If you’re in the market for a watch that can stand up to outdoor adventures, from scrambling up mountainsides to diving into cenotes, the fact is that just about any modern watch will do the job and stand up to a lot more abuse than we give them credit for. That said, there’s no denying the appeal of having the right tool for the job. And with the Archimede Outdoor Protect 39 Black Forest, the intention is right there in the name.

The birth of the field watch can be traced back to the trenches of WWI, where the robust construction and simplicity of design made for a highly legible watch that could stand up to the abuse of the battlefield. That design was refined in the years leading up to WWII, resulting in what would ultimately become the archetype for the modern field watch, with Arabic numerals, luminous hands and markers, and railroad minutes tracks.

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Though there are no hard and fast rules for what constitutes a field watch, watches like the Dirty Dozen issued by the MoD during WWII (and fulfilled by household names like IWC, Omega, Longines, and Jaeger-LeCoultre) set the design brief. In more recent decades, the addition of 13-24 hour numerals has become commonplace in field watches (e.g., the Hamilton Khaki), while at the same time, other brands have reduced the number of numerals (e.g., Tudor Ranger). However, what unites this watch genre is simplicity of design, rugged construction, and an emphasis on legibility.

The Archimede Outdoor Protect 39 is a modern and distinctly German take on the classic field watch that has more than enough tricks up its sleeve to make it something truly special — at a surprisingly reasonable price. Housed in a 39mm case, the Outdoor Protect 39 is right in line for modern field watch dimensions, but its hooded lugs, bring the lug-to-lug distance down to just 43.5mm. Add a thickness of just 11.2mm (not bad for a 200m water-resistant watch), and you get an incredibly easy-wearing watch that disappears on the wrist, especially when paired with a NATO-style strap.

Unlike most field watches, the Outdoor Protect 39 has crown guards and a screw-down crown for extra security. My personal favorite feature, however, is the 316-L stainless-steel case, manufactured by Archimede’s parent company, Ickler in Pforzheim, which undergoes a case-hardening process that brings the hardness up to 1200 Hv — similar to Sinn’s Tegiment treatment. For a watch that’s meant for bashing around in the woods, a hardened case is more than welcome (at least for those of us who prefer to keep our watches looking relatively new).

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The Archimede Outdoor Protect 39 is available in a range of dial colors, from classic black or white to cream or vibrant red. Plus, you have the option of swapping out the seconds hand if you want to create something one-of-a-kind. Personally, I’m most drawn to the Black Forest model reviewed here, with its olive dial and old radium lume. It’s a colorway that looks right at home in the woods and feels appropriate for the watch’s intentions. While I’m typically not a big fan of faux-aged lume, the use of old radium here is not to create a false sense of age, but rather to complement the olive dial with earthy tones. And, to my eye, it works.

As expected (this is a field watch after all), the dial is highly legible, and if you’re not a fan of traditional field and pilot’s watches with their oversized numerals, then the Outdoor Protect 39 may be exactly what you’re looking for, as the numerals almost disappear into the markers. The matte dial, topped by a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, means that glare and reflections are kept to a minimum. My only quibbles with the dial — and they’re minor — are that the hour hand feels slightly too long, and while the date wheel manages to color-match the old radium lume, the background is black rather than color-matched to the dial.

When it comes to straps, Archimede gives you several options: leather, silicone, or a stainless-steel bracelet. The silicone strap is comfortable, though a bit thicker and stiffer than I would have preferred given the svelte dimensions of the watch. The bracelet — which is not hardened, though you can purchase a hardened version for a slight upcharge — is serviceable. It’s a standard three-link design with a stamped clasp that feels like a bit of a letdown given the quality of the rest of the watch. I preferred wearing the Outdoor Protect 39 on an 18mm dark khaki NATO-style strap that proved a stellar match to the aesthetics of the Black Forest colorway.

Beneath the solid caseback is a Swiss Made Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement. Archimede doesn’t specify the grade, but the SW200-1 is known for reliably beating away at 28.8kbph and keeping accurate time with a power reserve of 38 hours, so no complaints here.

The Outdoor Protect 39 is not the only watch in Archimede’s Outdoor lineup. If you prefer a chronograph, Archimede has you covered. If you’re looking for something slightly larger and antimagnetic, there’s the Outdoor 41 AntiMag. Prefer titanium? There’s the Outdoor 41 AntiMag Titan. Though I’m partial to the Outdoor Protect 39 with its modest dimensions and hardened case, it’s nice to see Archimede providing options within this line.

Given that you’re getting a watch that’s made in Germany from renowned case manufacturer Ickler, complete with a hardened case, the Outdoor Protect 39’s price is a pleasant surprise, coming in at less than $1k (€960 including VAT, €806.72 without VAT). The Outdoor Protect 39 Black Forest, though a field watch through-and-through, is a clear evolution of the genre and yet feels entirely of its own. To learn more about Archimede and the Outdoor Protect 39 Black Forest, please visit the brand’s website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Archimede
>Model: Outdoor Protect 39 Black Forest
>Price: €960 including VAT (€806.72 without VAT)
>Size: 39mm diameter, 43.5mm lug-to-lug, 11.2mm thickness, 18mm lug width
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Hiking, camping, or doing field work.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Outdoorsy type looking for a tough, reliable field watch they don’t have to baby or even think about when traipsing through the woods.
>Best characteristic of watch: Case shape, dimensions, and construction—especially the hardening process.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Bracelet (especially the clasp) doesn’t match the case quality.

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