Best Entry Level Automatic Field Watch? I Would Say Yes

Islander #ISL-43
Dimensions: 48.5mm lug to lug, 39 mm wide, 12mm thick
Case: stainless steel
Case Back: sapphire crystal screw-on
Strap: canvas
Crystal: sapphire
Movement: Seiko NH36
Water Resistance: 100m
This is the best value entry level automatic field watch currently available in my opinion. I had a Seiko SNK809 in my collection that I gave to my grandson a few years ago as his first automatic watch. It is a great value considering what you get for what you pay. However, it cannot compare to my #ISL-43. An automatic watch with a solid movement, a sapphire crystal, 100m water resistance, screw-down crown, hand-winding, and hacking all for $199, except for the DLC case models, which are $229. When I got mine, the price was even lower at $189. While the dive models are all good value considering what you get, I feel that the true value in the Islander watch line are the other models beyond the dive watches; the dress, field, and pilot models, which are $199 for the most part, and even less when Marc has one of his periodic sales. Granted, you do get a bracelet on almost all dive models, along with 200M WR instead of 100M, but you are still getting the sapphire crystal, screw-down crown, and an NH movement.
I recently got one of the new Seiko 5 field watches, and it prompted me to write this review. The new SRPGs are a welcome update to the SNKs and SNZs, but they still fall short of what you get with an Islander field watch. Boldr, Vaer, Bertucci, Seiko, the new Bulova field watches, and even Marathon all offer less value for your dollar for an automatic field watch than what you get with the Islander field watches. An Orient Defender is a field watch that I think comes close; it is a bit less expensive but does not have a sapphire crystal. You might be able to find a field watch that offers the same features for less money on AliExpress, but there may be issues with the watch you get. AliExpress is not known for its QC. The quality control issues that plague some of the watches there have not been an issue with Islander watches in my experience.
At 39mm, it is the perfect field watch size, and it is not overly thick at 12mm. I did change out the strap for one of the Islander elastic watch bands, as it is pretty stiff and not very comfortable. 
One other small problem is the lack of lume on the numbers in my Islander. The newer automatic Islander field watches also have lume on the Arabics, where mine does not, and the lack does make it a bit hard to read in the dark. My #ISL-78 is much more readable, having lume on the numbers as well as the rest of the dial indices and hands. That is one small issue with my own Islander field watch, but anyone purchasing one now will have lume on the numbers.
Lately, Marc has been offering some new designs that are more original and less homages, but this is one model that benefits from keeping the more classic field watch look. One of the newer field watch models does have a day/date feature at the 6:00 position; the Islander Day-T #ISL-129. Honestly, that is the one I would really recommend to anyone looking for a good entry-level field watch, but that is only because of the awesome day/date complications at the 6:00 position. I think my #ISL-43 is a great value, like the entire Islander line. I own numerous other Islanders, and I have not had any quality control issues with any of them, and all of them are operating well within expected tolerances.

p.s. I have rated the wearability for the original strap. With the Islander EWB that easily rises to 5.

Best Entry Level Automatic Field Watch? I Would Say Yes

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  • Classic field watch aesthetic
  • Sapphire crystal and case back
  • Great value
  • Stiff strap
  • Lack of lume on numbers