Best Law Enforcement Watches
Part #2: Specialized Units or Promotions/Desk Jobs
By: Matt Wright
As most officers progress throughout their career, around the 4-year mark (some sooner – some much later) there comes the desire to either promote and go inside as a detective, or find a specialized unit off patrol (“off patrol” refers to units where officers can work at the “Officer” rank that are not on patrol (generic terms like Vice or SWAT). This is where being a watch enthusiast can become both fun and dangerous.
Depending on the specialized unit, many of the job functions can be the same as patrol. Therefore, a good rugged law enforcement watch like the Casio from Part 1 will still be your best bet. However, in some units, and once you promote say to Detective (at least that is how it works for my department), you probably will not be getting into fights or chasing down bad guys most weeks. With your pay raise comes the added feature of pushing paper and maybe having more disposable income to venture out and expand your watch repertoire. Now, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “I could never push paper.” Give it some time.
As you move into a specialized unit or investigations, you tend to dress in plain clothes, and sometimes a shirt and tie. While most cops do not buy watches for fashion, an officer or detective that is also a watch enthusiast, may want something more to grace their wrist. Not all law enforcement watches have to be tactical rugged timepieces. With that, I would like to officer three options for the detective/desk diver of the department.
Timex Expedition Scout
Many watch forums, podcasts, and the like, have mentioned the Timex Expedition Scout, and for good reason. For about $40, you can get a solid, quartz field watch that looks rugged yet can be dressed up nicely. Plus, there are so many different color options available, you’re bound to find the perfect look. I will warn you; this watch is not designed for strenuous outdoor use like some other law enforcement wathces. It can be used, however, for working out and wearing in the field. I would caution against using it while hiking, or running an obstacle course. The crowns and stems have been known to fail if they are snagged. However, this is a great option for a durable tool watch, which will fit everyday use.
Timex Expedition Scout Specs
|40mm diameter||22mm lug width|
|date function with quick set feature||brushed stainless steel case|
|snap case back with embossed markings||mineral crystal|
|luminous minute and hour hands||50m water resistance|
I am not a fan of the stock straps that come with the Expedition Scout, but for another $20, you can get a nice, quick-release leather band from your choice of strap maker. The leather strap really dresses the watch up and makes it look great under the cuff of a dress shirt or while wearing a polo around the office. The Expedition Scout also has a military time inner chapter ring and a quick set date function. I prefer the dial with the patina numbers and gray minute, hour, and seconds hands. I would pair it with an espresso brown, quick-release leather strap – a law enforcement watch with a classic look.
Quick release straps have been a God-send for the #watchfam. Along with NATO straps, you can stock up several for a relatively reasonable price and have options for days with strap/watch combos.
Along those same lines, if you are looking to spend a little more and get an automatic movement, the Seiko 5 line has a great variety of law enforcement watches for very reasonable prices – best bang for your buck, if you will. The SNZG15 is Seiko’s classic field watch that is loaded with features for about $120. Now, most cops out there are thinking, “$120 for a watch!” Well, for someone that is in to watches, or just getting in to watches, the Seiko 5 line is a great way to get into the automatic watch scene without breaking the bank. .
Seiko SNZG15 Specs
|42mm diameter||22mm lug width|
|day/date function with quick set feature||brushed stainless steel case|
|screw-down transparent case back||Hardlex crystal|
|luminous hands and markers||100m water resistance|
Seiko developed the 5 series for watches to have the following five attributes: (1) Automatic Movement Functionality, (2) Water Resistance, (3) Shock Resistant, (4) Date Wheel, (5) Day Wheel. The SNZG15 has the Seiko 7S36 automatic movement with the day/date function. This is the workhorse of Japanese automatic movements. Synonymous with the 7S26 found in the SNK800s, it has a self-winding movement and a 40-hour power reserve.
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Self-winding means you will not have to turn the crown to wind the watch, the movement winds off the movement of your wrist, which if you are desk diving, there should be a lot of. Again, not a fan of the stock strap on this watch either. (Are you sensing a theme here?) I would throw it on a leather NATO and not hesitate to take this watch out to a crime scene. In addition, the first time you see the lume on the hands and dial it will blow you away. Hard to beat for around $120.
Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph (Evil Panda) – no date
This Dan Henry 1964 is a new release from Dan Henry, one of the world’s foremost vintage watch collectors and the namesake for his line of watches. The 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph is a very aesthetically appealing watch.
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Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph Specs
|38mm diameter||20mm lug width|
|optional date function with quick set feature||stainless steel case|
|screw-down case back with embossed Aston Martin||sapphire coated mineral crystal with AR coating|
|Luminova lume||50m water resistance|
The 1964 Gran Turismo honors watch designs from the decade its’ named after (watches like the Heuer Autavia and the Omega Speedmaster). I’m particularly fond of Dan Henry’s Evil Panda version of the 1964. A silver tachymeter scale surrounds the black dial with silver minute and hour hands. The 3 white sub-dials pop off the black background, while the cool blue of the sub-dial hands match the larger central chronograph hand, making it all come together for a sweet looking watch. At 38mm, it is not going to call attention because of its size. However, the look of the watch will have you glancing at your wrist all day to check the time. Making your day go by that much slower. The Seiko VK63 mechaquartz movement powers this watch, much like the engines that powered the cars from the 1960s this watch honors. I would personally go with the no date option. It comes with a “beads of rice” bracelet and a black leather strap. Take the bracelet off and go with the strap. All day! For $250 directly from Dan Henry, this watch packs a big punch for a low price tag.
Undone Urban Killy Chronograph
The Undone Urban Killy Chronograph is another watch that honors watch designs from years ago. Named after Jean-Claude Killy, Olympian skier and Rolex Ambassador, the Undone Urban Killy takes its design cues from the Rolex Dato Compax, worn by Killy.
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Undone Urban Killy Chronograph Specs
|40mm diameter||20mm lug width|
|316L stainless steel case||optional transparent or solid case back|
|hardened domed K1 crystal||30m water resistance.|
Surrounding the Undone Urban Killy’s cream dial is a blue tachymeter scale. However, just inside the blue tachymeter there’s a red telemeter scale, which is used to measure distance, much like measuring the distance between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder. The cream dial gives the watch a vintage feel. Undone, however, gives the buyer the option of customizing the dial (if the Killy is not your thing), the case finish, the hand colors, strap choice, and case-back finishing. At 40mm, this watch will look great for any occasion. The Seiko VK61 Mechanical-Quartz Hybrid Chronograph movement powers this watch, giving your seconds hand the classic “tick” of a quartz, but also allows the chronograph seconds hand to have a smooth motion. Aesthetically, this is a great watch. I would recommend the Killy cream dial, blue hands, and a vintage grey calf strap. Oh, and get ready for folks at the office to think you paid much more than $295 for it.
Overall, I feel like these 4 watches will satisfy any watch enthusiast in general. However, for those of you in the market for a law enforcement watch, I believe these watches are rugged, stylish, and functional enough for your daily duties even though you may have reached a point in your career where you might want to venture out to something different. Kind of like when you reach that point in watch collecting where you want to branch out to different styles.