I am hardly a watch aficionado, and I think spending thousands on a Rolex is laughable (if you have the money and that is your thing, why not) but wearing a robust and useful watch is a must. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am rather judgmental about dudes who don’t wear a watch. When a guy tells me that he doesn’t need a watch because he has a phone, I automatically presume he probably can’t do a pull-up, change a tire, defend himself, or accomplish any such useful endeavor. I might be wrong, but that has been my experience.
Anyway, wearing a watch is, in my humble opinion, part of being prepared. The most obvious benefit of wearing a watch is being able to tell the time just by looking at your wrist. However, there are some other benefits that can be had by wearing a watch with modern technology. Having alarms that can be set to remind you of something, or to wake you up, no matter where you are, is beneficial. Having a stopwatch may prove useful as well.
One element that I now insist in any watch that I wear daily is a built-in compass. I realize that some of you bush-craft guys probably carry a real compass in your pocket, and I do realize that the sensor compass built into a watch is not as good as a real compass, but it is a useful thing to have on your wrist, even when in urban or suburban environments.
Having recently been “turned around” (that is code for “lost” for guys like me who won’t admit to that) in the woods during an impromptu pre-deer season scouting outing, I did not have my usual woods pack on me. I had no compass, and was not prepared. I happened to be wearing one of my watches that had no compass in it. Sure enough, I ended up on a piece of the property that I hunt that I was unfamiliar with (it is many hundreds of acres) during complete overcast so I could not even see the sun, and I got lost for about an hour. If I had a compass on my wrist I would not have been lost at all as I knew the direction to make it back to the logging trail, but could not tell the direction at all under the circumstances.
Never shall I venture into the deep woods again with no compass, nor shall I roam around any environment without a watch with a compass in it. The obvious exception may be in a work setting or a formal occasion in which a dress watch is required, but keeping a real compass in your get-home bag in the vehicle should go without saying.
I am partial to the G-Shock models that are solar powered, so they never die, and that have the triple-sensor technology built in. My favorites are the Mudmaster and the Rangeman series of G-Shock that have both. For a less expensive alternative, the Casio Pro-Trek is rock solid and also has solar power and triple sensor. There are many other good choices as well, but these are the ones I can recommend on personal experience.
Anyway, wear a watch. If I meet you and you have no watch I will judge you. So there.