Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with five new watches for 2015 — all of them defining anew what makes field watches great.

When it comes to tool watches (defined quite simply as watches that are meant to be used as real-world tools), divers seem to be the king, followed by pilot watches and racing chronographs. Somewhere in the mix are field watches. While there are plenty of serious field watches on the market, they tend to be ignored, mostly because their definition is a bit more ambiguous than their fellow tool watches.

So, what makes a field watch? For starters, they take inspiration from early Army-issued wristwatches like the US A-11 spec and MoD W10 watches. They needn’t be actual military watches, but they certainly should have the same chops: for extended use in the field, features like lumed hands and markers, hacking seconds, and an unobtrusive presence are highly valued; they need to be rugged, robust, and easily read anytime, day or night.

Which, obviously, is why they’re the perfect timepieces for expeditions all the way from simple camping to Everest scaling. These five are particularly excellent candidates for all sorts of bumps and bruises, be they from scree-scrambling, brush-clearing or desk-bumping.

Additional contribution by Blake Buettner.


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