Sunday, November 23, 2008

J. Crew Timex military watch alternatives

I'm suspecting that Michael Williams over on A Continuous Lean did not expect all of the backlash he would get from suggesting the J. Crew Timex military watch on his holiday gift guide. I'm a little bit divided on the subject because while I agree that it is a pretty cool looking watch, and is a unique item that can only be found at J. Crew, it is a little pricey for a quartz watch. I certainly don't think it was a poor decision to suggest it for his gift guide, though, especially since the guide was suggestions of presents for women to give to men. While it is true actual Timex military watches can be found on Ebay from time to time, and while these would be preferable to the J. Crew version, it's not exactly comparing apples to apples since you simply can't choose to buy one whenever you want. Because of this, I've decided to create a little list of alternative watches that are similar to the J. Crew one. Hope you enjoy.

Name: Military Watch
Source: US Cavalry
Movement: Quartz
Price: $13.99

Name: Squad Leader Watch
Source: US Cavalry
Movement: Quartz
Price: $27.99

Name: Camper
Source: Timex
Movement: Quartz
Price: $35.00

Name: Field Watch
Source: Orvis
Movement: Quartz
Price: $69.00

Name: Classic Field Watch
Source: LL Bean
Movement: Quartz
Price: $89.00

Name: Vintage Field Watch
Source: LL Bean
Movement: Quartz
Price: $89.00

Name: Marathon Special Field Watch
Source: Westcoastime
Movement: Manual wind
Price: $145.00

Name: Stainless Automatic Watch
Source: Orvis
Movement: Automatic
Price: $149.00

My thoughts:
I think that the Squad Leader Watch from US Cavalry is a surprisingly good looking watch, especially for the price. I have the Orvis Field Watch and it is a decent little quartz watch. I haven't worn it in a while, it needs a new battery, but makes a nice looking choice for a beater.


M.Lane said...

Excellent job! I agree with you re the Squad Leader.


Tucker said...

Nice post, Trip. Some great alternatives to the Timex.

heavy tweed jacket said...

I also think that the US Cavalry watch looks pretty good. Likewise, I have an old mechanical Hamilton (Orvis branded) field watch from 1980 or so that I still use on occasion. Great post.

Ryan E. Plett said...

Great post, reminds me of mine two weeks ago...

Cyclo2000 said...


Here you'll find excellent repro G10s as well as military chronos.

Nice article though.

Sam said...

I wear cr2016 (OD metal TIMEX) every day.

Anonymous said...

have you checked out the Timex Perpetual Calendar. It's a great watch and costs 70$.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I enjoyed your post as I felt a person connection to it. I've been deployed in support of OIF three times and I made the mistake of not bringing a watch with me the first time I went over. At the small BX on base they sold a few $10 digital watches and they also sold the Timex Camper watch. I don't remember it being $35, but I bought it and used it during all three deployments with great success. It stills works great to this day and has some great memories connected to it. It has a rather loud tick during the second hand movement, but I learned to come to appreciate it because it had to be near silent to hear it which usually meant it was peaceful and safe. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I just purchased the Orvis Field Watch and I love it. The bands that came with it are multicolor and striped (different from the one above). The rest of the watches are pretty cool though.

Lesli Larson said...

I would also recommend the Traser automatic black dial, leather brand.

It's gone up about a hundred dollars since I purchased mine and I'm not quite sure about availability at the moment. I do a lot of long distance cycling (at night, even) and I rely on the the tritium dials for low light visibility. Most watches with this technology make use of quartz movements (and ugly plastics) so it's nice to have a watch with an automatic movement with the bright hands in a field watch style.

Here's where I bought mine:

RHW said...

I have both the JCrew Timex and the LL Bean Field Watch. The JCrew is a 36mm case, with 18mm lugs so it's just right. The case is distressed some and the dial is a flat faded black giving that worn in patina. The 18mm NATO strap is cotton so I am sure it will wear out faster than the genuine nylon NATO G10 straps available. I like the watch only I wish it had a date function.

The LLBean Field Watch is 38mm with 18mm lugs, and this is out of proportion in my opinion. It should be 38mm x 20mm and it would be perfect. It looks like a lollypop with two sticks, one at 12 o'clock and one at 6 o'clock...

The red seconds hand and green hour and minutes hands are similar on both watches and the Bean gets the nod for having the date function.

Overall both watches are cool with the JCrew taking a slight advantage for having a nicer domed crystal and better proportions.

I also collect the early model LLBean (Hamilton) Field Watches and have 4 or 5 of them of varying vintages. All have 18mm OD green and tan nylon straps, 34mm and 36mm cases,and date function. My earliest LLBean Field Watch is a 1985 model mechanical wind with domed acrylic crystal and no date function. It's my favorite as it was a gift from a special girlfriend my freshman year in college, and later accompanied her on a summer voyage throughout the middle-east and Africa. The khaki strap in it still has marks on it from her use during that time.

My other watches are an Omega Seamaster 300m mid-size quartz on a tropic rubber strap, a Rolex Seadweller and a Rolex GMT Master II. I have a Seiko diver's 200m automatic in the drawer and a 1958 stainless Rolex Oyster Precision automatic on a brown lizard strap with white face, white gold hour and minutes hands, and a blue seconds hand.



bat said...

Hey there. Thanks for the links. I really like the Jcrew Timex, but just felt like $150 was too much for me. From your links, I bought the US Cavalry Squad Leader watch. It was around $30 shipped. Watch looks great, but came with a really weak olive band. So I found this: and bought the black Maratac Mil Series NATO 18mm. It was around $15 shipped. So, total cost now is around $45. Once I got both pieces, I wanted to make the second hand red instead of the bland white, so I disassembled the watch (easy once u know how to remove the winder) and gently painted the second hand red with a red sharpie... So, now it looks as close to the Jcrew Timex as I could find possible (minus distressing) for 1/3 the price. Anyway, thought I'd share my experience if anyone just wants the look and a decent watch. Thanks!

trip said...


Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear your positive review of the Squad Leader watch. I would still like to check it out myself sometime. Hope you enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I've had two Timex Campers - they're great. I especially like to travel with them. They're easy to set for different time zones, and they look great with everything. ALSO - if you happen to lose it on vacation it's only $30 and you can always buy a new one at

Unknown said...

How about the Hamilton Khaki Field watch. Hamilton used to supply the US military with their watches.

Anonymous said...

the l.l. bean vintage crew is 38mm w/20 mm strap. Looks like it's still made by hamilton, comes w/ black and olive NATO starp. 99 bucks w/ bean guarantee. I tried on j crew and it felt a little chintzy despite its good looks

476429 said...

What is interesting about the JCrew Timex Military Watch is that it is essentially a re-issue of a very rare watch. Timex only made one military watch designed specifically for the military using military specifications (MIL-W-46374B). The JCrew watch looks almost identical (but doesn't have the radiation icon).

While Hamilton released many thousands of these watches, Timex only produced them in Feb and Mar of 1982. For that reason they are very rare and very expensive. So, the JCrew watch is basically a replica of a very rare watch.

More info here and here.

476429 said...

Ah, looks like I was somewhat mistaken. The JCrew watch is very similar to the Timex military watch of '82, but it is identical to the Benrus military watch of 1942 (with the exception of the words Benrus and Timex). Finding an original Benrus from that period is very difficult. But they released a commemorative edition recently. It goes for $138. And it is true to the original so no battery--you have to wind it. You can see one here.

trip said...


Thank you for you information; it was quite interesting. I have a Benrus that I bought off of Ebay; the seller claimed that it was Vietnam-era but I should have known better. Not a bad looking watch, but is currently in non-working condition.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to get the Orvis Automatic at half-price at an Orvis store a couple of years ago. It's a nice watch, and I love the automatic feature. It came on a leather strap, and I have not take it off yet to use with a grosgrain strap. I currently use a Wenger quartz military watch for use with straps, but, like the Orvis, it features 20mm lugs. I keep it on a solid navy blue strap, because Central Watch does not carry many 20mm straps.

mooibags said...

thanks so much for the great alternatives to the j crew watch, i wanted it so bad and came across your post, the calvary one looks great for such a better price, i'm going to order now!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the JCrew starps will fit on the US Cavalry watch? Their starps are cool...

Anonymous said...

My wife bought me the J.Crew watch for christmas and I like it a lot. I have owned a couple Timex Campers but all have been destroyed on my last two deployments to Iraq. The US Cav is junk and so is anything else that bears their name. I saw the NSN for the Marathon Special Field Watch and decided to look it up with my supply sergeant... the US Army's cost for that is $76.47!

Anonymous said...

Nice alternatives, thanks for sharing! If you are looking for this kind of watches you can visit military style watches website - there is a lot of information about military style watches there.

Anonymous said...

Discovered this page researching watches. The last watch I bought was at least 8 years ago, a Seiko 5 Automatic off of Ebay for under $100. Stainless case dive style. I grew tired of inexpensive watches that would break after a couple years, and then grew tired of expensive watches whose battery would die, resulting in needing to replace the battery, only to lead to moisture entering the watch and fogging the crystal or seals breaking allowing even more moisture in, ruining the watch.

My Seiko 5 is in very good shape, having been worn near continuously for at least 8 years, even though Ive worn it while working in warehouses, unloading cargo on the docks of New Orleans, and as a mechanic.

Now to the military match.

Seiko makes a Seiko 5 Automatic in this same military style. That Ive seen on the internet for anywhere between $75 and $105 that looks to be a viable alternative to this overpriced Timex.

Seiko SNK809K2 - Black

Seiko SNK805K2 - Olive Green

Seiko SNK803K2 - Tan