A brief overview of field watches

The “Field Watch” is a military spec type of wristwatch originally designed for use by military personnel during WWII, specifically for soldiers who needed a reliable wristwatch to use during combat conditions.  It is considered the great grand daddy of all tool watches, even if tool watches of different types preceded its inception.  Never the less, the Field Watch is considered to be the type of tool watch that all other tool watches that are specifically designed to accomplish a certain function is thought to come from.

Characterized by their rugged construction and simple and easy-to-read dials, the Field Watch is as far from Haute Horlogerie as a watch can get, and is a down-to-basics kind of timepiece that have features that are specifically geared for use outdoors.  These include water resistance, bold numerals and hour markers that are designed to be visible in low-light conditions, luminous hands and markers, possibly a compass, and most especially a smaller, less obtrusive diameter.  This last feature is particularly useful while moving in tight spaces or during close contact combat.

Field Watches were so utilitarian, in fact, that a date display was considered a luxury.  They typically have medium-sized round cases, usually ranging between 34mm to 38mm in diameter, and are often made of durable, no-none sense materials such as stainless steel and finished with the least elegant considerations in mind.  Indeed, precious metals are generally nowhere to be found in the world of Field Watches.  The same goes for straps, which are usually made of leather, canvas, or nylon, which are tough materials that can withstand harsh conditions.  Early Field Watches even had crystals made of plexiglass because this is the least expensive type of dial protection one can get.  Many post war field watches, however, were upgraded to sapphire crystal, with many premium models even boasting double anti-reflective coating for optimum legibility.

Today, the defining characteristic of the Field Watch is still its simplicity with a distinct military-inspired style.  It is popular not only among military personnel but also among outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone who values durability and functionality in a watch.  Many watch brands such as Hamilton, Timex, Luminox, Seiko, and Citizen offer their own take on the field watch, with different materials, sizes, and features to suit different needs and preferences.  These watches typically have no extra features beyond the time and date, and are designed to be easy to operate even while wearing gloves.