back to top

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I am probably not worthy of this watch. This ain’t no fashion timepiece or wrist accessory. The watch doesn’t care too much about looking good with a tie, or being civilized. No, this watch instead a bona fide tool. Made to endure the rigors of tough adventuring, tours of duty, and combat situations. All that, and it is made to be affordable so that you don’t need to be an aristocrat who likes to rough it, to afford one. This is the Red Cell by Rogue Warrior Watches, and it is now available to the public in addition the law enforcement and the military.

The watch started almost as a challenge. A man by the name of Richard Marcinko wanted a watch to meet his special set of specifications. Marcinko has a few other names, one of them being the “Rogue Warrior.” A true military maverick, Marcinko is a former Navy SEAL and has an interesting history. As you can see by his images, he is not a man to be messed with. His fame began to blossom in Vietnam, when he was he led the most popular Navy SEAL team there. At one point his face was on a Viet Cong “Wanted Dead or Alive” poster. His later life includes military novel writing (first one written apparently while he was serving hard time), running a hardcore private security firm by the name of SOS Temps Inc., and working with the well-respected Bethesda software developer on a Rogue Warrior video came which coincidentally just came out. More on Marcinko is available on his Wikipedia page here.

As I said, Marcinko wanted a very specific type of watch, and according to Michael Gee, the man behind Rogue Warrior Watches, no other watch maker was able to do it. Gee used to be part of MTM, designing watches for them. MTM is another maker of military style/purpose watches. In at least one season of the popular show 24, “Jack Bauer” wears an MTM watch. Gee branched off to create what he considered to be a more pure and functional military watch. Until now, Rogue Warrior Watches were mainly sold to military personnel, special forces bad-asses, and law enforcement (I was told that the Chief of Police in LA now owns a Rogue Warrior Watch). Now we too, are lucky enough to get our hands on Rogue Warrior Watches through their website.

So what was is that Marcinko wanted that was hard to achieve by other watch makers? Mainly a highly functional and reliable watch for a price that your average soldier could afford. Marcinko had a few key requirements. I’ll tell you what they are, and explain just how the Rogue Warrior Red Cell watch satisfied them. While doing so, I will explain other details about the watch.

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Watch Dial must be easy to view at all times.

This need involved two things. First, making a highly legible dial that could be easily read in a glance. And second, having a high quality lume that would stay readable all night long. The first issue wasn’t so much of a technological issue, as it was a design effort, mixing and matching the right style hands and numerals, with the right sizes. After living with the Red Cell watch, I must admit that like magic, the watch is quite quick to be read. There are thousands of dials designs out there. Some much more easy to read than others. Not only is the Red Cell watches among the cooler looking dials, but it gives you the information you need at a quick glance. Just as simple as that. Each hour has a thick dedicated marker, and there are smaller markers for each minute. The hands are long and thick enough. I am curious as to what the watch would be like having a different style of hour and minute hand on the the dial, but that is just curiosity – the watch dial is good as it is. The seconds hand is in red, plus there is a Rolex Explorer II style GMT hand in red. Each hand is covered in a rich amount of lume. The dial has a curved chapter ring with the GMT hours on it for easy reading. Plus, the minutes are counter out in five minute increments on the steel bezel. The dial also has a nicely framed date window.

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Text on the dial is minimal. All you see is the reminder that the case is filled with krypton gas, and the star-like logo (likely meant to remind you of stars frequently used in the military) for Rogue Warrior Watches. At first I didn’t get why the “krypton gas” label was on the dial (I will explain the purpose for the gas later), but I now get it. Having a case filled with the expensive gas means that you need to have a specialist replace the battery so that they can refill the gas after the open the watch. This way, you can, or whoever is going to change the battery can be aware that the case is filled with the gas as a reminder that it needs to be refilled. The battery for the Japanese quartz GMT movement is meant to last 3 years, and Rogue Warrior Watches will pay to change the battery the first time. You just send them the watch for a quick turn around. In the event you are in the field and need to make a quick emergency battery change, you can do so, but you’ll lose the gas. Once you are back, just sent it back to Rogue Warrior Watches to “fill ‘er up” again.

A big part of having a legible watch is darkness visibility. Rogue Warrior watches chose the luminant carefully. One choice was the ever glowing tritium gas tubes. These are an excellent choice for the short term, but after about 10 years, they start to dim. And then go dark after about 20 years. The lightly radioactive material in the tubes only has a half-life of so many years. Rogue Warrior Watches knows that many of their customers buy one watch, and keep it for decades. For this reason they chose Krypotlite (TM) (that glows green) for the luminant. While it does need to be charged to glow at night, it will still do so 20, 30, or 40 years from now. The luminant is not only thickly applied, but works well. It needs about 10 minutes of sunlight (or 30 minutes of artificial light) to stay luminous all night long according to Rogue Warrior Watches. While I didn’t test this fact specifically. I did notice that the lume works very well, and is quite clear. I am picky about my lume, and easily notice good or bad lume much of the time. Rogue Warrior Watches gave the Red Cell a good solution to the night viewing problem, and satisfied Marcinko’s demands.

For the opposite of night viewing, Rogue Warrior Watches throws in a special black shroud strap with the watch. Developed by the Israeli military, these special black coverings can be placed over the watch and have a Velcro shroud over the watch. During stealth night missions, you can’t have anything that unintentionally glows or is reflective. For this reason, the Red Cell watch can be worn with this covering for total stealth.

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Condensation free  case

What happens when you take most watches into high humidity environments, or jump out of a plane and switch from a cold to warm temperature quickly? Condensation will build up in the dial of the watch – often obscuring your view of the dial. Marcinko demanded that this never be a threat to watch visibility. The solution is to remove air from the case and fill it with a non condensation forming gas. Other companies such as Sinn use Argon gas for a similar effect. Rogue Warrior Watches found that the more expensive Krypton gas with its larger molecules was a better solution for this problem. Thus, Red Cell watches have no moisture in the cases, and will never form any condensation on the dial. You are again reminded of the gas content in the watch once again, as it is engraved on the caseback.

Shock resistant case with intense protection to the movement

No watch is worth being on your wrist if it stops working. The most delicate part of a watch is the movement – with the biggest enemy to it being high shock. Using a Japanese quartz movement in the watch is important for a few reasons. They aren’t susceptible to magnetic fields, they are typically more hardy than mechanical movements, they are most often more accurate, and fixing them or changing the battery is easy in almost any place on the planet. This is even more so the case with Japanese versus Swiss movements that Rogue Warrior Watches says have more universally acquired batteries.

Right around the movement in the watch is a special material called d30 (TM). It was originally developed for the British Army, and has an incredible amount of shock absorbency. The orange colored silly putty like material has the unique ability to go from hard to soft in a very fast time. Meaning that shock going to it makes the material soft for an instant before it is bounced back and dissipated while the material turns hard again. Applications for such materials are endless, and it is used fantastically as protection for a watch movement.

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Red Cell watch case itself is in steel and 45mm wide (without the crown). The Red Cell Silver version has a nicely made brushed steel case, while the Red Cell Black is coated with the highly scratch resistant DLC (diamond like carbon) coating. While not written, the case is water resistant to 200 meters. The watch has a large easy to operate and grasp crown. I would have liked the crown to have a logo on it, but it does not. That is the watch lover in me talking. I am the reminded that the military likes “sterile” products, that have no branding. There is the star-like logo on the dial, and only on the rear of the watch does it indicate “Rogue Warrior.” The design of the case is modern and technical, not to mention very cool looking. You can tell that it is cut finely, and polished well – especially for the price. Rogue Warrior Watches also did a good job making the watch design fit well with the look and feel of other equipment a special forces soldier might be carrying. The idea is also to evoke a degree of envy in a rank and file soldier who sees a highly trained colleague with the cool watch.

I would have liked the bezel on the watch to rotate. This might have been hard with the design.  As it is, the bezel is screwed in. A lot of the character of the watch comes in on the caseback. Without this piece, the watch wouldn’t be what it is. The engravings on the caseback really make the watch what it is, by reminding you of who the watch is named for. It also makes you smile in a smirky, “I have a kick-ass watch” sort of way. On the back you first see a nicely rendered machine gun. This was apparently Marcinko’s gun of choice in Vietnam. There is then a patriotic “United States Of America,” reminding you where the watch comes from, and finally you get an interesting acronym. I’ll tell you what the letters mean, even though you won’t see the explanation on the Rogue Warrior Watches website. W.G.M.A.T.A.T.S. was the unofficial motto of Marcinko’s military unit, and stood for “we get more ass than a toilet seat.”

Rogue Warrior Red Cell Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Protect the watch crystal

The military actually has specs for watches. These are official requirements that watches need to meet to be officially sold to soldiers via the government. One of those requirements is that a watch has a mineral, and not sapphire crystal. Why? Because while sapphire crystals are more scratch resistant than mineral crystals, sapphire crystals are more shatter prone. For this reason the Red Cell watch has a 4mm thick mineral crystal that has a fantastic level of anti-reflective (AR) coating on it. To further protect the crystal, the watch has two solid steel bars over the top and bottom of the case. The curious look ended up becoming quite endearing to me. First it was sort of silly, then it grew of me. I started to think of them as little handles that reminded me of large mechanized armor ladders, and then I realized that the grooved surface provided just enough friction to used it while on my wrist to itch a scratch where ever needed! The bars add a degree of protection to the crystal, and help enhance the tool like appearance of the watch. No, let me rephrase that. It does not help enhance the look, but rather helps remind you that the watch is a tool, rather that just look like one.

Richard Marcinko is proud to put his name on the watch, as it satisfies his highly demanding needs (and personality). In two colors with a series of available straps or a metal bracelet, there is one for any highly demanding adventurer or military personnel. What is the most impressive is how Rogue Warrior Watches was able to keep down the prices. Unlike most watch makers who make hardcore rugged watches, Rogue Warrior Watches understands that people with average budgets need to afford the watches. The Red Cell watches start at $400 (on a rubber, velcro bund, or camo leather strap), or $550 on a matching metal bracelet. Interestingly, the DLC coated watches are the same price. For all that you get, the price is extremely friendly if I may say. The watches come in a nice presentation box, and are for the (real or metaphorical) blood thirsty, bad-ass, plane jumping, soldier of fury in us all (that need a good watch to go along with the job).

To get your Red Cell watch or learn more, check out Rogue Warrior Watches here.



Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991101822


    This one reminds me of the Reactor watch line.
    Both may not survive bomb & gun blasts like that
    Swiss watch demonstrates on its website, but these look durable enough for average desk warriors, & others who go beyond that. Wiki-
    pedia fails to mention the watch in its list
    of Marcinko’s current projects.

  • Frank K.

    I just placed My order today NOV.23,09, RED CELL BLACK with rubber strap. Can not wait for the watch to arrive! I was saving up to get it with the metal band, but seeing Ariel’s Video & Article pushed Me to pull the trigger. Thank You Ariel, in a good way. Sincerely, Frank K.

    • Hey Frank,
      So glad you liked the article and video. This is not a watch I would hesitate recommending to anyone who thinks they are ready for one! Take care.

  • Frank K.

    Hey Ariel, I just recieved My Watch today 12/1. It is Awesome in black! The Watch is Truly Incredible! I would Highly Recommend it to anyone.Thank You again, Sincerly, Frank K..

    • Hi Frank,
      Glad you like it. I just met with the man who makes the Rogue Warrior watches yesterday. The whole line looks great. Fantastic watches. Wait until you see some of the next watches they have coming up!

  • Frank K.

    Hi Ariel, I sent Mike an email yesterday, I might just give him a call also, I am still in AWE! Now Your telling Me about more new goodies, Oh No! We will just have to wait and see. Thank’s for the intel, F.K..

  • Ben Aroia

    What a terrible watch design.

    • You’ve got to explain a bit as to why you think this. It is hard to objectively say something is a “bad design.” There are lots of watches out there that I think are ugly, but that aren’t bad designs. The Rogue Warrior watch is functional and excels at what it is meant to do.

  • Frank K.

    Hey Ariel, it’s been 22 day’s since I recieved My watch and I have not had to reset it since! I also have a tendency to be very hard on My watch’s, it’s Holding up fine, no problem’s at all! I think most out there believe it’s a gimmick watch and the fact it is a Japanese movement it is not worth the cost. Would You happen to know what the movement is and whom make’s it? I’d like to Wish You a Happy Holiday’s and Happy New Year, Sincerely, Frank K..

  • Mike Pageau

    Great review and pics. I ordered mine today. Can’t wait to put it to the test. Best regards,


  • I just purchased one to replace an old divers Seiko, read about it on my blog

  • rob

    Looks sturdy enough but I don’t understand how a dive watch, especially a specops dive watch, can NOT have a rotating bezel. I’m a Soldier of 19 years so I don’t spend much of my work day underwater, but I do dive recreationally and actually use the uni-directional bezel on my TAG Aquaracer to keep track of my minutes.

    Any reason for the watch not having this feature? I know the protector rods would make it difficult to turn, but not impossible. Think I’ll stick with my TAG automatic for now (which keeps perfect after 4 years by the way).


    • Thanks for the comment. No rotating bezel simply due to cost/complexity. Making a good one isn’t super easy. It could easily raise the price $100 to have one that matched the durable nature of the case. I agree they are nice to have.

  • Richard

    Seems like a battery-powered quartz is not exactly a suitable “mission-critical” movement. What happens if the battery dies during operation? An automatic movement makes much more sense for a military watch.

    • Though a quartz watch will be more accurate and has other certain advantages, there is no clear winning type of movement for this.

  • Leonard H.

    The battery life is a very serious shortcoming of this design.
    A solar powered movement would both solve the battery death issue, (the watch would have to be in total darkness for MONTHS to run down between sunlight charges of just a few minutes), and also the need to replace the krypton gas, since the case need never be opened (or at least not for a minimum of 25 years).
    Citizen, of course, already makes rugged and affordable Eco-Drive movement divers, and so does Seiko/Pulsar (calling the movement Solar 4000). These would have been better choices for Road Warrior.

    • Jim Clement AKA Disgruntled Veteran

      I strongly disagree that the battery is a serious design shortcoming. For the primary market that this watch was designed to serve, and the four major design criteria laid down for this piece by Commander Marchinko, this watch is capable of filling that need superbly. Adding a solar movement
      would entail added complexity and expense. That would be at odds with what, if necessary, is to be considered a “throwaway” timepiece.

      For what it is, there are few watches that come close. None (to this point) that do it better.

  • Leonard H.

    I meant to write “the Rogue Warrior”.

  • OSCS

    I agree AKA Disgruntled Veteran, there are few watches that come close. None (to this point) that do it better.

  • Michael Johnston

    Any old viet vet of UDT diver worth his weight, saves his hard earned money, waits for a duty free opportunity and buys a Rolex Sub. or GMT master, there are no others…

  • Al

    Had this watch for over a year – keeps great time, very easy to read in low light and coped brilliantly with moving from air conditioned buildings to 40+ Centigrade desert heat. Unfortunately the battery lasted eight months and died. I had thought that the first replacement was free but apparantly this isn’t the case and a battery change and gas re-fill costs as much as the watch did, so the watch is currently sat back in the box it came in.

    The tough solar g-shock I replaced it with is much more practical option if your work does involve mud/sand and an absence of shops (it was used in exactly the same conditions), and is the same price (actually cheaper here in the UK) that said it doesn’t look as nice.

  • Sean

    ” Unfortunately the battery lasted eight months and died. I had thought that the first replacement was free but apparantly this isn’t the case and a battery change and gas re-fill costs as much as the watch did, so the watch is currently sat back in the box it came in. ”

    Is this true? Does is cost $400 to change the battery and refill the gas in this watch? I just ordered one and if this is the case that makes it a deal breaker! Please advise.

    • Just contact the brand and ask.