Field watches that provide good value


Field watches that provide good value

A lot of the devices we use in our day to day lives have been first developed for military applications, watches are no exception. The army extensively requested the development of watches that were accurate (+/- 30sec a day maximum deviation), compact and that could be used on the battlefield.

A lot of the devices we use in our day to day lives have been first developed for military applications, watches are no exception. The army extensively requested the development of watches that were accurate (+/- 30sec a day maximum deviation), compact and that could be used on the battlefield.

Some of the early field watches were developed for soldiers during the Second World War. The very collectible military watches “Dirty Dozen” are a perfect example of that. Those watches had very strict requirements and were tested heavily before being given to soldiers. This is how field watches were born: they are simple watches that have been designed to be functional, waterproof, dustproof and highly shock resistant.

The case was made in stainless steel, which is a hard material on which a screw-down case back could be fit reliably. In order to be legible at all times, they feature a high contrast between the color of their dial, their numeral hour markers and their hands – which often are lumed. The most frequently used dial colors are black, beige and khaki. Those watches are not afraid of the dirt and are usually worn on a canvas strap or a NATO to ensure durability. However, they are not meant for diving, so their water-resistance is ranging from 30m to 100m in most cases. You will find below a range of field watches that we feel are worth considering for your collection. They are immediately available on eBay.

The case was made in stainless steel, which is a hard material on which a screw-down case back could be fit reliably. In order to be legible at all times, they feature a high contrast between the color of their dial, their numeral hour markers and their hands – which often are lumed. The most frequently used dial colors are black, beige and khaki. Those watches are not afraid of the dirt and are usually worn on a canvas strap or a NATO to ensure durability. However, they are not meant for diving, so their water-resistance is ranging from 30m to 100m in most cases. You will find below a range of field watches that we feel are worth considering for your collection. They are immediately available on eBay.

Seiko 5 Automatic SNK80X Series

The legendary Seiko 5 SNK80X series provides some of the cheapest mechanical watches on the market. For less than $100 you get a great military-style field watch with one of the following dial colors:

  • Black (SNK809)
  • Blue (SNK807)
  • Khaki (SNK805)
  • Beige (SNK803)

The watch is protected by a lens made of hardlex. These timepieces are rugged, functional and very easy to read thanks to their eye-catching design. They are powered by the Seiko 7S26 automatic movement featuring a day-date complication with 41 hours of power reserve. It can be admired through the transparent case back.

  • Ref: SNK809, SNK807, SNK805, SNK803
  • Diameter: 37.00 mm
  • Thickness: 11.00 mm
  • Lug width: 18.00 mm
  • Caliber: Seiko 7S26

The Seiko black SNK809K2. Credits : eBay listing.
The Seiko black SNK809K2. Credits : eBay listing.

The water resistance is 30m meaning it can handle splashes, we would not recommend it for diving though. The proportions of this watch are great, with a 37mm diameter and an 11mm height it is very comfortable to wear and unobtrusive. This Seiko model can therefore be seen as an affordable Hamilton Khaki Field alternative.

It looks very cool on a NATO, the 18mm lug width makes it easy to find alternative straps as well. At this price it's pretty hard to beat, we can therefore consider that the value it's losing over time is very low, so it's holding its value pretty well compared to other more expensive watches!

The military looking khaki Seiko SNK805, sold on ebay by military.inc
The military looking khaki Seiko SNK805, sold on ebay by military.inc
Here are 8 suggestions on eBay for the Seiko 5 Automatic SNK80X Series:
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Orient Defender

Orient provides unsurprisingly a great field automatic watch: the Orient Defender. It's a 42mm wide watch that is made out of a matte steel case and that provides day, date and 24-hour dial functionality. The timepiece is 12mm thick, with a lug width of 22m so it has quite a bit of wrist presence but is not oversized.

The watch has a 100m water-resistance, ideal for active wearers! The Orient defender has the crown located between 3 and 4 o'clock.

  • Ref: FET0N003Y, FET0N002K0
  • Diameter: 42.00 mm
  • Thickness: 12.00 mm
  • Lug width: 22.00 mm
  • Caliber: Orient 46B40

The Orient Defender is a very affordable field watch. Available on eBay.
The Orient Defender is a very affordable field watch. Available on eBay.

The dial is very well designed, Orient decided not to use numerals, the markers are applied and have lume. The inner chapter ring can give you more precision.

Under the hardened mineral lens, the date is visible at 6 o'clock: this keeps the visual balance well by respecting the symmetry of the dial. The day functionality is provided by a hand, which is quite rare in this price range.

All those functionalities are powered by the 46B40 Orient Japanese movement, developed in-house.

  • Ref: FET0N002B0, FET0N001D0
  • Diameter: 42.00 mm
  • Thickness: 12.00 mm
  • Lug width: 22.00 mm
  • Caliber: Orient 46B40

With a retail price of $285.00, it goes quite far!

Overall this watch is very well designed. Several dial colors are available: cream (FET0N003Y), khaki (FET0N002K0), black (FET0N002B0) and blue (FET0N001D0).

Once again, Orient has managed to innovate and provide us something unique at a very attractive price.

Here are 8 suggestions on eBay for the Orient Defender:

Glycine Combat 6

The Combat 6 from the Swiss Brand Glycine is an interesting field watch. Our favorite is the reference GL0105 which is 36mm wide and has a black dial. The design of this watch is classic and will not go out of fashion. As its name suggests it has a military look, but it is nevertheless quite versatile.

The discrete crown guards differentiate it from the other field watches which usually do not have any. The hands and the indexes are luminous and are therefore very easy to read. They are protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

  • Ref: Glycine GL0105, GL0106, GL0107, GL0112
  • Diameter: 36.00 mm
  • Thickness: 10.45 mm
  • Lug width: 20.00 mm
  • Caliber: Glycine GL 224

The Glycine combat 6 3916 series has a 36mm diameter and is available with a black, blue or silver dial. Available on ebay.
The Glycine combat 6 3916 series has a 36mm diameter and is available with a black, blue or silver dial. Available on ebay.

The watch does not draw too much attention but has some wrist presence despite its relatively small diameter. The Glycine calibre GL 224 powers this timepiece, it has a 38-hour power reserve. A date function is present at 3 o'clock, which is always nice to have!

The Combat 6 can be considered as a great Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra alternative due to it's similar design and dial configuration. It's the perfect balance between a sports and a dress watch. The case is 10.45mm thick and the lug width of 20mm will accommodate many straps. The watch has a resistance of 50m with a screw-down crown. The Glycine Combat 6 can be bought new for around $400.

Here are 8 suggestions on eBay for the Glycine Combat 6:
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Hamilton Khaki Field

As its name suggests, the Hamilton Khaki Field is a field watch. The Khaki field is a well built and rugged watch that will stand the test of time. Its simple yet effective design makes it very easy to read and use.

This watch is full of history: it was introduced in 1910, when Hamilton began to equip the American Army with military watches which were more precise. It became the official watch supplier of the US Army.

This model has seen many battles, and if someone asked us to show them what a field watch is, it would be our pick: it represents courage and honor.

  • Ref: Hamilton Khaki Field H69439411, H69439901, H69439931, H69449961
  • Diameter: 38.00 mm
  • Thickness: 9.50 mm
  • Lug width: 20.00 mm
  • Caliber: Hamilton H-50

The new Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is a faithful recreation of its original 1960s forebear and is true to Hamilton’s military heritage. Available on eBay.
The new Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is a faithful recreation of its original 1960s forebear and is true to Hamilton’s military heritage. Available on eBay.

The original model houses a reliable manual wind movement ETA 2801-2 (42h power reserve), whereas the latest edition features the Hamilton H-50 manual calibre with an impressive 80-hour power reserve.

Models housing the H-50 are available with or without a date.

The matte dial and lumed hands are protected by a sapphire crystal. It's a real classic that will never drop out of fashion. It is a highly versatile timepiece. The water resistance is 50m.

  • Ref: Hamilton Khaki Field H69439363, H69419933
  • Diameter: 38.00 mm
  • Thickness: 9.50 mm
  • Lug width: 20.00 mm
  • Caliber: Hamilton H-50

The Hamilton Khaki Field is also available with a date window. Available on eBay.
The Hamilton Khaki Field is also available with a date window. Available on eBay.

The Hamilton brand is notorious and some of their watches have been worn by TV show celebrities such as Hugh Laurie from Doctor House and Jack Ryan actors.

The Hamilton Khaki Field was also featured in the movies:

  • Zulu (2013) while being worn by Forest Whitaker playing Ali Sokhela.
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014): Liam Neeson was wearing one as character Matt Scudder.

Here are 8 suggestions on eBay for the Hamilton Khaki Field:
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Sinn 556A

The 556A from the German brand Sinn is a great watch that can be considered as an affordable alternative to the Rolex Explorer. Its 316L steel case is 38.5mm wide and 11mm thick and it has a black dial.

The 556A has a 20mm lug width and comes with a high quality stainless steel bracelet. We love those dimensions, it is definitely designed with the same spirit as the Explorer, it is classic and will not go out of fashion. The Sinn 556A is marked "A" for Arabic numbers. There is also the Sinn 556i which has baton indices and a date window at 3 o'clock.

Sinn's inspiration for the design of this watch is the historic Sinn NaBo clocks long manufactured for use in cockpits as a navigational tool. Even today Sinn continues to produce these clocks which are used in both civilian and military aircraft, as well as specialty cars.

  • Ref: Sinn 556A
  • Diameter: 38.50 mm
  • Thickness: 11.00 mm
  • Lug width: 20.00 mm
  • Caliber: ETA 2824-2

The Sinn 556A is a great everyday automatic watch. It is often compared to the Rolex Explorer. Sold on eBay
The Sinn 556A is a great everyday automatic watch. It is often compared to the Rolex Explorer. Sold on eBay

The sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating protects the black matte dial which contrasts well with the indices. The indices are not applied but have a generous layer of SuperLuminova lume. The four anchor Arabic numerals on the quarter hours allow for a quick read of the time. The hands also play well against the matte black dial providing excellent contrast: it's one of the reasons this design has worked so well in cockpits around the world.

The Sinn 556A is powered by a reliable ETA 2624-2 equipped with a golden oscillating weight which you can admire through the transparent caseback that is also made of sapphire crystal and A-R coated. In terms of waterproofness this little beast it rated at 200m (20ATM). 

The case is entirely brushed, meaning scratches will be less apparent: one more reason for which this is a great everyday watch!

The date window on the Sinn 556A is present at 4 o'clock. We find it remarkably well executed: unlike most 4 o'clock date windows, this one is horizontally displayed. It is very discrete, keeping the visual balance of the dial while still being there when needed. Sinn really did a great job here.

To conclude, the Sinn 556A offers a great mix of performance, durability and classic Sinn design. Although it's not cheap at a price in the range of $1150, this watch definitely has a great personality and can definitely follow you in your next adventure.

Here are 8 suggestions on eBay for the Sinn 556A:


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