While field watches are not the most actual type these days there are still a lot of people who prefer the attributes of a field watch. Naturally, the question arises: What makes for a good field watch? Or what a field watch actually is? If you want to pass reading precious information and jump to simply finding the best field watch then scroll down to the watches themselves.
Simply put a field watch is generally a legible watch, meaning that you can read the time at a glance. A field watch is also one that has numerals and some use a hacking movement. For those who are new to the watch terminology, a hacking movement is one that allows setting the watch to the second when pulling the crown. While you will see field watches with a hacking movement not all of them incorporate the technology. We do not consider it a must.
While all these characteristics are mostly defining what a field watch is, there is no clear definition of the field watch that is accepted by everyone. Many consider that a black dial with white markings is a must for field watches while some like other colors and still consider their watch to be a field one. However we will stick to the definition most people agree on, and made a fine selection of the best field watches we consider you can currently find on the market.
Take your time and explore the variety of the market and pick the best field watch for you!
-Best Overall Field Watch-
In terms of the value for the money, I would consider this Citizen the best buy in our selection. It encapsulates all the qualities and features of a true field watch yet for a very affordable price.
It comes with a clean black dial with white markings and a date window. The stainless steel case is pretty resistant especially along with the mineral crystal which can take some shocks and scratches. The green canvas strap is pretty basic and feels good on the hand, however, if you want something more complex or special there are a large variety of bands available.
Besides this, the Citizen BM8180 also features the useful Eco-Drive technology which powers your watch from any light source, although the sun will be the best option. The 100 meter / 330 feet water resistance is good for recreational diving.
Overall the watch is sleek, good looking, affordable, easy to use and readable in most situations; definitely one of the best field watches on the market.
-Best Field Watch from Seiko-
The Seiko 5 series is so famous that there is a chance you have already seen this watch multiple times on other people’s wrists. It is the perfect field watch when it comes to aspects like legibility, value for the money and weight distribution.
The reason why I do not consider the Seiko 5 the best buy is the disappointing water resistance. 100 feet is pretty bad compared to the Citizen BM8180 which comes with 330 feet water resistance, however, you can’t expect to have them all when you pay such a small price for a watch.
As said before the weight distribution of this watch is a great aspect of it. And by that, I mean the way the case feels on the wrist. It has just the right weight and this makes for a great everyday experience. You will often forget wearing it. 🙂
The automatic movement uses the winding of your wrist to power up the internal mechanisms meaning that a person wearing it more often gets a better precision. Considering this aspect the Seiko 5 is a very precise automatic watch.
In a nutshell, this Seiko is a bargain. If you want an affordable field watch that also comes with great features, then the Seiko 5 is definitely a good pick.
-Best Field Watch from Hamilton-
While considerably pricier than some field watches, the Hamilton Khaki comes with a number of features which make it in my opinion worth the investment.
What I like most about this Hamilton is the design. The dial is not overcrowded, the markings are in good contrast with the black dial in order to be readable at a glance. One example of good quality in this watch is the sapphire crystal window which is a far better option than the mineral crystal that is present in most other field watches from this selection. Sapphire crystal tends to resist better to scratches and cracks; all in all a superior material. The stainless steel case is also of good quality.
It’s true, the 165 ft. water resistance is disappointing. This is probably the worst part but if you know that you won’t use it past this depth then I think it is still a good investment for your money.
Another aspect worth mentioning about the Hamilton Khaki is the mechanical hand wind movement. Compared to the Malaysian automatic movement on the Seiko 5 this Hamilton comes with a hand-wind one that requires you to turn the crown in order to keep the index hands moving. While this differs from watch to watch I consider that winding the crown once a day is enough to have a precise watch.
So if you want a mechanical hand wind field watch that is of good quality and is made by a company with prestige then this Hamilton is a good pick.
-Best Field Watch from Timex-
The field watch with quartz movement, the Timex Expedition Scout is also an option to consider for your next daily driver. Some units are even made domestically in the USA so you can generally expect quality. Since this is one of the cheapest field watches I reviewed I have to say that you will not find a lot of high-end features in this watch however if you look at the price you will see that this is a compromise option for those who do not have much money at stake for a watch.
The index hands are visible in low light thanks to the lume paint and the markings make for a good contrast with the dial, an essential aspect of a field watch. The 165 feet water resistance is neither great nor bad. For the price you are paying it is more than enough.
Overall I would say that Timex is the best field watch for the non-picky customer. If you do not care too much about differences in materials (mineral vs sapphire and so on) and other details then this is your best field watch in terms of affordability.
If you are looking for a fancier field watch from Citizen that comes with a quartz movement then this one is a great choice. It features the already famous Eco-Drive technology from Citizen that charges the watch from light sources.
You can dive much deeper with this Citizen thanks to the 330 feet water resistance. The mineral crystal window is not the best out there but it sure is resistant to shocks and scratches and the stainless steel case is average compared to the competition.
A unique feature of this field watch is constituted by the three dials one of which is for the chronograph. While this makes for a somewhat crowded dial it still looks good.
If I were to choose my favorite brand of field watches then Citizen will make the top of the list. It is a reliable brand that has a quality policy that I resonate with. They are careful with the details and while they are always a little more expensive than the competition, in time their watches pay off much better.