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Military Watches And Their Histories

Military Watches And Their Histories Blog

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In contrast to the luxury ones, the supply of military watches is far less abundant. Historically speaking, the most common way for one such timepiece to see daylight was through contracts with the state. Designed for its armed forces, they were made to time keep under the harshest conditions possible. The days of making watches that way are long gone. In combination with the fact that they aren’t made like that anymore, their rarity gives them a lot of prestige in the watch collectors community.

Things That Define A Military Watch

Many of the innovations that were introduced to the world by military watches are now commonly used by watch manufacturing companies in their products. If those innovations aren’t the thing that sets apart military and civilian timepieces anymore, what is?


The cases of military watches should be able to withstand impacts, corrosion, and harsh weather conditions. Stainless steel has proven to be the most resilient material for that purpose. Historically speaking, sterling silver and nickel-coated metals were commonly used. Whereas today, besides steel, plastic became the most used material in their production.


To be possible to use them at night or when the light is scarce, these watches must have some source of luminosity. Some use a backlight, while others insert luminous compounds on the dial.

Easy To Fix

Working in conditions that are expected in the military, breaks and damages are inevitable. Repairing them must be an easy job. Because of that, all complications should be avoided in the end product. Plain and simple is the best.

Types Of Military Watches

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of military watches.

Pilot’s watches

Before some developments in technology, before digital controls and autopilot, those who flew planes relied on their wrist watches away more. Some wear them still in case their instruments fail. They are relatively large because pilots had to read them with only glimpses.

Field Watches

Compared to a pilot’s watches, these are much smaller. They also had to be as light as possible. Things like chronographs, which are essential for pilots, had no use for fighting on the ground.

Diving Watches

The third branch of the military is the navy. If we’re more specific, this type of watch is closely related to special forces. After all, they’re the ones that work in water, opposed to a navy man whose job is on the ships. Water and pressure resistance are the main features of these watches.

4 Legendary Military Watches

These are military watches that gained legendary status among collectors.

The Dirty Dozen

The British Ministry of Defense had a contract with 12 different Swiss manufacturers. Thus the name they are known for. They were delivered to the UK at the end of WW2. There were required specifications, but that didn’t stop the manufacturers from leaving their touch on the end products. Thus, there are 12 variations of the model in existence today.


Germans were much more specific with their requirements. So, preparing for WW2, they equipped their bomber crews with this work of art. Five manufacturers were responsible for their production. Among them was the famous A Longe & Sohne.


Seikosha, a sister company of renowned Seiko, was responsible for the same job, but within Japan’s military. This timepiece’s colloquial name will be taken from the most famous pilots of the second world war – Kamikaze. When knowing how they ended their lives, the rarity of this piece shouldn’t be a mystery.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Arguably the most famous military timepiece ever produced. When a certain Captain of the French Secret Service was tasked with creating a new special dive unit, he had an idea of the type of watch he wanted for it. Blancpain met those needs, thus creating one of, if not the most iconic dive watches ever created.


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The Bottom Line

Countries in a state of war didn’t regret spending money to equip their soldiers with the best tools possible. Among those tools were wristwatches. History is one of the factors for the price of the watch. With all the history embedded in timepieces listed, there aren’t many that fall in the same category as these four.

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