The 5.11 Field Watch – Old School Cool

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The modern smartphone has replaced a lot of stuff in our world, and it’s done it for the better. For many its replaced the watch outside of dress-up occasions or fitness trackers. The military is a different world, though, and it’s a world where the watch still reigns. Today we are going to look at the 5.11 Tactical Field Watch. The Field Watch has built from the ground up to be duty ready in durability, but also packs some more traditional style. 

Phone Don’t Cut It

Smartphones in the military face unique challenges. This could range from uniform issues in walking and using a smartphone, to prohibiting smartphones in certain areas due to information security, because cell phones aren’t necessarily durable for field conditions. These various conditions make a watch a must-have. Like all things you wear in the military, watches are drought with uniform regulations, and most call for a plain watch, and common sense applies. 

Inside the Field Watch

The 5.11 Tactical Field Watch easily checks that box. It’s a simple design that is subdued and plain. Most modern Field Watches are digital, and watch lines like the G-Shock are often quite popular. The Field Watch is a traditional movement watch that uses a Swiss designed movement manufactured in Thailand. 

The hour, minute, and second hand are all luminous easy to see in low light conditions as time ticks by. Numbers are subdued as well, but large and comfortable to read on the fly. The inner dial has military time to compliment the standard 1 through 12 dials on the watch. The unidirectional ratcheting dive bezel is neat but only highly useful for those in specialized roles. 

The case is made from durable stainless steel that’s also highly corrosion resistant. The case itself is a large 44mm design and is more focused on male watch fashion, but in the field and military, I doubt most women would care how big the watch is. Most servicemembers just want their equipment to work, and the 5.11 Field Watch works. 


The band is a pure NATO nylon that harkens back to those old school military watches popularized from WW2 and onwards. Also, both Daniel Craig and Sean Connery’s James Bonds wear NATO banded watches at least once. The 5.11 Field Watch, in general, harkens back to that old school look while providing modern accouterments for the modern Soldier, Marine, Sailor, and Airman.  

This type of webbing is more resistant to tearing, is moisture resistant, and not affected by the temperature of your environment. The band comes quite long, and knowing how to tuck the NATO strap back around to the keepers is a must. This allows for a clean and secure fit. Here is a quick rundown of how to do so. 

Strap the watch to your risk and size it appropriately. Run the strap through the two keepers. Take the tail and wrap it over the keeper closest to the case and then under the second keeper. This tucks the tail in and presents a neat and clean appearance. 

Field Ready

Anything bearing the name Field Watch best be field ready. This means sturdy, durable, and, most importantly, water-resistant. From the outset, the heavy design of the 5.11 Tactical Field Watch inspires some confidence in its durability. 5.11 Tactical generally produces some outstanding gear, so their reputation also speaks well for the watch. 

However, that’s all talk until we get some testing out of the way. So I dropped it. I dropped it over and over from waist and chest height onto concrete, dirt, and wood floors. The watch landed once on each side and once on the top, bottom, and face of the watch. I ran it side by side with a standard watch to see if it would gain or lose time with drops. 

After a couple of dozen drops, the watch still kept ticking along while providing no noticeable gain or loss of time. The watch looks unmolested, a bit dirtier, but the watch face is unscratched and the finish unmarred. The watch seems well sealed against dirt and dust. 

Speaking of well-sealed, the watch is rated for up to 100 meters. I don’t have 100 meters to drop the watch in admittedly, but I can fill up a Tupperware container with water, drop the watch in and finish the second season of the Umbrella Academy. It soaked and stayed put until I eventually remembered what I was doing and retrieved it. The outside might be a bit wet, but the inside is dry, and the water resisted. 

The Field Watch 

With fewer people owning watches, I’m willing to bet a lot of new recruits don’t own one, or at least own a watch made to take abuse. I was one, and I bought my first watch after joining the USMC. If you are looking for a subdued, but good looking watch, the 5.11 Tactical Field Watch is a great choice. It has that old school cool appeal but is modern enough to keep up with the everchanging demands of military life. A good Field Watch has a rightful place on our Top 5 Military Must-Haves.  

Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.