Five of the toughest field watches on the market
There’s no messing about when it comes to field watches – what you need is something that’s tough, water resistant, and easy to read. Adrian Hailwood presents some of the best examples around
A quality timepiece has been an essential tool for the adventurous ever since time keepers first became portable. Today there are myriad features to assist on an expedition, from compass bezels and chronographs to altimeters and calculators. But nothing sums up the spirit of adventure better than a good solid field watch.
Rugged, water resistant and legible with no additional features to go wrong, a field watch is a faithful companion that will not let you down.
From the iconic Rolex Explorer to a hardy beater used by the German armed forced, these are our five favourite field watches available right now…
Tudor Black Bay
Over at Tudor there are several great, robust three-handers that would serve well on an expedition and their lower price point compared to Rolex might make you less wary of the odd ding and scratch. While the North Flag and Heritage Ranger are handsome choices, there is a relentless draw back to Tudor’s hero line, the ‘do anything’ Black Bay. Usually seen as a diver, the bezel-less version makes a great field watch with fantastic legibility and water resistance. Better still, it comes in a 32mm, 36mm, and 41mm case size so whoever is in your team and however large their wrist, there will be a Black Bay to fit. tudorwatch.com
Rolex Explorer 214270
The granddaddy of all field watches must be the Rolex Explorer. Updated in 2016, this is the latest in a long line of simple, dependable three-handers that stretches back to 1953 and has been associated in advertising with mountain climbing, Arctic exploration and skiing. The newest iteration is a lot bolder and brighter than those early models were and under the bonnet the calibre 3132 is a ‘Superlative Chronometer’, a classification stricter than COSC certification (+/- two seconds per day), and comes with a five-year warranty, all of which emphasises the fact that while Rolex makes wonderfully precise tool watches, there is an inescapable air of luxury about the modern Explorer. rolex.com
If a diver can be a field watch, what about a flier? Better known for its association with aviation, Bremont knows how to produce a pilot’s watch, but its stripped-back Solo is perfect for when your feet are firmly on the ground. The 43mm model may seem better suited to the cockpit but the Solo-37 makes an ideal field watch with its chronometer-rated movement, screw-down crown and broad lume-filled sword hands. The brand’s signature steel-hardening means that you’d have to make a special effort on particularly hazardous adventures to put any battle scars on this case. bremont.com
Producers of technical watches since 1961, Sinn has supplied pilots, divers, firefighters, emergency doctors, rescue workers, special units of the German police department and armed forces, so what better brand to keep you on time no matter how dangerous your exploits. The 556A’s dial is clear and easy to read while its borderless lumed hands are incandescent in low light. Crown-guards provide extra security for the screw-down crown and the watch is certified shock-resistant and anti-magnetic, meaning it will shrug off pretty much anything you care to throw at it. jurawatches.co.uk
Hamilton Khaki Field Watch Mechanical
It is no surprise that there is a certain military feel to these choices, the spartan dials and the rugged cases are exactly what the armed forces look for when drawing up their specifications. For its field watch, Hamilton has opted to re-imagine one of its most notable issued models as an almost 1:1 replica (the size has moved from the distinctly out-moded 34mm to a more modern 38mm). The faux-aged lume, the hand-wound movement and drilled lugs all add to the vintage feel, but this is a modern watch with a sapphire crystal and reliable ETA 2801-2 work-horse movement so don’t keep it in the drawer, make sure you get out there in the wilds and explore. hamiltonwatch.com