Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Winfield Mission Timer One

Review and photos by Mike Razak

Mark Miller does not mess about. He’s done everything serving 10 years as a naval intelligence officer to modifying Sellita movements to remove the date to heat-bluing hands and screws for fun. Not content with tinkering, he’s started his own watch brand, Winfield Watch Company. A natural evolution from his original watchmaking dalliance in Seiko modding, the brand is about no-nonsense, take-anything watches. And the Winfield Mission Timer One is a true embodiment of that ethos. 

One glance at the MT1 and you know it means business. And by business, I mean trudging through the wilderness with a nothing but the watch, a hatchet, a canteen, and your instincts. The 41mm  stainless steel case is bead-blasted and heat-treated for exceptional durability—I know because I banged it against far too many things and there wasn’t a single mark on it. At 13mm, there’s no issue with thickness, and the watch wore surprisingly well when strapped to a NATO or any number of other straps I put on it (see below my discussion of the included leather strap). The 20mm lugs are on the short side of things without being stubby and feature a beveled top edge and drilled lug holes. There’s nothing smooth or polished here; this reflects the watch's purpose: adventure. The stark blockiness of the lugs, crown guards, and even the center case all say “Take me outside! Go West!”


A screw-down crown allows for 200M water resistance and features the Winfield logo (embossed, not just etched, which I appreciate both in terms of quality and aesthetics). Perhaps the most mission timer thing about the MT1 is the 120-click unidirectional countdown bezel. In contrast to a dive bezel, the red marker is set to the desired end time and the bezel is used to track time remaining, instead of time elapsed. It’ll be perfect for when you need to get to the LZ for extraction. Or for making sure you finish your tea by a certain time (before you leave for the LZ). The bezel rotates with a satisfying click and no wiggle at all, aided by the intermittent serration around the edge. It features a 12 o’clock red triangle with a lumed pip and 5-minute markers all the way around, with no graduation. The case and countdown bezel remind me a lot of the Sinn 104, a watch that I’ve never handled but have always admired. They both share common design cues in their chunkiness, the countdown bezel, and as we’ll see next, in the legibility of the dial. 


Speaking of trudging, to get through to the dial, you’ve got to get through the double-domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal. It’s a doozy, as it can distort the dial at certain (more extreme) angles, and the AR coating does little to vanquish heavy flecto. But once you’re through, you’ll be treated to high-legibility goodness. The legibility is helped by the matte dial, which is, in fact, bead-blasted brass with dark charcoal PVD coating, a nice contrast with the matte black bezel. At 12 o’clock, the Winfield logo and name are featured, while at 6 o’clock you can learn about water resistance. Crisp Arabic numerals denote the hours, and a peripheral minute track features squared lume pips at the cardinal hours and round ones in between. 


Sword hands indicate time with a long red seconds hand featuring a black counterweight. The seconds reaches the minute track perfectly, as does the minute hand; the hour hand is ideally sized to ensure it just touches the inside edge of the date window. And yeah, it’s a 4:30 date window. And it’s just cut out of the dial. And it’s kind of awful if you care about those sorts of things. Which I do, but you may not. I’ll finish with the real firepower: the lume. The Super-LumiNova C3 is applied extra heavy and it shows: it’s bright and even, and charges up with even the faintest flash of light.  


If you are a follower of Mechanical Exceptionalism, I’ll invite you to climb down of your high horse for a minute. Hidden under the screw-down case back (emblazoned with the logo and SpecsText™) is a 5-jewel Swiss Ronda 715Li quartz movement. Yes, the purist in me would love a mechanical movement, too, but I can’t argue with a quartz that's antimagnetic, shock-resistant, and has a 10-year battery life. You may groan and ache and have a weird itch on the back of your knee about it, but given the ruggedness of the watch, quartz just makes sense. Plus: it’s got a power-saving mode if you pull out the crown while the watch isn’t in use. And I hope I don’t need to remind you that quartz movements are more accurate (do you want to be late to the LZ?) and more durable than their fragile, soulful mechanical counterparts. You may remount your horse.


I hope you’re enjoying your nice horsey ride, and I hope you don’t mind me mounting up on my strap snob horse and riding alongside you. The included black leather strap is garbage. Just get rid of it. You can tell me about break-in period ad nauseam, but there’s just no excuse for a strap like this on a watch at this price point—or any watch for that matter. Smartly, the watch also comes with a high quality, two-tone NATO. If you’re not careful with your NATO straps, though, you may have a case of Tall Watch Syndrome going on. That’s as much to do with the lug hole placement as anything: the holes are just a tad close to the case, but the included curved spring bars mostly mitigate the issue. Once I dug myself out of the week-long depression brought on by the stock leather strap, I was able to pair the MT1 with a good variety of straps (more than are pictured here, in fact), which brought a much-needed smile to my face. 


The Winfield Mission Timer One presents itself as an exceptionally durable timepiece that should be up to just about any challenge you can throw at it. Even throwing it. If a date window must be included, I would prefer it to be more considered than this one, and the crystal could be improved. At $450, it’s priced a little higher than what I’d pay, though I don’t generally go for such tooly tool watches. But this isn’t your standard cheapo quartz, and when you consider similar watches (Sinn 104, $1330; Vicotrinox INOX, $625; Citizen Promaster Tough, $425, etc), the MT1 doesn’t seem far off on price. And it offers advantages over each of those alternatives. If you value longevity and durability, and live that #outdoorlife, then the MT1 may be just the thing for you. You can get it now, for immediate delivery, on the website.

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