For Christmas 1990, I asked Santa for a LL Bean Field Watch, which he kindly left under the tree for me. I’d picked it out of the mail-order catalog in those pre-Internet days, and in a rare instance of luck, it fit my rather small wrist almost perfectly. This was out of character with the rest of my wardrobe at that time, which was baggy and ill-fitting. I had it until about 1997 or so, when I put it on in haste and dropped it somewhere between my apartment and my office in Baltimore City. I’d neglected to tuck the end of the band into the loop and it slipped off my wrist during the bike ride.
Santa gave me an identical replacement that following Christmas, and I’ve had that watch ever since. It’s been with me all over the world and has the scars to prove it–the crystal is cracked, scuffed, and chipped. The nylon band is worn but functional. The battery, dutifully replaced by LL Bean every three years or so, is losing steam again, and several years ago they notified me that they have no more replacements for the crystal–their new Field Watch is a different design. It’s bigger, thicker, and uglier, actually.
I’ve been searching for a replacement for months now, and I’ve narrowed it down to a few candidates. My criteria is simple: the same classic design, a date display, stainless casing, and size. The current trend for all watches seems to be to oversize everything, so it looks like you’ve strapped a tuna can to your wrist. I look ridiculous wearing these watches; I want something that fits my arm.
The gold standard is a Hamilton Field Watch, which set the template during World War II. Unfortunately, these soar high above my price range, mainly because they have a sapphire crystal face, but they’re almost equal in dimension to my current watch. I’d like to buy one of these someday–when I have $300 in discretionary income just laying around.
Next, I looked at the Seiko 5, but ruled it out due to its thickness (13mm). It’s inexpensive but big.
The next contender is a Citizen Eco-Drive field watch, which is slightly wider than my current watch but equal thickness according to the published specs. I like it because it’s self-charging solar through the watch face, and it looks pretty good.
Given all of these choices, I’m going to buy a Citizen when I get some cash together. Not having a watch throws my ADD into chaos, and it’s become an extension of my arm over the last 20+ years.
I also have the option of replacing the crystal on my current watch myself, which I’m going to try. eBay has replacement crystal and toolkits all over the place, and I feel no fear in pulling a laptop apart in my spare time. Plus, my friend Rob has been heavily involved in the Seiko watch modding scene for several years. I may call upon his expertise to help me nurse my ailing friend back to life.