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Field Watches - Part 1

Posted on April 16 2020

Browse any watch shop and you can easily pick out the divers watches. Without even looking closely you'll know what specifications to expect. Water resistance and a rotating bezel are a must. Usually, the watch will also have a stainless steel or rubber strap – both better in water than leather.

Think of the same point with other types of watch. An aviators watch will have its own recognisable style – a large black dial with easy to read bold numerals. A racing watch will have those iconic Chronograph dials and pushers. But a field watch?

What makes a field watch?

Essentially, a field watch is a simple watch designed to be used reliably in the field. For many, this will conjure up images of a classic military watch. Think of the iconic British Army G10 or the American GG-W-113 as worn by Steve McQueen.

A field watch is simple. It needs to be durable and easy to read. But it doesn't have to be a military watch.

We've previously discussed the Rolex Explorer 1, the watch used during the 1953 successful ascent of Everest. This is a classic field watch. A tool to be used in rugged environments. But you don't have to be scaling Everest. This is the type of watch you'd wear for hill walking, camping, hunting or in your active day to day life. Importantly, you can still wear it when you're not engaging in these outdoor hobbies.

 

Bertucci 12700

 

Bertucci burst onto the watch scene with the 2004 release of the A-2T, their bestselling titanium field watch. From there the company released a series of similar styles, all sharing key attributes. The guiding principle was to make a watch for a customer who only wanted one watch. In the companies literature, they state that this one watch “would need to possess the qualities of durability, value, a singularity of purpose, and versatility. Designed to balance form and function, to be equally rugged and refined”.

In practice, this means that there's a consistency to the Bertucci range. This single purpose has lead to a very strong house style.

So regardless of case material, their watch cases adhere to a patented Unibody construction. It's a comfortable case with fixed strap bars designed with durability in mind. The strap pins can't be knocked loose as they are part of the construction of the case. Although well known for their titanium watches there are also stainless steel and poly-resin models throughout the range.
The 12700 combines the best of Bertucci’s innovations with classic styling. The titanium case is an upgrade to stainless steel and is a modest 40mm. The quartz movement uses a lithium battery with a life of 10yrs, meaning the back of the watch shouldn’t need to be opened for a decade.

As with most of Bertucci’s line, this model features a heavy-duty canvas strap.

  • Bertucci Men's 12700 A-2T Original Classics Titanium
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Titanium Case
  • Japanese Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

 

Hamilton Khaki Field Auto

 

Hamilton was a US brand with a fine history producing watches for the railroads, the US army as discussed here, and their marine chronometers that were used by both the US and Allied navies in WWII. Having ceased manufacturing watches in America in 1969 the company is now Swiss-owned – a part of the Swatch group of brands. Both its American heritage and Swiss ownership make this a well respected and popular brand that is usually available on the high street.

As one of the original manufactures of field watches the Hamilton range features a large selection of this style. This particular model is amongst the best. It nails down everything a field watch should be. There’s the black and white dial that displays more detail than you first see, the large practical crown and the utilitarian case. The red-tipped second hand is a smart touch and the leather strap adds to the overall vintage aesthetic.

Whatsmore, this watch is powered by a Swiss-made automatic movement, Hamilton’s own H10 calibre.

  • Hamilton Khaki Field Auto H70555533
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

MWC G10LM

 

MWC stands for Military Watch Company. As Authorised Dealers, we’re a little biased towards this Swiss brand. They’re primarily known for producing classic military watches, from this British Army G10 to their remakes of US watches from the Vietnam era.

The term G10 is used to describe a specific style of watch issued to the British army from the 1960s onwards. Originally a mechanical watch, it was produced by the likes of Smiths, CWC and Hamilton was later replaced by a quartz version.
This newer MWC watch is usually what we mean by a G10.

MWC produce a large range of G10’s with various specs, ranging in size, case material, movements and lume. The is G10LM is the most affordable base model. It’s by far our best-selling watch at Chronopolis.

It’s a simple, everyday beater. Quite small by today’s standards, this is very much a watch that provides the styling of one of the worlds best know military watches.

  • MWC G10 LM
  • 35mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 18mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Acrylic Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

 

 

Armourlite AL818

 

In Armourlite, we again have a company that has made military watch design the core of its business. As they state on their home page “we are an American company that makes the toughest and brightest tritium illuminated watches”.

The brand’s story is quite similar to some of the other companies featured here. A founder with previous watch industry experience establishing his own brand. For Armourlite this began initially on the back of his development of Armourglass - a toughened mineral crystal. From there he began to produce polycarbonate watches with T100 illumination.

The AL815, whilst military in origin, is more of a classic field watch.

Part of the Officer Series, this model is protected by a shatterproof Armourglass crystal. Apparently, that means the glass can withstand up to 6,000 Vickers - that’s a lot of pressure. The case and bracelet are built out of 316L stainless steel and the watch is illuminated by both orange and green tritium markers the watch is powered by a Swiss Ronda 517 movement. There’s also a modest water resistance of 100 meters.

  • ArmourLite Officer Series AL815
  • 45mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Armourglass Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

 

Traser 107970

 

Traser is the brand founded by MB-Microtec, the inventors of GTLS. Initially, the brand supplied watches to the US military, producing 300,000 of its inaugural model, the P6500 Type 6. Swiss-based, the manufacturer has maintained that strong military heritage and to many that aesthetic will be the first they think of when discussing tritium watches.

There’s definitely a military edge to the Officer Pro, with the black PVD case and simple dial layout. However, with a combination of GTLS, or ‘Trigalight’ as Traser market the technology, and Super-Luminova, there’s still a little colour. It’s another watch that could easily play the role of both a tough, practical outdoors watch while being equally at home in the office.

  • Traser P67 Officer Pro GunMetal Black/Orange - 107870
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 10.5mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug width
  • PVD Coated Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Luminox Dress Field

 

Luminox was created around GTLS technology when in 1989 Barry Cohen first came across this form of illumination. Along with a friend he formed Luminox, taking the name from the Latin for ‘light’ and ‘night’. Within a couple of years, they’d created a watch to be worn by the Navy Seals and the brand quickly gained industry recognition.

The company has added numerous lines to its range, but those nearest to the early Navy Seals watches are the most recognisably Luminox. I have a now-discontinued 3000 series Luminox and it ticks all the boxes of those early watches. A black polycarbonate case with a rubber strap and a bright orange dial with the tritium tube illumination.

This is a classic field watch reminiscent of the Hamilton Khaki, but with a somewhat modernised look. Hence, the word ‘Urban’ in the name. It’s understated, with tritium tubes subtly built into the dial and hands. Like the Hamilton, there’s that touch of red on the tip of the second hand and it also comes in at 42mm. It matches the Khaki with a sapphire crystal, outdoes it with water resistance, but is powered by a quartz movement rather than an automatic.

  • Luminox Dress Field, 42 mm, Urban Adventure - 1831
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 23mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

 

Marathon General Purpose

 

Marathon watches can trace its history back to the founding of Weinsturm Watch in 1904. The company became Marathon in 1939 and since 1941 has been supplying timepieces to the military. The company is still a family-owned business, currently in the hands of its fourth generation.

The Marathon General Purpose is built to strict military standards under MIL-PRF-46374G, Type I, Class 1. Unlike some others on the list, this watch was designed for field use by infantry or other military personnel.

As a field watch created to be issued to military personnel, the General Purpose Quartz is a watch that meets all the requirements of a true military field watch, rather than just having the aesthetics. So it’s made from a highly durable, impact-resistant fibershell case and is powered by a reliable quartz movement. It’s sized like a traditional field watch, coming in at 34mm. Small by today’s standards, but around the size of watches historically used in combat.


  • Marathon General Purpose Field Army Black Watch - WW194015-BK
  • 34mm Diameter16mm Lug width
  • Fibreshell Case
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 

 

Glycine Combat 6 Vintage

 

Glycine made their name in the watch world when they supplied US Air Force pilots with their Airman watch during the Vietnam War. Since 1967 this Swiss brand has produced a ‘Combat’ collection - currently featuring the classic, vintage, Chrono and Sub lines.

The Combat 6 Vintage has that recognisable dial, created to the US military specifications. It makes for a straight forward watch with nothing more than the numerals and date. There’s no tritium or additional colours. Just a Swiss-made automatic watch that gives a strong nod to history. It’s a reasonably slim model and comes with a canvas Nato strap and vintage styled domed sapphire crystal.

  • Glycine Combat 6 Vintage GL0122
  • 43mm Diameter
  • 14mm 0.9hick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

 

Seiko 5 SNK809

 

In 1963 Seiko introduced its Seiko 5 series. A collection of watches designed to offer value for money and built around 5 core design features. Namely,

  • Automatic winding
  • Day/date displayed in a single window
  • Water resistance
  • Recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position
  • Durable case and bracelet

In our article on Seiko here, we’ve highlighted the Seiko 5 worn by Gene Kranz, NASA’s lead flight director during the Apollo 13 manned moon landing, so there’s a bit of history here.

The SNK809 is popular for a number of reasons. Primarily it the status of the brand, the relatively low price and the fact that there are a number of aftermarket modifications that can be made to this watch.

It’s a smaller watch and again has that red-tipped second hand, and a small crown at 4 o’clock. There are variations with canvas Nato straps or a stainless steel bracelet. There’s also a choice of Olive or Back dials.

  • Seiko 5 SNK809
  • 37mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 17mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 

 

Bulova Hack

 

Now that Bulova is owned by Citizen they're a part of the biggest watch manufacturer in the world. Historically Bulova is an American brand most widely known for its military watches, involvement with the Space program and the production of the Accutron - a watch that used a tuning fork, rather than a balance wheel, to regulate the timekeeping.

The cream variant maybe my personal favourite on this first part of our round-up. I’m a big fan of companies mining their own history to produce their current designs. There are a few dive watches featured here that are remakes of companies own earlier designs.

Here Bulova takes inspiration from exactly the type of watch that they used to supply to the military. The design seems flawless. Vintage charm with a simple, utilitarian design, pressure tested in real combat.

  • Bulova Hack
  • 38mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 

 

Citizen BN0118-55E

 

Citizen needs no introduction. The Japanese giants make affordable, good quality watches that you’ll see on every high street. Mention Citizen and the first thought that comes to mind is Eco-Drive, the brand's solar technology that charges the watch through exposure to light. As expected, the field watch we’re interested in is part of the Eco-drive line.

This model from Citizen is one of a number with similar stylings, such as the AW0050-82E. The titanium case is a defining feature here, that differentiates it from the others. Similarly, the bold numerals give the dial almost the look of an aviator, but that’s paired with a thick and knurled crown. Overall, the impression is of a tough, rugged piece, with a diameter of 42mm.


  • Citizen Promaster BN0118-55E
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • Titanium Case
  • Eco-Drive movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

 

 

Timex TW2R73000LG

 

Timex can trace its origins back to the mid-1800s and the creation of Waterbury Clock Co, which would become Timex a century later. During this period Timex produced watches and other components for government contracts before creating a new tough low priced watch.

Marketed with the slogan "Timex – Takes a Licking and keeps on Ticking", and featured in elaborate stunts to show its durability, the new watch helped the company become a market leader. By 1962 a third of all watches sold in the US were manufactured by Timex.

Like the Bulova, this final watch in Part 1, is a remake of an earlier design by the brand. Part of the Timex MK1 collection, the MK1 36mm SST model is a re-release of the first Camper model from the 1980s. The original watch was adopted by the US Army because of its convenience and functionality. This new version has a stainless steel case with a classic military-inspired strap. Like the MWC, its a very affordable, military-style field watch based on an iconic design.

  • Timex MK1 Camper TW2R73000LG
  • 36mm Diameter
  • 18mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Quartz movement
  • 30M Water Resistance

 

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Read Field Watches - Part 2 Here

 

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