5 of the best military-inspired watchesZachary Moore
Military watches are built to tackle some of the harshest environments on the planet, and their designs have likely gained in popularity for their front-line escapades. Many watches today take inspiration from that aesthetic, and while they may never be tested to the same extremes, standing the test of a hotel pool shouldn’t be too much trouble. Whether they’re divers, chronographs, pilot’s or field watches, if you need something that’s going to come along for the ride that’s at least been inspired by, if not designed for, the military, these watches are a safe bet.
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Most likely the best military-inspired watch on the market pound-for-pound, and the king of the field watch. You can ask any watch enthusiast for the best watch under $1,000, and you’ll likely be told it’s the Khaki Field, which starts at A$950. It has a simple design inspired by military watches that Hamilton made for the US military in the 1940s and 1950s. Designed to join you on all sorts of journeys, it’s available either a titanium or stainless steel case paired with a sapphire crystal, with a legible dial cover in SuperLuminova. The compelling features don’t stop there, as its H-50 manual-winding movement sports a segment-leading 80-hour power reserve. In a world of ever-evolving watch designs, the Hamilton Khaki Field’s authenticity and enduring appeal make it a true standout among military-inspired timepieces.
Marathon Black Pilots Navigator
Developed in partnership with Kelly Air Force Base in 1986, everything on this watch is built for a reason, the high-impact stainless steel case to withstand all sorts of knocks being one of them. Another notable feature is the use of a tritium lume that provides constant glow without needing the power of the sun, useful if operating in darkness for long periods of time. The WW194001BK is a modern interpretation of the classic Marathon Navigator watch, and it retains many of the features that made the original so popular with military personnel. Not to mention that it is certified to MIL-STD-810G, which is a set of standards that tests the durability of watches for military use. This certification means that it can withstand extreme temperatures, shocks, vibrations, and humidity, wrapped up at an affordable price of US$720.
Sinn 857 UTC
Sinn specialises in making high-quality, functional watches, designing watches to meet the needs of professionals in demanding environments. It also offers up some of the best military-inspired watches on the market. To begin with, this watch focuses your attention on a dial that resembles that of instruments found in the cockpit, paired with a GMT function and a countdown timer. The dial fits the personality of the watch really well with the GMT taking up the inner portion of the dial, whilst not taking away from the numerals surrounding it. The 857 UTC has a magnetic field resistance of up to 80,000 A/m, or about 1,000 Gauss, giving its tegimented steel case plentiful protection against magnetism. For those who work at extreme temperatures, how about its dehumidifying technology preventing moisture from condensing inside the watch? It’s especially impressive considering its operating range of -45 to +80 degrees Celsius – quite compelling at US$4,500.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Top Gun
The Big Pilot Top Gun might be one of the most recognisable military-inspired watches on the market, likely thanks to Tom Cruise and the accompanying Hollywood productions. The bold matte black ceramic case exudes a stealthy and commanding presence, while the large numerals and hands ensure quick and precise time reading, essential for aviation missions. The rugged strap further enhances its military aura. Beyond its aesthetics, the Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun 43 houses the IWC 82100 calibre, using the brand’s patented Pellaton winding system. While it would certainly be the military connoisseur’s choice considering the A$15,700 price tag, it does a great job encapsulating the spirit of military inspiration in a luxe package.
Panerai Luminor Submersible Quarantaquattro
Regardless of where your tastes lie, Panerai’s design language could objectively be described as iconic. The large cushion cases with oversized features, and of course, the crown guard, have become instantly recognisable. Panerai used to supply the Royal Italian Navy with specialist gear for years, eventually commissioned to create a dive watch and compass. Considering Italy’s political landscape at the time, and Panerai’s then-inability to create a watch in-house, the watches were initially ordered from Rolex, before eventually adopting Panerai dials – the rest is history.
The Luminor Submersible has further military tie-ins, as it was inspired by a watch made for the Egyptian Navy. While the humongous 60mm Egiziano design was left in the 1950s, the Submersible carries over some of the design cues, most notably in the bezel. This civilian collection can withstand depths of up to 300 metres, and with it came the patented crown guard all Luminors are now synonymous with. Its Quarantaquattro form looks to introduce a more wearable size into the collection, while still maintaining some of its military heritage despite a thoroughly luxurious price, coming in at A$15,100.