What is a Waltham Field & Marine? Well, back during the Great War, troops needed a durable, accurate watch capable of withstanding the constant aggression of dust, water, and mustard gas of trench warfare. Enter a solution, an American Waltham movement in a special Charles Depollier-designed case, featuring a new bezel, case-back and crown technology. All of a sudden, the Waltham Field & Marine was born and lo and behold, it actually worked and thereby became the first really waterproof watch. While Waltham, once the largest watch brand in the world, eventually went out of business, the spirit of the Field & Marine has been kept alive by the horologists at Watch Angels in the form of a re-issue in collaboration with the current owners of the Waltham Watch Company. We got our hands on one and put it through the paces of daily use.

The first thing you’ll notice when pulling the Waltham Field & Marine re-issue out of its case is that it has the look and feel of a high quality timepiece and that a lot of attention has been put on details and finishes. As well, your eyes get drawn to the crown area, which is very particular and gives the watch a unique “industrial” tool watch character from the beginning of the past century.

When it comes time to put it on, the mil-spec strap actually accommodates a wide variety of wrists. I may as well have Snicker’s bars as forearms, so a nice tight fit on a 43mm case watch is rather brilliant.

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Yes, I know, a piece with a 43mm case isn’t sized properly for small wrists like mine, but do you know what? This particular colorway blends into the background so well that it hardly seems flashy. Military green strap, gunmetal grey case, matte grey dial, simple white signature and sub-dial markings. Not one ounce of show, yet a decent amount of proper performance. While the original Field & Marine was double-cinched, this tribute uses a modern compress case for performance down to 30 ATM (or 1,014 feet).

Touting its military heritage, the original Field & Marine had a rather unique bayonet crown with a lock-tab flange on its underside that would keep the crown’s bayonets secured under special guards. Presumably, this bayonet crown was a lifesaver for preventing the crown from being knocked about in combat. Watch Angels developed a new bayonet crown system for this watch starting from the original 1918 Depollier patent and has certainly improved on the original design. Although it takes a little time to get used to lining up the crown’s bayonets with the lock-tab flange, this robust crown technology is rarely seen on watches today, making it a great conversation topic and all the more interesting to have.

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Alright, let’s get down to specs. Watch Angels offers the reborn Waltham Field & Marine in two different models. There’s a three hand movement in a 41 mm case which seems perfectly fine, but you really want this Dual Time version. Not only does it have a 24-hour function, it also adds a date complication and a wonderful power reserve dial. While the three-hand movement comes courtesy of the Sellita’s SW200 industry “work horse”, the GMT model packs a Soprod C115. It’s an accurate, 31-jewel movement with a 42-hour power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 A/h. Indeed, over more than a week of daily wear, I didn’t experience the movement falling much out of time.

To make sure you can still check the time when the lights are out, the Waltham Field & Marine uses Superluminova X1 grade on the hands and hour indexes. A domed sapphire crystal glass box completes the trench watch look. That domed glass does lead to a bit of edge distortion from some angles, but certainly not enough to affect its usability.

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So what does this Watch Angels re-issue of the Waltham Field & Marine go for? Well, the three-hand model starts at 995 Swiss Francs and rises to 1,095 Swiss Francs for the model with the gunmetal case. The Dual Time variant retails for 1,495 Swiss Francs, with the gunmetal grey edition Dual Time retailing for 1,595 Swiss Francs. At the time of writing, those prices loosely convert to $1,010, $1,110, $1,516, and $1,617 respectively. Considering that Watch Angels manufactures every Waltham Field & Marine in-house and in Switzerland, that is a very significant value for money proposition.

The Waltham Field & Marine is a great piece of watch history that has been “overlooked” by a Swiss-dominated industry and undoubtedly benefits from modern features. It also benefits from being a well thought out watch based on the design and technical principles of the original, rather than being an exact replica.

For any watch collector who happens to be an admirer of military or American watches, this watch is a must buy…and the sales seem to show that. The gunmetal three-hand movement, “Red 12” three-hand movement, and the gunmetal grey Dual Time models are all currently sold out. Mind you, the available blue colorway is wonderfully expressive and the white model is clean and elegant, so there really appears to be something for everyone.

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Check out WatchAngels.com for more information.