History of the Field Watch

History of the Field Watch

The field watch is one of the most recognizable watch styles in the world. This is a story of a fit-for-purpose design that begins in the late 1800s, was fine tuned throughout two world wars, and remains as influential as ever in the modern world. 

Let’s take a journey through time – literally. Picture this: late 19th century, wristwatches start muscling in on the pocket watch’s territory.  This pop-culture evolution coincided with a world of increased military activity and an evolution of warfare tactics. 

In World War I, the wrist watch became an essential part of a soldier’s tool kit. Monitoring time on a pocket watch inside a trench was no longer feasible in battle  that increasingly relied on synchronized maneuvers. But a slimmer pocket watch with a strap connected to your wrist? Now we’re talking.

Booming production capabilities and technological advances saw the field watch reach new heights in WWII. Advanced warfare required even more coordination of allied units, timing offenses, and tracking enemy activity. Although these two World Wars were only separated by about thirty short years, technologically these events were worlds apart. Battles went from horseback to the skies, from swords to tanks and advanced naval warfare, ultimately ending with devastating atomic bombs. 

With this backdrop in mind, horology evolved from jewelry to tool and from elegance to function. Design iterations during this time were focused on reliability, legibility, and durability. 

Standard issued field watches were black dials with large and easy-to-read white numerals. And new technologies brought luminescent hands for low-light visibility, improved water-resistance, shock-resistance, and increased accuracy. The design from this era is what we recognize today as the classic field watch design - a tool built for the harshest conditions.

In the post-war era the field watch crossed the chasm from military standard-issue to civilian life. Adventure and exploration marked the decades that followed where the field watch remained a trusted companion. 

Today, the field watch is as popular as ever and we are proud to offer our spin on it directly to you. Our flagship Cascadia Field Watch is a nod to the fascinating history of watch design while keeping our eyes on the horizon for adventures yet to come. 

See you on the trails!

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