Far Afield: 12 Field Watches that are Ready for Adventure

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There’s something about the warmer weather and longer days that just pair so well with a field watch. The slim case, simple dials, and rugged specs are ready for anything – whether it’s just another work week, or finally spending some time outdoors after that long winter. Even though the vast majority of us won’t be wearing our watches on the battlefield, these watches have some serious historical background.

Examples of field watches, new and old: Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical (left), Benrus 3061 (right)

The watches that we most commonly associate with the “field” category were born out of necessity during World War II. General use watches met the 551-B spec, which simply denoted that a watch must be “reasonably shock-resistant and waterproof” with an accuracy of 30 seconds per day. The A-11 spec followed shortly after and added the requirement of hacking seconds, stricter dial regulations, and the addition of luminous paint.

Since then, the category has moved more towards everyday watches with an easy to read dial and functional design. Most are right around the 40mm mark and lots of them feature both 12- and 24-hour scales on the dial. With no strict military specs to meet, brands have taken their own liberties with the basic design, resulting in a ton of interesting options that still fall well within the category. We picked out a bunch of useful sub-categories, then chose 2 watches that fall into each thanks to their standout features, with something for everyone. Let’s dig in!


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Affordable Field Watches

Want to get your hands on a field watch without breaking the bank? These budget-friendly options are great for both beginners and hardcore watch enthusiasts

Seiko 5 SNKs

Seiko’s SNK series is one of the best values in mechanical watches, period. The classic field watch looks, 37mm matte blasted case, and automatic movement are a steal for just over seventy bucks. While the stock strap leaves something to be desired, any nylon strap will immediately change the whole look and feel of the watch, still making it one of our most-recommended watches under $100. Seiko 5 Field Watches

Bertucci A-3P

A durable polycarbonate unibody case, 100m of water resistance, four-year battery life, and a beefy nylon strap – a solid set of features for $100. The Bertucci A-3P makes an excellent addition to any collection as an affordable quartz grab-and-go watch. Military-inspired looks and a surprisingly solid stock strap result in a tough (and more analog) alternative to a G-SHOCK.. Bertucci A-3P


Army-Inspired Field Watches

These field watches draw inspiration from models actually used on the battlefield (note: many if not most of the watches in this guide could fall into this category, these are just two exemplary models)

MKII Cruxible

MKII’s Cruxible (polished Hellion version reviewed here) is a recreation of the A-11 spec field watch commonly seen throughout World War II. Featuring a highly legible black dial with contrasting white printing, the MKII is easy to read under any conditions. Modern features like precision manufacturing, 316L steel for the case, a healthy hit of luminous paint to the dial, and 10ATMs of water resistance elevate this classic design well above what the original could handle. MKII excels at bringing back rare and hard to find vintage military watches, and the Cruxible is an excellent example of what they’re capable of. MKII Cruxible 

Bulova Hack

Back in the days of WWII, a hacking seconds hand was not something readily available from all watchmakers, hence the name of the Bulova Hack. When syncing up their watches on the battlefield, soldiers could use the hacking seconds hand on their Bulovas to make sure they were all carrying out mission specifics at precisely the same time. The modern re-issue of this classic WWII design features a 38mm case, 30 meters of water resistance, and a vintage-inspired dial design that looks just as great today as it did nearly 80 years ago. Bulova Hack


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Water-ready Field Watches

These field watches have some of the highest water resistance ratings out there in the category, making for an even more versatile timepiece.

Nodus Sector Field (150m)

This field watch from Nodus (reviewed here) blows tradition out of the water yet retains a high level of water resistance. While it’s clear that the Sector Field shares some design DNA with vintage field watches, the design is much more modern. An angular case with brushed and polished surfaces houses a regular NH38 movement inside. The dial has a lot going on, featuring several different levels that comprise the sectors that the watch is named after. While it sounds busy, the Sector maintains top-notch legibility and the care placed into the design really shows. With 150m of water resistance, the Sector Field also isn’t afraid of water. Nodus Sector Field

Christopher Ward C65 Sandhurst (150m)

The new military collection from Christopher Ward (reviewed here) is made up of three watches, representing air, land, and sea. The Sandhurst draws heavy inspiration from the military-worn Smith’s W10, a tried-and-true field watch that’s as durable as it is legible. Christopher Ward didn’t just copy an old watch, they gave it some of their own flair, including the stunning 38mm light catcher case, expertly-crafted bracelet and a chronometer-grade automatic. It also sports an impressive 150m of water resistance, which is what landed it in this category of water-capable. Christopher Ward C65 Sandhurst


 

Blue-Dial Field Watches

In the field watch world, a black dial with white text makes up the vast majority, making these blue-dialed examples really stand out.

Oak & Oscar Olmsted Field

The Olmsted from Chicago’s own Oak & Oscar is a 38mm field watch with a stunning sandwich-style dial. It’s Oak & Oscar’s signature feature, and the stylized type on the Olmstead looks great in the field watch format. The deep navy blue dial is accented with an orange seconds hand and a very subtle 60-minute track running around the dial, also featuring orange cardinal numerals. The resulting watch is handsome, versatile, and durable, and thanks to the blue dial, it really stands out from the pack. Oak & Oscar Olmsted

Monta Triumph

The Triumph from Monta (reviewed here) is an elevated field watch with a more contemporary design. It’s available with a sunburst blue (or silver) and a more subdued dial that has a blend of painted and applied indices used throughout. These are one of those watches that you have to handle in the metal to really appreciate the quality build and top-notch finishing applied to both the case and bracelet of the watch. If you’re on the hunt for a modern field watch that leans dressy, you can’t go wrong with the Triumph. Monta Triumph


 

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Manual Wind Field Watches

The original field watches were all hand-wound. These watches continue that legacy with modern movements.  

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

The Khaki Field Mechanical (hands-on here) has to be one of the best bang-for-the-buck watches in the scene right now. You get all of the classic military field watch proportions and design from a brand who has issued watches to the US military. The standout feature here is Hamilton’s H-50 hand-wind movement that has an impressive 80-hour power reserve. It wears on the wrist remarkably well thanks to the 38mm case with a slim 9.75mm depth. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

Weiss Standard Issue 38mm Field Watch

The Weiss Standard Issue 38mm Field watch is a newer, scaled-down offering from the LA-based brand. The standout feature is the manually wound Caliber 1005, a movement comprised of over 100 Swiss parts that are finished and assembled in Weiss’ LA workshop. Based on the ETA 7001, it features a sub-seconds at six which adds some complexity to the classic field design without compromising legibility. Weiss Watch


 

Complicated Field Watches

We picked two great timepieces with field watch roots, but have a little bit more going on for added functionality.

Orient Defender

The Defender breaks out from the standard three-hand mold that most field watches fit into. It has a more modern and aggressive design. A matte-finished case houses the Orient caliber F6B22 movement that allows for a day wheel display, a numeric date at 3, and a really interesting 24-hour display at 4. The dial layout is far from traditional, making the Defender a great (and affordable) option for those who like the field watch aesthetic, but are looking for something a little more interesting. As with most of Orient’s line, the quality of the watch far outweighs the reasonable asking price too. Orient Defender II

Boldr Expedition Eiger

Housed in a 41mm 316L stainless steel case, the Eiger from Boldr is a sturdy example of a field watch with some personality. The case design is modern, featuring several beveled and angled surfaces adding to the visual appeal of the watch. Surrounding the dial, you’ll find a 60-minute rotating bezel that’s underneath the crystal and operated by the additional crown at 2 o’clock. Even though rotating bezels are commonplace in the watch world, it’s not often that they show up on a field-style watch built for exploration like the Eiger. With 200m of water-resistance, 20,000A/m of magnetism resistance, and SuperLuminova treatment throughout, this affordable watch is packed with tech that’s sure to come in handy on your next adventure. Boldr Expedition Eiger

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.
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