From the makers of the Crovel survival shovel comes a new multifunctional survival tool. "A cross between the Swiss Army Knife and MacGyver," the Recon 6 wristwatch is more than meets the eye thanks to the small survival kit that's integrated into its body and strap.
We've seen a few woven bracelets with integrated survival kits, including the Kodiak. We've also seen an emergency communicator survival watch in the form of the Breitling Emergency II. The Recon 6 offers a different survival feature set to slap on your wrist.
"The watch is designed, really, after my needs of wanting to go out into the wilderness," Recon 6 designer and survival expert Tim Ralston explains in a video. "Being an adventure guy myself, the last thing I wanted to do was try to find that survival package, always have it with you – that's not always easy to do. But with this watch, it's tied to your wrist."
On its face, the Recon 6 is a basic watch. It includes a simple number/notch design and phosphorescent hands below a scratch-resistant, anti-reflective mineral glass face. It also has a rotating bezel and a date window. It's not the fanciest timepiece out there, but it's a function-forward design that can work for casual and recreational wear.
It's underneath the watch face where the Recon takes a step up from the average outdoor watch. The timepiece chassis swings out of the way to reveal a small survival kit with a series of tools. On the top tray, there's a small liquid compass, a ferro fire rod, an emergency whistle and a small magnifying glass. The underside of the hinged watch chassis has a signaling mirror, plus 25 feet (7.6 m) of fishing line and hooks are tucked below the orange tray. The watch also has an LED flashlight on its body, a bottle opener on the strap buckle, and a blade/can opener concealed in a sheath on the strap next to the buckle. When all is said and done, the Recon has 14 different functions.
We're suckers for interesting survival gear and we love the idea of a survival watch, but we feel like the execution is clunky. They've given the watch a bulky, double-sized body to conceal a survival kit filled with downsized, inferior gear.
They could cut out the entire lower compartment and its tiny toolset and have a normal-sized watch equipped with the tools that are likely to see the most use – the built-in blade, can opener, bottle opener and flashlight. The compass could be integrated into the watch itself or onto the strap and the signal mirror on the underside of the watch body. They could probably figure out a way to get the fire rod and/or whistle in there, too.
Relying on the Recon 6's kit as one's entire survival kit is unwise for any situation where there's even a small likelihood of getting into serious, self-reliant trouble, so we'd much rather wear a 7- or 8-in-1 multitool that's the size of a regular watch. Wearers could then supplement it with other survival gear.
It's a little surprising that Ralston describes the Recon 6 as a replacement for a larger survival pack because he's the type of survival and preparedness guy that you'd expect to tell you not to rely on cheap, over-the-counter survival kits for wilderness use. He has a point that the Recon 6 is easier to find and carry, but it's built like a secondary, on-person survival kit, not a replacement for a larger, more complete kit. In fact, it's missing some basic "10 essentials" such as first aid, so you'll have to pack other survival provisions to carry a complete kit.
Ralston and his team are trying to meet a minimum order to begin manufacturing. They've put the Recon 6 on Kickstarter, offering it for early bird pledge pricing as low as US$275. The anticipated retail price is listed at $495. We'll stick to pocketing a $15 mint tin survival kit and spending the leftover $480 on a more function-packed outdoor watch like the Garmin Fenix 2 for now, but hopefully the design evolves over time. It's an interesting start.