January 2, 2013
by Ariel Adams
Here at aBlogtoWatch, we aren’t just watch nerds, but normal nerds as well. We’d be lying if, as guys, we claimed that having serious talks about surviving a fantasy zombie apocalypse doesn’t come up regularly. So much so, that occasionally we think that some type of undead uprising is bound to happen… eventually. Being prepared for the zombie outbreak is essential. As part of your readiness kit, you’ll need some reliable gear, including a timepiece. So forget all those arguments about using your phone or computer to tell the time. When you are a survivalist nomad in a post Department of Water & Power world, you’ll need a reliable timepiece to help keep you alive.
This article is also a bit of an update to a piece we did over five years ago on a similar thread. Here you can read our list of the top watches to wear when trying to survive while stuck on a deserted island. We pick up now where we left off with some slightly different considerations. The zombie apocalypse will most likely have you struggling in post-civilized territory. That means while you might not have access to services or stores, you will find yourself picking up spare parts or supplies where you can. That changes the game compared to the situation on an isolated island where the chances of finding extra batteries, tools, or anything else of a non-sand or coconut variety is zero.
Before going into any specifics, we’d like to recommend that in the event you are stuck being chased by flesh hungry humanoids – and want to keep track of the time – you keep a few spare watches around. Quartz or mechanical watches can fail, stop, or just lose accuracy. Having a number of backup watches will ensure that you won’t have to worry much if the one on your wrist is lost, stops, or simply has an unfortunate encounter with teeth. That also applies to batteries dying. If you have watches with batteries that were put into them at various times, chances are that at least one will be running when the batteries give out, giving you a chance to scavenge for power cells.
While a watch itself probably isn’t going to keep you safe from the walking dead, it is a valuable tool that will help keep you alive. The best watches to have after the apocalypse are those that will survive themselves. Quartz movement (as opposed to mechanical) based watches are durable, accurate, and easy to replace. They are, however, battery-powered, which means that they can die on you at the wrong time. A good solution are self-charging quartz watches such as those which rely on light to power a battery. These can last thirty years or more given the durability of the system. Having said that, watch batteries are plentiful and long-lasting. They are also among the last batteries people are going to be looking for when trying to power their stuff. That means having to replace a battery in a quartz watch isn’t at all impossible.
Mechanical watches never need batteries and with proper care can last for a very long time. They will need to be worn or wound regularly, but can prove highly reliable. You also want to look cool while taking head shots and lobbing heads off with that shovel you sharpened into an axe, right? One additional consideration is watch weight. A plastic quartz watch will be light and out of the way, but won’t offer any protection at all. A thick metal watch and bracelet will stop even the ravenous hunger of an undead’s death bite. It might just be your lucky life saver. Having said that, why don’t you have wrist and ankle armor on, anyway?
In thinking about zombie survival, you have to move a few notches down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and think more basic. What will you need to strictly survive? Food, water, a safe place to sleep, that sort of thing. The addition of zombies means that attention must be paid to daylight and perhaps night light available thanks to the moon, as well as the seasons of course. Similar to a hunting scenario, but we aren’t sure who is being hunted in this instance.
For navigation and weather prediction, a top choice has to be the Casio ProTrek (formerly known as Pathfinder) line of outdoors watches. Casio has refined its best-selling ProTrek models for years, producing top-notch sensor-laden watches that are also solar powered for long life. Suunto and other brands have similar features, but only Casio models feature light-powered quartz movements – a crucial asset in a post corner drugstore world. Pretty much any of these triple-sensor watches will suffice, but one good option is the PAG240T-7 which is among the titanium (versus mostly plastic) ProTrek models that will offer enhanced durability and a full bracelet. This isn’t one of the models that syncs to the atomic clock – but that likely won’t be in operation anyway unless the zombies learn how to operate complex scientific equipment.
The PAG240T-7 is among the rare ProTrek models that offers the sunrise and sunset times, along with goodies like a digital compass, barometer for weather prediction, thermometer, various alarms, a full calendar and more. See a full aBlogtoWatch review on the PRG240 here. Price for the Casio ProTrek PRG240T-7 is $300. pathfinder.casio.com
Only the most ardent of Casio-philes will be able to get past the price of this high-end $1800 Casio G-Shock. The 7600/7700 is Casio’s range-topping analog/digital model and offers everything that Casio can cram into its 50.5 x 14.6mm titanium case. Both the case and bracelet are DLC treated for durability and boast excellent hardness and scratch resistance while weighing just 115g. The Tough MVT (designed to be thrown around a lot and survive) movement is solar powered, offers the complete range of features like a chronograph, alarm, and automatic calendar, as well as a backlight and atomic radio calibration. Sporting both a sapphire crystal and 200m water resistance, this MRG may be the the perfect watch to wear while civilization crumbles around you. While your garden-variety G-Shock’s are generally plastic and may not endure the stress of a full-on extended zombie war, the MRG and its hardened titanium shell will quite likely outlive the best of us. Given the price of the MRG-7600, we recommend snagging one during the inevitable looting in the opening days of the zombie apocalypse. Note that unless you are in Japan and a few other places these timepieces are hard to come by accidentally. Price is about $1,800 from Japan. gshock.com
Citizen’s line of Eco-Drive Signature (solar/light powered) watches are another solid choice. What you get here is durability and utility, along with a look that is pretty attractive. Again, no battery changes required, and they should last 10-30 years with no maintenance. Citizen’s standard Eco-Drive watch selection is vast, and the Signature models are among their higher-end, better built pieces. This particular piece is the Eco-Drive Signature Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. BL5440-58E. The 43mm wide steel case and bracelet are among the nicer available from the popular Japanese brand and the dial is remarkably legible given its chronograph, alarm, and perpetual calendar (its good to know what to expect from seasonal weather changes). If you want high-durability with classic sport watch looks, this is the end-of-civilized-days watch for you. Signature models are priced higher than most Citizen Eco-Drive models because of their upgraded parts and construction. The Signature Perpetual Calendar Chronograph retails for $925. citizenwatch.com
Truth be told, the “big three” watch brands from Japan each have a large number of solid options for our undead scenario. While Seiko also produces solar-powered quartz movements under their “Solar” collection, they also offer a slightly higher-end range of quartz “Kinetic” and “Kinetic Direct Drive” movements. These use a rotor on the movement inside the watch (just like in automatic mechanical watches) that spin while you wear them acting to charge the battery. If you are planning on living in a cave or underground where light isn’t plentiful, these are very good options to having pieces that are accurate and don’t require battery changes.
Seiko’s Prospex collection is a “professional use” range that includes this Marine Master Scuba Kinetic Direct Drive Ref. SBDD003 timepiece. 47mm wide, it comes in a black-coated titanium case that is water resistant to 200 meters. A great feature in the Direct Drive movement is that you can spin the crown manually to charge the battery – a benefit which is worth getting one over the standard Kinetic movements. This Prospex watch is durable, light, and very legible. With Seiko’s rock-solid reputation for high-quality parts, this watch is bound to be faithful wrist servant for years to come. We also think it is pretty bad-ass looking with the “saw style” rotating diver’s bezel. Get one online as they are rare and only available in Japan. Budget seekers will find solace in other Seikos, but the approximate retail price of this black beauty about $2,500. seikowatches.com
At the time of writing this article, the most modern Rolex Submariner in steel is the reference 116610. This is the version you’ll want because it is the best to-date. The Rolex Submariner is probably the world’s most popular high-end sports watch, which is reflected in its price which continues to creep up. Ritzy, it is also very durable and reliable. The modern version has a scratch resistant ceramic bezel and probably one of the best and most comfortable steel bracelets (with micro-adjustments) known to man. This mechanical automatic watch will need to be worn most of the time to be kept running, but you probably won’t want to take it off. A lot of the time extra features such as a chronograph, etc… just aren’t necessary. Zombies don’t keep a schedule and the true survivalist will use their wits and a keen sense of their environment to stay alive. Knowing the time is often enough. An added benefit to the Rolex name is its use as barter material. It is true that in a post-money world luxury goods might not have the same value, but it is unlikely that the meaning of the Rolex name will diminish quickly. Being synonymous with success and reliability, there is little else you could hope for in a compact item ideal for trade. Price for the Rolex Submariner 116610LN is $8,550. rolex.com
Long after you’ve mastered the art of avoiding zombies comes the real test of survival. While the undead are an enemy, you also need to battle the elements, travel and get food. No, the Yes Zulu won’t do these things for you, but it can prove to be an invaluable tool helping you to know the earth’s cycles when you can’t check the internet. The Zulu is a sort of wrist astronomer. The watch tells you everything from sunrise/sunset times (with accompanying alarms) to how long until a full moon. The watch takes into consideration where you are in the world to offer this host of information. The dial has an LCD screen and single analog hand that tells the time in 24 hour format. You use it with the pie sections on the dial to see what parts of the day are going to be light or dark. Perfect for knowing how much longer you can scavenge until darkness falls. The Zulu movement also has your typical assortment of digital watch feature such as an alarm, chronograph, countdown timer, etc… Get the Yes Zulu in titanium with the matching bracelet and all you’ll need to worry about is batteries each few years (that you can stockpile). Price for the Yes Zulu watch in titanium as seen is $845. yeswatch.com
Hulk smash? Your watch sure can. Especially if you are wearing one of SISU’s Guardian or even larger Bravado models. This watch is all about size and thick steel. In addition to telling you little things like the time, consider this 54mm wide watch to be almost like armor. How many times does some hapless “survivor” cease to be so because he or she allowed some biter to get too close to their arm? That probably could have been avoided with a watch that can double as a wrist guard. Hell, wear two of them. With an almost one-pound-in-weight Guardian on your wrist you can not only use it to slap that zombie back, but we promise that no teeth (alive or dead) will be able to penetrate this watch’s thick steel case and bracelet or chunky sapphire crystal. This Guardian Q2 model contains a Swiss quartz movement but an automatic is available. See the full aBlogtoWatch Review here. Price is $795. sisumovement.com
One reason we love Breitling is that they actually still make “professional-use” watches. The famous Aerospace model is among them. With a thermo-compensated quartz movement, this watch is accurate to about 5-10 seconds per year. The analog-digital display features a series of useful functions such as a chronograph, count-down timer, and second timezone (all functions are controlled via the crown). What really makes the Aerospace model attractive is the optional “Copilot” module which adds more features as a separate piece on the bracelet (another timezone, second chronograph, etc…). Available in titanium, the Aerospace is going to be light, accurate, and reliable. It will also look pretty darn good. A second benefit of the Copilot module is that it uses a separate battery which in a way makes it a backup watch should the main timepiece battery die and you need to reset it with the accurate time. Now you’re not just surviving, but surviving in style. Price for the Breitling Aerospace is $4,095 and the Copilot is a pricey $2,645 add-on. breitling.com
The Marathon Quartz Divers Watch ref.ww194007l (also known as the TSAR) is an amazingly capable and tough-as-they-come tool diver. The company says the watch’s intended purpose is “diving, search and rescue,” but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to add “surviving” to the list. Powered by an accurate high-tourque quartz movement, the TSAR comes fitted with a full compliment of tritium tubes for the markers and hands. The tritium tubes allow you to easily view the time at night without needing to charge any luminous paint with a flashlight or rely on a backlight which might announce your presence to a horde of the undead. Easy to read, excellent low-light visibility, solid construction and ample water resistance mean the TSAR is the no-nonsense choice for the tactical post-apocalypse jack of all trades. Designed for professional and military use as well, you might appreciate the “US Government” label on the dial – though we are pretty sure there won’t be much left of it. Price is $500 on a rubber strap and an automatic movement version is also available. marathonwatch.com
In the lawless world that will emerge post-apocalypse, it will be important for all of us to keep a clear head and an eye on our own mortality. The Mr. Jones Watch called “The Accurate” was not designed to be a morbid message, but rather a motivating reminder that you should make the most of everyday. Essentially a basic 35mm quartz watch, the only noteworthy feature are the hands which spell out “remember you will die.” Whether you’re a pessimist or want to beat some of the hope out of the more positive members in your survival group, the Accurate watch will make sure you know what the fight to prevent getting bitten by the undead is all about long after time means far less than it used to. Price is $200. mrjoneswatches.com
And finally, if you are eagerly awaiting the moment the undead begin to wander so that your current responsibilites can fade away in favor of testing your will to live… then you might want to get one of these Zombie Clocks ($39.95) for a shelf:Post written by aBlogtoWatch writers Ariel Adams, Paul Hubbard, and James Stacey.