Top 5 iconic military watches
The WW1 trench watch
As pocket watches were impractical in the trenches London jewellers started to create ‘service watches’ for officers fighting on the Western Front. The first advert for such a watch appeared in the Times in February 1915 which was entitled the ’Military Luminous Watch’. By the end of the war all major Swiss watchmaking companies, from Rolex to Zenith, were producing watches for serving officers. In 1918 the British Ministry for War decided that the Army should produce their own wristwatch for men in the ‘other ranks’ who could not afford to buy their own state of the art, high end wristwatch. The watches produced by the British military were all stamped with the ‘broad arrow’ to indicate that they were government property. The Lufbery logo is inspired by the British military’s broad arrow.
The B- Uhr
Issued to the pilots of the Luftwaffe during WW2 the B-Uhr (short for Beobachtungsuhr or Observer) was the most state of the art watch of the 1940s. Its functional design and large case (55mm) have made it the forerunner of many pilot watches created since 1945. The B-Uhr’s were preciously synchronised using tools from the German Navy and were housed in an anti-magnetic case to stop interference with aircraft tools. The watches were so large as they were designed to be worn over the pilot’s jacket.
Issued to the servicemen of certain British regiments during WW2 (for example the Royal Engineers and the Royal Signallers) the W.W.W. is an iconic military watch. The watches were designed to be waterproof and durable and each was issued with luminous hands (the luminous hands were painted with Radium so the vast majority of the watches were destroyed in the 1970s). The W.W.W. was manufactured by twelve watch making companies including Omega and IWC.
The Mark IV and Mark V pocket watches.
The first military issue watches were pocket watches issued to the airmen of the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. The watches were designed to be cockpit tools as well as timepieces and were the only item of equipment pilots were ordered to retrieve from a stricken aircraft. Each watch was stamped with the British Military’s ‘broad arrow’ to indicate that they were government property and to stop them from being ‘misplaced’.
The watch issued by the US military from the 1964 to the early 1970s the MIL-W-46374 is the classic field watch and is famous for been worn by US servicemen during the Vietnam War. Produced by companies such as Hamilton and Timex, the MIL-W-46374 had 17 jewels and like the W.W.W. had a luminous dial that was painted with radioactive material. By modern standards the MIL-W-46374 was small, the dial was 34mm, but the watch does look great.