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Roebuck Ranger Review

A compelling alternative to the Hamilton Khaki Field

If you are a watch brand setting out to create a new field watch, you have your work cut out for you. Not only is there a plethora of microbrand field watches to compete with, but there are also brands like Hamilton, who have been the standard in field watches for decades. Not to mention that microbrands and more prominent brands have been releasing more field watches as the dive watch segment has become saturated. 

What to do? Why not make a field watch that doesn’t look like it’s made to travel back to ‘Nam and battle for Saigon? Roebuck has created a field watch that looks and feels like it is made for the 21st century. It has a larger-than-average width (for a field watch) and some tricks to separate itself from the plain Jane field watches out there. Let’s jump in.

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On the Wrist

There is no denying that the Ranger is big by modern field watch standards. Most field watches fall in the 38-39mm range, and the Ranger comes in at 42mm wide. With a lug-to-lug slightly over 49mm, it takes up some real estate, especially on my 6.75″ (~17cm) wrist. The case is 11.9mm thick, and with a wrist-to-crystal of 10mm, it doesn’t feel like a puck on the wrist. The flat sapphire crystal also helps it feel true to its wrist-to-crystal measurement. The bottom line for the Ranger is that this is a big watch that feels comfortable on the wrist, which is precisely what you want with a 42mm watch.

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With a larger diameter comes greater legibility. Field watches must be legible. If they are being worn for their intended purpose, the wearer should be able to glance down, read the time, and move on. Roebuck has accomplished just that with a standard field watch dial layout and brushed hands that don’t get lost in the dial as polished hands can. 

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One of the tricks the Ranger has up its sleeve (up the cuff? slips under the cuff?) is a timing bezel. The internal bezel adds functionality I’ve always thought is missing from modern field watches. I love using timing bezels on my watches. They are quick, easy to use, and silent, unlike a phone’s timer. The crown at 2 o’clock operates the internal bezel and gives the wearer that much-needed timing function. I know most field watches aren’t worn by military personnel but by enthusiasts like you and me. However, I know I would find a timing bezel useful in real-world use. 

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Roebuck Ranger Specs

Case Width

42mm

Lug-to-Lug

49mm

Case Thickness

11.9mm

Lug Width

22mm

Wrist-to-Crystal

10mm

Weight

99g

Water Resistance

100m

Strap

Textile Strap

Crystal

Sapphire

Lume

Super-LumiNova BGW9 and C1

Movement

Miyota 9039

Price

$575

Dial Details

Field watches need a simple dial layout, and the Ranger is no exception. It uses a standard field watch layout with the 1-12 hour track on the outside of the dial and an inner 13-24 hour track inside. The branding text is kept to a minimum and is small not to distract the wearer. There are no water resistance ratings, Automatic, or other useless text on the dial. Thank you, Roebuck. 

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The hands and 1-12 numerals are fully lumed with Super-LumiNova C1 and BGW9. The application is heavy and even. If you use your field watch at night, you will want lots of lume, and the Ranger delivers. 

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The internal bezel is white with black hash marks and numerals. It contrasts with the dial to stand out and keeps it from looking huge. If the internal bezel were black, it would give the false impression that the dial was 36mm when it is closer to 29mm wide. My only gripe with the bezel is the red triangle. I would have preferred this to be a lumed pip, so the bezel was more useful at night. 

Case & Strap

The case is the star of the show. So many field watches use the most boring case designs on the planet. It’s as if brands went to designers and said make me the most boring thing you can possibly come up with and then remove all life from it. In Hamilton’s case (pun intended), they did that and then asked them to make the lug-to-lug 2mm too long. 

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Roebuck injected some soul into the case of the Ranger. The sides of the case feature a cut in that bead blasted with a polished edge. This adds a highly dynamic look to the Ranger that other field watches lack. There is absolutely no functional purpose for this, but I don’t think the people who use watches to tell the time can argue with anyone about function. This cutout is on both sides of the case and adds extra grip on the crowns, keeping them from sitting super close to the case. 

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The fixed bezel mirrors these cutouts in some respects. The bezel is brushed but has two thin lines that give the impression of another cutout on the bezel. It’s a cohesive design element that pops once you notice it. 

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While I love the added functionality of the timing bezel, I am not the biggest fan of internal bezels; specifically the crown used to operate them. You’re stuck behind a rock and hard place with them. You can have a crown that moves without unscrewing and risk accidentally moving it while worn. Or, you can have a screwdown crown that is a pain in the butt to unscrew while worn. Some watches, usually in the more expensive category, have crowns with a ratcheting system to prevent the former. The Ranger does not feature a screwdown crown, and while the tension is pretty good, I still accidentally moved it every once in a while. 

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The Ranger comes on a two-piece canvas strap that is slightly stiff out of the box. It took me a couple of minutes of rolling it between my fingers to get it to conform nicely to my wrist. However, it feels solid, and the hardware and stitching are top-notch. Given the modest thickness of the Ranger, I would put this watch on a NATO and not think twice. 

Final Thoughts

I won’t say this watch surprised me because I’m just too difficult to surprise anymore. But the Ranger is a watch that will surprise a lot of people. It feels like a field watch reimagined to function adequately…in the field and still work in your everyday settings. The cutouts on the side of the case and small details like the bezel make this a watch that is the anthesis of the everyday field watch. It has some flair and a little bit of polish and doesn’t feel like robots made the case in a white-walled room. 42mm isn’t the size for me, but it is for many people who want more beef to their field watch. With that said, if Roebuck made a slightly smaller Ranger, I would seriously consider adding it to my collection and chucking the boring field watch I currently have.

Check out more field watch reviews at The Watch Clicker here

Check out the Roebuck website here

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