Field watches are often very affordable pieces. This is because they are basically designed to do one thing: tell time, even while withstanding the blows of the battlefield. Steeped in over a century of military history, field watches carry a certain heritage with them.
While the aforementioned things remain true, it should be noted that field watches have also evolved throughout the decades. Quintessential field watches are definitely still preferred. That said, there are some contemporary field watches out there that have incorporated new aesthetics and complications. This is why we have curated a list consisting of a variety of the best field watches that boast different styles and functions.
20 Field Watches
1. Timex Expedition Scout
The Timex Expedition Collection is a great place to start if you are on the hunt for an affordable field watch. The prices of the timepieces in this collection range from between $50 USD to $100 USD. The brand has proven itself over more than a century. Timex’s famed slogan of “takes a licking and keeps on ticking” certainly applies to their field watches. The Expedition Ranger and Expedition Pioneer lines both have solid offerings. That said, one outstanding timepiece is the Expedition Scout 40. It distinguishes itself with a no-nonsense design that embodies the true essence of a military watch, without trying to do anything else. On a leather strap, this could easily be your go-to watch to pair with any everyday attire.
2. Seiko 5 Automatic Field Watch
Timex and Seiko have been battling each other for dominance in the entry-level market for over a century. The competition has yielded some amazing watches at surprisingly low prices. So, it is no wonder that the Seiko 5 field watch is a strong competitor to the Timex Expedition Scout. In fact, the Japanese offering might just edge out its American counterpart if you prefer automatic movements over quartz ones. While the Seiko 5 takes the same no-frills approach to a military watch design, it does so with a little more subtlety. This can be seen most clearly in the Seiko SNK809. This Seiko timepiece, which measures 37mm in diameter, offers a low profile with a strikingly casual coolness.
3. Citizen BM8180
True, automatic purists might not approve, but the incredible quartz movement on this Citizen field watch is solar powered! Beyond the classic military design with a black-and-white color scheme and round stainless steel case, the Citizen BM8180 adds extra toughness with its 100-meter water resistance rating. It will never be a true “dress watch,” but it is understated enough to dress up somewhat on a leather strap. However, this rough-and-ready field watch really belongs on a thick-woven canvas band in military green.
4. Orient Defender
Orient has long been the brand that many look to for low-cost dress watches. The Orient Bambino, in particular, is legendary for its affordable sophistication. The same holds true for the Orient Defender, an automatic field watch that almost defies definition. It is firmly rooted in military style, with black-and-white or olive-green motifs in a round stainless steel case. But the Defender takes a big swerve away from usual field watch style with asymmetric subdials on its face. This gives the watch plenty of unique personality. Much more than other field watches, the Defender is versatile, and wears as well on a link bracelet as it does on a canvas band.
5. Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic
There is no surprise that this one makes the list. Ask any aficionado about a field watch and almost inevitably, they will point you towards the Hamilton Khaki Field. This applies to both the old-school mechanical version or the precision-crafted automatic variant. The Hamilton watch sticks to the standard military script. It features an olive green or black face, white numerals and indices, and a stainless steel case. That said, it also exudes a cosmopolitan vibe that makes it feel exquisitely modern. It is powered by a 25-jewel Swiss automatic movement with 80 hours of reserve power. This movement can be observed via the exhibition case at the back of the watch.
6. Luminox Atacama Field Day 1925
Luminox makes another bold statement with its Atacama 1925 field watch, which is full of swagger with its 45mm case size. Yet it does not wear with brash arrogance, largely thanks to its traditional style, which takes its cues from military watches of the 1920s. Like others in the Atacama Field collection, such as 1927, the Atacama Field Day 1925 is a departure from the usual field watch style. Instead of the traditional polished stainless steel, this Luminox timepiece goes with a gunmetal PVD case instead. It also features a vintage-inspired black dial, which boasts big brown hour markers and numerals that feel lifted right out of the trench warfare of old. This watch’s throwback vibe is continued with a brown leather strap and its ivory contrast stitching.
7. Vaer C3 Korean Field USA Quartz
Vaer is an independent brand known for offering straightforward watches inspired by history. For example, the Vaer C3 Korean Field USA Quartz is based on timepieces used during the Korean War. While it definitely gives off vintage aesthetics, it also has a very versatile exterior. This is great, since field watches tend to look quite rugged, so this watch presents something of a switch-up from the norm.
This Vaer C3, priced at around $289 USD, is presented in a 36mm steel case and bracelet, with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Its black dial consists of luminescent hands and hour markers, Arabic numerals, and a minute track on the outer rim. Lastly, it is equipped with a quartz movement assembled in the US, and has a water resistance rating of 100 meters. This timepiece is a must-have for those who want a robust field watch that draws inspiration from a historic icon.
8. Casio G-Shock Burton Collaboration GG-1000BTN-1AJR
When talking about field watches, the Casio G-Shock serves as a more modern and complex-looking option. It does not follow the typical style of most military timepieces in the market, but it has multi-functional elements which are very useful outdoors. This particular model, the GG-1000BTN-1AJR, has robust and powerful aesthetics that make it quite intimidating.
This Casio field watch comes in a stainless steel case with a strap and bezel made of resin. The dial is a mix of analog and digital displays. Due to the watch’s many functions, the dial area can look quite complicated. Priced at around $435 USD, some of its additional features include an LED backlight, a digital compass, a thermometer, a stopwatch, an alarm, 200-meter water resistance, and many more. If you are looking for a sturdy, multi-functional field watch under $500 USD, then this piece may just be the right one for you!
9. Hamilton Khaki Field King Auto
You are probably wondering: why is there another Hamilton watch from the same collection on this list? What is the difference between the two Hamilton pieces we have listed? Well, one of the best things about the Hamilton Khaki Field line is the diversity that it comes with. As mentioned, most of the time, field watches tend to look very similar to each other. This is why it is important to incorporate different styles every now and then. In comparison to the aforementioned Hamilton model, this Khaki Field King Auto has a more vintage, military-inspired look.
It comes in a stainless steel case paired with a cow leather strap in brown. The beige dial includes Arabic numerals, luminescent hands, a minute track, a 24-hour display, and unique day-date windows. Lastly, this timepiece is powered by an automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve, and has water resistance up to depths of 50 meters. If you like retro field watches, then you can get your hands on this for just $580 USD.
10. Marathon Sage Green (General Purpose Mechanical)
Marathon is a North American company whose roots are deeply entangled with Swiss-made military timepieces. They have a rich military heritage, which gives them the expertise necessary to provide authentic and high-quality field watches. Not only does its products boast great functionality, but the designs are also a perfect balance between the past and the present. This is clearly seen with the Sage Green General Purpose Mechanical which has a very straightforward and contemporary exterior.
Priced at around $385 USD, this Marathon timepiece is presented in a 34mm composite case. This is paired with a solid stainless steel case back and a defense standard nylon strap. The black dial consists of luminous indices and hands, Arabic numerals, and a 24-hour time display. This watch is also equipped with a self-winding mechanical movement and has a 30-meter water resistance rating. If you are looking for an authentic field watch that will not break the bank, then Marathon is one of the best brands to check out!
11. Victorinox I.N.O.X. Carbon
Victorinox should be a pretty familiar name to most, since they are known for offering a variety of quality Swiss products. When it comes to watches, Victorinox’s claim-to-fame is its expertise in handling steel, and its impressive technological innovations. This is evident in their I.N.O.X. range. This collection consists of timepieces made of extremely durable materials, making them perfect for harsh outdoor environments.
For example, the I.N.O.X. Carbon comes in a 43mm carbon case paired with a textile strap in green/grey. Its dial follows a straightforward analog layout with Arabic numerals and a date window. One of the reasons why this makes for a great field watch is because of its superior readability, especially in the dark, thanks to its Super-LumiNova coatings. Lastly, this field watch is driven by a quartz movement and has a water resistance capacity of up to 200 meters. If you want a reliable outdoor watch from a trusted brand, then you can get this piece for around $789 USD.
12. Casio Pro Trek PRW-6600YBE-5JR
Next up, we have another model by Casio. This time, the model in question is from their ever-so-popular Pro-Trek collection. The Pro-Trek line is best known for having timepieces with superior reliability and functionality. It is marketed as a range dedicated to those who love to explore and live actively. This is precisely why Pro-Trek watches serve as great field watches as well. The PRW-7000FC-1JF, for example, has quite a robust yet still refined overall design.
The primary materials used for the case, bezel, and strap are resin and stainless steel which allow for extra durability. The dial, which follows both a digital and analog layout, comes with luminescent hands and hour markers, a day-date-month display, and tachymeter markings. Some of its additional features include a thermometer, a stopwatch, a digital compass, a tide graph, and many more. Retailing at around $729 USD, this piece makes for a great multi-functional companion for any outdoor activity.
13. Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Land Series
At this point, we have already established that Luminox is a go-to brand for many when it comes to field watches. In fact, they have a specific category, the Land series, which consists of timepieces specially designed to withstand the harsh circumstances of land adventures. One of the newer collections under that series is the Luminox Bear Grylls Survival, which is a collaboration with the British adventurer Bear Grylls. In particular, the Bear Grylls Survival 3798 serves as a more modern option, with more vibrant looks and other additional complications.
It is presented in a 45mm CARBONOX case paired with a sturdy paracord strap in black. The navy green dial features bold orange hands and hour markers coated in luminescent material, Arabic numerals, a date window, and two subdials. This field piece is equipped with a RONDA 5021.D chronograph movement and has a water resistance rating of 200 meters. If you want a more contemporary field watch for your outdoor adventures, you can get this model for just $695 USD.
14. Seiko SSC295P1
Here we have a lovely piece from one of the most famous Japanese watch manufacturers, Seiko. Most of us know Seiko for its sporty and classic models, so it might be a surprise to some that the brand also has timepieces that can pass for field watches. For example, the Seiko SSC295P1, which falls under their Prospex collection, has sophisticated aesthetics and impressive multi-functionality.
The Seiko SSC295P1 comes in a stainless steel case paired with a nylon strap in green. The black dial has luminescent hands and hour markers, Arabic numerals, a date window, a rotating compass, and two sub-dials. This watch is equipped with a solar movement and has a 100-meter water resistance capacity. With a price tag of around $300 USD, make sure to check this piece out if you are after a well-crafted, robust field watch.
15. Suunto 5
While some may say that smartwatches should not be included in this list, I think it is important to give diverse options, especially ones that are relevant today. One of the best brands to prove that is Suunto, since it offers a selection of impressive modern timepieces that are loved by many. People who live active lifestyles and love going on outdoor adventures swear by Suunto. Each and every smartwatch the brand offers is incredibly reliable and multi-functional, making them perfect companions when exploring.
The Suunto 5, for example, comes in a glass fiber-reinforced polycarbonate case paired with a silicone strap. The dial has a classy digital display which can show the following features: fitness level tracking, wrist heart rate, sports modes, GPS, and lots more. If you are up for a more modern outdoor watch, then you can get this field timepiece for around $640 USD!
16. Vostok Expedition 6S21-595C644
Next up, we have a piece from a European brand called Vostok. They have a collection called the Vostok Expedition which consists of timepieces inspired by historic polar explorers and their experiences. While this collection does not have a military heritage, its pieces still make for great field watches due to their straightforwardness and reliability. The Vostok Expedition 6S21-595C644, for example, is a simple yet rugged model that has a vintage air around it.
This Vostok watch is presented in a stainless steel case paired with a genuine leather strap in brown. The beige dial consists of rectangular indices, luminous hands, a minute track, a date window, and 2 subdials. Lastly, this field piece is equipped with a Miyota 6S21 quartz movement and has a water resistance capacity of up to 200 meters. The best part is that you can get this suave, masculine piece for just $350 USD!
17. Timex X Nigel Cabourn Naval Officers Watch
Timex is another familiar brand to many of us, especially those who like casual and affordable watches. While this particular piece is inspired by the navy, it still follows the same aesthetics as most field watches out there. The Timex Nigel Cabourn Naval Officers Watch is probably as simple and straightforward as a field watch can get.
This Timex piece is presented in a 36mm stainless steel case paired with a leather strap in black. The white dial features Arabic numerals in black and red, luminescent hands, and a 24-hour time display. It is powered by a quartz movement and has a 50-meter water resistance rating. Priced at around $195 USD, get this watch if you like timeless military-inspired pieces!
18. Garmin Instinct Solar
Here we have Garmin, which is another brand that has the same potential as Suunto. One of their most outstanding models is the Garmin Instinct Solar – Camo Edition. This timepiece is notable for actually meeting the US military 810G standards for thermal, shock, and water resistances. This watch serves as more proof that modern pieces can make for great field watches as well.
With a camouflage-patterned exterior, this Garmin watch consists of a 45mm fiber-reinforced polymer case and silicone strap. It comes with a multitude of functions, including GPS, an alarm, a compass, a thermometer, a stopwatch, a timer, and the like. For just $510 USD, you can get this impressive watch, which comes with a whole bunch of fun complications!
19. Citizen Promaster Nighthawk
Citizen is yet another Japanese brand that offers incredibly well-crafted timepieces. Citizen has certain collections inspired by the military, which means that it has its own selection of field watches. The Promaster Nighthawk, for example, is a very tough and complex-looking model based on military stealth helicopters.
This Promaster watch comes in a stainless steel case paired with a leather strap in black. The matching black dial features luminescent hands, bold Arabic numerals, a date window, and dual time zones. This timepiece is also equipped with Citizen’s signature Eco-Drive technology, which means it is mainly powered by light. Lastly, you can get this sustainable and rugged-looking field watch for around $400 USD!
20. Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1002
Last but not the least, we have another watch by Luminox from their ICE-SAR Arctic series. Much like the Bear Grylls range, this collection was created in collaboration with the Icelandic Association for Search And Rescue. Indeed, this says a lot about the reliability of this particular collection. The ICE-SAR Arctic 1002, for example, serves as a robust and unique field watch with a very strong masculine vibe.
This Luminox timepiece comes in a 46mm CARBONOX case paired with a genuine rubber strap in black. The textured dial consists of red and black Arabic numerals, luminescent hands, a date window, and a 24-hour time display. This rugged field watch is equipped with the RONDA 515 HF 6 movement and boasts a water resistance rating of 200 meters. With a price tag of around $545 USD, this is definitely one of the best field watches out there!
What is a Field Watch?
The quintessential field watch is a straightforward timepiece specially-made for soldiers to use during war. While many models today have additional features and functions, the main purpose of a field watch back then was simply to tell time in the most accurate and reliable way possible. Aside from that, these field watches were also designed to be incredibly durable, which is why they are typically robust and tough-looking.
Anatomy of a Field Watch
While the traditional field watch is still very much relevant today, manufacturers have also created contemporary versions that are just as great. That being said, I do not think there is just one formula that makes up a field watch. Rather, there are certain important elements that are typically present in these different types of field watches. We have listed these elements below, so you know what to keep an eye out for when selecting your own ideal field timepiece.
Since field watches were originally used in battle, it was important to create timepieces that could withstand those circumstances. This is something that has stayed crucial to the design of field watches throughout the decades. It is the reason why many outdoor models today are made of hardwearing materials like steel. If a timepiece cannot handle some roughhousing and harsh environments, then it is not worthy of being called a field watch.
The most essential aspect of a watch is its ability to tell time. When it comes to these military-inspired pieces, that purpose becomes even more important. This is because utmost accuracy was crucial in life or death situations. This is why, even though the world is not at war anymore, superior precision is still a quality found in many field watches.
This element is something more evident in contemporary field watches. Nowadays, field, military, survival, and outdoor timepieces are often used synonymously. As such, manufacturers have also started incorporating different functions to encompass said terminologies. Aside from telling time, many field watches today have other features like a tachymeter scale, a compass, a chronograph display, and lots more.
Field watches are not exactly the same as they were back in the early 1900s. That said, the concept of being able to withstand the harshest circumstances possible while also being a helpful tool for survival has definitely stuck, up until the present day. The list above is a combination of both modern and traditional field watches, showcasing just how much these timepieces have evolved over the years. Ultimately, the best thing is that you now know there is a vast range of excellent field watches out there that you can choose from!
If this got you interested in watch lists, check out our article on the 6 Best Seiko Kinetic Watches!
Photo Credits: Official Watch Websites