Soldiers may often wear two watches, especially when the second watch has specific functionality, and each must be accessible quickly and efficiently under combat conditions. The second watch may be needed to monitor and coordinate actions through different time zones.

Soldiers wear two watches to keep instant track of different time zones, especially in tactical situations where one watch is a GPS watch or smartwatch, and the other is a timepiece. They could also wear two watches if one is a diving watch while the other is a regular timepiece.

Get your gear on, and let’s go into the field and discover more about why soldiers wear two watches and look at one of the most famous officers in U.S. history and why he wore two watches.

Soldiers Wear Two Watches To Keep Track Of Different Time Zones

This may sound a bit absurd considering that most watches and smartwatches these days have dual or multi-time zone functions, so why would a soldier need to wear two watches?

Surely it would be easier to wear one and simply switch to the time zone you needed as and when you need to?

Under normal civilian conditions, yes, this would be the way that most people that need to know the time in different time zones around the world would use their watch.

But, every second is life and death in combat conditions and under heavy fire. If soldiers are abroad and need to be able to function and coordinate military actions in real-time in different time zones, it is more practical and efficient to wear two watches.

They will not have time to be messing about with pushing buttons on a watch to get to a time zone, that information needs to be available in real-time, and immediately, so the answer is to have two watches.

Stormin’ Norman Wore Two Watches For This Reason

During Desert Storm, General Norman Schwarzkopf famously wore two watches, and when asked why his reply was that he always wore two watches during the Gulf War. The watch on the left arm was set on Saudi time, while the Seiko on his right arm was set to the Eastern Standard Time. That way, he could always know the time in Saudi and Washington with just a quick glance at either watch as he needed to.

At the time of the Gulf War, there were watches available that did have the dual time zone and multi-time zone function, but the General needed quick access to both time zones, and this idea has worn off and been carried through military ranks to this day.

Soldiers Wear Two Watches As One Has A Dedicated Function

For soldiers in the field and especially with specialized tactical teams, wearing two watches is not unusual. This is often because the second watch has a specific and dedicated function for the soldier. For example, one watch may be a regular timepiece, while the other is a GPS watch.

While it may have other functions, the only function it serves in the field is that of a hand-worn GPS System.

These watches are often synchronized with command center GPS systems to ensure that target or strategic position coordinates are accurate and consistent within the operational parameters.

Of course, the GPS watch also tracks them on the operations grid and gives them real-time data in terms of time frames and TOT (Time On Target) information as required.

Soldiers Wear Two Watches Because It Is Combat Practical

Where soldiers need to be at specific locations and times, wearing two watches is far more practical in the combat field than trying to scroll through the functions on a watch using buttons.

Also, soldiers must focus entirely on their environment, especially in hostile environments where the potential for contact and an ensuing firefight could happen without warning at any time, so diverting your attention to fiddle with a watch is not safe or practical.

Suppose a soldier or team comes into contact with the enemy and is taking fire. In that case, those situations require immediate reaction, and again, no one has the time to push buttons on a watch to get or relay vital life-saving information.

The operations center can then accurately pinpoint their and the enemy’s location and send support, whether offensive, medical, or both, to that location as needed.

Other examples of soldiers wearing two watches where one watch has a dedicated function could be for diving operations. The second watch is purely a dive master watch with depth, pressure, and oxygen readouts. In contrast, the second watch is the regular waterproof timepiece.

A Second Watch For Fitness And Training

With robust multi-function smartwatches available, they can give feedback on the soldier’s physiological conditions like heart rate, blood pressure and other fitness-related information.

This data is then used to determine the soldier’s physical performance levels, whether in training or in the field and to track improvements or identify weak points.

So a soldier may be wearing a regular timepiece along with a smartwatch or fitness tracker so that analysis and feedback can be provided after training exercises or field operations.

Soldiers Wear Two Watches For Sentimental Reasons

The last reason why a soldier could be wearing two watches is if the second one has some sentimental value.

It could have belonged to a deceased parent or been given as a gift from a loved one, and while they may not be ideally suited in terms of durability to the field, soldiers may often wear the second watch as a reminder of the ones they are fighting for and to keep them connected to those people in tough times.


There are several tactical reasons that soldiers wear two watches which make absolute sense in modern warfare’s fast-paced, unpredictable environment as they require immediate information with as little effort as possible.

Some reasons are more sentimental than practical and even inspirational or as a tribute to one of America’s most outstanding soldiers. Still, at least now you have some idea as to why soldiers would wear two watches.


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