The name “Airfield” doesn’t leave much to the imagination, and no, that’s not a bad thing. Blending the aesthetic and functionality of both pilot (“air) and field watches (“field”), sits Raven’s newest watch, the Airfield. It’s a 40mm steel timepiece that harmoniously integrates the styles and features of two well-loved categories of watches into a sturdy, and cohesive package. Every time I handle a Raven, it pleasantly surprises me. Not that I expect a watch to be junky or cheap feeling every time I pick one up, but there’s always something about the build quality, finishing, and pleasant heft that stands out when strapping a Raven to your wrist. Let’s dig in and take a closer look at this new watch from one of the longest standing heavy hitters in the micro brand category. First up, some specs:
Review: The New Raven Airfield
Instead of going the traditional smaller route of a field watch, or being oversized like a pilot’s watch, the Airfield sits right in the middle at a comfortable 40mm thick. Lug to lug measures in at 48mm, placing the watch firmly in the mid-sized category. This watch does feel a little bit thick at 13mm, and I think that’s mostly due to how the case back, mid case, and bezel are proportioned. It’s a bit of a weird balance. The case back is pretty thick, elevating the watch a fair amount off my 6.75” wrist. The mid case features a polished slab side that’s broken up with an undercut. I’m a fan of a good undercut, as they can really help a watch settle nicely into your wrist and stay out of the way during activity, but the pronounced case back elevates the undercut up so much that it doesn’t make too much of a difference. However, it does do a good job of visually breaking up the slab side of the case, making it appear thinner at a glance.
Up top, there’s a smooth bezel that flairs out just a bit from the mid case, with a bezel cut into the top surface to blend the top and sides. A unique feature on the Airfield is the black ceramic bezel insert that surrounds the dial. It’s supposed to cut down on glare by absorbing light and help out with the contrast, but in daily casual wear, it’s tough to see the immediate benefit. It does look pretty cool, making the dial appear a bit larger than it really is.
Back to that 13mm thickness. When considering the 200m water resistance of the case, it’s understandably justifiable. The entire watch feels robust and ready for action. While most of my time with the Airfield was admittedly spent behind a desk at work and wrangling my kids at home, I wish I had time to take it out on the river for some fishing. The watch begs to be worn through thick and thin, and the 200m water resistance and sturdy screw down crown at 3 inspire confidence in the build quality.
Dial + Hands
When picking out an Airfield, you can choose from three different dial colors, each available with or without a date. It comes in black, white, or olive green. Each has a matching date wheel that helps it blend into the dial, making it a bit less intrusive for those dial purists out there who still need to know what day of the week and month it is. Staying true to its name, the Airfield’s dial blends both pilot and field watch elements into a very legible dial.
Around the outside of the dial, you’ll find a raised track with a triangle at 12 and hash marks at each 5 minute mark. Moving inwards, you’ll find a fully graduated scale with smaller hash marks for each minute, a bolder mark every 5, and an Arabic numeral for every hour. The Airfield leaves off the military time markings, which was a solid design choice. If they had included these, it would make the dial a bit too busy. Raven’s design choices result in a dial with enough information without being overwhelming, making the watch very easy to read at a glance. Branding on the dial is minimal — there’s a raised Raven logo just under the triangle at 12, and “AIRFIELD” rendered in small all-caps text just above 6.
To tell the time, there’s a set of syringe-shaped hands. Both the hour and minute hand are filled with lume and feature a high-contrast base. On the white dial, black hands are filled with white lume, and on the green and black dials, there’s a set of white hands with white lume. There’s a colorful seconds hand on each watch, adding a nice color accent, while making the seconds hand stand out for timing applications.
Protecting the dial is a single-domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating on the underside. The single dome renders the dial in a clear and undistorted manner, until you check it at very extreme angles. Sitting nearly flush with the bezel, the sapphire crystal’s gentle dome gives the watch just a tiny bit of contour on the top surface.
When dealing in the world of sub-$1000 watches, there really aren’t many options for movements. We’ve spoken before about the Seiko SII NH35 before, as it’s a familiar face in the world of Worn and Wound. The movement is a trusted and reliable movement that beats away at 21,600bph with 24 jewels throughout. On a full wind, the watch will run for 41 hours, and as automatic movements do, will stay wound as long as you continue to wear the watch. As far as accuracy goes, the NH35 isn’t taking home any COSC certifications with its -20/+40 sec/day rating from the manufacturer, but in the real world many report that their NH35s run way more accurately.
Inside the Airfield, the NH35 is an excellent choice for a sub-$600 watch that shouldn’t let you down. On the rare occasion that it does, the popularity of the movement, availability of replacements, and ease of finding a repair shop that can work on it make it far more serviceable than something fancy or in-house. Plus, the movement is hidden away behind a solid engraved case back that looks nicer than the basic finishing on the movement.
Strap + Wearability
It’s kind of astounding that the Airfield is only $590, considering that it comes on such a nice bracelet. Featuring a three link design and a brushed finish, this tapered bracelet definitely elevates the entire watch up a good few levels. 20mm at the lugs and 16mm at the clasp, the bracelet’s 4mm taper means that it’s comfortable and relatively light on the wrist. Sizing the bracelet is easy too. It has screw bars that make removing a link or two super easy. There are also a few half links and micro adjustment holes in the clasp, allowing for a seriously dialed-in fit.
Swapping it out is quick and easy thanks to the quick release spring bars keeping it secured to the watch. When you want to go the nylon strap route (which makes a lot of sense with this watch), there are also drilled lugs to aid in fast strap swapping. Personally, I’ve never had to change straps in a hurry, since most of my strap changing happens on my nightstand in the morning. It’s more a matter of convenience — the combo of quick release bars and drilled lugs mean that there are multiple ways to get the strap you want to wear on your watch.
On the wrist, the Airfield inspires confidence without weighing you down. It’s hefty, but not heavy, ensuring you that it can stand up to the bumps, nicks, and scratches that come along with daily wear. It does sit a little high though, and that’s mostly due to the case back, but the comfortable bracelet balances it out well. On a nylon single pass strap, it wears even higher, but still well within what I consider a comfortable range.
Raven’s newest Airfield is a solid addition to the Raven family. The aesthetic, solid construction, affordable price tag, and class-leading fit and finish make it a compelling option for your next everyday adventure watch. The 200m of water resistance inspires confidence, while the at-a-glance legibility of the dial carries the Airfield firmly into reliable tool watch territory. Between the clean dials, interesting and tasteful use of accent colors, unique black ceramic glare-reducing bezel, and comfortable mid-sized dimensions, the Airfield is a win. If you’re the type that loves the outdoors, the Airfield is more than ready for your next adventure. Raven.