Field watches are among the most straightforwardly utilitarian of timepieces, deriving their design and functionality from early 20th century timepieces worn by soldiers and other military operators “in the field,” hence the umbrella term. While they will vary in their design elements and details, field watches (earlier models were also called “trench watches,” a reference to their usage in the trench warfare of World War I) are recognizable for a handful of elements that are mostly omnipresent: clean, highly legible dials with few if any superfluous subdials (some use a small seconds display); luminous hands and numerals; big, readable hour markers (mostly Arabic numerals, occasionally indexes; the "purist" version of a field watch dial likely includes a 12-hour scale with an additional 13-24-hour ring for military time, as you'll note in many of the models here); and a general sense of toughness, reliability while being understated in both size and design (the smaller and lighter the watch, the less burden on a soldier already loaded with gear). Many of these qualities also define the style elements of early pilot's watches, with which field watches share many MIL-SPEC similarities, hence the occasional crossover model. Here are 21 modern-day field watches (or watches that tick the "field watch" boxes nicely) that are on the market in 2022. For browsing and shopping convenience, we list them in ascending order of price, from everyday models around $200 to luxury timepieces over $7,000.
Citizen Garrison Green Dial
Price: $225, Reference: BM6838-09X, Case Size: 42 mm, Lug width: 21.5mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Eco-Drive Caliber E111
Citizen’s Garrison watch lives up to its military-inspired name with its adoption of classical field watch and pilot’s watch elements, including the inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, the large, legible Arabic hour numerals, and the small inner 24-hour scale to track military time. The big case adds to the mission-ready look with a brushed finish and fastens to the wrist with a brown calfskin leather strap with contrast stitching, a la early aviation watches and their modern descendants. The Garrison is also one of the very few Citizen watches that offer the Japanese brand’s proprietary light-powered Eco-Drive movement for under $200.
Timex Expedition North Field Post Mechanical
Price: $229, Reference: TW2V00700JR, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 8.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Mechanical TY6DSK-1
Timex is an American brand that has made a slew of military-inspired and eminently affordable watches over the years, and with the Expedition North Field Post Mechanical, Timex brings together the classical field-watch dial, a 23-jewel, manually wound mechanical movement with hacking seconds, and an eco-friendly strap made of DriTan leather, all for an impressive sticker price under $250. The crystal is nonreflective sapphire (an upgrade over previous Expedition models, which used mineral crystal), and the stainless steel case resists water pressure down to 100 meters thanks to the screw-down crown. The hands and numerals glow brightly in the dark thanks to a coating of Super-LumiNova.
Victorinox Swiss Army Heritage
Price: $325, Reference: 241963, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 9.1mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Quartz Ronda 715
World famous as the maker of the original Swiss Army knife, Victorinox started making watches under its brand in 1989. The Swiss Army Heritage collection is populated by solidly built, well-designed timepieces that evoke the field watches worn by the same military members that popularized the knife. The matte-finished steel case is somewhat large for the genre at 40mm, but its size also ensures a very readable dial, here in a dark blue with white luminous numerals crowned at 12 o’clock with the Swiss flag-inspired Victorinox logo shield whose color harmonizes with the brand’s hallmark red seconds hand. A date display appears in a window at 6 o’clock. Inside the 100-meter water resistant case is a Swiss-made quartz movement from Ronda. The watch comes on a rugged, stitched leather strap.
CWC T20 General Service Watch
Price: 269 GBP (approx. $332), Reference: 15410, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 11mm, Lug Width: 18.5mm, Lug to Lug: 42mm, Crystal: Hesalite, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Swiss quartz Ronda 715
Canada’s Cabot Watch Company, or CWC, is a longtime provider of watches to British military units. The T20 General Service Watch is based on specifications issued by Great Britain’s Ministry of Defence in 1980 for a quartz-powered watch for military use. For various logistical reasons, the watch was never actually produced until 2020, when CWC issued it on the 40th anniversary of the day the MOD specifications were published. The tonneau-shaped case (one of the requirements of the 1980 specs) is made of brushed stainless steel and measures an ‘80s-appropriate 38mm. The dial features an old-school railroad minute track, large legible Arabic numerals, a date at 3 o’clock, and the arrow motif used historically to identify watches made for Britain’s military units. The quartz Ronda movement inside is made in Switzerland and boasts a robust five-year battery life. The gray NATO strap completes the field-ready package.
Marathon General Purpose Mechanical
Price: $378, Reference: WW194003BK-NGMIg, Case Size: 34mm, Case Height: 9.2mm, Lug Width: 16mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber NH35
Manufactured by — no kidding — the sole official supplier of watches to today’s U.S. Armed Forces, the Marathon General Purpose Mechanical offers a number of distinctive elements seldom found in this price range. Housed within a 34mm stainless steel case, the Marathon GPM is tactically small, designed to be a lightweight companion to the large loads of military gear utilized by its wearers in combat operations. The dial has indices and hands with tritium-filled tubes, which offer brighter and longer-lasting luminescence than most other dials, whose luminescent elements need to be recharged by light. Completing the utilitarian package is a reliable third-party caliber from Seiko. At around $400, the GPM represents impressive value and real military credibility despite the rather pedestrian 30-meter water resistance.
Bulova Hack Watch
Price: $395, Reference: 96A246, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 13.45mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Miyota Caliber 8250
During World War II, New York-based Bulova supplied watches — in addition to other instruments like telescopes, altimeters, artillery range finders and even fuses for explosives — to the U.S. Armed Forces under a special contract with the government. The original so-called “Hack Watch” got its name from its special feature, a lock-down mechanism for the running seconds that allowed for perfect synchronization, or hacking, of multiple watches in the planning of a mission. The modern version of the Hack Watch, part of Bulova’s historically inspired Military collection, feature a vintage-look military-time dial with an inner 24-hour ring, large Arabic numerals, luminous cathedral hands, and a boxy crown. It’s powered by an automatic movement, a Japanese-made Miyota 8250, which has a 42-hour power reserve.
Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic
Price: $545, Reference: H69449961, Case Size: 38mm Case Height: 9.5mm, Lug width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Mechanical Hamilton Caliber H-50
Without Hamilton Watch Company, we probably wouldn’t even have a “field watch” category to cover. The American-founded brand, now based in Switzerland and part of the sprawling Swatch Group, basically invented the genre with the “trench watches” that it supplied to American troops in World War I, kicking off a long tradition of making tough, simple, reliable timepieces for U.S. military units. The civilian offshoot of these watches is the Khaki Field, which traces its most direct inspiration to the 1960s model worn during the Vietnam War and is available with a quartz, manually wound mechanical, or automatic caliber. The Khaki Field Mechanical reference showcased here combines the classically retro 12/24-hour dial in khaki green, an appropriately modest 38mm case with an earth-tone brown PVD finish, and a nylon NATO strap in a military green color that echoes the dial. The manually winding Caliber H-50 beats inside, storing a lengthy 80-hour power reserve.
Seiko Prospex Alpinist
Price: $725, Reference: SPB121, Case Size: 39.5mm, Case Height: 13.2mm, Lug to Lug: 46.4mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Seiko Caliber 6R35
The Alpinist, the first dedicated Seiko sports watch, traces its long history back to 1959, with an original model that was targeted, as its name implies, to outdoorsmen such as mountain climbers. This modern version, added recently to the Japanese watchmaker’s Prospex series and taking its aesthetic cues from the now-classic SARB017 reference, reimagines that vintage piece with a contemporary spin. Faithful to the historical model are the cathedral hands, gold accents on the markers and numerals, and magnifying lens over the date at 3 o’clock. New in this model are the dark green dial that contrasts attractively with the golden details, the “X” logo above 6 o’clock identifying the timepiece as a member of the Prospex family, and the 6R35 automatic caliber. A bonus for actual mountaineers and other adventurous explorer types: the inner rotating compass bezel, operated by the additional crown at 4 o’clock.
Formex Field Automatic
Price: $795, Reference: 0660.1.6533.133, Case Size: 41mm, Case Height: 10.6mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 46.6mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200-1
Formex, an independent watchmaker founded in 1999, takes its name from the French phrase “Forme Extrème” (“extreme shape”), which refers to its case designs inspired by the silhouettes of high-performance cars and bikes and equipped with a patented Case Suspension System to protect the movement. Formex’s foray into the field watch genre is distinguished by its lightweight-but-robust, barrel shaped case made of grade 5 titanium (almost unheard of at this price point); its array of industrial-inspired dial color options, including ash gray, petrol blue, ultra violet, sage green and mahogany red; and the aforementioned, cushion-like system inside the case that safeguards the automatic Sellita movement and adds to the wearing comfort.
Benrus Heritage Field Watch
Price: $875, Reference: F1-BK-BK-NC, Case Size: 41mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Miyota Caliber
Benrus, an American watch company founded in 1921, secured the first contract to produce watches for military members during the Vietnam War. The company relaunched in 2020 after a long hiatus, issuing among its first wave of new watches the Heritage collection, which draws inspiration from those battle-ready vintage pieces. At 41mm in diameter, the Heritage Field watch is assuredly bigger than those worn in the jungles of Vietnam but is otherwise very period-appropriate in its details, like the concentric rings hosting big Arabic 1-12 numerals and the military-time 13-24 scale. This version’s black IP coating on the tonneau-shaped steel case adds an element of stealth and echoes the muted gray tones of the dial, while the camo-pattern nylon NATO strap makes a strong statement to call out the model’s military origins. Inside the case, the Automatic Miyota caliber from Japan ticks away and amasses a 41-hour power reserve.
Accutron Legacy Automatic RR-0 Limited Edition
Price: $1,290, Reference: 2SW6B001, Case Size: 34mm, Case Height: 12.5mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200
Once the flagship collection of Bulova, Accutron established itself as its own watch company in 2020 with a new electrostatic-movement version of the famous and futuristic (for the ‘60s, at least) Accutron Spaceview leading the way. The Legacy collection that followed up that flagship model revived an array of less renowned but cult-classic Accutron designs from its Bulova days. One of the most well received has been the RR-0, a modern version of a piece made to the specifications of the Canadian Railroad in the 1970s. Distinctly field watch-like in its case size (34mm!) and dial design, the RR-0 stands slightly apart with the rare “0” in place of the 12 on the main hour scale and an unconventional winding crown at 4 o’clock. The black hands, orange seconds hand, and black date window aperture (on a white dial) also make a fun and quirky statement.
Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Heritage
Price: $1,295, Reference: AL-525BBG4SH6, Case Size: 44mm, Case Height: 11.5mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Alpina Caliber AL-525
One of a few watches on this list with “Pilot” in their name and aviators as their original audience, this version of the Startimer Pilot Automatic Heritage is also perfect for land-based adventure, with its black dial hosting a 24-hour circle within the borders of its main ring of large, white Arabic hour numerals (with the 12 being displaced by the familiar aviation triangle motif and the 3” by a date window). At 44mm in steel, the case is sized more for cockpit legibility than for mission subtlety and load-lightening, but it provides a frame for a wide dial that’s easy to read at a glance. The applied hour markers are treated with a beige Super-LumiNova for an “aged” vintage look. Also evoking the past is the watch’s hinged hunter-style caseback, a throwback to the heyday of pocket watches that can be opened to steal a glance at the automatic AL-525 caliber inside, with its eye-catching blackened rotor.
Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch
Price: $1,450, Reference: N/A, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 9.2mm, Lug to Lug: 46.2mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Mechanical Hand-Wound Caliber 1005
Coming on the scene in 2013, Los Angeles-based Weiss is an American microbrand that has found an avid following with its Standard Issue Field Watch, which founder and namesake Cameron Weiss makes in both a genre-appropriate 38mm and a more modern 42mm case size. While the watch has no authentic military usage or connection in its short history, it embodies the field-watch style with its combination of dial elements, which include vintage-style sword hands, a small seconds subdial at 6 o'clock and a railroad minute track. The hands are black oxide-treated and glow brightly in the dark with a layer of Super-LumiNova. Weiss installs a customized, manually wound caliber in the watch, the Weiss 1005, which is based on the ETA/Peseux Caliber 7001 and hand-finished and assembled in Cameron Weiss’ U.S. workshop.
Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale
Price: $2,000, Reference: L2.8126.96.36.199, Case Size: 38.5mm, Case Height: 12.3mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Longines Caliber L888.5
Few watchmakers have mined their early 20th-century archives for modern hits as consistently and as successfully as Longines, whose popular and ever-expanding Heritage collection is underpinned by reviving models from the brand’s nearly 200-year history. The Heritage Military family is no exception, its most eye-catching member being this Marine Nationale model issued in 2020 and based upon a watch from 1947 that Longines supplied to the French Navy. The modern watch’s 38.5mm case is just slightly larger than its 35.5mm predecessor, and its gold opaline dial, with blued steel hands and black painted Arabic hour numerals, features the inscription “Fab Suisse” (for Fabrique Suisse, or “Swiss Made”) under the Longines logo, another period-appropriate detail. The movement is decidedly modern, the ETA-supplied, Longines-exclusive Caliber L888.5, which is COSC-certified for chronometric performance and features an antimagnetic silicon balance spring.
Mühle Glashütte Terrasport IV Bronze
Price: $2,099, Reference: M1-45-09-LB, Case Size: 42mm, Case Height: 10.2mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW 200-1 with Mühle modifications
Germany’s Mühle Glashütte started its 150+ years of business as a producer of precision timers and measuring tools for various professional fields and now specializes in high-end tool watches for sailors, divers, pilots, and military units. While its design bears a classical aviation inspiration (that 12 o’clock triangle-and- dots being the most obvious), the Terrasport model makes a great wrist companion for earthbound missions as well. Its bronze case is designed not to reflect light in a situation that requires stealth, and its khaki-colored dial gives it even more of a military-issue look. The coin-edge bezel is a nice vintage-style touch, recalling early to mid-20th-century timepieces, and the small date window is a concession to modern utilitarian tastes. Helping to keep this model just slightly above the $2,000 price range is Mühle’s use of an outsourced Swiss caliber, the reliable Sellita SW 200-1, which has nevertheless been highly modified by Mühle with several of its own technical innovations, including the signature “woodpecker’s neck” regulation device that enhances the shock resistance.
Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Military
Price: $2,400, Reference: BRV192-MIL-ST/SCA, Case Size: 38.5mm, Case Height: 11mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber BR-CAL.302
While it’s only been in business since 1994, Bell & Ross has become known for making watches that evoke timekeepers and precision instruments of the past, particularly those associated with military history. The company’s best-known watches hail from its square-cased, dashboard-clock-inspired Instrument series, but the BR V1-92 Military stands out among its more vintage-style round-cased pieces with its rarely seen take on a field-watch dial. Instead of 12 hour numerals and an inner 13-24 scale for military time, the watch has only a 60-minute track, marked at five-minute increments, a period-appropriate style used on military aviation watches worn during the World Wars. Also historically appropriate are the sword-shaped luminous hands and the red “MT” ("Military Type") indication on the dial; thoroughly modern, on the other hand, are the round date window at 4:30 and the airplane-shaped counterweight on the central seconds hand. The automatic Bell & Ross Caliber BR-CAL.302 inside the 38.5mm steel case is based on the Sellita SW-300.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
Price: $2,825, Reference: 79910, Case Size: 41mm, Case Height: 12.2mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Lug to Lug: 48mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Automatic ETA 2824
Tudor launched the first Ranger model in 1967 and reintroduced it in a more contemporary yet still very military-influenced version in 2014. The case dimensions were expanded from the 34mm of the vintage model to 41mm but the matte black, dateless dial with big painted numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 were retained, as was the domed sapphire crystal that covers it. Tudor equipped the modern Heritage Ranger (whose most direct inspiration is the Ref. 7995, discontinued by 1969) with a self-winding movement sourced from ETA, the brand having not yet ramped up its own in-house movement production. The Heritage Ranger was discontinued in 2020, but industry scuttlebutt would seem to indicate the model is due for another revival soon, likely in a smaller case size that more closely echoes the original.
Bremont Armed Forces Broadsword Bronze
Price: $3,775, Reference: L2.8188.8.131.52, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Bremont Caliber BE-95-2AV, chronometer
London-based Bremont worked directly with the British Ministry of Defence to develop its Armed Forces collection, a series of military-influenced watches that take inspiration from the legendary “Dirty Dozen,” field watches issued to the British Army during World War II. Those wartime watches were built to exacting standards for military use, tested for water resistance, luminosity in the dark, and precise timekeeping. The Broadsword model from that military-commissioned collection, which is built to the same standards, offers the most direct visual throwback to the Dirty Dozen look, with a two-part, hardened steel 40-mm case, a black dial with lume-treated white hour numerals and hands and a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, and a khaki green sailcloth strap. The chronometer-certified automatic Caliber BE-95-2AV ticks behind a specially engraved caseback with the heraldic badges of all three of Britain’s military services: Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force (RAF).
Omega Seamaster Railmaster
Price: $4,900, Reference: 184.108.40.206.01.001, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 12.68mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Automatic Omega 8806
Like the other heaviest hitter on this list from a luxury perspective, the Rolex Explorer, Omega’s Railmaster was not developed with soldiers in mind — it was, as its name implies, a watch meant to be worn by railroad workers working around heavy electrical fields — but its utilitarian design as well as its robust magnetic protection would make it right at home out on a military mission. The watch’s large triangular hour markers, surrounded by an on-theme railway minute track and accompanied by Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12, are eminently legible, as are the luminous hands at the center of the retro crosshairs motif. The Omega Master Chronometer Caliber 8806 ticks inside, behind a Naiad-locked caseback; its attributes include the 15,000-gauss magnetic resistance that makes the modern Railmaster a worthy successor to its 1957 ancestor.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Spitfire Automatic
Price: $4,800, Reference: IW326801, Case Size: 39mm, Case Height: 10.86mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 60 meters, Movement: Automatic IWC Caliber 3210
What is an iconic pilot’s watch doing on this list of field watches, you might ask? In truth, early watches worn by aviators — before the genre expanded to include chronographs, dual-time functions, slide rules, and the like — shared much in common with those worn by ground troops. Pilot’s watch specialist IWC, which made one of the famous “Dirty Dozen” field watches used during WWII, channels that vintage spirit with the Spitfire Automatic, the most understated model in its high-flying Pilot’s collection. Based on the legendary Mark 11 watch from 1948, the Spitfire Automatic sports a clean, three-handed black dial, with large luminous sword hands, a small date window at 3 o’clock, white hour numerals, and an inverted triangle with two dots at 12 o’clock, a classical feature of vintage military watches. The watch is mounted on a canvas NATO strap and contains the IWC in-house Caliber 32110, which bestows it a power reserve of 72 hours, or three days.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer
Price: $7,200, Reference: 124270, Case Size: 36mm, Case Height: 11.5 mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Rolex 3230
While its original incarnation, launched back in 1953, was targeted at mountaineers rather than grunts, the Rolex Explorer has long carried the “field watch” banner in the megabrand’s varied collection, with its simple, legible three-handed dial and modest dimensions; as of the most recent version in 2021, the Explorer is once again available in its original 36mm case size. Inside the case, made of Rolex’s corrosion-resistant “Oystersteel,” is another recent upgrade, Rolex in-house Caliber 3230, packed with the expected array of up-to-the-minute Rolex-patented technologies, including the Chronergy escapement with its blue Parachrom hairspring, and a “Superlative Chronometer” certification for accuracy. The dial’s hands and hour markers glow a bright blue in the dark thanks to generous coatings of Rolex’s proprietary Chromalight lume.
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Great article. I have an Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic and love it. That Omega Railmaster is absolutely gorgeous.
I’ve never really seen the value of an inner 24 hour index on a non-GMT watch. I can simply add 12 to the hour.