The History of the Field Watch

While the first Field watch appeared in the 1880's, the design did not come into its own until the first World War. The high tech nature of Twentieth Century warfare demanded precise and portable timing. A newly industrialized society had, for the first time, the ability to mass produce inexpensive yet accurate timepieces.

Soldiers brought new demands to watchmaking. Trench fighting required quick, accurate timing, so watches had to be small enough to be worn on the wrist. The battlefield environment also created a need for exceptionally water and shock resistant watches. The Field watch quickly evolved a distinctive style due to these common features. It became the world's first timepiece with virtually no embellishment, nearly as utilitarian as battle fatigues.

The WWI Field Watch was most often produced in the infantry configuration (with the second hand in a small dial above the 6). The brass shell cases usually had a lozenge shape; the feet consisted of a wire loop welded to the underside.

WWII brought several structural innovations to the Field Watch, most importantly solid forged steel cases with integral feet. The heavy cases were more resistant to shock and hard wear than their first World War counterparts, and their wider foot spans could accommodate thicker, stronger straps. The popularity of the aviator's-style Field Watch (with a center-mounted second hand ) reflected the rise of air power as the dominant fighting force of the second World War.

The Field Watch waned somewhat in popularity until the 1970's, when the production of rugged, low-maintenance quartz movements coincided with an unprecedented rise in the popularity of outdoor sports. Outdoor sports enthusiasts, from hunters and fishermen to backpackers and climbers, require the same type of watches as soldiers: rugged, inexpensive watches with uncluttered, instantly-readable dials. The Field Watch became so popular that by the 1980's, it had come to be considered the "blue jeans" of watches.

The 85323 represents the ultimate incarnation of Field watch, elevating it's specifications to those of a fine diver's watch. The 85323's case is forged from solid 304 stainless steel in the same manner as a Rolex or other fine timepiece, hand-finished in over 100 machining steps via the traditional watchmaker's art. Its screw-locked crown significantly increases water resistance and tritium-painted hands provide continuous illumination.

For almost a century, the Field Watch has remained one of the most endeared of American watch styles, and its popularity continues to spread into the international watch market. The 85323 is the culmination of this proud American tradition.