When reading vitals, following up on labs, or doing other time-sensitive work in a medical setting, the right watch can be a nurse’s best friend. What features are important in a watch for nurses, and which watches offer the precision, reliability, and legibility you need in a fast-paced clinical environment?
We’ve tested a ton of different watches. The best watches for nurses include wristwatches and fob watches from brands like Speidel, Apple, Casio G-Shock, Timex, and others.
In this post, we’ll let you know exactly what to look for when buying the watch, and how to choose the right one for you. Then, we’ll dive into our top picks. Let’s get into it!
Quick Answer – Our Top Picks
To save you the trouble of digging through the whole article, here are a few of our top picks at a quick glance. Read on to take a deeper look into these, and more options.
If you’re looking for the best overall pick, it’s hard to go wrong with a smartwatch, such as the Apple Watch Series 8. Although it has the most features, it’s also the most expensive.
If you’re on a budget, take a look at the Speidel Scrub Watch. Our favorite fob watch is also from Speidel and comes in a 2-pack.
And finally, we suggest taking a look at the G-Shock ‘CasiOAK’ as it’s the perfect mix of stylish, functional, durable, and affordable.
Read on to learn more about what to look for when buying a watch for nurses, and the full list of our picks.
Buying Guide: What to Look For When Buying a Watch For a Nurse
- Easy to wash (Water-Resistance): In the course of your daily work, you might get a variety of fluids and other mystery substances on your watch. You need to be able to clean and sanitize it easily. That means looking for a water-resistant watch you can wash regularly with a durable silicon band that will not degrade.
- Budget: As a nurse—especially one just starting out—you need to keep your budget in mind. Not only do you have better things to save your hard-earned money for, but a watch for work should be affordable enough that you could easily replace it if need be. Thankfully, there are high-quality nursing watches available in every price range.
- Legible: You’re on the move, and need to read the time now, not squint at your watch until you can finally make out the time. Having a watch that is legible at a quick glance is important. Here are a few things to look out for to ensure a watch is legible enough.
- Large hour markers
- Illuminated dial
- Uncluttered and simple dial
- High contrast
- Easy-to-see second hand
- Luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) hands and hour markers
- Pulsometer: Look for a watch that can function as a stopwatch or pulsometer. It is also useful for nurses to be able to set alerts and reminders with a watch.
- A second hand (analog or digital): An accurate second hand can help you take pulse readings. Many people find second hands easier to read if they are red on analog watches. This makes them stand out from the other watch hands and other parts of the watch.
- Style: While functionality should be your top concern with a nursing watch, you can find many quality timepieces that can accent your scrubs fashionably in the workplace, and look just as great on the weekend.
- Meets hospital policies: Many clinical workplaces have a “bare below the elbows” policy and ban wristwatches. If that is the case where you work, you will need to get a fob watch instead, which is included in this list also.
- Analog vs Digital: Some nurses prefer watches with an analog display and a sweeping or ticking second hand to visualize the elapsed time when taking a pulse. Others prefer a digital stopwatch or timer, which measures time down to a split-second.
- Smartwatch vs Traditional Watch: Some watches prefer a smartwatch for extra features, while some prefer the simplicity and distraction-free nature of a traditional watch that just tells the time.
Best Watches for Nurses
Now that you know what to look for when picking out the right watch for you, we’ve selected a list of our favorites.
Most Durable: Casio G-Shock ‘CasiOAK’ GMAS2100
For a tough watch that can stand up to plenty of daily knocks, consider the G-Shock CasiOAK. This shock-resistant watch is reinforced by its carbon core structure, making it nearly indestructible. You won’t need to baby this G-Shock or think twice about it when it’s on your wrist.
Its 200 meters of water resistance and all resin case means it can quickly and easily be washed down: soap and water are but a friend to the G-Shock. This makes it the perfect everyday wear, as it can easily be sanitized multiple times before, during, and after your shift, without ever having to worry about damaging it.
Additionally, the entire dial lights up and has both an analog and digital time display, making it incredibly legible, and easy to read the time, day or night.
A minor drawback: the buttons are a bit recessed, making them hard to activate quickly, and in such an important role, every second matters.
While the CasiOAK comes in a large variety of colors and sizes, our personal pick is the GMAS2100 version that strikes the perfect mix of a traditional analog watch with digital watch design queues in an ultra-modern package with just the right hit of nostalgia.
Best For: The G-Shock CasiOAK is the perfect watch for someone who wants a watch they don’t have to baby. It’s as durable as it is good-looking, easily washed, and extremely legible.
Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 8
Next up on our list is the popular Apple Watch smartwatch. This watch has become a favorite among nurses; chances are good you already have seen a few in your own medical facility sporting one on their wrists.
What makes the Apple Watch ideal for nurses? For one: it’s super rugged, and resists dust, cracks, and water. The newer models have extremely bright and legible screens, with the ability to simulate an analog clock on the display. Want a red second-hand? No problem. Prefer the more usual digital display? No problem. You can completely customize it to your liking.
Of course, you can use it to text and call, track your activity, and check your own blood oxygen. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself just like you do your patients.
You can also swap out bands quickly and easily, switching out old ones that are showing wear over time, or just changing up your look from easily washable silicon straps during the week, to something a bit more casual and fun on the weekend.
You can always opt for the newest model, like the Series 8, or save a few bucks and pick up an older Series 7 or earlier. They will provide 90% of the functionality at a fraction of the cost.
The Apple Watch is a bit more expensive than some of the other watches on this list, but you are getting a lot of capabilities packed into one little device. And of course, you need to have an Apple iPhone to take full advantage of this device’s capabilities, so Android users might not be best served here.
Best For: The Apple Watch is the ultimate smartwatch for nurses and is the best all-rounder on this list for someone who wants the functionality of a smartwatch, both in and out of work. Of course, a smartwatch may be a little too “techy” for some, and despite being the most full-featured on this list, it’s also the most expensive.
Best Budget Pick: Speidel Scrub Watch
Next, we have the Speidel Scrub Watch, This watch was designed with a large, legible face that is incredibly easy to read. It displays both standard 12-hour and 24-hour military time with luminous markers and hands.
It doubles as a pulsometer and is available with numerous band color options to match your scrubs. When wearing this watch, I was surprised at how supple and comfortable the silicon strap was. This isn’t your typical cheap sweaty rubber strap you may have felt before.
Best of all, the sturdy stainless steel case and silicon band sterilize easily while washing your hands!
Best For: This watch is a fantastic mid-range option for anyone wanting a clear, legible watch that is easy to match to just about any color of scrubs.
Best Fob Watch: Speidel Fob Watch with Retractable Rope
If you like the idea of a fob watch but aren’t a fan of the traditional, rubber-housed design, you might be interested in this two-pack of Speidel fob watches. Instead of silicon housing, they feature a retractable elastic rope you can pull on up to 25 inches.
Clip one to your lapel and extend the rope, and you will find it comfortable and ergonomic to read the watch with its large, legible dial, and high-contrast red second hand.
As with the Alladaga watches, these Speidel fob watches are aimed specifically at healthcare workers for professional use. They do not double as everyday watches for your time off, although pulling one of these out at a party would certainly be a conversation starter!
Best For: Consider this option if you are looking for an affordable set of fob watches that extend and retract.
Casio F91W-1 ‘Jelly’
The Casio F91W-1 is an all-digital option from Casio, featuring an alarm, a stopwatch, a timer, a light-up display, and a calendar. That is quite a lot of utility in a low-price package. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable options on this list, making it very easy to replace if needed.
While the traditional F91W is cool, these newer, see-through ‘jelly’ options are a personal favorite. By simply making the silicon bands in a variety of see-through colors, it upped the cool factor of these watches at least 10x, by our calculations.
It is a great “minimalist” option since it is lightweight, compact, and available with a clear band (just one of many options) that seems to “disappear” on your wrist. You can choose from a wide range of color combinations. Both the strap and resin case is easy to clean.
Note: some users find the watch a bit less flexible than they would like, particularly compared to the original F-91W (another great option!).
Best For: Choose this watch if you want something unobtrusive and reliable, from a reputable brand, at a reasonable price. Plus, it gives you that undeniable hit of digital watch nostalgia.
The classic Swatch is the perfect watch that would work just as well for work as it would in your day-to-day. Like the simple Casio and Timex options on this list, it’s a time-only watch that is rather basic in its functionality, making it enjoyable to use, and easy to read. But, Swatch is a well-known Swiss brand, and to receive a swiss-made watch at this price point is insane!
Word of warning: Although there are tons of colors and styles to choose from, we suggest picking a Swatch that has numbers, instead of just ticks, for the hour markers. This will make it much more legible, and easy to read. And definitely avoid some of their skeleton dial watches. While they’re incredibly awesome looking, they have a lot of visual distractions that would make the time harder to read.
Best For: The Swatch is perfect for those looking for a more fun and playful option. They come in a nearly limitless range of colors, so you can surely find one to match your style.
While we’ve covered the more traditional Speidel earlier in this list, this is a pulsometer-specific version with dedicated markings for 15-second intervals. This allows you to measure a pulse much easier and is one of the only watches that have this feature.
Like all Speidel watches, the markings on the Pulsometer are bold and large, making it easy to read at a glance, aided by the glow-in-the-dark minute and hour hands, and red second hand.
This watch comes with two different band lengths to fit, whether you have small or large wrists, but it’s also very easy to replace this watch’s band.
Best For: Someone who likes the idea of dedicated pulsometer markings at 15-second intervals.
Prestige Medical Stethoscope Watch
Prefer not to wear a watch on your wrist at all? A stethoscope watch is a perfect alternative. Simply throw it on your stethoscope, so it’s always there when you need it, to take a pulse, or otherwise.
The Prestige Medical stethoscope watch has a few bright red elements: the second hand, and a 15-second track, to easily take a pulse reading. Just looking at this watch, you can tell it was made with health professionals in mind.
Best For: Nurses who don’t want to wear a watch on their wrist, or who always want to have a backup handy.
Alladaga Fob Watch
If you are looking for a cheap and easy way to tell the time, you cannot beat the fob watch. This three-pack is available in a number of color combinations to suit your tastes. Each watch features a large, legible dial, a durable silicon rubber housing, a security pin, and glow-in-the-dark functionality. You can remove the dial from the casing to sterilize it or use it without the housing.
On the downside, the batteries may not last long. You can change them, but it can be a little challenging to get inside the case. Still, with a pack of 3, you can rotate through them consistently, or even leave one at work in case you forget one at home!
Best For: If you want stylish, colorful fob watches at a low price, this set is a fabulous bargain. Plus, having a spare (or two) never hurts!
If the G-Shock CasiOAK appealed to you but seemed a little on the small side, you might like the G-Shock GMAS120MF-8A as an alternative. Whereas the CasiOAK measured 43 millimeters in diameter with an 11-millimeter thick case, the GMAS120MF-8A features a 50-millimeter diameter and a case thickness of 19 millimeters.
Aesthetically, there are some similarities in its design, available in white/rose gold or grey. It is as functional as it is fashionable, boasting water resistance and shock resistance, large buttons, 5 alarms, and a stopwatch.
Note: It does not have a step counter. Some listings may erroneously claim it does.
Best For: Like all G-Shocks, the GMAS120MF-8A is loaded with features. But maybe even more important, it has a distinct, attention-grabbing look combining different materials in a way that catches the eye, perfect for the fashion-forward.
Casio Women’s Baby G
Another digital Casio we suggest is the Baby G. This watch is pricier than the F91-W but includes an even higher degree of functionality, with additional alarms, timers, time zone trackers, and overall durability. The dial is protected by dial guards, helping to prevent scratches, and keeping your watch looking newer for longer.
Features include 5 daily alarms, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, a day counter, an auto-calendar, different time formats, 29 time zones, a backlight, water resistance, and more.
Best For: This is a stylish digital watch that offers all the functions you could ask for at an excellent value. It might be a bit bulky for someone with smaller wrists, however, this also means it has a much larger and more readable display.
Timex Ironman Classic
The next watch we recommend for nurses is the Timex Ironman Classic. And classic it is! What this watch lacks in style, it more than makes up for in pure functionality. Its large display and buttons are easy to read and use, very quickly, even on the move.
The silicon band feels near weightless on the wrist and is extremely easy to wash and clean. Speaking of washing, you’ll have no fear of damaging this watch while scrubbing it down thanks to its 100 meters of water resistance.
The Ironman also has tons of useful features, traditionally aimed at those running an Ironman marathon, but nursing is an all-day marathon, so it would work just as well for you. It has a chronograph that can keep time up to 100 hours to keep an eye on exactly how much of your shift is left. There are three time zones, a 24-hour countdown timer, and bright backlighting.
One drawback is that the lettering on the case does tend to wear away.
Best For: Someone who wants a retro-looking watch that is functional, affordable, and they don’t need to baby. Think of this as the pre-smartwatch smartwatch.
Timex Easy Reader
Not looking for a lot of bells and whistles, just excellent clarity and legibility for fast and easy reading? Consider the Timex Easy Reader, featuring large numbers on a simple, uncluttered dial. The watch lights up with Indiglo for reading in the dark and is water-resistant.
Best For: This watch doesn’t have extra bells and whistles, like alarms, or stopwatches. This watch is for the nurse who only needs to tell the time and nothing else, and wants a large, high-contrast dial to do so.
With all of the many distractions, we have in our daily lives, and even some coming from the smarter and smarter technology we wear, it can be nice to simplify our lives in any way we can.
That’s where the bare-bones wristwatch like the Casio MQ24-7B2 comes in. Its beauty is in its simplicity. The resin case is sturdy and the time is easy to read. Everything you need to tell the time or take a pulse, and nothing more.
Best For: Someone who wants a watch that flies under the radar and doesn’t attract attention, but is accurate, and comfortable enough for daily wear.
Fitbit Charge 5
If you want to keep track of your activities and health while also having the convenient time and alarm functions you need, think about getting a Fitbit, such as the Charge 5.
Best For As a nurse, you spend a lot of time running around each day, sometimes working long shifts or odd hours. The Fitbit Charge 5 can give you a daily stress management score along with recommendations for how to reduce your stress and keep up with the demands of nursing.
When on the move throughout your busy day, you need a watch that doesn’t get in your way… Rhyme not intended!
The Armitron Sport is great for nurses due to its thin and slender profile, making it very comfortable when moving your wrist around. It’s also shocking how water-resistant this watch is, given its very affordable price tag. It’s water resistant to 100 meters, or 300 feet, more than suitable for hopping in the shower, or pool, let alone washing your hands.
It also has a large and easy-to-read digital display, and functions such as a digital chronograph to measure the elapsed time of a pulse, or timing a lunch break.
It also comes in a wide variety of colors, so check out the listing to find the one that suits your needs.
Best For: The Armitron sport is best for someone who prefers a watch as slender as possible, so it doesn’t obtrude. It’s also great for nurses who love the beach, or simply swim in their spare time, thanks to its incredible water resistance. And it’s great for someone looking for a very affordable budget option!
Speidel Petite Scrub Watch
At just 28mm in diameter, the Speidel Petite is exactly as the name suggests, petite!
This watch features the same bold and legible display, and a large variety of band options as other Spiedels, but in a much tinier, and compact package. This makes it the perfect sized watch for someone with smaller wrists, or even just someone who hates when their watch gets in the way, as it will practically disappear, and you’ll forget you’re wearing it.
Best For: Someone with small wrists, or who wants a generally very comfortable watch.
Speidel Glow Scrub Watch
Of course, the watch still functions, and looks, exactly like a traditional watch when the glow feature isn’t activated, so it won’t look out of place otherwise.
And it comes with a variety of different color band options to mix and match to your scrub, or your own style!
Best For: The nurse who finds themselves in dimly lit conditions, and needs a watch that lights up.
Another Swiss brand to consider is Mondaine, offering a fresh take on minimalism.
Although the Mondaine Classic doesn’t have numerals for the hour markings, as we’d typically suggest to a nurse, every part of the watch is BIG and BOLD. This makes it still easy to read while offering a bit of variety from the rest of this list.
The watch features a swiss-quartz movement, which jacks up the price of this watch a bit more than we’d like, to under $300. Despite their price, these watches have gained quite a dedicated following, and for good reason. Their designs are unlike any other watches we’ve seen.
Note: You’d quickly want to replace the leather band with a silicon, as leather gets damaged by water, such as when washing your hands.
Best For: Someone who falls in love with the style, since there isn’t anything else on the market like it. Also best for someone who doesn’t NEED to read the time instantly, as this watch doesn’t have numerals for hour markers, but is still large and bold enough to read relatively easily.
The Timex Weekender is the perfect, classic do-anything watch, for nursing, or even just your day-to-day.
It’s the type of watch that never looks out of place, and, unlike some others on this list, doesn’t have the utilitarian “I’m a nurse watch!” vibe. It just looks like a nice, casual watch that can just as easily be worn with jeans and a t-shirt as it could with your scrubs.
The dial is large and legible and completely illuminates by pressing the crown in, making it perfect for telling the time, even in the dark.
You certainly don’t need the “women’s” version, which just means it’s a bit smaller, at 31mm, but there are larger, more versatile options as well. Either would work, regardless of gender, so be sure to decide on the watch size that would work better for you.
Things to Watch Out For: The Weekender comes on a variety of different watch straps, some of which should be avoided by a nurse. While nylon straps are fine to get wet, they will take a while to dry, and you should avoid getting leather straps wet ever. You’ll probably want to pick up a silicon strap to go with this watch, which is much more water-repellant and dries near instantly.
Also, the watch is only water resistant to 30 meters, or 100 feet. This makes it fine for washing your hands, but not suitable for swimming, or even showering. So think about how you intend to use your watch.
Best For: The nurse who wants a watch to wear casually outside of work and for work too! It’s one of the most versatile watches on this list in its appearance. Though it doesn’t have as many features or water resistance as others, it has more than enough for work.
If you want a watch that doesn’t scream “I’m a nurse”, you’ll want to pick a classy, minimal watch with enough water resistance to handle the 100 times a day you wash your hands.
The Wristology Maxi watch has an extremely simple and minimal aesthetic, making it easy to read and looking great. It comes on a wide variety of silicon bands, and its 30 meters of water resistance are enough for washing your hands. Just be sure not to accidentally take it into the shower, or pool, look at some of the more water-resistant options on this list for that.
Best For: A nurse who wants a minimal-looking watch for daily wear that could still handle their work.
Anne Klein Watch
The classiest looking option on this list, this Anne Klein watch has a charm that no other watch on this list has. In fact, for how affordable it is, it looks much more expensive. This makes it perfect for the fashion-forward nurse who wants to look stylish, even at work, but doesn’t want to risk messing up their nicer watches they have at home.
Although we typically suggest a silicon watch band for nurses, the metal bracelet can still be washed. Of course, the entire watch is water resistant, up to 30 meters (100 feet), so the entire watch will hold up to a wash.
Best For: The fashionable nurse who wants to look stylish with an affordable watch they don’t have to baby. Keep your precious jewelry at home, wear something cheap that you wouldn’t mind messing up at work, while still looking good in the process.
Wior Lapel Pin Watch
The Wior Lapel Watch clips to your lapel, to keep your wrists free, while still being able to easily read the time.
Better yet, it comes in a variety of metal colors: silver, gold, and rose gold, so you can find one that matches your accessories.
Watch Out: The watch case is made out of a metal alloy, not stainless steel. The plating may wear out over time if you wash it often. But, since you’re wearing this on your lapel, and not your wrist, it likely won’t get as dirty as a traditional wristwatch would, so cleaning it before and after your shift should be more than enough. It’s also very affordable to replace if needed.
Best For: The nurse who hates wearing a watch on their wrist, and wants to compliment their silver/gold/rose gold accessories.
If you want a watch that is fun and playful, yet still functional, few options are better than the Casio LRW.
It has a bright, colorful dial, and a variety to choose from. Although it doesn’t have a ton of fancy features like digital or smartwatches do, the dial is legible, and you can easily tell the time.
Best of all, it has an impressive water resistance of 100 meters, or 300 feet, much more than many of the other options on this list, making this watch just as suitable for work as it is for swimming or even showering.
Best For: Someone who wants a colorful and playful watch that is very water resistant.
Can Nurses Wear Smartwatches?
Assuming the facility where you work does not ban wristwatches, then yes, you can wear a smartwatch. In fact, they are very popular among nursing staff for their additional functionality and utility outside of work.
Can Nurses Wear Fitbits?
Yes, nurses can wear Fitbits. Just check your employer’s policies first to make sure you can wear it on your wrist.
Where Should a Nurse Wear a Watch?
If you have a wristwatch, you can obviously wear it on your wrist. Fob watches are typically worn on the lapel, and often include a pin to secure it in place.
When reading a fob watch, the watch face is upside-down but will appear right-side-up to you when you lift it from your lapel to read it. Many professionals find this easier than checking their wrists for the time being.
Should A Nurse Wear a Digital or Analog Watch?
Whether a nurse should use a digital or analog watch is down to personal preference. Go with the type of watch you find easiest to read and most intuitive to operate. You can also find some watches that include a combination of digital and analog functionality, like the Apple Watch, which can scratch both itches, and switch between the two.
Should a Nurse Wear a Smartwatch or Traditional Watch?
Again, this is totally up to each individual nurse. Some nurses may benefit from the added functions of smartwatches, especially if they want to be able to message others at work, their family at home, or monitor their own fitness, stress, and vitals. Others may not need these extra functions and can save money with a traditional watch.
Why Do Nurses Wear Watches Upside-Down?
Nurses often wear fob watches that clip to the lapel on their scrub. The watch hangs from the lapel upside down, and the nurse lifts it up, right side up, when they want to read the time. This keeps the fob watch out of the way when not in use, and keeps their hands free if they prefer not to wear a wristwatch.
Nurses also sometimes wear wristwatches on the inside of the wrist to more easily read the time while using a stethoscope, and keep it just a bit further away from the outside world, keeping it cleaner, for longer.
Finding the right watch for your demanding nursing gig isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve hand-selected watches that are the most legible, easy to wash, and in a wide variety of price ranges to meet your budget.
Just make sure the watch you pick meets your hospital’s policies (if any) and your personal style as well.
Whether you are in search of a smartwatch, a digital, or an analog watch, any healthcare worker can find a wide range of suitable options. Some include extra functions that may come in handy on the job; or may simply be a distraction, depending on your preference. Others are simple and reliable to serve one purpose: tell the time.
We hope we’ve been able to help you narrow down the right watch for you.
If you’re still on the hunt, check out some other great picks from Casio or Timex in our roundups there, as many would be just as suitable for your needs.
Still need help? Leave us a comment with what you’re looking for, including your style, preference, and budget and we’ll be glad to help!