What to say about this amazingly unique and rare watch, the Seiko Field Master, aka “Seiko Contra,” like this great example here?
The Field Master was allegedly worn by the anti-Communist Nicaraguan Contra’s during the 1980s conflict there (hence the nickname), but we have no evidence this is true. Civil wars are almost always violent and messy, and facts are usually difficult to come by – so judge for yourself. All we know is that it’s a fantastic military-esque tool watch, and Seiko hadn't made a watch like this before its launch in the early 198o's and has never made anything like it since!
The Field Master came in three variants - a variant with the watch, compass, and map meter modules (like the one on offer here, albeit sans the map meter module); a second, less seen variant with the watch, compass, and map wheel modules, but also an additional forth module - an LCD timer display; and the third, an incredibly rare Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) version, which featured all four modules, with olive color PVD module cases and gold bezel inserts.
The Field Master module case, or rather, cases, consists of two square 28mm x 28mm modules. While the watch module is permanently affixed to its case, the second module allows the user to pull the "crown" (in reality a pin holding the module in place) out at the 4 o’clock position and remove the module to replace it with a different one.
Seiko started its Field Master series using the already proven H558 movement (used in the famous "Arnie" hybrid watch featured in “The Predator” and other Arnold Schwarzenegger films of the 1980s) and redesigned the watch around it. The Japanese are known for extreme adventures around the world, and Seiko wanted to provide a watch users could rely on with their lives (NASA astronaut Colonel Pogue, anyone?). Field Master watches were taken on numerous North and South Pole adventures, as well as to Mt. Everest and other icy peaks of the world; it featured many rugged characteristics – many lifesaving.
Here are a few of its characteristics (remember, some of these were true when the Field Master was new, not necessarily now):
1. Water resistance to 10 atmospheric-pressure depth;
2. Shock resistance from 3 feet;
3. Magnetic resistance, to 16,000A/m when specs at the time called for 4,800A/m;
4. Abrasion resistant Hardlex was used, all the better to stand up to decompression;
5. Cold/heat resistance from -40 to +60 degrees Celsius, higher than the Earth’s maximum temperature;
6. Resistance to cold from its 2mm thick AR coated crystal (the better to prevent fogging and glare);
7. Light weight (at 56 grams) corrosion resistant Titanium case, even if left in salt water for more than 24 hours;
8. Resistance to chemical and gas exposure, such as alcohols and cosmetic oils, and ammonia gas and carbon monoxide;
9. Bright luminescence allowing readability from 25cm in complete darkness;
10. Built-in case characteristics for safety and reliability, such as rounded edges, emergency signal code, compass, and shroud for protection.
This Seiko Field Master comes with a leather strap, two-piece nylon strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1985 Seiko 2C21-0080 "Contra" Field Master Watch, with Compass
DIAL: Black dial with 3, 6, 9, 12 hour Arabic indices, and original hands; dial lume shines, compass module is included.
CASE: Two 28mm x 28mm titanium module cases, with matching stainless steel caseback.
CRYSTAL: Intact crystal, no imperfections.
BAND: This 2C21 comes with a brown leather strap, with cream-colored accent stitching and stainless-steel hardware. This Field Master also comes with a black two-piece nylon strap, again with stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 2C21 quartz movement, manufactured in February 1985; movement uses a button-cell battery.
CROWN: Unsigned Seiko crown.