I think it’s safe to say that the entire worn&wound crew loves a good military watch. There’s just something about the utilitarian nature of these beasts that is very easy to like. And utilitarian they are. Governments and militaries have been issuing timepieces to their armed forces for nearly as long as both have existed. They have served, and continue to serve, as pure tools, designed to give their wearer accurate information while he or she is immersed in an extreme environment. It’s no wonder then that there is an enthusiastic collector community built around these watches.
Below, we’ve pulled together four articles from our archives, now reformatted and refreshed, to give you a step into the world of military watches.
Time Spec: a Primer on Military Watches
We’ll kick things off with a general primer on military watches, tackling the different categories of mil-spec timepieces that have seen use throughout the years.
Affordable Vintage: Cyma WWW
In the early 1940s, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) published a set of specifications for a wristwatch to be issued to their soldiers. The specifications are commonly referred to as WWW, or Watch Wristlet Waterproof. Twelve companies submitted watches that met the criteria: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.
Time Spec: the Mark 11
Perhaps more than any other watch in history, the Mk. 11 truly embodies what it means to be a “tool watch.” Manufactured by International Watch Company and Jaeger-LeCoultre based on specifications provided by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Mk. 11 was designed from the ground up with functionality and utility at the forefront. The result? A quintessential pilot’s watch, and one that would inspire countless designs years after its humble beginning in 1949.
Time Spec: 1970s British Military Asymmetrical Chronographs
For over a decade, four companies–Hamilton, CWC, Newmark, and Precista–supplied simple, sturdy, 30-minute chronographs to the British military. Their classic black, two-register dials, workhorse Valjoux 7733 movements, and asymmetrical case design led to high usability and keep them popular and influential today.