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Designing the Best Field Watch for Men

Men’s field watches are a critical component of time outdoors

Field watch design started with soldiers, not hunters or hikers or fishermen. The need was obvious: a classic watch that could keep great time and be circumspect when needed. Early field watches were simple and functional.

Today, a field watch is often the first watch in a man’s collection. It helps teenagers remember to get home and old men remember their youth. And a great field watch keeps us in line when we’re outdoors tromping through the fields. But what makes for the best field watch? And how do you make sure your choice is solid?

Details make a Great Field Watch

Focus on the little things when choosing a field watch for yourself. Here’s our key capabilities of the best field watches:

  1. Keep perfect time. We recommend Swiss movements, which are still the best in the world at keeping time. If the field watch is built with a Swiss movement, it passes the first (and most critical test) of a great watch for the outdoors. Choosing between Quartz and Automatic is more of a personal decision. But choosing Swiss is the right place to start. Smith & Bradley starts every watch with a Swiss movement.
  2. Tough watch casing and glass to handle the woods. Your watch will get banged around whether you are hunting, camping or even in enemy territory. You need a watch that doesn’t break or scratch easily. Make sure the casing it at least stainless steel. Choose a watch with thick glass that can handle a knock. Field watches are made for a rougher existence, not for couch potatoes.
  3. A light in dark places is required. Make sure your field watch has lumed hands and maybe even markers. You won’t always be in the light with this watch and you’ll need to know the time. Choosing a watch with enough illumination to show you the time is smart. But don’t get one too bright. Super lumed watches lose the illumination faster and often give away your position whether you want to or not.  
  4. Choose the right watch strap. We like NATO straps, which were designed for the ‘field.’ They double protect your watch: if one of your spring bars breaks, you won’t lose the watch. They also are water proof, sweat proof and hard to destroy. A NATO band is like a great watch, it will last a lifetime. We think all of the best field watches have NATO straps.
  5. Make sure it’s water resistant. You’re unlikely to keep a field watch perfectly dry if you’re using it as intended. At least 10 ATM, which means up to 100 meters water resistant, is worth checking on. Don’t choose anything that a little sweat or water will destroy.

And for a bonus: GMT Multi-time is a great addition. Owning a field watch implies that you move around. Through time zones as well as distances. GMT watches allow you to track a second time zone without a problem. Our Springfield GMT Field Watch adds that extra hand and the 24 hour military time in the inner ring of the watch face. It’s a great upgrade for this type of watch.

Choose the Best Field Watch for you

Don’t settle for a watch that you’ll break on your first trip in the woods. If you use this list, you can be confident that you’ll end up with the best field watch for you. The only thing left is picking a watch design that you personally find attractive. Sometimes that’s the toughest part.

Designing the Best Field Watch

At Smith & Bradley, we take design seriously. But we're very different from other watch companies focused on making beautiful watches. We focus on tough watches that will last a lifetime. And yes, they are attractive. But first, they are tough. Not only do we think these are the critical characteristics of the best field watches, we choose to include them in our watch designs. 

Our favorite field watches are:

Our Discovery Classic Field watch:

Discovery Field Watch

Our Springfield GMT Field watch

(also available in a back-the-blue Thin Blue Line edition for law enforcement officers and their supporters)

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