Lt. Col. Tom Mullikin is hell on a watch. For the past several months, Mullikin – a legal affairs officer in the S.C. Military Dept. (and the deputy director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team’s special group) – has jumped over, dove into, climbed atop, and humped across much of the Earth wearing his Rogue Warrior brand “Red Cell” watch; Everything from jumping out of enough airplanes to earn military parachutists wings from six countries, to hunting big game in Alaska, strolling along the inner walls of an active volcano in Hawaii, even climbing Africa’s famed Mt. Kilimanjaro (see picture).

Like the old Timex commercial, Mullikin’s watch “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” But his “Red Cell” ain’t your granddaddy’s Timex.

Designed by retired U.S. Navy SEAL Commander Richard Marcinko, the “Red Cell” – named for the counterterrorism testing team Marcinko established after founding SEAL TEAM SIX (today known as DEVGRU) – is a watch specifically designed with the warfighter at heart. Simply put, it’s built for combat; “extremely durable,” is how a fine-watch expert here in Columbia, S.C., who works primarily with Rolex and Tag Heuer described the “Red Cell.”

Durable indeed. This watch is built to withstand extreme shock associated with everything from a bad parachute-landing to close-quarters combat to the recoil from an elephant rifle. According to, when Marcinko began considering the design features of his watch – and other timepieces in the Rogue Warrior watch line – back in 2007, his “basic specifications” were that the watch had to have the best shock protection available; the dial, face, numbers, and hands had to be easily read in all types of lighting situations; and condensation – a result of extreme heat, cold, and humidity – would not form inside the crystal.

Speaking of which; the crystal is always the most important feature in any watch I purchase. Any watch I’m even considering must have a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The Red Cell does, and it’s anti-glare. Moreover, two strategically positioned steel-bars on the top and bottom of the Red Cell case’s exterior provide additional protection to the crystal.

 Like Mullikin, I too own a “Red Cell,” which retails for around $400, along with a far more expensive Tag, a Swiss Army officer’s watch, and a few cheapees I took to war in Iraq, the Balkans, and elsewhere (Yes, I love watches.). But I must say the “Red Cell” is infinitely more practical for everyday use, particularly my use which involves hours of writing and research (tough on the eyes), as well as field time in harsh temps, rain, and at night, where an indestructible case and easy-to-read large luminous numbers on the face are essential. 

Other internal features of the Rogue Warrior “Red Cell” include, an unusual foamlike material, known as d3o, that’s soft and flexible in a static environment, but becomes extremely hard and rigid upon impact “in a thousandth of a second.” The watch is, in fact, encased in this d3o material. Then there is krypton gas, to prevent condensation or fogging (often problematic in high altitude parachute operations where temps change rapidly); and Kryptolite for optimal dial-reading in night blackout conditions.  

Krypton? Kryptolite? Perhaps it’s too much watch for Superman? But after Mullikin’s adventurous summer, and my own testing, the “Red Cell” is now the official timepiece of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team.

 Of course it would not be a Rogue Warrior watch without Marcinko’s unique stamp on it. On the face is the trademark RW star. On the back of the case is a raised image of an old Stoner machinegun, the words, “United States Of America,” “Rogue Warrior,” and “Krypton Gas,” as well as the letters, W.G.M.A.T.A.T.S. 

The letters stand for – and I’m not kidding – “We get more a** than a toilet seat.”

Marcinko’s words. Not ours.

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