What is a Field Watch?

Hamilton Khaki Field Watch

The charm of a field watch resides in its simplicity. Typically, field watches are recognised for accomplishing one uncomplicated task with the utmost accuracy: indicating the time. Endowed with a rich legacy of military use and exhibiting a genuinely bona fide style, field watches should not be disregarded.

Learn everything you need to know about what makes field watches tick in this indepth guide from the CALIBRE watch geeks.

What do Field Watches Look Like?

Hamilton Field Watch Close up

The primary objective of field watches is to offer a simplistic, practical, and robust design. As a rule, they exhibit an understated appearance and can be paired with different types of straps, such as leather, bracelets, and straps. Their origin dates back to military applications, and as such, their fundamental feature is their focus on promptly indicating the time with minimal effort. Although primarily designed for military purposes, field watches have become exceedingly popular and highly sought after by collectors, who value their uncluttered appearance, characterised by the plain dial.

What are Field Watches Made for?

WW1 Soliders Wearing Field Watches

The roots of field watches can be traced back to their original purpose as a military instrument. The design dates back to the period of World War 1 when soldiers stationed in trenches required a watch that was legible and could withstand harsh and muddy conditions. In 1954, the first Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date was designed to cater to this specific need and has since then become a hallmark of military dress codes. Subsequently, field watches were utilised by soldiers across various military sectors, including the land, sea, and air forces. Even to this day, it’s common to see pilots sporting field watches. Typically, these watches are designed with a khaki theme, consistent with their military heritage.

Why are Field Watches so Durable?

As a result of the simplicity of its design, field watches are less likely to malfunction. With a strap, a steel case, a plain dial and an adjustable crown, this type of timepiece will assist you in even the most intense conditions. Though field watches are renowned for their durability, they have also become a staple in premium men’s fashion. Every enthusiast has a field watch in their collection, and they go just as well with a suit as they do with a military uniform. In addition, it’s highly unlikely that an automatic field watch will stop ticking if you use it in an active environment, where your wrist is constantly moving.

Benefits of field watches

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of field watches.

They’re simple, functional and durable

The primary aim of field watches is to offer simplicity, functionality, and robustness. They feature an understated design, which is advantageous if you prefer a low-key timepiece that can blend seamlessly with any outfit, without attracting undue attention.

They’re great for military use

Field watches were initially created for military applications, specifically for use by soldiers in combat situations. They offer excellent utility in such scenarios due to their easy-to-read dials, which can be conveniently viewed with a single hand while the other hand holds a rifle or pistol.

They’re accurate

Field watches are renowned for their accuracy, and they must maintain timekeeping accuracy to within a few seconds per day. Furthermore, these watches are designed to withstand harsh conditions, which means that they must also function impeccably in low-light environments, such as during nighttime use. The robustness of field watches is also taken into account during their construction, ensuring that they can endure exposure to the elements without succumbing to damage.

They’re distinct in design

A field watch is distinct in design. While they share many characteristics with other watches, their special characteristics are made to be accurate and durable. 

They’re lightweight

A field watch is small and light. This makes it extremely easy to wear and carry, allowing you to take it anywhere.

Designed with functional mechanisms like simple push buttons or crowns, they’re more minimalistic than watches that use more complicated configurations like chronographs or date complications.

These attributes make field watches perfect for everyday use. They’re unobtrusive and easy to operate, making them ideal for casual situations such as hanging out with friends. Plus, they’re great if you’re heading out on an adventure in nature.  Here, every ounce matters when it comes down to comfort in your clothing choices, especially if you’re carrying supplies.

Our favourite field watches at CALIBRE

We’ve selected some of our favourite military timepieces to give you a starting point.

IWC Pilots Spitfire

The IWC Pilots Spitfire line of watches is a tribute to the legendary British Spitfire aircraft that played a significant role in World War II. IWC Schaffhausen designed this collection of watches to embody the spirit of the iconic fighter plane and pay homage to its history, and the collection boasts some incredibly attractive pieces.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot

The Oris Big Crown ProPilot range is a collection that pays tribute to the world of aviation. Oris has a long-standing history of producing pilot’s watches, and the Big Crown ProPilot line is a continuation of that tradition. The watches in this line are designed with pilots in mind and boast features that are essential to aviation, hence the name ‘Big Crown’, so you can change the crown whilst wearing gloves.

Hamilton Khaki Field

The Hamilton Khaki Field line of watches is a collection that is inspired by military watches of the past. With a rugged design and a focus on functionality, the Khaki Field is a watch that is designed to perform in any situation. The watches in this line are built to last, with a durable stainless steel case and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. They are also water-resistant, making them suitable for outdoor activities and water sports.

Conclusion: Field Watches

Field watches are exceptional timepieces that combine simplicity, functionality, and durability in their design. Their origins in military use are a testament to their superior accuracy and resilience, making them a reliable choice for anyone seeking a dependable and long-lasting watch. Their understated design also makes them versatile, and they can be effortlessly incorporated into any outfit or style. As we’ve seen, field watches continue to be a popular choice among collectors and enthusiasts due to their clean aesthetic and practicality. Whether you’re a fan of military history or simply in need of a reliable and functional watch, a field watch is definitely worth considering.

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