Schofield Light – General Purpose Field Watch

Schofield watches for me are one of the founders of the re-emergence of British watch brands, I remember their stand at the Salon QP manned by Giles Ellis and his similarly hipster looking colleague. A style very different from the usual image of watchmakers, presenting watches very different in style to most other market offerings, as well as being one of the bronze innovators.

One constant of the brand has been the 44mm case in various materials, making the obvious branding on the dial  unnecessary. This was a design strategy that I admire, I often ask myself whether other companies would profit from a similar strategy, imagine for example the entire Fears range based on the Brunswick cushion case. The issue that Giles has with his case design is that it is very  expensive to produce. So to be able to offer the Schofield experience at a lower entry cost he has come up with the two new  watches, the Light One and the Dark One based on the same case design.

The first Schofield Light – Brighton September 2023

My first sight of the watch was the Dark One on Giles’ wrist at the Brighton British watch get together last September. As I was not expecting this deviation my first thought was that he was wearing a Braun, which did seem odd. I asked for a closer look, Giles explained it was a future new model. At this point I saw the opportunity to ask for an example to review when he was ready – of course you can. I left Brighton with a smile wondering when the watch would be ready as the example I had seen looked very finished.

The festive break came and went and then mid-January the announcement is made, the Dark One and the Light One are available, 150 examples of each variant. I e-mailed Giles straight away, hoping he would remember our chat. Of course he did, soon a package arrived.

Unpacking the Schofield Light

As soon as you remove the courier’s plastic envelope the treat that is Schofield packaging starts. The outer sleeve being protected by the oily looking paper I associate with ball bearings. Once you remove the outer sleeve you have the user guide and the watch box, which you can see is made from cork. Removing the red lid reveals two straps, a little screwdriver and the watch head neatly wrapped in its own compartment. Giles had sent me the Light One to review.

Even without the strap attached the first impression is that of a substantial weight, very reassuring. The straps come with the quick release attachment, the little screwdriver is for changing the clasp between the two straps. Being lazy and conscious of scratching the clasp, I put the watch on the grey strap, which for the Light One is, in my opinion, the best looking strap.

Whilst I am on the subject of straps, these two straps from Sugar Free ( a sister company of Schofield) are really impressive. As I say, my favourite on the Light One, was the grey version which has a red lining that peaks through at you various adjustment holes. Maybe the choice would be for the black India Rubber strap on the Dark One.

Now onto the watch itself, Giles describes it as a general purpose field watch, built for legibility and reliability – a functional watch with subtle military cues. Powered by an automatic, mechanical Seiko movement NH34A with 24hr GMT. Unusually the GMT is 24 hour not 12, so reading the time in the second time zone requires a little thought.t As I mentioned, The first sensation you have when you pick up the watch is one of substance, of solidity, very much what you would expect as part of the Schofield experience, at the same time it is easy to wear even with more “Smart casual” wear which can be challenging with previous Schofields. This is also helped also by the 4 o’clock position of the crown, avoiding it digging into you wrist.

The grey dial is very “Schofield” very clean and very easy to read, with very subtle branding. I particularily like the red tips of the second and GMT hands. One element missing which for an occasional rail user are the minute indications, which for me always makes setting the time seem a little more approximate, I can understand that it would be messier aesthetically.

I am a huge fan of solid casebacks, especially when the watch uses a pretty standard movement, in this case the Seiko NH34A. As usual Schofield have come up with a very different take on the case back – cool. It is here we discover the watch offers 200 metres water resistance which should amply cover most circumstances the wearer is likely to encounter.

Technical Details

  • General purpose Field watches. The Light One
  • Movement – Seiko NH34A. Hours, minutes and hacking sweep seconds and GMT
  • Power reserve – 44 hours
  • Diameter – 27.4mm
  • Height – 5.32mm
  • Jewels – 24
  • Frequency – 21,600 VPH 4Hz
  • Case – Stainless steel (The Dark One PVD). Anti-fingerprint coating
  • Diameter – 40mm
  • Crystal diameter – 32mm
  • Bezel – Brushed 12 – 6, 36mm diameter
  • Height including lugs – 13.5mm
  • Width between lugs – 22mm
  • Lug length – 48mm
  • Weight with strap and buckle – 96 grammes
  • Crystal – Box sapphire, multiple AR coatings
  • Case Back – Printed mineral crystal. Flush fit, orientated 12-6. Screw in with no opening holes
  • Crown – Double o-ring screw in type with nail groove, engraved with Beam of Light
  • Dials – Split-level, painted, lacquered
  • Date – None
  • Luminescence – Super-LumiNova C3 green emission
  • Hands – Lacquered greys

This watch offers 300, 150 of each version, people an opportunity to have the Schofield experience at a lower cost, currently £2190.

Conclusion

I very much enjoyed my time with the Light One. Schofield offer another very well built carefully designed watch that is different enough from the existing range, and by no means looking like a pared down economical alternative. I am now very curious to see where Schofield will take this case design, I am sure Giles will not leave it at as a two watch range.

In the meantime should you want to find out more or buy a watch visit Schofield’s website or take a trip to Sussex and visit the man himself.