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The Best Vintage Field Watches Reissued for Today

Military field watches are some of the most compelling examples in today's reissue-crazed market.

hamilton khaki pilot pioneer mechanical watch
Hamilton

The modern watch scene has been dominated by vintage inspiration and reissues for years now. As this market matures, some trends have begun to emerge, from chronographs and dive watches at vintage sizes to issued military field watches resurrected for modern audiences. A military connection was always a compelling hook, but mix it with some history and the natural charm of such items and it's easy to understand why vintage-inspired field watches have been coming back strong.

These watches often have significant histories — like the so-called "Dirty Dozen" and the A-11, "the watch that won the war," which are among the cool models we've seen reproduced in modern form. They'll often feel most authentic when they're small (for contemporary tastes) with manually wound movements and completely lacking in superfluous decoration, but some brands have tweaked the formula to interesting effect.

Part of the attraction to field watches is their eminent versatility and approachability, with simple designs and moderate case sizes that seem like a great choice for just about any personality — and the best part is that their simplicity often means that they're some of the most affordable options in the popular segment of sport and tool watches.

Hot on the heels of dive watches in popularity, you can expect this segment to grow, as there are still cool historical examples just waiting to be "rediscovered," and many brands with genuine history that have yet to capitalize on it. There are even more modern brands interpreting the field watch anew, but here are some with historical connections that are sure to tug the heartstrings of any fan of military or field watches.

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Timex MK1 Mechanical 36mm Fabric Strap Watch
Timex

Recalling an obscure watch that Timex made for the military in 1982 (as well as the brand's Camper series), the Mk1 (reviewed here) is a fun and affordable way to get some field watch history and style on your wrist. The historical watch was made of plastic and intended as disposable, but this modern one is in steel and powered by a hand-wound mechanical movement. Do you want to beat it up or rely on it in combat situations? Probably not, but it can be fun to wear or to gift. 

Diameter: 36mm
Movement: Undisclosed Chinese hand-wound
Water Resistance: 50m 

Praesidus Tom Rice A-11
Courtesy

The A-11 and its counterparts were made for the US military in WW2 by American companies Waltham, Elgin and Bulova, and it's been called "the watch that won the war." There have been homages to these watches, but now the American brand Praesidus is making an affordable version with a design that's close to the original and dedicated to specific veterans who wore the watch. It offers a basic Japanese automatic movement and choices of size, dial color and straps.

Diameter: 38mm or 42mm
Movement: Seiko NH35 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m 

Bulova Hack Watch
Bulova

Bulova was once one of the most prominent American watchmakers, with a wide range of watches including the MIL-W-3818A spec field watch in the 1950s and '60s. This reissue is one of our favorites the brand has made in recent years, and it's perfectly sized for modern tastes at 38mm. It's powered by an automatic movement from its sister company, Miyota. Older versions of this movement didn't provide "hacking" (meaning the seconds hand stops when you set the time), but it's especially appropriate for this model and important to its history.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Miyota 82S0 automatic
Water Resistance: 30m 

MWC G10 Automatic 300m with Bracelet
MWC

CWC produced watches known as the G10 for military use back in the 1980s, and they still do today. Homage watch maker MWC makes quartz versions for around a mere $100, but you might also want to check out this automatic version that features sapphire crystal and an uncommon (for field watches) 300m of water resistance. It'll look most authentic on a NATO strap, but it's a nice bonus for daily wear that it comes on this steel bracelet.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: Undisclosed automatic
Water Resistance: 300m 

Khaki Field
Hamilton

More or less the quintessential modern field watch, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is based on the milspec GG-W-113 the brand (along with other American watchmakers) made from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. Basic and n0-frills with a matte finished case and hand-wound movement, it captures the pragmatic spirit of a military field watch perfectly and is easy to recommend as an affordable field watch.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: ETA C07.111 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 50m 

MkII Cruxible Hellion Date
MkII

American microbrand MkII is dedicated to bringing back vintage military watches, and it offers its own version of the famed "canteen watch" diver updated for modern wear and dubbed the Cruxible. The case is bigger than the original at 39mm and it's powered by a Seiko automatic movement, but this is an excellent option for anyone drawn to vintage milspec watches.

Diameter: 39mm
Movement: Seiko NE15C automatic
Water Resistance: 100m  

CWC Mellor-72 Mechanical
CWC

CWC's Mellor-72 Mechanical offers a hell of a value and a real military connection. The company worked with militaries back in the day and continues to do so today — as a British company, the watch even includes the iconic Broad Arrow symbol that marked British government property as well as the circled T that signified the use of tritium paint (though Super-LumiNova illuminates the hands and indices here). 

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Sellita SW210 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 50m

Marathon GPM Genreal Purpose Mechanical
Courtesy

Marathon has been making watches for military use since 1941, and they continue to do so today. The General Purpose Mechanical is a modern interpretation of the mil-spec GG-W-113 used by the US army in the 1980s, and it's built to meet current military specifications. It runs on a manually wound Swiss mechanical movement and includes the brand's signature use of tritium gas tubes for dial illumination. 

Diameter: 39mm
Movement: ETA 2801 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 50m

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
Hamilton

This watch is based on one known as the 6BB when it was issued to the British air force or the W10 when issued to the army in the 1970s (like the CWC above) — so we'll say it counts as a field watch. Maintaining the original 33mm width is uncommon in today's watch market, but we found it wore particularly well when reviewing it. It feels refined for a military watch, with a great dial texture and a smooth, manually wound Swiss movement offering an 80-hour power reserve.

Diameter: 33mm
Movement: ETA C07.111 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 100m 

Vaer A12 Dirty Dozen
Courtesy

California-based Vaer has a range of military-inspired watches, this one being is its tribute to the famous Dirty Dozen. Its 36mm size and manually wound Swiss movement are historically appropriate, and it offers some strong value. This interpretation feels a little more contemporary, and the brand offers some slightly different design features than other such remakes (see below). The connection remains clear, however, and so does the value. 

Diameter: 36mm
Movement: ETA 7001 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 100m

Timor Heritage Field
Timor

One of the original 12 companies to make the Dirty Dozen watches, Timor is back with an elevated-feeling reissue available with manual or automatic Swiss movements inside. Now based in the UK, it's able to legitimately use the Broad Arrow just like the originals did. A modern Swiss movements will keep it healthy well into the future, and a sapphire crystal will remain looking new and scratch-free.

Diameter: 36.5mm
Movement: Sellita SW260 automatic or SW216 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 50m 

The Longines Heritage Military
Longines

Okay, this is technically a reissue of a pilot's watch from the 1940s. But if you like the size, style and military origins of the other watches here, there's a good chance you'll click with this one as well. For this modern recreation, Longines created a unique dial with a speckled look evoking an aged vintage watch. 

Diameter: 38.5mm
Movement: ETA A31.L01 automatic
Water Resistance: 30m 

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