Initially conceived for military use, the earliest field watches were distinguished by their rugged bodies, legible dials, hand-wound movements and slim, 36mm (on average) cases. In the time since those military field watches first debuted, the arena itself has evolved significantly. That’s with good reason, whereas the best men’s field watches are no longer restricted to the battlefield. Indeed, any modern collector with a thirst for adventure probably has at least one rugged field watch in his arsenal.
And what is a field watch exactly? As opposed to other utility watches, the parameters remain fairly intangible. That said, whether you’re looking at vintage military field watches or modern automatic field watches, you’ll usually notice a few baseline commonalities. One is that the best field watches are definitely built to last. To that end, they frequently employ only the sturdiest of available materials, such as titanium for the cases and nylon for the straps. Also, the best field watches pride themselves on legibility, even if you’re not taking them into battle. It’s then no coincidence that modern automatic military watches go big on luminosity. Last but not least, field watches are usually minimalist by design, and streamlined in their simplicity. Of course, every now and then you’ll get a watch like the G-SHOCK Mudmaster, which calls itself a field watch but is much broader in scope when compared to traditional field watches, military or otherwise. Nevertheless, a classic field watch is usually simple, durable, and legible.
Because of their rugged builds and legible dials, field watches were tremendously useful on the battlefield. And while modern militaries probably don’t depend on a trusty field watch the way they used to, the best ones still make for some resilient and stylish timepieces. Hence, we’re listing off the 12 best field watches for men. May each one last you a lifetime.
This story is part of our Watch Time series.
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Victorinox Men’s 249090 Original Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch
As the manufacturer of Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox definitely knows how to keep things classic, affordable, and useful, and their Swiss Quartz Black Watch duly abides. It features a 39mm plastic case, shatter-resistant dial window, Swiss quartz movement, and analog display. Throw in a nylon band, water resistance to 100m, and a terrific price point, and you’re looking at one of the best men’s field watches money can buy.
Luminox Men’s 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch
If durability is your thing, then the Luminox EVO Navy SEAL Colormark is your new field watch. One look at that 44mm Polyurethane case and you can already picture this sturdy stunner holding its own against the harshest of terrains. Also featured are a large and luminous dial, a unidirectional bezel, Swiss quartz movement, and date display. Water resistant to 200m, and equipped with a Polyurethane band, this military field watch is quite simply a beast.
MARATHON WW194013 Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Navigator Quartz Watch
At the slightly unconventional end of the spectrum is this eye-catcher from Marathon. Built to government specifications (and even engraved with a NATO stock number), the Milspec Navigator is simply bursting with tactical allure. Giving the watch its glow are self-illuminating tritium gas tubes. Under the skin is high torque, Swiss made ETA Quartz movement. Designed for pilots and paratroopers, and submersible to 6ATM, this military watch is one of the best men’s field watches you can find.
IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII TOP GUN Miramar
Extraordinary in every sense of the word, the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII TOP GUN Miramar is love at first sight for collectors. Between the vintage vibe, robust build, and painstaking attention to detail, there’s no wrong reason to scope this legendary timepiece. Powering the watch is 21-jewel calibre 30110 mechanical movement. Flip the ceramic case and you’ll find an engraving that pays tribute to the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (i.e. TOP GUN), which is based in Miramar, CA. Affixed to the case is a green calfskin strap. This is what the best automatic military field watches are all about.
Seiko 5 Automatic Black Dial Stainless-Steel Bracelet Watch
Robust, unfettered, and priced to move, the Seiko 5 field watch comes equipped with a stainless steel bracelet, day/date display, and 3 hands on the legible dial. The case measures in at just under 42mm, and Hardlex crystal protects the dial window. This one will get your field watch journey started on the right foot…or wrist, rather.
Bertucci A-1T Titanium Watch
Combining modern materials with a vintage field watch aesthetic is the Bertucci A-1T Titanium Watch. Of course, no one’s arguing with the titanium upgrade, whereas the hypoallergenic, lightweight material is more durable than most counterparts. Rounding out the watch’s sturdy charms are Hardlex crystal over the dial and a trusty nylon strap. Meanwhile, thanks to SuperLumiNova treatment, those large Arabic numerals will always be within eye’s reach.
Hamilton Men’s HML-H70575733 Khaki Field Black Dial Watch
Sleek, sturdy and stylish, the Hamilton Khaki Field Black Dial Watch hosts Swiss automatic movement under its black PVD titanium 42mm case. Protecting the watch from wear is steadfast sapphire crystal. Also featured is a strong canvas strap, which like the watch itself is ready for all the action you can throw its way.
Sinn 556 A
Minimalist field watches don’t get much better than the Sinn 556 A. Between the black dial, legible hands, skeletonised case back, and slim 38.5mm case, the field watch oozes with sophisticated simplicity. Under the skin is automatic mechanical movement, and over the dial is sapphire crystal. Sometimes less is definitely more.
Lum-Tec Combat B38 GMT Men’s Watch
Those seeking a prime military field watch, look no further than the Combat B38 from Lum-Tec. Hand-assembled in Ohio using surgical grade stainless steel, titanium and carbide black PVD coating, the watch is combat ready, shock resistant, and water resistant to 200m. Under the skin is Swiss Ronda 515.24H movement with a GMT complication. Included with purchase are two straps: one in leather and the other in nylon. Get this limited edition field watch before it’s gone.
Ball Engineer II Magneto S Mens Watch A-PROOF Anti-magnetic COSC Date Black Dial NM3022C-N1CJ-BK
Distinguishing the Ball Engineer II Magneto from the herd is a striking design and an A-PROOF anti-magnetic system. As a result of the proprietary system, the watch is brilliantly accurate. The piece is also shock resistant to 5,000G thanks to a SpringLOCK anti-shock system. That’s joined by automatic self-winding movement, luminous hands and hour markers, and a black Cordura fibre strap. That this is one of the best field watches practically goes without saying. Whether or not you can afford it is a different story.
While probably too elegant for the battlefield, the Rolex Explorer will look downright spectacular when you’re rocking it around town. Expect brand benchmarks like premium Oystersteel architecture, and perpetual, self-winding movement under the skin. Reminding you that it is indeed a field watch–and one of the best field watches at that–is a minimalist dial and slim 39mm case diameter.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
Leaving nothing to be desired (as far as field watches are concerned), the Tudor Heritage Ranger takes direct inspiration from the 1960s Oyster Prince Ranger. Giving its vintage spirit the modern touch is a range of contemporary technical features. That makes this elegant timepiece a best of all worlds stunner, and one of the best field watches on the market.
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