Have you ever said to yourself, I’m sick of dive watches but still want something rugged and functional while still being affordable? That’s where the Winfield Apex comes in. Born out of a desire to create something hard-use and capable, while still being attainable by both collectors and just someone needing a good watch, and assembled in the USA. Yes, Winfield does hail from Maryland but the watches are built and tested by Lum-tec, so even though Winfield is a newer watch brand, you can be assured the pieces are well put together by OG’s in the microbrand watch world. This Winfield Apex is their latest model, similar to past models with a slightly different color scheme and a countdown timing bezel for those of us that don’t dive and want to time that bbq on the grill the old-fashioned way.
- 41mm Stainless Steel Case
- 42mm Bezel
- 13mm Thick
- 48mm Lug to Lug
- 20mm Lug Width
- 111 Grams in Weight
- Sapphire Crystal
- 100m Water Resistance
- Seiko SII NH35 Automatic Movement
- Choice of Straps
- Canvas Travel Pouch
- Manufactured in Asia and Assembled
- In the United States by Lum-Tec
Price $445 ($399 Holiday Sale At Time of Publishing)
Now I am not about to pretend these types of watches do not already exist. Sangin Instruments would probably be the most direct competitor in the space currently, with former or active military starting a watch company, and for these two brands, Sangin and Winfield, at affordable prices. Probably the most famous one in this space would be Resco Watches, those guys have been around a long time now. But just like any other product, if there is a market, why not? Sangin produces a lot of great-looking watches, but the Winfield Apex and the Winfield lineup are definitely more original, as opposed to tweaks on homages of other brands. I am not saying these watches are completely new designs or there was no inspiration from other brands past or present (Mark Miller, owner of Winfield even states the original models were inspired by vintage military pieces), but I wouldn’t be able to look at these and point out another brand or model where these look identical.
The case design is very practical, with no highly polished parts anywhere, and everything is bead-blasted, including the stainless steel bezel insert. In my video, I state these are affordable Sinn or Damasko watches, and while they don’t actually look alike, one could see the similarities. But as I write this, I am thinking of Ares, another USA brand, started by the former military (I think the government as well in the case of Ares), now making very tool-oriented, rough, and tough watches with countdown timers. Most of the Ares watches are dive watches though, these are more field/pilot watches, though the Winfield Apex does have a screw-down crown and 100m water resistance. But Ares watches, even the quartz models, start at about $800 I believe. That is double what Winfield sells for.
In fairness, I have never had an Ares in hand, so I can’t comment on them other than what I have read about, but without first-hand experience, I don’t want to make assumptions. I will say though, quartz at $800 is pricey, even though I like the look of the Mission Timers a lot. But this Winfield Apex gives you a lot more than just another diver, and for many is probably a lot more practical. While you can’t take it to 2 or 300 meters, 100m is more than enough for most, and the screw-down crown and case back, with dual gaskets in each, will keep this piece dry. The crown is large, with very blocky crown guards protecting it from mountains, rocks, pavement, or like many of us desk divers, door knobs! The bezel is very secure and easy to rotate, with firm clicks and the red accent at the 12 o’clock pip that matches the red secondhand is welcome detail, and just enough pop of color to keep this piece from being too monochromatic.
The dial is black and grey and is basically a reverse color combo of a previous Winfield model. Now grey is front and center, with a black outer ring for the Arabic numbers and a chapter ring for helping you keep track of your seconds. The bezel is fully indexed as well, so timing something with this watch should be a breeze. As you can see, the numbers are large, and 24-hour time is on the inner dial for those that like to keep track of that and to keep the dial as uncluttered as possible, this is a no-date dial. The only issue I have here is this is a standard NH35 movement, so you do have a phantom or ghost date wheel. If you are not familiar with that phrase, it means there are still two positions in the crown, one to set the date and one to set the time, yet there is no date on the dial. I would have loved to see them use a non-date NH movement, but at the price point, I am willing to overlook it.
The Winfield Apex has a no-nonsense design, front, case, and back, and including the sapphire crystal (which to me is flat but it lists it as domed on the website), is only 13mm thick. *Correction, in the specs on the webpage it did list domed sapphire, which is probably fixed by now, but it does say correctly in the description flat sapphire* Now if you use the included Nato style straps, they will raise the watch up on your wrist a bit and these are 1.4mm nylon straps I believe these are made by UTE Watch Co (formerly Toxic Natos). These styles of straps or nylon straps in general are not really my style and never have been. With each watch, you get a Nato-style strap and a two-piece nylon, but you can not choose the colors. I was sent a few of them, so in this review you can see them in tan, green, and blue, but there are also a few other colors available on the website. I personally want to see these watches offered on canvas or really nice leather straps, and Mark says he is looking for a supplier but is being picky, so we will have to wait and see. Of course, with 20mm drilled lugs, if you have a bunch of straps, it shouldn’t be hard to put your favorite on this piece and go about your day.
I would say my only real letdown with the Winfield Apex would be the lume. Now in the photos below, the lume does look pretty bright, and the hands and large Arabic numbers do glow pretty well, but as you can see in the video, the smaller number and the logo not only look a paler green than the rest, but they also dim a lot faster as well. With these watches being produced by Lum-tec, I was hoping for better lume. Now, it is not horrible, it’s honestly above average still, but I was really expecting to be blown away by the lume, and I wasn’t. Again, I have high expectations.
With all the watches available these days, and all the microbrands, it can be hard to sift through them all and know which one is an actual good solid watch. I, of course, was sent these watches to review, so not being an actual customer can take some people out of what I say, and that is understood. While these watches are manufactured in Asia, like most microbrands, having Lum-Tec assemble and test them, as well as Mark and Lum-tec being able to handle repairs and CS, puts another notch on the belt for me. These watches are rugged, very solidly made, attractive, and again, the best part, well priced. Mark isn’t out there trying to use his name or what he did in the military to put more profit in his pocket. He wanted to make an affordable watch while still being one that can be used and abused and still look good. He definitely accomplished that in my opinion and the Winfield Apex is a great-looking model. The Apex is also available in all-black PVD as well, if you prefer an even more subdued look.