From affordable to untouchable and everything in between, in this article, we will be reviewing some of the hottest field watches on the market these days. That, and more, after taking a look at what a field watch is. It is quite interesting…
Today we value watches as a piece of jewelry to adorn our wrists with but back in the days, the life of a soldier depended on the quality of the watch he was wearing. See soldiers, officers, and other army members counted on watches to combine their attacks or plan other military tactics. And these were called field watches. The first field watches started to show up around a century ago before World War 1 was about to start. Army leaders all around the world needed to equip their soldiers with the proper gear and besides rifles, watches were also important. It is worth being noted that up to that point, wristwatches were considered a woman’s choice. If a man was seen a century ago wearing a wristwatch, it would be as embarrassing for him as it is today for a man to wear a skirt.
However, this didn’t stop army leaders from ordering wristwatches that would allow soldiers and officers to keep track of time while keeping their hands free for other duties. After some history lessons, nobody asked for, below you will see our recommendations for the best field watches for any budget.
Opt for a Badass Watch: Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Watch
If you are looking for the ideal field watch you are in the right place. The Khaki Field collection of military watches from Hamilton is where their most reputable and highly regarded watches came from. The one we picked, Hamilton Khaki Field King Auto comes in a 40mm black PVD-coated case that houses the automatic movement caliber H-40 with a whopping 80 hours of power reserve. The watch is built to honor Hamilton’s military heritage and with that said, it is built to withstand tough conditions. Further features include a day/date window positioned as unusual at the 12 o’clock position. The watch is water-resistant up to 50bar (50 meters) and the dial is highly legible thanks to the large and luminous elements. Price the last time I checked: $700.
A Field Watch Powered by Light: Citizen Chandler Eco-Drive
The 42mm Citizen Chandler comes with a navy blue dial and a camel-colored strap. Different from the other watches mentioned in this article, Citizen Chandler needs no batteries or a mechanical movement to work. Instead, it used the energy from any light source to eventually make the watch work. The hands and the date complication run thanks to Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology. The watch is water-resistant up to 100 meters, meaning it is suitable for showering or swims but not for diving. Price the last time I checked: $180.
If You Want to Make a Statement: Rolex Explorer
Although chances of a Rolex Explorer being used in combat today are low, it would still make a good impression on the wearer. The watch is tested to the extremes and is built to last as long as you can. With the glory and the prestige that accompanies the brand’s name aside, the timepiece still has what it takes to be considered as one of the greatest field watches one can wear. It embodies the properties of a field watch including here the highly legible and luminous watch hands and markers, waterproofness, and supreme accuracy. Price the last time I checked: $11.000 and growing.
The Best Bang for your Buck: Timex Expedition Scout
The US-based watch manufacturer Timex does nothing but manufactures great and accurate watches at affordable prices. The Expedition Scout Field watch is the living proof that Timex is underrated. The 40mm watch in brass & llb comes with a brown leather strap and it can be yours for less than $42. Although the date window is small, it still does its job effectively. From the durable mineral glass, you can spot the printed numerals and markers which are visible in the dark thanks to the Indiglo night-light. Price the last time I checked: $42.
From the Land of The Rising Sun: Seiko 5 Automatic Field Watch
If you are into watches, you know that Japanese manufacturers are best-known for delivering high-quality watches at affordable prices. Seiko, Citizen, and Casio are the three Japanese watch brands that are pushing wrist technology to the extremes. And in this case, we picked a watch to demonstrate just that. The Seiko 5 Automatic field watch is accurate and durable and comes at an affordable price. It can be yours for less than $100 and in return, you get to adorn your wrist with an almost indestructible watch. It comes with a 37mm stainless steel case and a black canvas bracelet. The automatic movement caliber 7S26 provides up to 40 hours of power reserve and is responsible for accurate timekeeping and the function of a day and date complication. Price the last time I checked: $90
Dress your Wrist with Luxury: IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Spitfire
It is difficult not to fall in love with this watch. The 39mm Pilot’s Spitfire from IWC has everything you want to find on a field watch. Although it is intended as a pilot’s watch, this timepiece simply meets the criteria to be taken down to the combat zone. It features a black dial where white Arabic numerals are perfectly aligned. The hands are treated with luminous material and the outer rim houses the minute markers. And it doesn’t end here. The inner case is dressed with soft iron to protect the movement from magnetic fields. It is water-resistant up to 60 meters (6bar) and from the anti-reflective sapphire crystal, you can catch a glimpse of a date window perfectly positioned at the three o’clock position. Price the last time I checked: $5500
Remember the Classics: Tudor Heritage Ranger
Once created as an affordable alternative for the ones that could not afford a Rolex, Tudor is today highly regarded as an affordable luxury watch. The model we picked, the Tudor Heritage Ranger, is a well-designed everyday tool that will accompany you everywhere you go. It was released from Tudor in 2014 as an attempt to renew the once-great features of a field watch. And they made it. The timepiece is simple yet functional. It comes in a black dial which is home to painted Arabic numerals and markers. Its automatic movement caliber 2824 provides up to 38h of power reserve and is fitted in a 41mm stainless steel case. Price the last time I checked: Around $3.000.
What Makes a Great Field Watch?
Lack of accuracy won’t take you far. Opt for an accurate watch and you will always be punctual and on the right track. Whether if you need a field watch for military life or simple like the design of it, choose reputable brands and you will not be disappointed. According to COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) for a watch to be designated as accurate, it must have an accuracy range of -4/+6 sec/day. This is some good information to rely on.
Most of the time you will be wearing your field watch on casual or semi-casual events. However, for outdoorsmen or people who love spending time in the wild, the legibility of the watch is highly important. Therefore, keep your eye on the luminous material being used and opt for watches with relatively large hands, markers, and numerals.
Now, this is where things get real. A watch’s durability depends almost entirely on the materials being used and the level of craftsmanship. For a durable field watch to be considered as such, it needs to be water-resistant, shock-resistant, dust and mud-proof. And keep an eye open for the materials. Sapphire crystal for the glass, stainless steel or titanium for the case, and strong nylon straps are the perfect combination.
Again, the type of materials being used play a major role in the comfortability a watch has to offer. For example, materials like stainless steel and titanium are most commonly used for the case or bracelet as they are biocompatible, meaning that the material does not cause irritations to the skin.
In Final Words
Why do people love field watches? For one reason. Whatever was made to stand up in the battle is good enough to dress their wrists with. In fact, you don’t see field watches falling apart too often. These tool watches are built to serve for a long time and with little maintenance, they can be the type of watch that can be passed down for generations.
If you made it up here means that you are looking for an honest option from us. Well, the field watches mentioned above are all of the good quality and they are built to resist tough conditions. Depending on how much you are willing to spend for your next best watch, above you will find some of the best field watches for any budget.