Ask a Nurse: What Are the Best Watches for Nurses?

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated March 22, 2023
    There is no one watch that is perfect for all nurses. Consider what's important to you and look out for these features that should be avoided.
    Featured ImageCredit: Courtney Hale / Getty Images

    In our Ask a Nurse series, experienced nurses provide an insider look at the nursing profession by answering your questions about nursing careers, degrees, and resources.

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    Question: What are the best watches for nurses?

    According to the healthcare professionals we interviewed, no one watch is perfect for all nurses. Each person has different needs and preferences. When looking for your watch, decide which features are most important to you and find one that meets those needs.

    What Should Nurses Look For in a Watch?

    Our contributors agree that the best watches for nurses are fluid-resistant.

    Working in a hospital or around patients, there is a potential your watch will get wet. Nurses wash their hands frequently throughout the day. While you may not submerge the watch, it will likely be splashed consistently throughout the day.

    Clara Sutton worked as a nurse in the early stages of her career, before making the switch to human resources. She prefers a watch with a self-illuminating face, perfect for nurses on the night shift.

    She also recommends watches with a durable band that is easy to clean during and after each shift.

    Amanda Haas, a registered nurse of more than 14 years, prefers a watch with a second hand that is always visible. “The best nursing watch, for nursing alone, is a basic analog watch with a solid silicone band,” she says.

    Krista Elkins is a registered nurse and paramedic with 20 years of experience working on ground and helicopter ambulances. She advises that if your watch is digital, it should have an easy-to-read analog-type function with a second hand.

    Bands and batteries should be easily replaceable. Finally, the watch should be easy to clean, with no nooks and crannies where dirt and pathogens might hide.

    Types of Watches to Avoid

    The best watches for nurses are functional and don’t require a lot of fiddling to use. Haas recommends nurses avoid watches with metal links and fabric bands.

    “Clip-on or pin-on watches are cute, but require the nurse to hold away from their body to read. Often both of our hands are busy when we need to see our watch,” she says.

    Sutton recommends nurses avoid watches that can’t withstand the wear and tear associated with work. “Nurses should avoid watches that are not water-resistant, have a small face, or a weak band,” she says.

    Some nurses just prefer digital smartwatches. Elkins prefers a watch with multiple functions. However, she warns there are features that nurses should avoid.

    “Sometimes, nurses find themselves in a dark environment (for example, a flight nurse working on a dark scene call),” she says, “and he or she may need their watch to light up well in this particular environment. Also, we often have both hands tied up, so if a nurse can quickly look down at their watch and get a timer for those times they need one, that would be best.”

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    The Best Watches for Nurses (According to Nurses)

    Luminox Navy Seal Watch

    The Navy Seals worked with Luminox in 1992 to build a watch to their specifications. It needed to be dependable and tough to be considered “first-line gear.” This is Sutton’s favorite watch.

    “This watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters, has a unidirectional rotating bezel, and is made of durable carbon fiber. It also has a self-illuminating dial, which makes it perfect for nurses who work night shifts,” she says.

    Speidel Original Scrub Watch

    This watch was designed with healthcare professionals in mind. It comes in over 15 scrub colors and is inexpensive, so you can buy two or three to match your scrubs. The stainless steel back cover can also be engraved.

    The watch has an easy-to-read white dial and a red sweep second hand with quartz movement for complete accuracy. The face has 12- and 24-hour markers. The silicone band is soft, comfortable, and easy to clean. And the watch is water-resistant.

    VAVC Nurse Scrub Watch

    This watch was also designed for healthcare professionals. It has a large dial with a highly visible red second hand. The dial has both 12- and 24-hour markers and Japanese quartz movement for accuracy.

    This watch offers a choice of a silicone or calf leather band in many different colors. You can also choose between a white dial or a colored background to match the band.

    The sapphire-coated mineral crystal glass is beautiful and functional. Some watches offer self-illuminating hands.

    Apple Watch

    Apple makes multifunctional smartwatches that can be paired with your phone. Several functions that many nurses appreciate are the notifications to the watch, which allows them to determine if there are urgent messages without pulling out their phone.

    The watch has a timer, alarm, and stopwatch. And it can evaluate your heart rate, the number of steps you took during the day, and other health information you can tailor to your lifestyle.

    Elkins recommends Apple watches for numerous reasons, including the ability to switch to an easy-to-read analog face and second hand.

    “I also love the Apple Watch because I can use apps from my phone on my watch, for example, my pediatric critical care medication dosing app,” she says. “With the Apple Watch, a nurse can stay attentive to their duties while also still being available for urgent matters.”

    Timex Expedition Rugged Core Analog Field Watch

    This watch is highly functional for work and play. The sturdy resin case protects the watch from collisions with medical equipment. The watch is water-resistant; the band is durable and easily cleaned. It comes in black with white numbers and a red second hand.

    It’s designed for performance and has a range of functionalities. The self-illuminating dial is perfect for taking vitals in the dark. The large numbers make it easy to read. This nursing watch moves easily from home to work and the gym.

    In Summary:

    • Our contributors agree no one watch works perfectly for all nurses.
    • The best watches for nurses are water-resistant and easy to clean. They have a durable band and a self-illuminating face that is easy to read in the dark.
    • Features you should avoid include watches that require a lot of fiddling for information, have small faces or weak bands, and clip-on or pin-on watches that are cute but require you to hold them while using them.
    • Our contributors recommend the Luminox Navy Seal Watch and an Apple Watch. You can receive notifications through your watch and track personal health information.
    • Other nursing watches that meet the criteria are the Timex Expedition Rugged Core Analog Field Watch, VAVC Nurse Scrub Watch, and the Speidel Original Scrub Watch.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Clara Sutton

    Clara Sutton

    Clara Sutton worked as a nurse in the early stages of her career before making the switch to human resources. She is currently the HR manager at Healthier Trajectory, where she still uses some of her nursing skills, such as running the weekly health workshop.

    Portrait of Amanda Haas, RN, BN, MN

    Amanda Haas, RN, BN, MN

    Amanda Haas is a wife and mom of three school-aged children. She has been a registered nurse for over 14 years. Her career has spanned several areas: acute care, nursing education, and healthcare leadership.

    Portrait of Krista Elkins, BA, RN, CFRN, NRP, CCP-C

    Krista Elkins, BA, RN, CFRN, NRP, CCP-C

    Krista Elkins has 20 years of experience in healthcare as both a paramedic and registered nurse. She has worked on both ground and helicopter ambulances, emergency rooms, intensive care units, primary care, speciality care, psychiatric, and wilderness medicine. She also practices and has a devoted lifelong interest in preventative medicine. In addition, she writes content marketing for the healthcare industry.