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19 of the Best Mechanical Field Watches to Buy

19 of the Best Mechanical Field Watches

Timing is everything in a military environment. A coordinated strike, a strategic advance, navigation in unknown territory. It all requires accurate and precise timing. Which is why the field watch archetype of watch design was created, specialising in being hyper legible, so as to be read at a glance, robust enough to withstand physical activity and housing a reliable movement.

Field watches continue to be important military tools, although their stripped back designs also make them excellent sport or adventure watches for civilian use. Here are 19 of the best mechanical field watches to buy in 2022.

Under £1,000

96Zero Field

96Zero Field

96Zero have embraced the military history of the field watch with a timepiece inspired by the codebreakers of WWII.

The 24-hour scale consists of alternating numbers and letters creates a display that at first glance seems complex but that makes total sense if you understand the code. Fortunately, the code is relatively simple with the letters corresponding to the first letter of the relevant number in that position.

It houses the Miyota 9015 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve and time and date function. The case is black DLC coated steel. Read more here.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter stainless steel case with DLC coating, white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Miyota calibre 9015, automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Canvas strap with quick release pins
Price: £300

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CWC Mellor 72

CWC Mellor-72

CWC are another member of the prestigious Dirty Dozen and they continue to have a connection to the Special Boat Service, which we covered in our article dedicated to The CWC SBS. The Mellor-72 is a reissue of a classic 1970s military field watch with a period accurate tonneau case with a diameter of 38mm. It has the signature black and white dial of the Dirty Dozen style watches and the MoD’s broad arrow logo.

It houses the Sellita SW210 manual wind calibre with a 40-hour power reserve. Manual movements offer less utility than their automatic counterparts but create a stronger attachment to the timepiece as you interact with the mechanism directly. It also enhances a sense of nostalgia, which is further emphasised by the pre-1982 CWC logo on the dial.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter, brushed stainless steel, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW210, manual, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 40h power reserve
Strap: NATO fabric
Price: £479

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Echo Neutra Cortina 1956 3H Black

Echo/Neutra Cortina 1956 3H Black

Echo/Neutra’s retro style field watch, the Cortina 1956, is inspired by the landscape that forms a backdrop to the studio. Specifically, the Italian Dolomite mountains, which you can see depicted on the watch’s fixed ceramic bezel at 12 o’clock.

The design of the Cortina is heavily influenced by vintage field watches, hence the black dial and beige coloured accents. In fact, it uses traditional, old radium lume on the bezel markings and hands, enhancing its vintage aesthetic. Below the surface is the STP1-11 automatic calibre, which is an ETA 2824-2 clone with an improved power reserve of 44-hours.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 11.9mm thickness, stainless steel case, glossy black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Swiss calibre STP-11, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 44h power reserve
Strap: Includes two straps; cordura or tropical and a choice of alligator, lizard, vintage or buffalo leather or milanese mesh
Price: £510

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Tool Watch Co. Arctic Field

Tool Watch Co. Arctic Field

When it comes to hyper durable materials, there are two ways to think about it. On the one hand you have materials that are incredibly hard, scratch resistant and can survive anything. On the other you have materials that have already survived the harshest of harsh conditions and it’s a faint miracle they survived. Tool Watch Co.’s Arctic Field watch combines both these things together with a titanium case and a meteorite dial.

The case measures 38mm in diameter and houses the Sellita SW200 automatic calibre with 38-hour power reserve. This watch is a stunning combination of high end materials and accessible Swiss mechanics.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter x 11.35mm thickness, titanium case, natural meteorite dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW-200, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Titanium H-link bracelet
Price: $800 (approx. £675)

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Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation Grey Dial

Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation

Seiko’s Prospex Alpinist collection is on the dressier side of sporty field watches with elegant dials featuring sharp angled hands and silver based indexes. However, its incredible legibility, 200m water resistance and mechanical 6R35 automatic calibre with 70-hour power reserve provide plenty of adventure-ready specs.

The name Alpinist comes from the fact that the original Seiko Laurel Alpinist was designed for Japanese mountaineers. Mountains are harsh environments where a well-made field watch can make the difference between life and death, especially in mountain rescue. Read more here.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter x 12.9mm thickness, stainless steel case, grey or cream dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Seiko calibre 6R35, automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 70h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £680

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Formex Field Automatic

Formex Field Automatic

At 41mm, the Formex Field Automatic hits the goldilocks zone for size. It’s not too large but still maintains enough surface area for easy legibility, something field watches need. The case is made from grade 2 titanium with a super hard coating, making it suitably durable for life in the open.

The green dial is fresh and the off-white, sandy recessed numerals give the watch a nice aesthetic. I’m not completely sold on the typography of the numerals but they at least add some visual interest to what could have been quite a plain watch face.

Inside is the tried and tested Sellita SW200-1 mechanical movement.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 10.6mm thickness, titanium case
Water resistance: 150m (1.5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW200-1, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Nylon velcro or italian calf leather strap
Price: £850

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Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Auto OT

Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Auto

Hamilton’s Khaki Field collection is full of excellent mechanical timepieces for accessible prices. One of the most exciting is the Khaki Field Titanium Auto, which has a titanium case making it supremely lightweight and scratch resistant.

The dial bears a 24-hour scale, a scale that’s more important than you may expect for field watches. They allow you to gage the light conditions outside while you can’t see them, such as if you’re exploring a cave.

It has a 38mm diameter case in lightweight titanium and houses the H10 calibre, which has an 80-hour power reserve. There’s also a larger version at 42mm. All for less than £1,000.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter, titanium case, green dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Calibre H-10, automatic, 25 jewels, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 80h power reserve
Strap: Leather strap
Price: £895

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Farer Field Watch Exmoor

Farer Field Watch Exmoor

The Farer Field Watch Exmoor has a grassy green dial inspired by the eponymous stretch of sweeping gorse and heather. Putting the field in field watch if you will. As ever with Farer, the green is just one of many colours, with white numerals, yellow indexes, a light blue second hand and a red date hand, matching the last four days of the month.

On paper it shouldn’t work, but pair it with the solid, vintage-sized 38.5mm stainless steel case and a cool, technical look and you have a real winner. Plus, Exmoor is a beautiful place. Read more here.

Case/dial: 38.5mm diameter x 12.3mm thickness, stainless steel case, olive green dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW221-1, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Tan american horween leather strap with steel buckle, airforce blue nylon NATO strap and 5 row stainless steel bracelet with tri0fold clasp all included
Price: £895

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Timor Heritage Field WWW

Timor Heritage Field WWW

At the outbreak of WWII, many soldiers were using customised civilian watches. Timor was one of the first watchmakers to create dedicated military watches known as Army Trade Pattern or A.T.P. As such, they were also a member of the Dirty Dozen and the modern Heritage Field WWW is inspired by that classic design.

It has a 36.5mm diameter stainless steel case, black and white dial and vintage inspired beige lume. It’s available in either manual or automatic versions housing either the Sellita SW260 or SW216.

Case/dial: 36.5mm diameter x 11mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW260/SW216, manual or automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Seatbelt Nylon
Price: £940

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Luminox Atacama Field

Luminox Atacama Field

The Atacama Field watch from Luminox is named after the driest desert on the planet, although its 200m water resistance and blue dial means it feels more at home around water. Perhaps you can take it for a dip in an oasis if you’re lucky enough to find one.

It has a 44mm diameter stainless steel case housing the mechanical Sellita SW220-1 automatic movement. It’s a solid movement for a field watch due to its reliability and ease to repair if it should take a few too many knocks, although the 38-hour power reserve lets it down slightly.

Case/dial: 44mm diameter x 14mm thickness, stainless steel case, blue dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW220-1, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Blue textile strap with stainless steel signature buckle
Price: £959

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Delma Cayman Field Automatic

Delma Cayman Field Automatic

While the purpose of a field watch is precision timing and supreme legibility, due to its military origins, sometimes additional functions or scales can enhance their utility. For example, the Delma Cayman Field Automatic has a 24-hour scale on the inner portion of the dial. Think of it as a simplified version of the second time zone function on the Rolex Explorer, which allows cavers to track the day-night cycle in locations without natural light.

The watch itself is 42mm in diameter with a stainless steel case sporting a water resistance of the 500m, meaning that it doubles as a professional diving watch very well. After all, Delma is a dive watch specialist. It contains the SW200 automatic with 38-hour power reserve and a Delma custom rotor.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 13.3mmt thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 500m (50 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW200 with Delma custom rotor, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Rubber strap with stainless steel buckle
Price: £975

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Over £1,000

Christopher Ward C63

Christopher Ward C63 Colchester

At 41mm, the Formex Field Automatic hits the goldilocks zone for size. It’s not too large but still maintains enough surface area for easy legibility, something field watches need.

The case is made from grade 2 titanium with a super hard coating, making it suitably durable for life in the open.

The green dial is fresh and the off-white, sandy recessed numerals give the watch a nice aesthetic. I’m not completely sold on the typography of the numerals but they at least add some visual interest to what could have been quite a plain watch face. Inside is the tried and tested Sellita SW200-1 mechanical movement.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 12.6mm thickness, injected carbon case, black dial
Water resistance: 150m (1.5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW200-1 COSC, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz), 38h power reserve
Strap: Marron and black #tide strap
Price: £1,050

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Benrus Type II

Benrus Type II

At 41mm, the Formex Field Automatic hits the goldilocks zone for size. It’s not too large but still maintains enough surface area for easy legibility, something field watches need.

The case is made from grade 2 titanium with a super hard coating, making it suitably durable for life in the open.

The green dial is fresh and the off-white, sandy recessed numerals give the watch a nice aesthetic. I’m not completely sold on the typography of the numerals but they at least add some visual interest to what could have been quite a plain watch face. Inside is the tried and tested Sellita SW200-1 mechanical movement.

Case/dial: 42.5mm diameter x 15mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Soprod calibre P024, automatic, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Black to piece seatbelt nylon NATO strap
Price: $1,495 (approx. £1,270)

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anOrdain Model 2

anOrdain Model 2

Scottish watch brand anOrdain are best known for being one of the only watchmakers in the UK to produce vitreous enamel dials in-house. The fact that vitreous enamel (A.K.A grand feu enamel) is incredibly difficult to produce, with each individual dial taking up to 12-hours, it’s a material often reserved for refined dress watches and artistic pieces.

However, for the Model 2 anOrdain have housed their signature dial in a field watch. Making it one of the most unusual field watches on the market, fragile enamel dials and adventurous field watches don’t mix. But that doesn’t stop the Model 2 from combining the artisanal material with a rugged stainless steel case in either 36mm or 39.5mm sizes. Under the surface is the mechanical Sellita SW210 with 42-hour power reserve supplied by manual winding. Read more here.

Case/dial: 36mm or 29.5mm diameter x 11mm thickness, stainless steel case, white dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW210-1, manual, 19 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Brown or black cordovan, grey suede, Russian hatch bovine or pin grain kid strap
Price: £1,700 (36mm)  or £1,850 (39.5mm)

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Longines Heritage Military

Longines Heritage Military

Longines is one of the most versatile watchmakers out there, producing sporty diving watches like the HydroConquest or underrated pilot’s watches like the Spirit Zulu, as well as dressier pieces like the DolceVita. However, they were also a member of the original Dirty Dozen and have a long history of producing military watches, which is today commemorated in the form of the Longines Heritage Military.

It has a 38.5mm round case in stainless steel, similar in style to the Dirty Dozen. The dial, though, is tan in colour and has a faux-heritage patina created by spraying it with black speckles. It’s powered by the L888 automatic calibre with 72-hour power reserve.

Case/dial: 38.5mm diameter x 11.7mm thickness, stainless steel strap, silver dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Calibre L888, automatic, 25,200 vph (3.5 Hz) frequency, 72h power reserve
Strap: Green leather strap
Price: £1,970

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Tudor Ranger

Tudor Ranger

The Tudor Ranger first came to prominence when it accompanied the British North Greenland Expedition in 1952. As a scientific instrument designed for a cold climate, it has the same requirements as military style field watches: easy legibility, robust construction and precision.

It has a 39mm diameter case (reduced from the 41mm of the recently axed version) made from stainless steel with an understated design. The dial itself is also relatively understated, forgoing the traditional Tudor Snowflake hour hand in favour of a simple, vintage-inspired arrow. It houses the Calibre MT5402 from Tudor-owned Kenissi. Read more here.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 12mm thickness, stainless steel case, matte black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Tudor calibre MT5402, automatic, 27 jewels, COSC, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 70h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp with the TUDOR “T-fit” safety catch
Price: £2,420

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Vertex M100A

Vertex M100A

Vertex were one of the original Dirty Dozen, a famous collection of field watches that were produced for the British MoD around WWII. Today they continue to create watches based on that classic design, such as the M100A.

It has a robust 40mm stainless steel case and a high contrast black and white dial for easy legibility. Housed inside is the Sellita SW260 automatic calibre with 38-hour power reserve.

It’s also equipped with Vertex’s Cal59 ratchet weight.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW260, automatic, 31 jewels, 28, 800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Black leather strap and admiralty grey NATO strap
Price: £2,500

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Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Green

Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Military Green

Bell & Ross have founded an entire brand on the concept of aviation and miliary instrumentation. While their square pilot’s watches steal the limelight, they also produce an attractive collection of field watches in the form of the BR V2-92 collection. The BR V2-92 Military Green goes a step further and introduces a military fatigue style colourway in pale olive green.

It has a 41mm case in satin-polished steel matched to a rotating steel bezel with a black anodized aluminium insert. The display consists of large Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and elongated hour markers everywhere else, there’s also a tone-on-tone date window between 4 and 5. Inside, the watch houses the BR-CAL.302 (base Sellita SW300) with 38-hour power reserve.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter, stainless steel case, khaki green dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Calibre R-CAL.302, automatic, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Khaki and black elastic canvas strap
Price: £2,700

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Rolex Explorer Bi-colour

Rolex Explorer Bi-colour

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, perhaps unsurprisingly Rolex have got you covered. The Explorer first debuted in the 1950s and became a heritage icon. Just last year in 2021 Rolex launched an updated version in Oystersteel and gold bi-colour, reverting back to its vintage 36mm sizing.

The Explorer doesn’t have the military connection of many field watches but as its name suggests, it’s still designed for use out in the field. 36mm is particularly small but most vintage watches were smaller than is the norm today. Plus, a smaller watch is less likely to impede wrist movement when mountaineering, climbing or other outdoor activities.

Although considering this watch is gold, you’ll probably want to save this one for the boardroom and grab yourself one of the more accessible watches on this list for actual adventures. Read more here.

Case/dial: 36mm diameter, Oystersteel and 18k yellow gold case, black lacquer dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: In-house Calibre 3230, automatic, 31 jewels, Superlative Chronometer (COSC + Rolex certification after casing)
Strap: Satin-finished Oystersteel three-piece bracelet with polished centre links in 18k yellow gold
Price: £9,350

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Junior Content Producer for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. While a relative newcomer to the magazine, he's nonetheless a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better.

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