The Ultimate Survival Watch




Introduction: 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


  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

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

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

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

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

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

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".

Survival Contest

Runner Up in the
Survival Contest

Safety Challenge

Runner Up in the
Safety Challenge

4 People Made This Project!


  • Water Contest

    Water Contest
  • Tiny Home Contest

    Tiny Home Contest
  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest

110 Discussions

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?

6 replies

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.

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.

Have any links on hand?

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:



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.


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!

1 reply

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

Let me know.

Keep inventing Kyle.


1 reply

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,



2 years ago

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!

2 replies

Amazing! I love it!