Field watches work particularly well as a blank slate. They are rigorously simple by design, a watch made for pure function and to simply get out of the way of your day to day life. An easily legible dial and a compact case are the only true prerequisites. From there, watch brands have a ton of latitude in how they create a field watch that feels unique to them and will please their customers. There are literally hundreds of traditional field watches to choose from, made by just about every brand you can think of, from Hamilton to Patek Philippe, but I have a soft spot for the oddball interpretations that provide a twist on the norm. The Circula ProTrail isn’t exactly avant-garde or anything, but it’s just a few degrees away from “the standard,” giving it a unique contemporary sensibility among a sea (or a field?) of similar watches that tend to cling to the past.
Circula is a German brand with roots dating back to the 1950s, but was effectively relaunched in 2018 by the founder’s grandson, Cornelius Huber. What started with a series of simple German made quartz watches has become a varied collection of precision machined sports watches (for the most part), often in vibrant colors. They put a focus on manufacturing, which is evident in the ProTrail I sampled, and can be easily seen in other watches in their catalog. They’re one of the few brands, for instance, to offer a dive watch in a true super-compressor case.
I had the opportunity to sample the ProTrail in its Old Radium LE variant. Limited to 99 pieces, this version of Circula’s basic field watch is a blacked out take on the genre, and offers a handful of small details that make it a fairly compelling option at a price point under $1,000. It’s a solid reminder, not that we really need one around here, that there is an abundance of quality in the affordable watch space, with variety in places you might not expect.