Can one person ever have enough watches, especially when you dive into what makes the best field watch, well, the best field watch? We certainly don’t think it’s ever possible to ease up when searching for one of the best men’s watches, but there are a few critical points that separate the great timepieces from the merely “good” timepieces, including the best field watches. The field watch has humble origins, to be sure — these are traditionally known as military timepieces worn into battle and worn on long-haul expeditions, where time is of the utmost importance.
These were watches designed to go off the grid, through the mud and streams and the fields of battle, and come back in one piece, and that still holds true today. Sure, you’re likely wearing your field watch for slightly different pursuits (be it a day hike or a day in the garage, or a day sipping your favorite light beer), and yet, the same principles of great design and durability hold true. In fact, there’s a great reason why so many of the best vintage watch finds on the market are of the field watch variety — these timepieces were built to last, first and foremost.
Pick the right one today, and you’ll feel the same way no matter how often you wear it. These timepieces are built to take dings and scuffs, stand up to rain and weather (hence why so many are made with quick-drying fabric straps), and then come out the other side just fine.
Shop some of our top picks for the best field watches to add some needed toughness and style to your wrist ASAP.
1. Timex Expedition Sierra Field Watch
Timex first started as a manufacturer of clocks before taking the natural next step into watches, the first step on a winding road that carries on to this day. The Timex adage (“Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin'”) has never been more fitting than when it comes to the world of field watches. It’s rare to get the perfect blend of wearability and affordability as Timex brings to the table (or rather, to your wrist). But with a nicely sized 41mm case diameter and 100 meters of water resistance, the Expedition Sierra is as good as it gets for your hard-earned cash. This watch wears as easily with a pocket tee and jeans as it does with a white Oxford shirt and tan chinos for some hybrid office style. And of course, you’ll have it for years to come.
2. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze Watch
If ever you want to feel like you’re stepping back in time with the watch on your wrist, the iconic purveyors at Hamilton know just what you need. In fact, they’ve known for a long time what rugged explorers and hard-working soldiers need, and what they need is a tough, visually striking Hamilton Khaki field watch. It’s called the “original soldier’s watch” by the famed brand, but this time, it’s amped up with Hamilton’s first-ever bronze case. The result is a field watch for the ages, featuring the brand’s precise H-50 movement and a beautiful, gets-better-with-age leather strap. You’ll have this timepiece for years to come, and it’ll only get better with time.
3. VAER A3 Tradition Field Watch
It’s all right in the name with this field watch from VAER, a brand with a deep focus on American watch design and production. Timepieces like this rugged number are designed in California and assembled in Arizona, highlighting the ready-for-anything approach of the traditional field watch, built for sun, sand, surf and more. The A3 nods to the smaller size of most field watches with a 36mm case diameter, a revamp of the brand’s best-selling model. This watch is rigorously tested and guaranteed waterproof, and comes with the brand’s signature Tropic fabric strap, all the better to dry quickly on your wrist as you move from shore to land. Keep it close at hand right now to wear with a thermal henley, blue jeans and rugged boots (the strap can handle winter winds, too), then team it with a pocket tee and well-cut chino shorts come spring.
4. Citizen Eco-Drive Leather Field Watch
BEST LEATHER STRAP
While you might commonly think of a field watch as featuring a fabric strap, plenty of the best field watches step outside the box and feature small design details that make a world of difference, like swapping in a handsome leather strap. That’s not the only major difference here: Citizen Eco-Drive’s movement harnesses energy from light and then translates that into consistent timekeeping via a solar-powered movement, an anomaly among most major watch brands. But what really makes this field watch so outstanding? It could be the easily legible, crisp dial design or the 100 meters of water resistance, or it could be the office-ready leather strap. Try it on for size and figure out what you love the most about it.
5. Shinola Model D Detrola
BEST RUBBER STRAP
Field watches come in all shapes and sizes, and all materials, which is why this uniquely strong Shinola watch (made with tough yet lightweight TR90 resin) is such a fitting pick if you prefer a field watch on a leather strap. The case itself is even finished off with a double-domed K1 crystal, which makes it even tougher if you can believe it. It also clocks in at an agreeable 43mm in terms of case diameter, a nice go-between among some field watches, which sometimes feature case diameters closer in size to 36 or 38mm. What does this design detail mean for you? It means you’re getting a precise and well-crafted Shinola watch, with all the quality hallmarks of the Detroit watchmaker, finished off with a black rubber strap for maximum versatility. These are all good things when it comes to your watch collection. Trust us on that.