Reviewing watches, and microbrands in particular, sometimes allows me to live vicariously through what I imagine to be the excitement of the creators themselves. This could not be more true than in the case of the Canister Fieldmaster–part field watch, part diver, and one-hundred-percent tool.
I had the opportunity to watch (pardon the pun) the development of Chris Lewington’s Fieldmaster, and the launch of his Canister brand, from the earliest stages through social media channels. That has made this opportunity to review the timepiece in the metal, so much more exciting.
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The Fieldmaster is a quintessential toolwatch right out of the box. It’s uniform, matte brushed finish exudes ruggedness. Indeed, the stainless steel case–41mm in diameter and 50mm lug to lug–while not enormous, has a certain heft to it. This robustness is accentuated by the large knurled bezel and pronounced crown guards. In hand, and up close, it gives off the impression of being hewn into existence. The generous swoop of the lugs down to 20mm is reminiscent of the CWC G10, while in overall shape it is closer to the Glycine Combat Sub.
It is not for nothing that these echoes exist in the design. The Fieldmaster, like the aforementioned models, is a military watch of sorts. There are nods to the Marathon TSAR in the dial, as well, but where the TSAR opts for bar indicators on the outside, the Fieldmaster employs plots, feeding the divewatch vibe established with the 120-click, 60-minute bezel. And instead of a 24-hour clock on the interior of the dial, the Fieldmaster makes use of a 60-second register–perhaps much more useful for timing intervals in the field. The sword hands and markers have been treated with C3 Super-LumiNova–though the lume on the hands is noticeably brighter.
The bezel insert and crystal are sapphire. The crown and caseback are screwed down. For a field watch, the water resistance is a mammoth 200m. This sort of makes the Fieldmaster the Swiss Army Knife of watches. On land and by sea, it has what you need to get by, and more.
The Miyota 9015 is solid movement choice. Its higher beat rate–than, say, the ubiquitous NH35–provides a smooth second sweep and it is a proven workhorse.
Beyond the white dial reference shown here, the Fieldmaster is available in both a blue and a black dial version. True to its toolish, polyvalent nature, the watch also comes with two strap choices and a bracelet. The bracelet is brushed, has solid end links, and is fully articulating. The milled clasp is signed and provides room for 6 degrees of micro-adjust. It also comes with a NATO option, and–my favourite–a black silicone waffle strap.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
50mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Ceramic Bezel Insert
Screwed Dow Crown & Caseback
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Flat Sapphire Crystal|
Lumed Plot Markers on Outside of Dial
60-Minute Register on Dial Interior
C3 Super-LumiNova on Hands and Markers
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet /w Milled Clasp & Micro-adjust|
Black Silicone Waffle Strap
Chris Lewington is a career artillery officer posted to 1 RCHA, Shilo, Manitoba. Although he had been interested in watches as a young man, it was searching for a good watch to take out for training that really turned him into a watch nut. Since early 2019, he has also run the popular Instagram account and blog Island of Misfit Watches, reviewing budget-friendly field watches, military watches, and the odd diver. It was a combination of these experiences that led him ever closer to designing his own timepiece. In his own words, “A good watch…for me it’s something versatile. It’s got to look good but it’s even more important that it’s functional in all conditions. I like a watch that is at home in any setting.” The recent COVID lockdowns finally afforded Chris the time to make the Fieldmaster a reality.
Enthusiasts with a military background will find the details of this piece most interesting. For example, the back of the watch is stamped to appear like the base of an artillery casing, and the logo on the dial is replicated from the WWII tactical symbol for an artillery observation post. It looks good, as Chris might say, but it is first and foremost a functional instrument.
Canister is already working out QC issues with bezel alignment and retooling the bracelet endlinks for a better drape. The watch will also be receiving a larger crown than featured in the prototype here. If they throw in drilled lugs, Chris can take my money now.
An enthusiast-designed watch is not, in and of itself, a great thing. An appreciation for horology and a love of timepieces does not necessarily make you a great watchmaker. But in the case of the Fieldmaster, Chris Lewington’s deep dive into the watch world and his hands on experience with hundreds of models as a reviewer, have positioned him well to know what works and what doesn’t in watch design. Coupled with his years as an artillery officer–where he has experienced what does and does not work in the field–Chris has managed, with his Fieldmaster, to produce a highly wearable, attractive watch with enormous potential for adventure.
But more than that–in the way only a microbrand can–Chris and Canister have reached out to hundreds of enthusiasts for feedback. And this is what has been so exciting, for me, as an observer and sometime-participant in this process: watching Canister respond to those suggestions. From concept to realization, Canister have tweaked and massaged the Fieldmaster into the prototype that showed up at my door last week. And they are still responding and adjusting even now.
The result is a slick and robust package built for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts.
Current pricing estimates would have the Fieldmaster retail for $299USD with early bird pricing on Kickstarter around $270USD. Really. They’re making this far too easy.
For more information on the watch and launch dates, please check out the brand website.
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