Introduction: The Ultimate Survival Watch

Picture of The Ultimate Survival Watch

In this tutorial I'll show you how to make the ultimate 5-in-1 survival watch for around $20.00. This masculine gadget boasts five utilities: a watch with the date and time, a compass, a fire starter, a whistle, and a knife blade. Be prepared for whatever life/ nature throws at you by wearing this handy survival accessory.

Watch The Video:

Besides the fun of making and posting this instructable, this project is an entry for the Outside Contest, Safety Challenge, and Survival Contest. I would really appreciate your vote! Please click on the orange vote ribbon in the upper right-hand corner of this page if you enjoyed this Instructable.


Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need


  1. Watch $14.20
  2. 10 ft. of 550 Paracord(I used Desert Camo and Black) $3.75
  3. Compass $1.00
  4. Survival Buckle $1.00

Total Cost: $19.95


  • Scissors
  • Lighter
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Measuring Tape

Step 2: Sizing Your Wrist

Picture of Sizing Your Wrist

First, start by wrapping a length of 550 paracord around your wrist. Make sure that it is snug but not too tight. Pinch it off where it meets the end of the strand, then measure the length of the pinched-off section with a measuring tape.

For example my wrist size is 7 inches. Make sure to add an extra 1 inch to that measurement for comfort. So, the final length of my watch band will be 8 inches. Don't forget to include the buckle into your measurement.

Step 3: Attaching the Buckle

Picture of Attaching the Buckle

Take the 10 ft. of 550 paracord and cut it directly in half, making two 5 ft. lengths of paracord. You can use one or two colors, I chose desert camo and black. Take one of the 5 ft. lengths of paracord and pinch it in half. At the half-way point, attach the paracord to the female-end of the buckle with a cow-hitch knot. Needle nose pliers are useful to pull the paracord through the slot in the buckle. Repeat this process for the other 5 ft. length of paracord.

Step 4: Installing the Watch and Compass

Picture of Installing the Watch and Compass

To install the watch and compass to the watch band, take the two inner strands of the paracord that are attached to the female-end of the buckle and feed them through the two bars of the watch and the slot in the compass. Next attach the male-end of the buckle to the two inner strands of paracord by feeding them up through the first slot and down through the second.

Step 5: Final Adjustments

Picture of Final Adjustments

Next, adjust the watch band length by pulling on the two inner strands of paracord (to shorten) or the male-end of the buckle (to extend). Check the length with the measuring tape, then try it on your wrist to test the fit. At this point, the fit should be loose enough to snugly fit your index finger under the watch band. After the watch band is at the right measurement and fit, finalize the length by feeding the two inner strands up through the first slot and down through the second on the male-end of the buckle (like we did earlier). Then, tie the outer strands to the inner ones with an overhand knot. Finally, cut the excess paracord strands off with scissors and melt the ends with a lighter. Needle nose pliers are useful to flatten the molten paracord.

Step 6: Weaving the Watch Band

Picture of Weaving the Watch Band

Now, we are ready to start the cobra weave. Start by making a loop with one of the outer paracord strands (strand 1). Next, take the other outer paracord strand (strand 2) and place it over the looped paracord strand. Then, feed strand 2 under the watch band and through the loop formed by strand 1. Pull the knot tight and you have created your first cobra weave knot. Start with strand 1 for each knot. Make sure that the tightness of your knots are consistent across the weave so that the watch band is uniform. Continue this process until you reach the half-way point, where the watch is centered on the watch band. Then feed the two strands through the two bars on the watch (like we did earlier). Then, continue the cobra weave until you reach the compass, where the compass is centered between the watch half-way point and the male-end of the buckle. Again, feed the two strands through the slot on the compass and then continue the cobra weave until you reach the end of the watch band. Lastly, cut the excess paracord strands off with scissors and melt the ends with a lighter. Use the needle nose pliers to flatten the molten paracord. Now your ultimate survival watch is finally finished! Also, you can make extra paracord watch bands that can be easily interchanged with the watch.


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Step 7: I Made It! Gallery

Picture of I Made It! Gallery

This is a gallery of the survival watches that members of the community have made by following this instructable. If you would like to have your survival watch featured, click the "I Made It!" button to post it in the comments and I will add it right here, in the "I Made It! gallery".


starthru (author)2015-09-17

Um...I love the concept, and well written/recorded instructions. Just one question...How do you change the battery on the watch without having to dismantle most of it?

RichM5 (author)starthru2015-09-17

As noted by OP, you can just remove the bars from the watch (or even just one), and change the battery. For a real super-survivor-watch, I'd recommend an automatic type. They wind themselves with an offset weight inside the case, so it harvests movement from your arms swinging. Skeletonized automatics are even better, they have cutaways so you can see the mechanism, but those are harder to find cheaply.

camohat (author)RichM52015-12-24

I used a Casio tough solar. It's waterproof and has a decent led light. I've never had the battery drop below half. It also has a timer which is good when boiling water to purify it. It's also $25 dollars on amazon.

CJDVise (author)RichM52015-10-09

Have any links on hand?

RichM5 (author)CJDVise2015-10-09

Sure, but I would just go to your preferred vendor (eBay, Amazon, watch store) and give them the magical words "automatic skeleton". Automatic refers to the self-winding weight, and skeleton refers to the cutaway backing that shows off the mechanism. The former tends to make the watches very robust, but less accurate (have to move it periodically to keep it wound), and the latter is just aesthetic. If you're interested in a truly robust watch, look for a military surplus automatic. I've never seen one skeletonized, but they are built like tanks. They're getting very hard to find, though, the mechanical watch was phased out of most militaries 20+ years ago.

What I would grab if I needed one right now:


KyleTheCreator (author)RichM52015-09-17

Thanks for the suggestion!

KyleTheCreator (author)starthru2015-09-17


Thanks! If you needed to change the battery, I would remove the watch band to access the battery. It actually isn't as hard as you might think... All you need to do is to remove the two bars on the watch to take off the watch band. I demonstrate this in the video. I have already had to replace the battery once and it took me less than 5 minutes.


Navier-Stokes (author)2015-09-18

Neat project! I'm thinking I might order the parts and package it with the instructions as a DIY project for my brother :) Good job man, I voted for you!

I'm happy to hear that! I hope he enjoys it:D

karpatel (author)2015-09-17

Get Watches. I can really use this. Do you sell them?

Let me know.

Keep inventing Kyle.


KyleTheCreator (author)karpatel2015-09-18

Unfortunately, I do not sell these watches. But, by following this tutorial, it is fairly easy to do it yourself even if you are a beginner.

Best of luck,


manofsteelinstructable (author)2015-09-17

And Kyle, it's an awesome instructable. Thanks for this. Already voted.

Thanks Manofsteel!

sakshambhutani (author)2015-09-18


zamb95 (author)2015-09-17

Creative 'ible!!

Quick question tho...where on the watch is the whistle and knife blade? From what I understood it only has the compass. Unless I'm mistaken...

Will definitely add this to my tdl!

KyleTheCreator (author)zamb952015-09-17

They are on the survival buckle.

starthru (author)zamb952015-09-17

Whistle, knife blade and sparker are all part of the Survival Buckle.

bradonj (author)2015-09-17

Good instructable, very informative and well explained, thanks.

KyleTheCreator (author)bradonj2015-09-17

Thank you!

AMartist (author)2015-09-17

Amazing! I love it!

KyleTheCreator (author)AMartist 2015-09-17

Thank you so much!

Your welcome, have you tried incorporating a space blanket in one?

TheAppleSauceMan (author)2015-09-16

What a great idea! Good job mate!

I had an idea; for the watch potion, use an old Protrek or G-Shock,

If you chose your model wisely, they you could have (another) compass, barometer, altimeter & temperature reading at your fingertips.

And it would be nearly indestructible!!!

I think that that would make this the ultimate survival tool.

Anyway, Great job & nicely written Instructable.



Great idea! Those extra features would be awesome for the watch. Btw, thanks for the nice comment!

Alex 2Q (author)2015-09-14

Great Ible, I've been thinking about making one of these for a while now and this one is definetly on my to do list. I'm thinking of another small addition though adding a bead pace counter to your design should work nicely with the compass. I will upload a pic once i'm done.

Cheers Alex

KyleTheCreator (author)Alex 2Q2015-09-14

Thanks! Can't wait to see it!

basit-cr7 (author)2015-09-09

i made it easily in less than 20 minutes.

KyleTheCreator (author)basit-cr72015-09-11

Awesome! Don't forget to post a picture of it here, in the comments by clicking the "I made it!" button. I would really enjoy seeing it:D

Verga (author)2015-09-08

Great Ible, Great Video. Thank you for listing all the sources. The only suggestion I have would be to use the "King Cobra" weave. For those not familiar it means to go back over the first weave with the same pattern in the opposite direction, so you end up where you began. This would give you almost twice as much cord and would look more balanced with large diameter of the watch you have. You might have to go around the compass. but iot looks you would have enough room in the watch for the two extra strands.

KyleTheCreator (author)Verga2015-09-11

Thanks! For this project, I tried to make the tutorial as simple as possible for people who are new to paracord... That's why I chose to use the "Cobra" weave. Basically, any paracord weave should work with this watch band technique, so the choice is up to you! If you end up doing the "King Cobra" post a pic!

WVHunter129 made it! (author)2016-08-23

I have made a few paracord watch bands. But I would like to try the one you made here with the compass and fire steel buckle. Nice instructional setup.

Alex 2Q (author)2015-11-04

Hi mate, congratulations to earning a second price with this Instructable.

Cheers Alex

mitch7878 (author)2015-10-23

May i ask what watch you used? I would like to make one,

KyleTheCreator (author)2015-10-10

Sure, that would be great! I really like your watch choice with the glow in the dark feature. Also, I am sure the strap looks amazing in the dark.

CJDVise made it! (author)2015-10-09

Finished! - My goal was to make this project as slim and functional as possible, so I took the liberty to tweak it a bit. Both the watch hands and paracord strap glows in the dark. I decided to use a fishtail weave-method instead of the one suggested. I used a 1/2 inch buckle by mistake but I made it work. This buckle came with a built-in compass, so I did not have to buy the suggested compass above for this project. Not sure if I'm allowed to do this in the comments, but here is a link for the buckle:

KyleTheCreator (author)CJDVise2015-10-09

Man! That is a stellar watch! I like the mods that you did to make the watch your own! Thanks for sharing the link to the buckle. By the way, your survival watch has been added to the "I Made It!" gallery.

Thanks for sharing,


CJDVise (author)KyleTheCreator2015-10-09

I really appreciate the compliment Kyle, it means a lot. Would you also like me to share a link to the watch and paracord I used?

cshireman made it! (author)2015-10-03

Made this in an afternoon, really enjoyed putting it together. Nice work!

KyleTheCreator (author)cshireman2015-10-09

Nice job! Your survival watch has been added to the "I Made It!" gallery!

KyleD14 (author)2015-10-06

Great idea! I'm ordering the parts so our Cub Scout pack can make
these. Trouble is, I've got to order double b/c all the dads want one,
too. Thanks for posting, definitely worth a vote!

KyleTheCreator (author)KyleD142015-10-09


Thanks for your comment! I am happy to hear that! I hope the Cub Scout Pack Enjoy theirs as much as I enjoy mine. Also, thanks for your vote, it means a lot!

KyleD14 (author)2015-10-06

Great idea! I'm ordering the parts so our Cub Scout pack can make
these. Trouble is, I've got to order double b/c all the dads want one,
too. Thanks for posting, definitely worth a vote!

Thevanpack (author)2015-09-28

You can buy a Compass with a flashlight on I believe it's called a paracord accessory, also with their survival bracelets they weave it with a carbide hand saw in the middle. Great instructible

tgrimler (author)2015-09-22

I do like your watch. I've been wanting to make one myself. I might recommend a few things. First, you can add even more navigation features by using a watch with dual time and a tachymeter. You can set one of the times on the watch to match GMT and use it to find longitude based on local noon. The tachymeter could help you measure speed of travel.

Secondly, I would recommend a one piece paracord bracelet construction. This will make it so you have one long piece, rather than two pieces of roughly one and two thirds the same length.

Eksob (author)2015-09-22

Very nice... keep upgrading :D I want to see mark 2. :D

dr_jing (author)2015-09-21

Putting the cool in macrame! Very nice! Tempted to try this one, but I never did finish the belt I started as a kid, so I know the limit of my patience... Great job on this!

Dynofighter (author)2015-09-21

why you don't sell these watches ?!?!!!

TreeHobo7 (author)2015-09-21

could there be a mini lighter on it somewhere?or flashlight?

Telmar (author)2015-09-19

Kyle, I voted for you but is it possible to make one to fit a woman ? Would the only way to use a smaller watch.? I bought a para cord already weaved with the striker clip but it's huge on me but I keep it in my car for emergencies. Thanks. You do good work.

KyleTheCreator (author)Telmar 2015-09-19

Hi Wanda,

Thanks for your kind comment! I do believe that it is possible to make one to fit a woman, but a couple of things might have to be changed. For the watch, I would go with one that had a smaller face like a Geneva watch. These watches are really cheep so keep in mind that you get what you pay for... For the buckle I would probably go with either an adjustable shackle(like I did for my daily wear watch bands) or a 3/8 size buckle. The survival buckle would work also, but it might be a little large for a smaller sized wrist. It also depends on what you want to do with the watch. It might be a good idea to do multiple watches(like I did) so that you have one to bring with you when you go outdoors and one to wear every day. Below, I have added a picture and links to some parts that I think would be great choices for your discription of a woman's watch.

Geneva Watch

3/8" Buckle

Adjustable Shackle

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