Admired for their accuracy and simplicity, field watches are one of the most popular types of timepieces today.
What is a Field Watch?
Field watches were first called “trench watches” because it’s where they were first used. They were developed for soldiers, specifically military officers, during the First World War (WWI) and Second World War (WWII). When they returned home, most of these soldiers still wore their field watch for outdoor activities because of their simple design and ease of use.
So, what are the distinct features of field watches?
- They’re highly accurate wristwatches. In the battle field, soldiers need an accurate timepiece to make sure their movements are synchronized.
- They have a minimalistic design, without the bells and whistles that are found on most modern lifestyle watches.
- The cases of field watches are usually made from heavy-duty stainless steel, and then paired with a comfortable and durable canvas or leather strap.
- Manufacturers use materials that are comfortable and lightweight, so you can wear these timepieces for long periods of time.
- They also have anti-glare lenses and a luminous dial and hands to make sure it’s easy to read the time, especially in the dark.
Nowadays, soldiers are not the only ones who wear field watches. They’re perfect for those who live an active lifestyle or want a minimalistic wristwatch to help them stay on time. If you’re planning to buy a new wristwatch on our budget, check out our list of some of the best affordable field watches. On that note, let’s take a look at eight excellent field watches that are under $500.
The Best Field Watches under $500
Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35 Watch
If you’re a fan of Seiko’s SNZG and SNK series, you better check out the 5 Sports SRPG35 Watch. This affordable entry-level field watch received a few updates, including a better bead-blasted finish to give it a smoother and more elegant look.
Another update to the Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35 Watch is the movement it uses, which is the 4R36 movement with 24 jewels, 21,600 bph (beats per hour), and a hacking and hand winding capability. It could continue to function for 41 hours before you need to wind it by rotating the crown.
The smooth bezel encloses a double-domed crystal, which can withstand high pressures, like when underwater. It has a water resistance rating of 100 meters (330 feet). So, it’s possible to swim and surf with it on, but it’s not suitable for scuba diving.
Hamilton Khaki 38mm Field Mechanical Watch
The Khaki 38mm Field Mechanical Watch is probably one of the best entry-level field watches on the market today. This timeless timepiece is actually the updated version of Hamilton’s 1960s, Vietnam-era field watch.
It uses a heavy-duty NATO strap that’s available in different colors and materials (leather and nylon) to fit your unique taste. From 34mm, it’s now encased in a bigger 38-mm stainless-steel case with a matte silver finish, making it an ideal option for both men and women.
Hamilton made sure you won’t struggle reading the time, whether under the sun or in the dark. The dial consists of illuminated triangles at every hour, while they used Super-LumiNova for the hands to make them glow green in the dark.
Other features of the dial include:
- A matte black face
- 12-hour bold numerals in white, with a smaller 24-hour numerals inside them
The Khaki 38mm field watch is ran by Hamilton’s caliber H-50. This 17-jewel, manually wound movement has a decreased beat rate (from 4Hz to 3Hz) in order increase its reserve power to 80 hours.
Vaer C5 Field Watch
If you’re looking for a truly American-made field watch that you can wear for your outdoor adventures, the Vaer C5 Field Watch would be it. Considered as Vaer’s best-selling field watch model, it has everything you need, without spending more than $500.
Do you love swimming or surfing? The Vaer C5 Field Watch has a water resistance rating of 10 ATM (“atmospheres”). This means you can wear it while surfing, surface swimming, snorkeling, or washing your hands.
For their C5 collection, Vaer used the best material for the watch glass—a domed sapphire crystal. Sapphire is incredibly scratch resistant and durable. Therefore, it can do an excellent job of protecting the watch dial from damage due to abrasion, shock, and everyday wear.
Vaer offers a range of dial designs and interchangeable 20mm straps for their C5 field watches. The strap could be made from steel bracelet, nylon, and Horween full-grain leather. It could be khaki, tan, black, or silver (metallic) in color.
MVMT Field Watch
MVMT considers the Field the “off-road-ready vehicle” of their watch collection. Made from 10mm thick case and heat-hardened mineral crystal, this 10-ATM-rated field watch is more than capable of handling rain, short dives, surface swims, sweat, and water splashes from surfing.
The Field features a traditional fixed number dial, so it’s easier and quicker for you to read the time. It has three hands—one for the hour, minutes, and seconds. MVMT used a Japanese quart movement to take advantage of its accuracy and convenience.
The Field’s 22mm strap is made from a variety of materials, specifically nylon, stainless steel, and plastic (polycarbonate). If you’re tired of the AT Green strap, you have six more color and style options to choose from to suit your unique style: Black Link, Everest Blue, Forest Camo, Grid Black, Nomad Grey, and Range Tan.
Centric Instruments Field Watch MkIII
Solar-powered field watches exist. The Centric Instruments Field Watch MkIII is one of them. You only need to charge it for a minute under artificial or natural light to get 24 hours of energy. Unlike traditional quartz watches, it doesn’t need batteries to store up to 4 hours of energy.
Like most field watches in our list, the MkIII field watch has a water-resistant steel case with a scratch-resistant, flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. It can withstand moisture and water up to a depth of 100 meters (10 ATM).
The design of the MkIII field watch is simple yet stylish. The strap is made from elastic nylon webbing, a material that offers comfort and durability. There are currently six color options for the strap: black, gray, navy blue, olive green, orange, and sand (yellowish-gray).
Centric Instruments made sure it’s easy to read the time regardless of the time of the day or environment. If the watch is properly charged, the high-contrast hands and hour markers emit a blue-green glow in the dark. In addition, the sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating to improve readability by reducing glare and reflections.
BOLDR Venture Ivory White
The BOLDR Venture Ivory White is a beautiful timepiece—clean, simple, and extremely light. But at the same time, it’s tough and is a perfect companion for any activity: biking, hiking, swimming, and so much more.
Reading the time on this field watch is typically easy, thanks to its simple design and large numbers. The hour, minute, and second hands emit a greenish glow to help you tell time in the dark or low-light settings. The flat sapphire crystal also has an anti-reflective coating to improve readability.
The BOLDR Venture Ivory White uses the NH35A automatic movement. This unbranded counterpart of the Seiko caliber 4R35 has 24 jewels, 21,600 bph, and hacking and handwinding capability. It has a total power reserve of 41 hours. When the power runs out, you can either manually turn the crown around 55 times or shake the watch side to side.
One of the great things about the BOLDR Venture Ivory White is it can be submerged in water up to a maximum depth of 200 meters (660 feet). With that kind of water-resistance rating, you can wear it while diving.
Orient Field Watch (RA-AK0404B10A)
The Orient RA-AK0404B10A field watch features a day/date display, a 24-hour indicator, and luminous hour markers and hands. The strap is made of nylon, which is a comfortable, easy-to-clean, and water-resistant material.
Powered by Orient’s caliber F6B22, the RA-AK0404B10A has a hacking and handwinding movement. This means you need to regularly wind it via the crown once its power reserve runs out,
Fortunately, you don’t need to wind it up all the time. It’ll continue working without being worn for around 40 hours (or almost two days) before running out of power.
Plus, it’s water resistant up to 100 meters. So, it’s possible to swim and snorkel—but not dive—while wearing it.
Merci LMM-01 Field Watch
The downright affordable Momentum Atlas 44mm field watch boasts of a well-built and classic field watch design. It features a lightweight titanium case, large luminous 3-hand markers, and domed crystal (available in either sapphire or mineral). For precision time keeping, it uses Japanese quartz movement with day-date display.
Similar to most modern field watches, the Momentum Atlas 44mm field watch is water-resistant up to a depth of 100 meters. It has a screw-down crown, which is a standard feature in most diving watches, to ensure that dust and water don’t find their way inside the watch and cause damage.