Good field watches available at reasonable cost

Analog wristwatches are be-coming less common with the growing popularity of cellphones.

Although cellphones can provide the same or more features for less demanding outdoor adventures, a good wristwatch remains useful for harder outdoor pursuits.

However, finding the right watch when faced with the large number of manufacturers and models available can be difficult.

Basic criteria exist for a reliable analog wristwatch for use in the outdoors, and the necessary re-quirements can be found without overspending.

These criteria describe what is called a field watch. This kind of timepiece was used by militaries in the Second World War. Materials and technology have come a long way since then, but the principles remain the same.

The case and back of a modern field watch should be stainless steel. It has excellent resistance to skin oils and sweat.

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The glass should be made from synthetic sapphire crystal because it is the most scratch-resistant glass used on wristwatches today and also withstands impacts.

Mineral crystal is OK, but it’s not as durable as sapphire.

The physics of round glass im-proves watertight capabilities, so avoid rectangular or square faces.

The back of the field watch should be a single screw-down design. Back plates with multiple small screws tend to be less watertight.

The water resistance rating from the manufacturer should be at least 100 metres. Timepieces with a lesser depth rating generally cannot withstand hard outdoor use.

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A quartz movement is the most desirable for a modern field watch. It uses a battery and tiny quartz crystals to keep time. Good quartz movements are generally more accurate and less expensive than other kinds of timepiece mechanisms.

The last component of a field watch is the wristband — fabric, leather or metal. This is a matter of personal preference, but ensure the wristband will secure the timepiece to your arm when it catches on clothing, tools and even trees.

Common makers of field watches include Citizen, Seiko and Timex. Other good quality brands are Hamilton, Marathon and Momentum.

Kim Quintin is a Saskatoon outdoor enthusiast and knife maker. He can be reached for column suggestions at kim.quintin@producer.com or 306-665-9687.

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  • Bruce

    A good article Kim. You are an outdoor enthusiast. My cell phone goes for only three days and I have no more battery. The battery with my watch seems to go for ever. So yes, for me when one is on a fishing trip for a week or more a person needs a watch. Seiko and Timex are good brand names by me also.