There’s no more important company in American watchmaking history than the Waltham Watch Company: born in Massachusetts shortly before the onset of the American Civil War, Waltham turned out some 40 million timepieces, speedometers, compasses, and related precision instruments over the course of its 100-year run. In its prime, the company – first founded by Aaron Dennison in 1850 – was practically synonymous with watchmaking in the United States. In fact, Waltham is credited with creating the American system of watch manufacturing, which was later “exported” to Switzerland and used as the model to industrialize the Swiss watch industry. Abraham Lincoln was even presented with a Waltham pocket watch in celebration of the Gettysburg Address – a watch that now lives in the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian in DC.

More than half a century later, halfway around the world, another conflict was playing out – World War I – and it was then that Waltham made arguably its most impactful contribution to the watchmaking industry: the Waltham Field & Marine.

The Field & Marine was designed specifically for the sort of dirty, wet conditions that defined WWI’s trench warfare – conditions that claimed many a lesser timepiece as dust, water, mud, and worse, mustard gas, intruded into cases and gummed up movements in short order. The work of American Charles Depollier, the Field & Marine’s design was nothing short of revolutionary, thanks to a threaded hermetic case that actually worked, paired with a double-clinched bezel and a screw-down crown to effectively stop dust and water in its tracks. Even today, more than a century later, most waterproof and dive watches are in some way derived from Depollier’s original design.

Now, with the help of crowd manufacturing platform Watch Angels, the Waltham Field & Maine is being remade for the 21st century. It’s a reissue that should thrill both watch enthusiasts and history buffs alike, but while the function and design sensibilities of the 1918 original have been preserved, this new 2021 version is not simply a carbon copy of an antique timepiece.



In fact, one of the most critical updates involves the watch’s crown locking system, which now features an interlocking brass lever that communicates at a glance whether the crown is locked or unlocked. It’s a bit of insurance against a potentially costly mistake that could compromise the waterproofness of the watch case. On that front, Waltham’s 2021 reissue boasts substantially improved water resistance relative to its 1918 forebear, thanks to a compressor-style case-back that gives it a max pressure rating of 30 ATM or 300 meters, making it more in line with modern divers.

The new 2021 collection features two distinct Waltham Field & Marine models: a Dual Time/24-Hour model with a Soprod C115 automatic movement and power reserve indicator, housed within a 43 mm case, as well as a 3 Hands-Date model, boasting a Sellita SW200 automatic movement in a 41 mm case.

Both models feature clear nods to the original Field & Marine, thanks to design touches such as the numerals and hands that look characteristically early-20th century – only the numerals are smaller, the face cleaner and more contemporary in presentation. There can be no mistaking either model for the 1918 Waltham original, but the influence is apparent.

Coming on the heels of their Cedric Bellon sustainable tool watch, this new Waltham Field & Marine reissue marks another significant release for Watch Angels – a collaborative “crowd manufacturing” platform that empowers independent brands and creators, enabling them to more easily launch their timepieces than via traditional production methods.

It’s a novel, innovative way to do business: each watch that reaches production is made through the cooperation of an engaged community of watch lovers. For each project, some of those community members serve as “Angels” – becoming involved from the concept-design stage and retaining the option to buy the finished product at cost – while others serve as “Enthusiasts,” committing to buy the watch at a distributor price after the design is finalized. The watches are then produced in-house by Watch Angels, which operates a state-of-the art Swiss manufacture.

Because the whole process is integrated and digitized from start-to-finish, there’s no bloated advertising budget, while the distance between independent watchmakers and their intended audiences is cut as short as possible. All of that means watch enthusiasts get more for their money, with pieces that cost as low as a quarter of what they might through conventional watchmaking and distribution.

It also means that watch lovers like you and I get access to some truly unique timepieces that might not otherwise exist – although, as it turns out, the Waltham Field & Marine didn’t need too much help generating attention. Earlier this year, a pre-sale for Angels opened on February 16th, and promptly sold out in less than 24 hours.

That said, if you still want in on this unique piece, you haven’t missed the boat just yet: the public pre-sale is now live on Watch Angels until May 31st, with pricing at 795 CHF for the 3 Hands-Date model and 1,280 CHF for the Dual Time automatic. Those prices are for a standard stainless-steel case, mind you; tack on another 70 Francs to unlock the special gunmetal option (pricing includes shipping, VAT, duties, plus a 5-year international warranty). If you want to accessorize and personalize your Field & Marine, there are also interesting add-ons available, such as DLC coating, dial-hand sets, straps and special engravings.

Learn more about the return of the Waltham Field & Marine here