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The Best Field Watches of 2024

The best field watches will keep perfect time, fit comfortably under clothing with a strong strap, and be easily legible day or night. It’s a simple list for a simple tool watch. But the devil is in the details.

Three of the best field watches
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Field watches are, for good reason, among the most popular styles of watches, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. They trace their roots back to military necessity. That mother of invention led to a style of watches that can be both understated and luxurious, refined and utilitarian.

I love field watches. Among my collection, field watches are the timepieces that often accompany my most treasured adventures. They’re affordable, functional, and can stand up to the abuse that wilderness, mountains, and weather can throw at a tool that remains strapped to my wrist.

In this roundup, I focus on field watches that can handle real-world abuse. The majority of my selections are well below $1,000 because the reality is that those who actually use their field watch in the field really don’t have space to worry about a needlessly expensive object. Field watches are meant to be used, scratched, with dirt, water, blood, and all. I’ll also include a few more expensive offerings for the horological enthusiasts because there’s certainly space for beautiful, refined watches at the table.

So check out my selections here. Our team has used and enjoyed them. They’ve survived rough use, from climbing to travel to hunting. Every watch on this list is meant to take a beating, and some will look very good doing it. After perusing the selection, have a look at our spec comparison chart and read the buyer’s guide for more info.

The Best Field Watches of 2024


Best Entry-Level Field Watch

Timex Expedition Scout 40mm

Specs

  • Reference number TW4B01700
  • Case size 40mm
  • Lug size 20mm
  • Case Material Brass
  • Movement Quartz
  • Strap color Brown or Black
  • Water resistance 50 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to read in low light
  • Thin

Cons

  • Will require battery replacement
  • Entry-level appearance
Most Durable Field Watch

Bertucci Men’s A-2T Super Classic

Specs

  • Reference number : 12723
  • Case size 40mm
  • Lug size 22mm
  • Movement Quartz
  • Case material Titanium
  • Strap color Green
  • Water resistance 200 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Very tough
  • Excellent lume for low-light use
  • Small and light

Cons

  • Face may be small for larger wrists
  • Thick under sleeve cuffs
Best Tactical Field Watch

Vaer C5 Tactical

Specs

  • Reference number NA
  • Case size 40mm
  • Lug size 20mm
  • Movement Quartz
  • Case Material 316L stainless steel
  • Strap color Various (comes with two straps)
  • Water resistance 100 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Solar charging means nearly infinite lifespan
  • Rugged
  • Very water resistant
  • Ships with two straps

Cons

  • Date window somewhat hard to read
A Versatile Solar Field Watch

Citizen Garrison

Specs

  • Reference number BM8180-03E
  • Case size 37mm
  • Lug size 18mm
  • Movement Solar Eco-Drive
  • Case Material Stainless steel
  • Strap color Green
  • Water resistance 100 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Eco-drive provides unlimited runtime
  • Affordable
  • Durable

Cons

  • Rugged strap takes time to break in
Most Iconic Automatic Field Watch

Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition Auto

Specs

  • Reference number H70315540
  • Case size 41mm
  • Lug size 18mm
  • Movement H10 Automatic
  • Case Material Stainless steel
  • Strap color Various, leather and metal
  • Water resistance 100 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Iconic design
  • 80-hour power reserve
  • Deep historic roots

Cons

  • On the expensive end of utilitarian field watches
A Classy Yet Capable Auto Field Watch

Seiko Alpinist SPB121

Specs

  • Reference number SPB121
  • Case size 39.5mm
  • Lug Size 20mm
  • Movement Caliber 6R35 Automatic
  • Case Material Stainless steel
  • Strap color Brown leather
  • Water resistance 200 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Rotating inner bezel functions as a rudimentary compass
  • Long power reserve automatic watch
  • Dresses up or down

Cons

  • Leather strap is overly dressy for a field watch
  • Somewhat busy face
Best Large-Face Field Watch

Luminox Atacama Field Watch

Specs

  • SKU XL.1907.NF
  • Case size 44mm
  • Strap width 24mm
  • Movement SELLITA SW 220-1
  • Case material Stainless steel
  • Strap color Green
  • Case water resistance 200 m
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Lume shines brightly all night
  • Durable bezel, case, screw down crown
  • Heavy duty strap
  • Appropriate for use in harsh conditions

Cons

  • Too big for smaller wrists
  • Heavy
  • Too thick for dress shirts
A Nearly Perfect Dress Field Watch

Zodiac Olympos

Specs

  • Reference Number ZO9712
  • Case size 40mm
  • Lug Size 20mm
  • Movement STP1-11 automatic
  • Case Material Stainless steel
  • Strap color Various, tested in leather
  • Water resistance 200 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Very simple and legible face
  • Hackable secondhand
  • Very slim

Cons

  • May wear too small for larger wrists
  • 30-hour power reserve
A Luxurious, Functional Field Watch

NORQAIN Neverest Glacier 40mm

Specs

  • Reference number NN1001SC1CA/BG103
  • Case size 40mm
  • Lug size 20mm
  • Case material 316L stainless steel
  • Movement NORQAIN Manufacture Calibre (NN20/1)
  • Strap color Stainless steel
  • Water resistance 200 m
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Comfortable
  • Unique
  • 70-hour power reserve

Cons

  • Understated
  • Little-known brand
Best Premium Field Watch

Rolex Explorer

Specs

  • Reference Number 224270
  • Case size 40mm
  • Lug Size 21mm
  • Movement Rolex 3230
  • Case material Stainless steel
  • Strap color 904L Stainless steel
  • Water resistance 100 meters
The Best Field Watches of 2024

Pros

  • Resale value
  • Rolex name
  • Iconic design
  • Legendary durability

Cons

  • Price
  • Stigma

Field Watch Comparison Chart

WatchPriceCase SizeCase MaterialWater Resistance
Timex Expedition Scout 40mm$6240mm Brass50 M
Bertucci Men’s A-2T Super Classic$22540mmTitanium200 M
Vaer C5 Tactical$29940mm316L stainless steel100 M
Citizen Garrison$25037mmStainless steel100 M
Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition Auto$995 41mmStainless steel100 M
Seiko Alpinist SPB121$72539.5mmStainless steel200 M
Luminox Atacama Field Watch$119544mmStainless steel200 M
Zodiac Olympos$8040mmStainless steel200 M
NORQAIN Neverest Glacier 40mm$419040mm316L stainless steel200 M
Rolex Explorer$879040mm904L Stainless steel100 M

Why You Should Trust Us

There are a lot of watch experts, and there are a lot of outdoor writers, but there aren’t a lot of outdoor experts who also know much about wristwatches. I happen to fit both these categories. So when it comes to watches meant to be used and abused in the wilderness, I am one watch aficionado who also puts the watches through some real-world use.

I love field watches and use them for their real intended purposes. I wear them hunting, fishing, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, and more. My watches have been worn inside wild game animals during meat processing. They’ve been dunked in freezing rivers while I place duck decoys. And they’ve been whacked against granite while I scramble up scree fields on Colorado’s 14ers.

But I also care about the horology and details involved in wristwatches. I appreciate the beauty and precision of a fine watch, and consider factors such as fit, finish, and complications when looking at field watches.

Finally, I’ve been doing this a long time. As the former editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and one of its first employees, I’ve written about outdoor gear for more than a decade. My goal is to give you the best advice I can and help you make smart decisions with your hard-earned money. I hope this article helps you choose the best field watch for your needs.

Zodiac Olympos field watch
The Zodiac Olympos has classic field watch styling; (photo/Sean McCoy)

The History of Field Watches

Field watches have a rich history rooted in military use. The origins of field watches can be traced back to World War I when soldiers needed reliable timepieces for coordinating maneuvers on the battlefield. Here are key points in the history of field watches:

During the First World War, pocket watches were the norm. But these watches, buried inside clothing, were impractical for soldiers. Thus, wristwatches became more popular for their convenience. This transition marked a significant development in the history of timekeeping.

Bertucci field watch
The author testing the Bertucci A2-T; (photo/Sean McCoy)

During World War II (1939-1945), field watches boomed in popularity thanks to their design to be rugged, legible, and practical for soldiers in the field. Brands like Hamilton, Waltham, and Elgin emerged as leaders in the space with features such as luminous dials for low-light visibility, durable cases, and reliable movements.

At this time, military organizations began to standardize the specifications for field watches to ensure consistency and reliability. These standards included size, dial design, water resistance, and shock resistance.

After World War II, soldiers brought the habit of wearing a wristwatch home. Civilians picked up the practical useful tool and applied it to the largely agrarian society of the time. The simple, easy-to-read dials and robust construction made field watches a logical choice for anyone who worked outdoors or with their hands.

Today, field watches continue to be among the most popular styles of wristwatches. Many brands offer modern interpretations, with updated elements like solar charging, quartz movements, and backlit faces. But they all harken back to watchmaking history that goes back nearly a century rooted in the practical needs of soldiers in combat.

FAQ

What is a field watch?

A field watch is a durable, simple, easy-to-read, usually analog wristwatch based on the military designs of World War II.

Can I wear a field watch every day?

Yes, you can wear a field watch every day. Thanks to their simplicity and timeless design, field watches make excellent everyday wear watches that can go from the forest to the office with no problem.

Why do you need a field watch?

Field watches are among the most iconic watch designs. They provide accurate time in any situation and can be worn with nearly any clothing.

Is a field watch a dress watch?

While a field watch is not technically a dress watch, many field watches can be worn in formal situations. Thanks to their slim design, they usually fit easily under shirt cuffs. And their simple, timeless design makes them a safe choice to pair with nearly any outfit.

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