If you want a tough watch to wear on your outdoor excursions, we suggest buying something new that’s meant to take a beating. A vintage watch, frankly, is a terrible choice for anything other than a style statement. These three vintage field watches we found are no exception; their days of traversing the great wilderness are long over. Their heavy scuffs and dings make it very apparent they have a story or two to tell, and by purchasing them you immediately become their caretaker, ensuring they last long into their retirement. But seriously, don’t get any of them wet.
1994 Benrus MIL-W-46374 Reissue
What we like: The MIL-W-46374 was not so much one watch as it was a U.S. military specification for watches, first introduced in the 1960s. Benrus was one of a handful of brands to manufacture field watches to this spec, but this reissue from the ’90s should be in better condition than most period-correct MIL-W-46374’s you’ll find.
From the seller: Case is in excellent condition, showing very light wear from age and use. The black dial is in great condition with clean, crisp printing and very light, even patination across the dial and handset.
1960 Smith Deluxe A460
What we like: Smiths is a now-defunct British tool watch brand from the mid-20th century, and while its widely known that a Rolex made the trip up Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, so too did a Smiths. This Deluxe is a later reference than that watch that, in addition to being shockproof, also has the same dial design as the Smiths worn on Hillary’s crossing of the Antarctic.
From the seller: All original apart from the new crystal and the ZRC cowhide watchstrap. The cal 27 movement has been fully overhauled and carries our two-year warranty.
1967 Rolex Explorer 1016
What we like: The Explorer 1016 is a bit of a must-have for vintage collectors, and it’s not hard to see why: that perfect 36mm oyster case, iconic dial design and Mercedes hands are absolutely classic. This ’67 is from the beginning of the reference’s lifespan (1963–1989) so it uses gilt printing, and the “tropical” dial has turned from black to brown as aged.
From the seller: Good “tropical” gilt dial. The black portion of the dial at some point was exposed to moisture and has aged to a brown color. The top coat of paint is spidering and peeling in some sections. The watch is running at COSC spec.
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