Are you looking at making your next watch purchase? A field watch is a great choice for expanding your collection. Originally designed for use in the trenches during the First World War, the field watch is a popular choice for people who enjoy outdoor activities and sports.
The best models retain the robust reliability from a sturdy design, resembling those wartime watches. A field watch will last you a lifetime, and it’s sure to be along for plenty of memories, whether you’re out hiking, camping, trail-riding, or climbing.
Is your idea of fun is spending the weekend on a remote excursion? Do you enjoy engaging in activities that get your adrenaline pumping? Then we think a trusty field watch will come in handy on your adventurers.
A field watch makes a great gift for a friend or loved one that enjoys activities. It’s a great idea for anyone that works in a job requiring them to use tactical equipment, such as law enforcement or military operations. There are plenty of manufacturers out there that design military-style watches for the most demanding timekeeping conditions.
Field watches come from a variety of manufacturers, with a range of prices. Trying to find the right model can take a considerable investment of time. We decided to cut that research down for you with this review of the best field watches.
Our Top Picks
- 1 Our Top Picks
- 2 Field Watch Reviews
- 2.1 Casio G-Shock DW5600MS-1CR G-Force Military – The Best Overall Field Watch
- 2.2 Hamilton Khaki Field Hand Wind – The Best Premium Model Field Watch
- 2.3 Bertucci 11015 Field Watch – The Best Budget Field Watch
- 2.4 Seiko 5 Sports Automatic
- 2.5 Seiko 5 Military Automatic
- 2.6 Marathon Watch Military Field Watch
- 2.7 Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical watch
- 2.8 Casio G-Shock GBA800-1A
- 2.9 Timex Men’s Expedition Field Chronograph
- 2.10 Citizen Military BU2055-16E
- 3 Other Best Selling Options
- 4 Field Watch Buyers Guide
- 5 What are the Characteristics of a Good Field Watch?
- 6 A Brief Timeline and History of Field Watches
- 7 Why Wear a Field Watch?
- 8 Field Watch FAQs
- 9 Field Watches – The Verdict
If you don’t have the “time” to sit through this entire review, let’s save you a few minutes and give you our top choices for the best field watch. We have models in three categories to suit your shopping priority.
Best Pick: Casio G-Shock Black Out
- Case Diameter : 49 mm
- Reliable quartz movement
- Military concept with Black Matt, Reverse LCD and Red EL Back Light
- Multi-function Alarm, 1/100 Second Stopwatch, Countdown Timer
- 12/24 Hr. Formats, EL Backlight w/ Afterglow
If you’re looking for the best overall field watch for personal use or to give as a gift, you can’t beat the Casio G-Shock Black Out. This model has everything you would dream of in a field watch. Sure, the digital interface is nothing like what soldiers were wearing in WW1, but it’s an evolution to modern standards and trusted by real military operators worldwide.
Premium Pick: Hamilton Khaki Field
This Hamilton model has a vintage appeal with a slender form factor similar to what the original field watches looked like back in the war. This Khaki Mechanical model is a durable, reliable timepiece, featuring a premium strap and clasp, with clean and stylish design. It’s an ideal EDC model for dressing up or down, and goes as well with jeans and a t-shirt, as it does with a suit jacket. Hamilton has a good reputation for producing top-quality timepieces.
Budget Pick: Bertucci 11015 DX3 Field Watch
- Durable poly resin case
- Swiss super luminous hands
- Mineral glass crystal
- Japan movement
- Water-resistant to 50 M (165 feet)
The Bertucci 11015 DX3 is a great example of how some manufacturers produce great products to suit budget buyers. This DX3 model field watch has a classic design, with a slimline form factor and a nylon wristband for durability. The face is easy to read, with luminescent face markers and hands for use in low-light conditions. You get a toughened mineral crystal display and a good package for an affordable price.
Field Watch Reviews
Now that you know our top picks for this review let’s unpack our top models in further detail. We’ll also look at some of the other contenders we discovered in our quest for the best field watch.
Casio G-Shock DW5600MS-1CR G-Force Military – The Best Overall Field WatchWe gave this G-Shock model the best overall award for this review. This field watch is the ideal evolution of the classic model. The squared face with rounded edges gives the slight appearance of an octagon, but you can see the influence of the original A-11 and A-18 in this watch.
Casio designed this segment of the G-Shock range for real military operators, with function and protection in mind. The non-reflective display ensures stealth, with backlighting and reverse lighting features. You get plenty of features and functionality with this watch, allowing you to customize your timekeeping.
The durably synthetic strap comes with a sturdy tang, acting as a drag handle if injured in combat scenarios. With a military design, you ger 24-hour timekeeping format, along with water resistance to 660-feet.
This watch is impact resistant, and you’ll never crack the screen – the toughened, scratch-resistant, mineral crystal display can stand up to the most demanding operating environments.
- 49mm case diameter for a slimline and compact design
- Reverse LCD with EL backlighting
- Military concept black matte finish
- Multi-function alarm
- Plenty of features and functions with programable settings
- Water-resistant to 660-feet
- Comfortable, sturdy strap
- Not a classic-styled watch
Hamilton Khaki Field Hand Wind – The Best Premium Model Field Watch
Hamilton is a premium watch brand, with plenty of models in activewear and dress watches for people with taste in timepieces. This mechanical model is a throwback to the original A-11 and A-18 models for them WW1 and WW2 eras.
You get a stainless steel casing for ultimate protection and durability, with a classic look on the face. The hour and minute markings aren’t intrusive, and the ideal size for fast checking at a glance, without looking cluttered on the face.
This model makes a great choice for a dressing-down or dressing-up option timepiece. The strap on this model features a canvas construction with premium stitching and a robust tang buckle. This model might not look as rugged as the Casio, but it’s got a sophisticated feel.
The mechanical movement is something different, and a throwback to the original field watches. With a 38mm sapphire crystal face, this model is a true retro revamp in the field watch’s revolution.
- Classic look and appeal
- Durable canvas band with a tang clasp
- Fixed bezel and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face
- Luminous silver-tone hands
- Good choice for dressing up
- Premium Price
Bertucci 11015 Field Watch – The Best Budget Field Watch
If you’re looking for a field watch on the budget-end of the price spectrum, there’s nothing wrong with this Bertucci model. The DX3 Field model looks like a premium brand design and construction with an affordable price tag.
The first standout feature on this model is the poly-resin casing, providing lightweight performance, with almost the same strength as steel. This model comes with a slimline form-factor, and the influence from the original A-121 and A-18 is evident on this field watch.
The Bertucci comes with a minimalist nylons trap and sturdy clip, ensuring a no-slip fit on your wrist. The 40mm face is on the larger size, and you get large hour numbers for easy reference and luminescent hands for easy reference in low-light conditions.
The mineral glass display offers supreme scratch protection from brushes or falls, and the winding arm comes with a built-in guard in the frame to reduce any impact damage.
- Affordable price point
- Slimline profile with classic design
- Luminous markings and hands
- Nylon wrist band and comfortable clasp
- Durable poly-resin casing
- Water-resistant to 50-meters
- Face markings slightly cluttered
Seiko 5 Sports AutomaticThis model is an excellent example of the modern transition in field watches. Seiko designed this automatic model with close resemblance to the design and structure of the original A-11 and A-18.
The watch comes with a stainless steel frame for durability, and a 42mm oversized face.
The Seiko 5 Sports Automatic is a great choice for active people that need a minimalist and functional watch. The blue nylon band is fashionable, allowing dressing up or dressing down with this watch.
- Traditional field watch design
- Automatic function
- 42mm casing with a slimline form factor
- Good choice for dressing up
- Visible hour markings and luminous hands
- Water-resistant to 330-feet
- Nylon wristband with a buckle
- Stainless steel casing
- No color variations for strap
Seiko 5 Military AutomaticThis model from Seiko offers you all the functionality of the Seiko 5 Sport model, with a different look. This military design is a true throwback to the A18, with a 37mm casing for authenticity, and a clean design to the face with a functional and descriptive minute and hour markings.
You get a date window for the day and date, with luminescent hands, and automatic operation. The green face and wristband give this piece a military feel at first glance. It’s a great choice for anyone in law enforcement or military ops looking for a fashionable and functional timepiece.
- Classic field watch design
- Hardlex crystal lens for scratch resistance
- Easy-to-read minute and hour markings
- Automatic operation
- Military-inspired theme
- Green face dial and nylon watch strap for a military look
- Water-resistant to 99-feet
- No other color options
Marathon Watch Military Field WatchThis model from Marathon comes with a classic design influenced by the original A-18. This field watch features a mil-spec design purpose-built to US government specifications.
When you purchase this watch, you know you’re getting a top-quality timepiece that’s functional, durable, and accurate, with swiss-made internals and high-torque movement.
The Marathon comes with a nylon strap and a secure buckle. The impact fiber shell casing makes this a lightweight but sturdy choice, and another great example of the evolution of the field watch.
- Military-spec design for use with real operators
- Maraglo paint on markers and hands charges with sunlight
- An impact-resistant fiber shell casing
- Sapphire crystal face for excellent scratch resistance
- Swiss-made high-torque movement
- 99-feet water resistance
- Only available in black
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical watch
If you liked the hand-wind Hamilton model earlier in this review, you might like this mechanical model instead. This field watch features a classic design, with a 38mm casing and sapphire crystal display for scratch resistance.
The sturdy nylon strap features a tang buckle for a secure fit to your wrist, and the display features large hour numbers in a 12 hour and 24-hour format for a military reference.
- Classic design for authentic look and feel
- Super-luminova hands for easy viewing in low-light conditions
- Slimline profile design with 38mm casing
- Fixed bezel with scratch-resistant sapphire face
- Silver-tone hands with stainless steel casing
- Tang clasp with heavy-duty canvas strap
- A cluttered hour and minute markings on the face
Casio G-Shock GBA800-1AThis digital field watch is another outstanding G-Shock model giving a modern overhaul to a classic design./ this G-Shock features a round face with a shock-resistant and scratch-resistant finish.
There’s multi-timekeeping functionality with this model, 10-year battery life, 10-meter free-fall resistance, and 100-meter water resistance. The hands come with a luminous finish, and you get a mineral crystal display for rugged resistance to scratching.
- New-age field-watch design
- Shock-resistant and waterproof to 660-feet
- Double-light LED for the face
- 10-meter free-fall endurance, 10-bar waterproofing, and 10-year battery life
- Connects to your phone via smart app
- Step counter, accelerometer and much more
- Clean black design
- A little bulky
Timex Men’s Expedition Field ChronographThis Timex piece offers some of the best value in this review. Everyone knows that Timex is one of America’s leading timepiece brands. This field watch model comes with an oversized face and chronograph capability.
You get a leather wrist strap, with stainless steel buckle, and an informative but uncluttered feel to the face. The minute and hour markings are easy to read, with a luminous finish for viewing low-light conditions.
- Classic field chronograph design
- Affordable and functional
- Leather strap with tang buckle
- 42mm casing with a slimline form factor
- 30-minute chronograph measuring up to 1/20th of a second
- Indiglo light-up watch dial
- Leather strap absorbs moisture
Citizen Military BU2055-16E
We wrap up our review of the best field watch with one of our favorites. This Citizen model has a hallmark design throwing back to the original A-18 from WW2. You get a large, oversized 43mm casing, with stainless steel construction for durability.
The face features a sapphire crystal display, quartz movement, and oversized hour markings for easy viewing. You get chronograph functionality included, and a durable nylon strap with high-quality stitching.
- Mil-spec design for real military operators
- Chronograph function measuring to 1/20th of a second
- 43mm case diameter for a slimline form factor
- Japanese-quartz movement
- Durable canvas strap with reinforced stitching
- Tang clasp
- 330-foot water resistance
- Premium Price
Other Best Selling Options
- Adjustable green 20 millimeter nylon strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference
- Black dial with date window at 3 o'clock; Full Arabic numerals
- Gray 40 millimeter brass case with mineral glass crystal
- Indiglo light-up watch dial; Luminous hands
- Water resistant to 50 meters (165 feet): In general, suitable for short periods of recreational swimming, but not diving or snorkeling
- LIGHT-POWERED ECO-DRIVE: Converts any light, whether natural or artificial, into energy. Energy is stored in a permanently rechargeable power cell. The watch recharges continuously in any light to run forever, with no battery changes required ever.
- WATER RESISTANT TO 100 M: This tactical watch is water resistant to 10 ATM (100 meters). In general, it’s suitable to wear in the shower, in professional marine activities like swimming and snorkeling, and in surface water sports, but not for scuba diving. Functions E101, 3 Hand, Day / Date
- FOR YOUR ACTIVE LIFESTYLE: This Citizen silver-toned military watch has a stainless steel case, canvas strap, adjustable buckle closure, three-hand analog display with quartz movement, luminous hands and markers, a day-date display window, and a dial featuring hour markers and a minute track.
- GUARANTEE & 5-YEAR WARRANTY: At Citizen, we stand by quality and craftsmanship. Every Citizen purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 5-year limited warranty so you can be sure your new Citizen timepiece meets your expectations.
- Adjustable tan 20 millimeter nylon strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference
- Black dial with date window at 4 o'clock; Arabic numerals in increments of 5 up to 60
- 30-minute chronograph measures to 1/20th second
- Black 43 millimeter brass case with mineral glass crystal; Indiglo light-up watch dial
- Water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet): In general, suitable for snorkeling, as well as swimming, but not diving
- Adjustable green 20mm fabric slip-thru strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference
- Black dial with full Arabic numerals & 24-hour time
- Silver-tone 40mm brass case with mineral glass crystal
- Indiglo light-up watch dial; luminous hands
- Water resistant to 50m (165 ft): In general, suitable for short periods of recreational swimming, but not diving or snorkeling
- Adjustable blue 20mm fabric Fast Wrap strap with hook & look closure fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference
- Charged by any light with a four-month power reserve
- Blue dial with full Arabic numerals; date window at 3 o'clock
- Gunmetal gray 40mm brass case with mineral crystal; luminous hands
- Water resistant to 50m (165 ft): In general, suitable for short periods of recreational swimming, but not diving or snorkeling
Field Watch Buyers Guide
When picking out your field watch, you need to keep in mind the purpose of the timepiece, and how you’ll use it.
The answer to that question determines the size and functionality you need in your watch. In this section, we’ll unpack more of the details you need to know to make an informed purchase decision with your timepiece.
What are the Characteristics of a Good Field Watch?
When selecting your new timepiece, there are a few factors you need to look for when making your decision on the best field watch for you. When selecting your watch, we recommend looking for the following features.
The field watch relies on a durable casing for rugged reliability in the field. Look for models that feature stainless steel design. Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, tough, and lasts a lifetime.
Some models come with polycarbonate housings that are exceptionally durable, and lightweight. These models are suited for more spec-ops operations, featuring a mil-spec design used by real-world military operators.
Modern field watches could also feature design with other hardened synthetic materials like PVD coatings. Other popular metals for use in field watches include brass and titanium.
The Face of the Watch and the Hands/ Markings
Modern field watches come as means to tell the time at a glance when you’re on the move and need to check the time quickly; you want a watch that you can read easily, without diverting your attention from your surroundings.
Therefore, your field watch must come with a crystal, sapphire, or mineral face. These materials offer superior scratch resistance in the harshest environments. The face should feature easy-to-read markings. Every manufacturer takes a different approach to the size of the font and markings on the watch’s face.
Make sure your watch hands illuminated dials markings and hands to help you tell the time in low-light conditions. If you’re looking for a model for tactical use, consider a face with the highest amount of contrast. A black face with white marking would be optimal. Make sure the markings are not too crowded to clutter the face.
If you want a field watch for more everyday use, we suggest looking into a model with a polished face and golden or silver markers for the hours and minutes. However, you need to be aware that these models may cause reflection when sunlight hits the face.
The wristband is another important consideration when selecting your tactical watch. Modern models like the G-Shock come with plastic or synthetic straps for ultimate durability.
Classic designs will feature straps with canvas or nylon materials for more authenticity. The original field watches feature material straps for comfort and durability.
The strap should also feature a sturdy clasp. The stronger the strap and buckle, the better. Your team members can use the watch as a drag handle to pull you away from danger if you’re unconscious.
Most field watches will adhere to the sizes for two of the original designs from the World Wars. The original field watch featured a 36mm casing. However, over the years, watchmakers played around with designs featuring casings of up to 44mm.
Movement is the final component of your field watch to consider. We like automatic movement over quartz or mechanical. Automatic design means you’ll never have to wind the watch, provided you wear it every day. A mechanical watch requires you to wind it, or use a battery.
There are some fantastic advantages to wearing an automatic timepiece. You never have to worry about losing time or running out of battery. The watch charges off the motion of your body. As long as you remain active, the watch will have a charge.
A Brief Timeline and History of Field Watches
Before the beginning of the First World War, watches were timepieces for aristocrats and men in high-society. To own a watch was a symbol of wealth and power, with fob watches being popular timepiece choices up until the early 1900s. Before the war, society viewed wristwatches as a feminine timepiece.
However, with the advent of the war, soldiers needed smaller, manageable timepieces to stay on track with operations. As a result, watchmakers started designing and manufacturing wristwatches to meet the growing demand for military and civilian lifestyles.
The first military wristwatches to undergo manufacture were “trench watches.” However, it wasn’t until the advent of the Second World War, that the military started issuing field watches as standard equipment to infantry and military personnel.
The A-11 Military Spec was the most common issue, cementing a legacy in wristwatches that would last for decades. The wristwatch was a symbol of service and later adopted by the corporate world as a retirement gift. Many of the golden wristwatches from corporate retirements in the 80s and 90s have a field watch look to the casing design.
Modern Vs. Traditional Field Watches
In the case of the original field watch, watchmakers adhered to design standards approved by the military. Therefore, the timepieces had to meet the requirements of precise timekeeping and use during extreme conditions.
The original A-11 field watch was the most issued model in the Second World War. Despite the massive production, the watch maintained high levels of quality for a timepiece of its era, only losing or gaining around 30-seconds per day. Many considered this watch as the most accurate in its period before the development of the quartz watch.
The A-17 in the 1950s followed on from the A-11 design from World War One. The watch added new components like quartz movement to improve timekeeping.
The original field watch had design and construction to deal with the harsh conditions of war. Therefore, the watch’s face required updating with luminescent hands and markings for accurate timekeeping in low-light conditions.
The field watch is one of the strongest and most durable watch designs, being impervious to dust, and extreme temperature changes. Most models come with excellent water resistance, while they don’t have a specific design as aquatic models.
The stainless steel casings on most models provide a sturdy chassis. The field watch comes with a leather, nylon, or canvas strap, depending on the manufacturer, the design, the functionality of the watch, and the price point.
Zulu and Nato straps are popular in field watches, with sturdy clasps that prevent accidental loss of the watch. However, as the years and decades went by, watchmakers experienced advances in technology. The birth of quartz movement and the automatic watch were revolutionary, refining modern timekeeping.
Today’s models come in a variety of composite casing constructions and designs, with additional features like chronographs, specialized timekeeping functions, and lighting.
Why Wear a Field Watch?
Why would you want to choose a field watch over the dozens of other watch designs available?
Military and Law Enforcement
If you’re in the military or a branch of law enforcement, a field watch is a good tactical choice. These watches are effective for accurate timekeeping, with durable casings and non-crack, non-scratch faces. Choose a model with a canvas strap to act as a drag handle if your teammates need to pull you away from danger.
Hiking and Outdoor Sports
If you enjoy getting outdoors for a hike or high-paced activity sports like climbing – a field watch is an excellent choice for your new timepiece. These models come with slimline form-factors and lightweight casings. The non-scratch faces provide years of satisfactory use.
If you’re an EDC enthusiast, then you demand the most out of your timepiece. A field watch offers you a great cross-bridge between a tactical watch and a classic design. With a field watch, you get a reliable, accurate timepiece, ready to use every day.
If you’re heading to the range for some steel practice, you’ll need a timepiece. A timepiece is critical when shooting firearms. If you accidentally discharge and sustain a critical injury to the lower or upper body, you’ll need to apply a tourniquet before moving to the hospital. On the tourniquet, it’s best to write the time of the injury down right away before you go into shock. This strategy lets the emergency workers know how long you’ve been bleeding and what they need to do to save your life.
A field watch gives you an accurate timepiece that’s easy to read in a critical situation.
Do You Want an Analog or Digital Face on Your Field Watch?
When selecting your field watch, you have the option of going with a digital or analog model. The analog model provides a classic look that’s in-line with the original models from the World Wars. These traditional designs are great for use as dress watches, and they are the most authentic representation of the field watch available today.
However, there’s nothing wrong with updating this classic design. Brands like Casio have done a fantastic job of updating the traditional model of the field watch. Casio’s G-Shock range is an excellent example of a watch line that brings together the best of the original, with the best of modern technology.
When selecting a digital or analog model, it’s important to think about your needs and preferences. Choose the model that makes sense for your lifestyle.
Field Watch FAQs
What field watches do military operators wear?
In the 2014 action war drama, Bradley Cooper played Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper, and war hero. We all know that Hollywood likes to take realism into account, and consults with the military on wardrobe choices for movies. In American Sniper, Cooper wears the Casio G-Shock DW-6600-1V.
The G-Shock is a popular model due to its resilience and durability in various environments. Many military personnel and civilians trust G-shock to deliver the performance they need from the battlefield to the backyard.
Do automatic watches need batteries?
It’s hard to get your head around the fact that automatic watches don’t require batteries to operate. These watches create indefinite lifespans for your field watch, as long as you keep moving, the watch keeps winding and working.
Which wrist should I wear my watch on?
Across the globe, people adhere to the benchmark of wearing their watch on the non-dominant hand. Therefore, if you’re right-handed, you’ll strap your field watch to your left wrist and vice versa.
Why do military operators wear there watch backwards?
You might notice people wearing their watch with the face on the inside of the wrist. In most cases, these individuals are military spec ops personnel. This positioning prevents light reflection on the crystal display. It’s also easier to control the luminescence of the watch face on night operations.
Field Watches – The Verdict
By now, you should have a good idea of the best field watches available. We selected the best models from leading brands to bring you the best collection. If you’re still having trouble settling on a model, why not rely on our top picks?
The Casio G-Shock Black Out is a great choice for an entry-level watch. This model has all the functionality you need, with a modern edge on a classic design. The G-Shock brand is well-known for producing some of the most durable, water-resistant, and shockproof watches ever made. Real military operators trust G-Shock in training and the field.
The Hamilton Khaki Field is for those watch enthusiasts looking for a timepiece that’s as close to an authentic 1900s-era field watch as possible. This model comes with a slimline form-factor, and an adjustable canvas strap with tang. You get neat markings perfectly positioned on the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face, with silver-tone stainless steel finish and luminous hands.
For those watch enthusiasts working with a budget, the Bertucci 11015 Field Watch offers outstanding value for money. This model features a durable black, poly-resin casing with a 400mm housing. The watch comes with a classic nylon strap and clasp, including a clean, thin, fixed bezel of the mineral crystal face.