1970’s Rhodesian Military Roamer Anfibio


The History

Simply put, Roamer is a watch person’s watch brand. If you haven’t heard of them before, that’s ok, that’s why we’re here. Well known within horology circles, this Swiss watch brand was founded in 1888 in the hills of Solothurn by Fritz Meyer. At first, Meyer and his associates focused solely on making cylinder escapements but within only seven years, they were producing complete watches with their own calibers. At one point in their long history, they were producing over a million watches per year. The Roamer brand is storied in its own right, but that alone is not what makes this watch so special. What makes it truly awesome is its military history. The Roamer Anfibio traces its heritage to the Rhodesian Bush War – alternatively the Zimbabwe War of Liberation – a civil conflict from 1964 to 1979 that pitted the forces of the yet to be recognized white minority government of Rhodesia against the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army of Robert Mugabe. During the war, major sanctions and embargoes were placed on the country which limited their ability to purchase luxury goods, like watches, on the open market. This forced the military to call on their South African friends to smuggle watches, like the one you see here, clandestinely into the country.

The Reference

These Rhodesian Anfibio Roamers are particularly interesting. They were smuggled in through South Africa, with the earliest examples bearing ZA initials for Zuid Afrika. The ones in the mid-1970s, like the example shown here, were signed RA. There are even some examples that have appeared bearing a second marking of SFA which is believed to have been stamped on watches by the Security Force Auxiliaries. These watches are thought to have been reissued and had the stamps applied after the watch was produced. This is all speculative though as Roamer does not have archives from this time period.

The Case

This Roamer Anfibio features a waterproof stainless steel case in a cushion shape that measures 35mm across. Overall the case appears sharp and is finished in the correct brushed finish. There are normal signs of wear on the case in accordance with watch of its age and there is a major scratch that should be noted above 1 o’clock.  The present example has the original fixed lug bars and unsigned crown. The case back has the Rhodesian military issue number which reads RA2018 as well as the model number and the Roamer insignia.

The Dial and Hands

The dial is matte black which has aged with white spots appearing throughout which has created a night sky type of effect. The overall dial design is simple with an aim toward legibility with lumed numbers separated by minute markers on the border of the dial. The watch is a simple three hander with the hands showing the age of the watch with carmel colored lume. Also painted on the dial is the Roamer brand name along with their insignia on the top of the dial and anfibio, incabloc, 17 jewels and swiss made on the bottom of the watch.

The Movement

The watch comes with a MST520 17-jewel hacking manual wind movement which is a Roamer specific movement that was designed in conjunction with Tissot and Certina. Roamer also produced an MST521 movement which could be found in civilian models and featured a date function. The watch is currently winding and keeping time but the service history of the watch is not know.


Seller Watchsafari
Auction Number 135
Location New York City
Brand Roamer
Model Anfibio
Reference Number 520-1120 016
Movement Manual Wind MST520
Year 1970's
Dial Black
Case Width 35mm
Case Material Stainless Steel
Band Material NATO
Clasp Type Buckle
Original Box No
Original Papers No
Seller Type Individual


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  1. jakeneedleman

    Sweet vintage military piece

  2. daytonaman

    Rhodesian military issue 🙂