Last month, my friend, the legendary John Biggs, wrote about the TACS NATO-Lens watch, and how awesome it is. As you might imagine, John is right. This thing is great, and I’m going to tell you what makes it so great. The short version is, old watches and old cameras both share good taste, the romance of mechanical gears, and nostalgia for a time when people kept photo albums, people could work for one employer their whole lives, and get a gold watch after 25 years of employment.

As gadgets go, old cameras and old watches are high on the list of mechanical wonders that capture the attention, and TACS lives up to that, not by being a mechanical watch, but by making a watch that looks like the lens of a classic camera. In the words of Strongbad, Whomp Whomp, get a fisheye lens.

The lens itself is surrounded by the bezel, which turns. The glass is domed, and internally, has some of the same kinds of central domed parts under the glass that look like a SLR film camera. The hands are modern, squared off rectangles with rectangular lume at their tips. Viewing the crystal from the side looks a lot like a real camera.

The case is stainless steel, and 44mm. While that sounded large to me, it wore comfortably. The black bezel feels like a focusing ring on the lens. The dial is three layers deep which contributes to the depth of the lens look. The crown is simple, but with a ring that makes it easy to pull to set the time.

The strap is a real beauty. Made from Horween leather, it’s a two layer NATO strap that’s stitched and stamped to look like a camera strap. Embossed with words like “Capture Each Moment”, “5ATM”, “44mm NATO LENS”, and an on/off toggle switch stamped into the strap, it feels like it matches the watch well: it’s high quality and looks the part.

Taking family photographs used to be a part of who we were as a culture: focusing, getting everyone in the frame, setting aperture, trying to use a timer and running to get into the shot, are all kind of things of the past. As I look at the mirror atop my dresser, the photos that are printed there and stuck between the mirror and its frame are 11, 18, and 26 years old. There’s something about the TACS NATO-lens that just feels right. I don’t care that it’s a quartz watch powered by the Miyota 2039. I don’t care that it’s larger than I would normally have chosen. The TACS NATO-Lens is just charming.

The New Nato-Lens Editions just launched on TACS’s official site. As one of the best dressed, handsome readers of our site, enjoy 15% off, a free Nato strap and free engraving with the code “NATOLENSVIP”. Check them out at

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: TACS NATO-Lens
  • Price: USD $270.00 as reviewed. Use NATOLENSVIP for 15% off.
  • Who we think it might be for: You have a respect for the past – good watches and good cameras.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I like this a lot.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I wish there a model that was slightly less large.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: It’s all there. The easy to turn bezel, the three layer dial, and excellent strap choices./li>

Tech Specs from NAME

  • Case size: 44mm
  • Height: 13.6mm
  • Case material: 316L Stainless Steel
  • Crystal: Fisheye Mineral glass
  • Strap: Horween leather NATO
  • Movement: Miyota 2039

Categorized in:

Quartz, quartz, Reviews, Under $500,

Last Update: April 23, 2019

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