Introducing Special Features: A Guide to Field Watch Complications

Introducing Special Features: A Guide to Field Watch Complications

Written by Kenneth Sawyer, In watch, Updated On
December 20th, 2023

When it comes to durability and reliability in demanding environments, a well-made field watch is hard to beat. The classic, no-nonsense field watch just displays the hours, minutes, and seconds—nothing more. However, modern advances have introduced additional watch complications that extend functionality for specific needs. These special features go beyond timekeeping and can be useful for particular field applications.

Field Watch Complications

Guide to Field Watch Complications

Chronograph Complications

A chronograph is essentially a stopwatch feature right on the watch face. It allows you to time events down to fractions of a second. Chronographs are operated through an additional pusher button that starts, stops, and resets the chronograph function without affecting the watch movement.

Field watches with chronograph features benefit professionals and adventure seekers who rely on precise event timing like pilots, race car drivers, medical personnel, and athletics coaches. The chronograph makes it easy to quickly record timing without fumbling with a separate device. Popular brands that incorporate chronographs into their field watch models include Hamilton, Seiko, Citizen, and Victorinox.

Altimeter Complications

A built-in altimeter on a field watch uses atmospheric pressure to provide altitude data. It tracks elevation for climbing, hiking, mountaineering, aeronautics, weather observation, and other activities. Suunto, Luminox, and Casio are among the watchmakers with altimeter watch models geared specifically toward alpine use and extreme environments.

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Watch altimeters must be regularly calibrated for the greatest accuracy. Depending on the watch, calibration may be manual or automatic. Accuracy ranges between 90 to 120 feet. Altimeter watches work well with other navigation tools like GPS trackers, topo maps, etc. The benefit is getting altitude data at a glance rather than repeatedly consulting a handheld unit.

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Multiple Time Zone Complications

Guide to Field Watch Complications

For frequent travelers and jet setters crossing through many time zones, a GMT or dual/multiple time zone watch can be invaluable. These watches display a secondary hour hand that references a different time zone. Rotating bezels on the watch case also enables tracking multiple zones.

Having both home and travel time readily displayed cuts down on mental math and flipping through device settings. Brands like Rolex, Omega, Breitling, and Glycine cater nicely to jet travelers with intuitive multiple-time zone watches.

Calendar Complications

Most mechanical watches show the date, often with an abbreviated dial underneath the hour marker at 3:00. But some field watches incorporate more expanded calendar functions like day of the week, month, year, and even moon phase.

These are handy when recording data in remote field work or disaster response scenarios when you may lose access to phones and wireless devices. The right calendar watch appeals to those who simply appreciate fine watchmaking complications for their innate craftsmanship.

In Conclusion

Field watch complications build helpful tools right into the timepiece. Chronographs, altimeters, multiple time zones, and calendar functions extend functionality for specialized timing, navigation, travel, record-keeping, research, and other applications. The right field watch with tailored complications makes life easier when out in the field.

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