Looking for a classic and clean field watch? Prefer something that is assembled in the USA? That is the Vaer A5 Field watch, or more specifically, all of the field watch lineups from Vaer. This midnight blue dial version is probably the cleanest of them all, but there are many more variations, many available in either quartz or automatic. This one is an automatic, a Miyota 9039 for the no date touch, and is just a no-fuss, no-nonsense 100m field watch, and pricing comes in well under $500. It all started with field watches for Vaer, and even though they have started making dive watches (review here), they continue to pump out new field models, with a dial to please almost everyone, with solid quality and customer service.
In the video review, I talk about what is a field watch, and just like with most things horology, you can pick from different sources or opinions, but a watch to be worn in the field would be the simplest answer. Now, just like dive watches, many of us that are buying these types of watches are not in the field, do not need the nylon straps to fit over our uniform sleeves, and are probably using it out camping or that weekend off-roading adventure, and just think of ourselves as cool with our watch. Nothing wrong with that, everything evolves and while there are professions or activities you do want a specific tool for, I am a realist and just look at all these types of watches as fun pieces to diversify the collection. The Vaer A5 slots right in there, and as I said, just go over and take a look at the website to see all the options there are to be had, everything from GMT to quartz, to these automatics, along with date complications, 24 hour time, even 36mm versions. They truly have it all.
But I had Vaer send over the most basic and simple version to check out, as I just loved the simplicity and layout of the dial. This matte blue is definitely midnight blue, though as with any watch, lighting can always make it look a slightly different shade, trust me, this is a dark blue dial. No date, no un-needed dial text, Arabic numerals, and hash marks along with red dots at the 10,2,4 and 8. The syringe-style hands are long enough and though I would prefer matte or brushed metal to match the case, the polished nickel is ok, though a tad reflective for my liking, at least for this style of watch. Of course, reading the time at a glance is no problem, and a single domed sapphire with inner AR doesn’t impede that at all.
The case of the Vaer A5 is a pretty simple round, almost saucer-like shape, with a moderate satin-brushed finish, nothing you will fawn over, but there are some high polished chamfers on the top of the lugs and under the fixed bezel. What I am trying to convey here is that you are not buying this watch for the finishing of the case. It’s not in the $50 watch category, but it could be a little better. Where they hit it out of the park is the 6mm knurled screw-down crown. Easy to grip, no phantom date wheel of course, and while it may not be important to some, I prefer a screw-down crown on every watch, field, sport, dive of course, hell, I want it on a dress watch. Why? Preference of course, and it has less to do with water resistance and more to just knowing my crown is in and secure and I never have to worry about it.
For a watch that is all about utility, I was surprised to see the exhibition case back on the Vaer A5. It seems no matter the movement, the watch-buying community really must prefer to see the movement, no matter how mundane it may be. I would have preferred something like what was on a military watch, such as a Benrus, or Swiss Army, but hey, the movement is there to see, but I wouldn’t mind if the backs all looked like the quartz fields from Vaer.
Just like dial options, Vaer has a lot of strap options as well. Seeing the new trend is quick-release pins, you can get this watch with a default silicone strap, but then can get a nylon strap, leather strap, or even a stainless bracelet. The price will go up from $449 for the second strap unless you choose the nylon, but the top price is $529, and if you don’t have a few minutes and need to be able to change straps super quickly at all times, yes all, including the bracelet have quick release pins. Some may read the way I wrote that and say I am being a little bit snarky, and I definitely am, but I just prefer regular spring bars or solid bars with drilled lugs, screw bars, etc.
When it comes to the strap quality, I would say they fit the price range- the silicone is a Barton Elite, and the leather straps are Horween and very beautiful and soft to the touch, but prepare for some creasing. They are also on the short side, about 120/75mm, which does fit my 7 1/2 inch wrist, but if you have a large wrist you may want to look elsewhere for straps.
Lastly, for those lume junkies out there, you can see Vaer did a good job with the BGW9 lume, and you’ll notice the red dots are lumed, as well as the Vaer logo, for that funk extra detail.
Vaer in my opinion, whether looking at the field watches or their divers, make good, solid, affordable, no-nonsense watches. Most of their watches are using Asian movements and are assembled in California, though if you are someone that needs a Swiss movement, they have those too, but expect to pay a few hundred more. Just like dive watches, the field watch segment has its fair share of completion, but I think Vaer is doing it right, and if you want more affordable, like $200 affordable, you’ll want to check out their quartz models. I would like to see the strap lineup improved a little bit, I am not a huge fan of the Barton straps and I think the leather should be a little more rugged for this type of watch, but overall, a very nice example of a field watch, that goes well with almost anything you’ll wear with the exception of formal wear, and supporting workers in the USA is never a bad thing.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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