Field watches are traditionally made for military usage, therefore, a good field watch should always be rugged, tough, and extremely legible, even from a distance.
Today, while you might not be using them in the “field”, their durability and toughness make them great everyday watches. They’re able to handle just about anything you throw at them, typically without getting damaged and make a great addition to any watch collection.
With all of the amazing watches available these days, there’s almost certainly a field watch available that suits your budget, including quite a few great choices under $200. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best on the market.
My personal favorites are the Seiko 5 SNK809, Timex Expedition, and the Vostok Komandirskie. I own, wear, and love all three for their durability, legibility, and affordability.
Continue reading to learn more about each of them, as well as a few of my other picks for the best affordable field watches under $200.
The Seiko SRPG35 (full review) is a newer field watch from the Seiko 5 Sports lineup. Its design marries ‘fashion’ and ‘function’ with its utilitarian sandblasted case that does a great job of hiding scratches, and minimizing any “blingy” appearance some polished watches have, making this the perfect choice for everyday wear.
The watch has an aged and worn look, thanks to its cream luminescent handset and hour markers, giving the feeling that it’s been through many adventures, making it a great affordable alternative to the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical.
With Seiko’s upgraded 4R36 movement, the SRPG35 has hacking and handwinding, feature becoming increasingly more common in many modern automatic movements, but lacking in some affordable watches, including some of thers in this list.
With a 39.4mm diameter, and a 13.2mm thickness, the watch is neither too small, nor too large, and floats around the ‘Goldilocks’ size that will fit just about any wrist size near perfectly.
Overall, the SRPG35 is one of the best affordable field watches currently on the market. With a rugged and tough look that doesn’t sacrifice legibility for style, and is well-rounded enough to suit a one-watch collection, and unique enough to compliment an already existing collection, the SRPG35 is almost a no brainer at this price.
Seiko SNK809, SNK807, SNK805 & SNK803
Often considered one of the best affordable mechanical watches ever, the Seiko SNK809 (full review) packs a lot of value into a compact watch (and budget).
The SNK809 features a stainless steel case with a satin finish that flies under the radar at a glance and hides scratches well.
At just 37mm in diameter, the SNK wears a bit smaller than modern watches by today’s standards. For those who have smaller wrists, or just prefer a more discreet, and compact watch, the SNK809 is a perfect choice.
The SNK809 sports an in-house Seiko 7S26 mechanical movement. In short, this is a movement that is made by Seiko and not outsourced, which is rare to find in watches so affordable. It’s a durable and reliable movement known to last years without ever needing a service, and best of all, like all mechanical movements, it doesn’t need a battery to run.
The Seiko 5 SNK series comes in a variety of colors, so there’s almost certainly one that will round out your collection. Where else can you find a green or cream dial field watch? Of course, black and blue dials are also an option, if you don’t already have watches in those colors in your collection.
- SNK809 (Black)
- SNK807 (Blue)
- SNK805 (Green)
- SNK803 (Cream)
Overall, the Seiko SNK lineup is not only one of the best value field watches, but also one of the most affordable mechanical watches money can buy, period.
Citizen Garrison Eco-Drive
The coolest thing about Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches is that it runs completely without a battery.
It’s charged by sunlight and can store 11 hours of power with just 2 minutes spent in direct sun.
The Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E in particular is an absolute powerhouse.
With bold white arabic numerals for the hour markings and a glossy black dial, this watch is one of the sleekest field watches there is.
The knurled crown at 3:00 makes setting the time and day/date on the watch an absolute joy. I really wish more watches would include a thicker and textured crown like this. It just makes setting the time that much more enjoyable and convenient to use.
With a 100m water resistance rating, you don’t need to worry about getting your Citizen Eco-Drive wet. Generally, swimming, showering, washing your hands, and etc. will be more than safe for this piece.
If you want a clean-looking field watch that runs on solar power, and never needs a battery replacement, the Citizen Eco-Drive is for you.
Check out the Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E on Amazon.
Vostok Komandirskie is a mechanical Russian field watch that is just about as affordable as they come. It’s still one of my favorite watches in my collection.
Vostok has a cult-like following for rather unique and quirky watch designs. The Komandirskie is no exception.
Featuring military-inspired dials with personas such as scuba-divers, paradivers, and military tanks and boats, these watches are some of the coolest you can get.
With that said, some of the cheaper Vostok Komandirskie models have a couple of shortcomings, like a chrome-plated brass case instead of stainless steel.
This particular Komandirskie (reference 650841) also has a GMT function which allows you to keep track of a second-time zone. This is an extremely rare complication in this price range, which is partially why this is one of my favorite watches I own.
With all of that said, when considering the price of the Komandirskie, you’re still getting a lot of bang for your buck, and some of the most unique, military-inspired designs ever.
Check out some of the Vostok Komandirskie variations on Amazon. This is the improved and slightly more expensive variation with a stainless steel case and 200m water resistance rating, though they also offer a cheaper, hand-wound mechanical model.
Orient Defender 2
Orient is a Japanese brand known for making high-quality affordable watches that rival the likes of Seiko.
The Orient Defender is their field watch which is just as unique and interesting as it is solid in build quality.
What sets the Orient Defender apart is the subdials on the watch. One is a day wheel, and the other is a 24-hour wheel that tells you the hour of the day, as well as if it’s currently AM or PM.
I love the look of this watch, and the extra complications on the dial take the ordinary field watch design and make it that much more interesting.
Coming in at just over 42mm in diameter, the watch is leaning toward the larger size, without being too big, or overbearing.
Overall, the Orient Defender is a unique take on the classic field watch design. It’s well built, from a reputable brand, and can easily serve as a “one watch collection”.
The Timex Expedition is a rugged and tough field watch that comes in a wide assortment of watch straps and color combinations from one of the most reputable watch brands.
Timex’s “Indiglo” technology, which lights up the entire dial at the press of a button, makes it extremely easy to read the time in the dark making this an incredibly functional tool.
The Expedition also boasts a 50m (165ft) water resistance rating that is suitable for light swims here and there. But if you’re looking for a watch for more serious use in the water, you’re better off looking at watches with a higher water resistance rating, like a dive watch.
Unlike the previously mentioned Seiko 5 SNZG13, the Expedition is a quartz watch. It runs on a battery that will need to be changed every couple of years.
The Timex Expedition is an incredible value. With a wide variety of color and strap options, Indiglo technology, and a 50m water resistance, the Expedition would make a great gift for a loved one (or yourself 😉) and can typically be found under $50.
Check out the Timex Expedition on Amazon.
Seiko 5 Sports SNZG13
Seiko 5 is Seiko’s lineup of entry-level mechanical watches. Don’t let that fool you, though. This watch is a great value.
The SNZG13 is a military-inspired field watch with a brushed stainless steel case that is durable and meant to hide scratches. Field watches are built for taking a beating, after all.
Seiko includes their in-house 7S26 automatic movement with 23 jewels that, of course, don’t need a battery to run. The 7S26 movement is known for its durability and longevity and is shockproof for additional protection.
On the dial, you’ll find bold white lettering for the hour markings in both 12-hour and 24-hour intervals. Perfect for those of you who prefer military time, but also still legible for those of you who don’t.
There is also a surrounding hour and minute track that has lume, aka the “glow in the dark” paint that allows you to read your watch in low-light conditions.
The white hour markings are complimented with even bolder white hands and a red-accented second hand that pops just enough to add some visual interest to an otherwise monochromatic watch.
It also features 100m water resistance, which means you can swim in it, without worrying about water damage, adding to the versatility of this wristwatch.
The entire design of the Seiko 5 SNZG13 comes together to form a no-nonsense field watch that is extremely functional, durable, and legible. Best of all, it comes well under the $200 price range, leaving you quite a few dollars leftover to buy additional watch straps.
Bertucci DX3 Field
Bertucci is a field watch with absolutely no frills. It has everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Most importantly, the Bertucci 11015 does precisely what a watch is built for: keeps accurate time.
Housed inside of the durable poly-resin case is a quartz Japanese movement that is extremely accurate. You’ll never need to guess if the time on your watch is correct as you might with some mechanical watches that can have extremely varied levels of accuracy and precision.
While most affordable watches come on watch straps that tend to be low-quality to save on cost, the Bertucci is quite the opposite. It includes a thick and durable nylon NATO strap that is water-resistant, lightweight, and comfortable right out of the box.
A red second-hand compliments the otherwise simple monochromatic dial. The dial is extremely bold and legible, as you’d expect a field watch should be, so it’s easy to tell the time at a quick glance.
Coming in at 40mm in diameter, the Bertucci is a watch that will fit just about any wrist. With the crown at the 4:00 position, you’ll likely find this a lot more comfortable than traditional watches with crowns at the 3:00 position. It will give your wrists more freedom of motion, and the crown won’t dig into your wrist.
If you’re looking for a no-frills, durable, and extremely accurate field watch on a budget, the Bertucci 11015 DX3 is the watch for you.
Check out the Bertucci DX3 on Amazon.
The Bulova Hack is a vintage-inspired military watch with an automatic movement, rare to find at such an affordable price point.
Its design is highly subtle, perfect for somebody who wants their watch to fly under the radar. The warm cream dial, painted hour markers, and handset add a rugged, weathered look – this watch will look like it’s been on some adventures long before it has even been unboxed.
The movement inside the Hack is the Japanese Miyota 82S0 with 21 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve, basic and not the most accurate, but relatively reliable and can easily be regulated to accuracy by a reputable watchmaker.
With a diameter of 38mm, you may anticipate that the Hack would wear on the smaller side. However, its 13mm thickness makes it quite tall and chunky, which is one of the most significant downsides of the watch.
Overall, the Bulova Hack is a great value automatic field watch with a unique vintage design for a reasonable price.
What is a Field Watch?
A field watch is designed for military usage, therefore, it is designed with covert military operations in mind. Typically, a field watch includes:
- Simple, legible design
- Bold, painted Arabic numeral hour markers.
- Brushed, sandblasted, or bead-blasted case
Often, it will have a straightforward and rather basic design. Its hour markers are typically large and painted instead of applied to reduce the number of reflective surfaces and to be as legible as possible.
Typically, its case is brushed, sandblasted, or bead-blasted, which are matte, resulting in a subdued appearance that won’t give away a soldier’s location, like a polished bevel might.
It is designed to be tough, and to withstand the challenges of military personnel, making it more than durable enough for everyday wear.
They are designed to be accurate to allow military personnel to coordinate strikes.
Field watches are designed to be extremely simple and robust, making them some of the best everyday watches you can find. Find one with dimensions that fit your wrist well, has a design language that speaks to you, and of course, fits your budget.
With amazing field watches under $200, like the Seiko SNK809, Vostok Komandirskie, Timex Expedition, and the others on this list, you can get an amazing watch without breaking the bank.
Leave a comment below if I missed any awesome field watches in this price range, and I’ll be sure to consider adding it to the list!– Anthony
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API