Casio GW2310-1 for about $90 on Amazon and the Negative Display GR2310FB is around $100 give or take.
But what to do as you progress in your career? Can the same law enforcement watch from Police Academy and Patrols serve you well as your career grows? Technically, yes – but if you’re as watch crazy as the rest of us, then a progressing career is just another excuse to grow the collection.
Check out Part 2 of the series where I discuss my choices for best law enforcement watches in Specialized Units and Promotions/Desk Jobs.