5 Best Watches for EMS & First Responders

A watch is an essential piece of the EMS provider’s equipment. However, buying the right watch for you and your practice might be challenging as there are literally thousands of options available. Below you will find a compiled list of several options of EMS watches, based on a variety of categories. This article ends with the best overall watch recommendation as well.

Please note that I have no affiliation with any of the products highlighted below. These recommendations are based solely on my experience working in the field.

Best Smartwatch – Apple Watch (with screen protector)

The smartwatch has become increasingly popular over the past several years. The convenience of being able to read and respond to texts, get updates, have access to your heart rate and track exercise routines, and a variety of other options, has carved out an unmistakable mark in the watch industry. But is a smartwatch right for EMS?

Well, to answer that question, you might need to ask yourself what your priorities are. For example, do you have children or an elderly parent who might need to get a hold of you and missing a call/text would be a bad thing? If so, perhaps a smartwatch is the correct route. But if you find that you put your cell on silent and don’t really check it or look at it throughout your shift, perhaps a watch in one of the following sections will be better.

Regardless of what you decide, the Apple Watch, with a screen protector, is an excellent choice for a smart watch. Adding the voice memo hotkey to your home screen allows you to take quick notes during a call, such as time of med administration during a code, and access it later for your report.

The Apple Watch has a variety of faces to choose from, even ones with second hands if you so desire. The features are endless, from heart rate and rhythm tracking to pulse oximetry to measure your oxygen status. A variety of workout features, the fact that it is waterproof, and that you can use it to pay with Apple Pay (convenient for those late-night coffee runs) all make this smart watch an excellent choice for EMS providers.

Make sure you spend the extra $10-15 to get yourself a GOOD face protector and this watch will be just as durable as any of the other top watches on the market.

The Apple Watch Series 8 is a good choice.

Don’t forget the screen protector!

Best Digital Watch – Timex IronMan Essential 10 series  (made in mens & womens sizes)

Timex was founded in 1854, making it one of the oldest watches making companies founded in America. And in 1984, they introduced several different “sport” brand watches and have continued that tradition for decades.

The Ironman series watches are an excellent choice for working in EMS. They are water resistant and durable, made with a tough acrylic casing. The display face has a white light reflector making viewing the digital readout easier in direct sunlight. And it has a patented “Indiglo” night light for night viewing as well.

It has multiple alarm modes, military time mode, and a calendar. A stopwatch with a variety of additional features is also available on this watch. It is lightweight and has a large, easy to read display. Its rugged and sleek design makes this an excellent choice for an EMS provider.

Men’s series

Women’s series

Best Analog WatchSEIKO Men’s SNK807 SEIKO 5 Stainless Steel

This watch has a stainless-steel case that is simple yet durable in design. This watch is water resistant, has a secondhand readout, and an additional day/night function. The analog display is NOT powered by a battery, but instead by winding it. This is a plus as you never have to worry about the battery dying mid-shift.

The watch face is scratch resistant and comes with a durable canvas strap. The hands are luminous, and sword shaped, making them easier to read accurately. Day of the week and date of the month displayed inside the face make it simple to remember dates. The watch face also has both classic display numbers (1 through 12) and Arabic (5 through 60) making it even easier to tell the exact time, down to the minute and second.

This is an excellent choice for EMS providers with its stainless-steel scratch and water-resistant design. This watch will surely hold up on many 911 calls for you.

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Best Small/Thin Watch – Garmin Vivofit 4 Activity Tracker

For those of you out there who have never worn a watch before working in EMS and were dreading having to wear one, this might be a decent solution for you.

This watch/activity tracker is ultra-thin, basically the size of a thick wristband. It is water resistant, so you can shower at the station with it on. It has a nice readout display where you can put anything from your overall daily steps, the date and time, or the weather as the face.

The thin and lightweight design is well suited for an individual who has been fearful of having to wear a full-size watch. With its smaller design, it will not hinder or get in your way at work, and with yearlong battery life, you can even wear it while you sleep at the station to help track your sleep patterns.

This watch only works in conjunction with the Garmin Move IQ application, which is a free downloadable application for either an Apple OS phone or a Google/Android OS phone. This thin, lightweight, and sturdy small digital face is reasonably priced and an excellent choice for the EMS provider wanting something smaller than the standard watch size.

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Best Overall – Casio G-Shock GW6900-1 Tough Solar Sport Watch

If you know anything at all about watches, you surely have heard of the brand Casio. Casio was founded in Japan in the 1940s. The Casio Calculator watch became a worldwide success in the 1970s and 80s. And in 1984, Casio released its first in the G-Shock series. The G-Shock series revolutionized the wristwatch industry by taking an item that was usually considered fragile and delicate and turning into something rugged that could survive anything.

This shock-resistant watch (you can view videos online of semi-trucks rolling over these watches) has refined technology that provides useful information for the EMS provider. A digital readout with seconds included, day and date (month/year), and large numbers with an LED backlight for ease of reading.  The silicone-based band is durable and waterproof. This watch is solar powered BUT also has a battery, so no need to fear in low light situations. It also features daily alarms with snoozing capability, world time clocks, and either 12- or 24-hour time setting.

This watch is lightweight, very durable, has second readouts for obtaining accurate vital signs, and is reasonably priced at under $100 USD. This watch is by far one of the best watches that an EMS provider can purchase.

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The above list contains the five best watches for the EMS provider based on a variety of different factors and preferences.  Remember to consider your working environment in EMS, including outdoor conditions, variations in heat and cold, exposure to water and sweat, and low-light scenarios at night. Durability should be at the top of your requirements as EMS providers are simply hard on equipment, that is the nature of this field.

We encourage you to read and research, ask around your company and station, and prioritize what is important to you before making your watch purchase. Good luck and stay safe out there!

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