June 12, 2022
by Ariel Adams
Waltham watches are back, this time being produced in collaboration with Swiss Watch Angels. In 2021, the brand conducted a campaign that resulted in the debut of a few styles of a new Waltham watch collection known as the Field & Marine (just don’t accidentally say Field & Stream, an outdoor lifestyle magazine). Today, I review a version of that watch known as the Waltham Field & Marine Dual Time Gunmetal Gray. The Field & Marine collection includes both a three-hand version and this “Dual Time” model that contains a different movement. Waltham via Watch Angels also offers a variety of dial colors as well as a polished steel case and this gunmetal gray-toned PVD-coated steel case style. All of the Waltham Field & Marine watches share the same interesting “bayonet crown case” based on a timepiece and patent from back around 1919.
This 1918/1919 story is important because, according to Waltham, these were really the first water-resistant wrist watches to have been produced — at least the first to have been produced with functioning water-resistant cases. This patent featured an early form of screw-down crown that closed with a system similar to how a bayonet knife might attach to a rifle barrel. You twist and unlock the crown to pull it out, and then you depress and turn the crown back in to lock it into place. This system combined with modern wristwatch construction techniques offers the Waltham Field & Marine watches all 300 meters of water resistance.
Let me say now that while the Waltham Field & Marine watches are not perfect, they have a lot of positive qualities, and I found myself wearing this watch more often than I thought. I am happy to recommend these watches to people who like the character of the design and who can appreciate their value and novelty, despite the quirks of being a new product that could benefit from a few years of visual and ergonomic refinement. This model has a “Dual Time” movement, a Swiss Made Soprod caliber C115. Operating at 4Hz with 42 hours of power reserve, this automatic movement has an interesting combination of features. In addition to the time with date window, the dial has a power reserve indicator and a second time zone indicator in 24-hour format. I used this latter feature mostly as a synchronized 24-hour indicator to function as an AM/PM indicator, partly because adjusting the dual time’s 24-hour dial requires adjusting an in-set pusher in the side of the case. That tends to mean you can’t adjust the second time zone on the fly without a special tool. This Soprod movement configuration is still uncommon, and while the three-hand version of the Field & Marine might be more classic, I found the novelty of this Dual Time version more interesting for my personal tastes and timepiece collection.
The case without the crown structure is 43mm-wide, 13.18mm-thick, and has a 47.9mm lug-to-lug distance. That makes for a rather comfy fit, especially with the mostly flat caseback. The watch has the presence of a larger timepiece on the wrist but dimensionally isn’t that big, as you can see. Even though the case is coated in a gunmetal gray tone, it has contrast polishing with a polished bezel and more brushed case middle. Unfortunately, the caseback isn’t done with a matching coating. The caseback is functional but hardly impressive. I feel that Waltham could have designed it to better fit the retro-military theme of the rest of the watch. Over the dial is a domed and semi-box-style AR-coated sapphire crystal.
When I first took the Field & Marine Dual Time out of the box, I immediately noticed it as a watch design that has spent more time in CAD versus in real-life prototype form. I know this because the proportions of some watch features (such as the size and shape of hands and hour markers) are those that would look better on a screen than in real life. While the dial is legible, I do find the hour markers to be a bit petite in size and the subdials to be of limited legibility unless you inspect them closely. Accordingly, the available luminant on the hour markers and hands is a bit low for the type of darkness glow you might expect from a military-style field watch. Most of this would have been refined out with adequate real-world prototyping, which I am guessing is an expensive luxury for many manufacturers today. More likely is that these important lessons will be absorbed and applied to future production runs. Provided the Waltham Field & Marine collection becomes successful (which I hope it does), then I am sure Watch Angels will continue to improve upon this otherwise great overall timepiece concept in the future.
The gray dial is a slightly different tone from the watch case itself, and I appreciate how “old-style” color lume is used on the hands and dial. Even though the Field & Marine Dual Time has more colors than I typically suggest for an attractive watch dial, the design makes it work, and the variety of colors on the dial seems to help it feel more like an instrument. The date window is a bit odd given that the disc is set deeper into the case. It is a small circular hole that needs a more direct line-of-sight viewing angle in order to read the date effectively. The bayonet crown system uses a brass plate that will “patina” over time. The brass plate adds some color and is also a nod to the original Depollier-Waltham patent from early in the 20th century.
Attached to the case is a leather-fined khaki green fabric strap set on quick-release spring bars. I like the bespoke color-matching pin buckles that Waltham designed to pair with it. The straps are a bit on the stiff side but certainly wearable compared to some other fabric straps out there (which are simply too stiff). I can also see this watch looking cool on a variety of NATO-style straps. Overall, I think the Waltham Field & Marine Dual Time Gunmetal Gray is a handsome look on the wrist. Its good looks lend much to its wearing appeal.
Despite some design refinement issues, this is an otherwise very good new product from Watch Angels, which is still a fresh company and concept. It makes sense for Waltham to work together with a fabricator and platform like Watch Angels, and products like the Field & Marine prove that Watch Angels is capable of more than competent stuff. Recall, as well, the last Waltham watch I reviewed, which was more modern and more high-end given what the previous iteration of the company used to be. Comparatively, the Field & Marine is an excellent value and highlights many of Watch Angels’ strengths today. Price for this Waltham Field & Marine Dual Time Gunmetal Gray watch is 1,595 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Watch Angels website here.
>Brand: Waltham | Watch Angels
>Model: Field & Marine Dual Time Gunmetal Grey
>Price: 1,595 Swiss Francs
>Size: 43mm-wide, 13.18mm-thick, 47.9mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As an attractive daily-wear or sport watch when a military look is in order.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Lover of tool watch history who is romanced by the idea of wearing a modern emulation of the first water-resistant wristwatch.
>Best characteristic of watch: Great story mixed with competent and affordable execution make for a personality-rich watch that is available in an array of interesting styles. Nice use of an effective but uncommon automatic movement, and comfortable experience on the wrist.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial proportions can seem visually off; date hard to read.