More than most other timepieces, field watches are often affordable watches because they are basically designed to do one thing: tell time. They’re also built to withstand the blows of battlefields and steeped in over a century of military history. They’re fabulous when you’re looking to wear a little vintage flair. If you want all that at an affordable price, here are some of your best options.
Bargains for Under $100 Bucks
Timex Expedition Scout
The Timex Expedition Collection is a great place to start if you’re on the hunt for an affordable field watch, as the choices range from $50 to $100. 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 have solid offerings. The Scout 40 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, it could easily be your go-to watch to pair with everyday attire.
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’s no wonder that the Seiko 5 field watch is a strong competitor with the Timex Scout. And the Japanese offering just might edge out its American counterpart if you prefer automatic movement over quartz. While the Seiko 5 takes the same no-frills approach to military design, it does so with a little more subtlety; doing so notably with the SNK809 model that measures 37mm in diameter, offering a low profile with the same casual coolness.
Field Watches for Less than $200
The range of field watches you can pick up for that price difference widens considerably. It also opens you up to more automatic options. Getting an automatic movement for less than $200 is a great deal with any type of timepiece.
True, automatic purists may still not approve, but the quartz movement on this Citizen field watch is solar powered! Beyond the classic military design with the black-and-white scheme and round stainless steel case, the BM8180 adds extra toughness with 100 meters of water-resistance. It’ll never be a “dress watch,” but it’s understated enough to dress up somewhat on a leather strap. However, this rough-and-ready timepiece really belongs on a thick woven-canvas band in military green.
Orient has long been the brand that many look to for low-cost dress watches, and the Orient Bambino is legendary for its affordable sophistication. The same holds true for the 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 field style with asymmetric subdials on its face. It gives this watch plenty of unique personalities. Much more than other field watches, the Defender wears as well on a link bracelet as it does on a canvas band.
Top Picks for Under $500
By their very nature, field watches are not meant to be luxury timepieces. They are watches made for soldiers in action. But that hasn’t stopped upscale brands from infusing field watches with some subtle refinement.
Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic
There’s no surprise this one makes the list. Ask any aficionado about a field watch and almost inevitably they’ll point you to the Hamilton Khaki Field, either their Old School mechanical version or the precision-crafted automatic. The Hamilton Khaki Field sticks to the military script, with an olive green or black face, white numerals and indices (or the reverse), and a stainless steel case. But it does so with a cosmopolitan vibe that makes it feel exquisitely modern. Plus, there’s a 25-jewel Swiss automatic movement with 80 hours of reserve power, a sapphire crystal on the front, and an exhibition case on the back.
Luminox Atacama Field Day 1925
Luminox brings out a big bold statement with its Atacama 1925 field watch, full of swagger at 45mm across. Yet it doesn’t wear with brash arrogance, largely thanks to its traditional style that takes its cues from military watches of the 1920s. Like others in the Atacama Field Collection, such as 1927, 1925 takes a departure from the usual field watch style, going with a gunmetal PVD case instead of the traditional polished stainless steel. A vintage-inspired black dial features big brown hour markers and numerals that feel lifted right out of the trench warfare of old. The throwback vibe continues with a brown leather strap and its ivory contrast stitching.
Maybe you’re on the hunt for a military-inspired bargain. Or you might be willing to spend a little extra for a field watch with a unique style and fine craftsmanship. However you lean, there’s surely an affordable field watch out there for you.