Trying to define exactly what makes a field watch is difficult. It used to be easy to know whether or not the timepiece on your wrist was a true field watch merely by deciding it was good enough to go onto the field of battle with you. Now gentlemen can be seen wearing field watches into the urban jungle, tackling adversaries in the boardroom. While the Japanese saying “Business is war” might be true, it’s strange to take it so literally when choosing accessories. If you’re still unsure about the nebulous niche that field watches populate, let us educate you.
Modern field watches are modeled after early military pieces like the MoD W10 or the US A-11 spec. Their build is militarily functional with quality movement, usually quartz, and the rugged ability to withstand water, grit, and survival conditions behind enemy lines without losing one chopped second. They’ll bear some similarity to dive watches in that they’re going to be tough, usually with glowing hands or time markers and large numerals for an easy read by the light of bombs bursting in air. If you still aren’t sure about the definition, let our 15 best field watches be your guide.
Seiko 5 Automatic
Using a nautical look that is more at home while sailing into the sunset than out in the field, the 5 is nonetheless ready for action. With an off-center crown that won’t catch or snag and a self-winding construction built into a surprisingly compact steel frame, it’s casually stylish and meant to move.
Fitting the notion of a field watch right down to the olive drab band, the Expedition gives you the date at a glance and the Indiglo hands give you plenty of illumination for a moonless night. It resists water when submerged up to 100 meters and the mineral glass crystal resists scratches and damage under the worst conditions.
Solar powered using natural or indoor lighting, the Eco-Drive uses Japanese-quartz movement that doesn’t waste energy. A basic mineral crystal keeps the price down while providing a sturdy build. Implementing Citizen’s timeless, artisanal construction method it’s hard to find fault in this striking yet highly functional timepiece.
The company that makes the only true Swiss Army knife knows a thing or two about precision engineering and what a soldier will need in the field. Free of frills yet bursting with Swiss quartz movement and luminous sword hands, it’s the wrist accessory for any occasion.
Big and brazen, Seiko somehow managed to offer up a large, easily readable display while still cramming chronos into the watch face without making the whole affair feel cluttered. The numerics are huge with hour markers cutting through the black field, all powered by green solar energy that only needs the barest amount of light to keep ticking away.
Luminox Atacama Field Day
Swiss made quartz movement and a sapphire crystal make this an unbeatable bargain among watches of any kind. Using an effortless, weekender style that comes from the black brushed stainless steel complete with a modern face and timeless thick tan band, it probably won’t go with your jacket and tie, but it blends perfectly with your BDUs when you’re out whacking the bush.
The name alone sound militaristic, due in no small part to the fact that this watch is based directly off of field watches used by infantry ground-pounders in WWI, back when it was known as The Great War. Meant for coordination and synchronization, it clearly marks time with lockstep exactness yet looks more like a friendly business timepiece made to turn heads.
Lum-Tec Combat B28 Military
Even if you’re on an enlisted salary, you might want to consider saving up for the B28. The black body is made for stealth while the Swiss made Ronda movement actually tracks 24-hour time, so you’ll never again need to do any math in your head when sounding off to your C.O. You’ll easily be able to discern AM and PM, even if you’re trapped in a bunker where no natural light can reach. 3D Lume technology shows the hands and the hour markers, but is muted so as to avoid giving away your position.
A true giant at 47mm, the Runwell uses its immense size to great advantage by embedding a single chronometer just down from center and building in massive Super-LumiNova illuminated numbers on a green field that helps make distinguishing exact time easier to do in insubstantial lighting situations. A sapphire crystal tops off the hand-assembled stainless steel body for a look that’s all class and a functionality that’s combat ready.
Earning itself a rating of 20 atmospheres, the Mackinaw can easily survive a life on the wrist of any Seal Team member with its sapphire crystal and amphibious rubber band. Each watch is assembled by hand in Shinola’s Detroit factory and uses their Argonite movement for accuracy that is 100 percent home grown. Both standard and military time are shown on the face for easier comprehension by those with a martial state of mind.
Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch
One look at the price tag will tell you that this is a long way from being standard issue. It’s much, much better. Fully mechanical Caliber 1001 movement is powered by 100 Swiss parts which are assembled right in California for the best of both imported and domestic sensibilities. Sapphire crystals are placed into the front and back of the case to enhance both visibility and durability.
Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Auto
Using a 42mm face, there’s plenty of real estate to work with and the bold display of the Titanium Auto makes it easy to read in the most harried of circumstances. A sapphire crystal gives it a sophisticated appearance when combined with the flat black body and fights off impact to reduce shattering damage. With a lightweight titanium body, expect the Auto to be with you for many missions.
Stowa Flieger Klassik Sport Baumuster B
Fans of the original STOWA Flieger will adore this sportsman’s version of the same watch. It bears intense luminosity for easy time identification, even at a distance, and the big screw down crown makes a statement all its own. A/R coating on the front and back, as well as sapphire crystals on both sides lend it a real sense of endurance whether playing pickup basketball or running survival drills.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot
Triple chronos with rapid button operation along with an easily adjustable crown adds a lot of function into this exceptionally expressive form. Made for the field marshal who does everything by the book, you’ll even get telemeter numbers around the face. It has a round build with a sapphire crystal and stainless steel body that is meant to live dangerously or complement your dress blues.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
Under the hood is the Tudor caliber 2824 engine that gives the Ranger stunning accuracy through blow after blow, day after day. With index/Analog hour markers and automatic movement that cuts down each second with precision, all laid behind a lovely and durable sapphire crystal, this is true poetry in motion. Completely Swiss made and featuring a screw down crown that can be operated with gloves on, it’s well worth the price.