Military issued watches are some of our favorite watches here at Dial + Bezel HQ. Built for a specific function, and with rugged reliability, these pieces form the perfect combination of what we think the modern collector is looking for; a watch with built-in history that can actually be worn and enjoyed. The first military issued watches were ordered from Girard-Perregaux in 1879 by Kaiser Wilhelm I for his naval officers. Back in the 19th century, there was no stainless steel or durable crystal so to combat rust they had components made in gold with an applied metal grid over the glass crystal to avoid damage. It wasn’t until World War I that the military watch, as we know it today, would come into view. Soldiers in the trenches, annoyed with their pocket watches, began to make the switch to wrist-worn trench or service watches. Many of which were simply pocket watches with lugs and straps applied to them. Learning from the lessons of the first World War, nearly every nation issued standard field watches to its soldiers in World War II with the American A-11 manufactured by Elgin, Bulova, and Waltham. Today, collectors treasure these watches for not only their good looks but for the history that comes along with them. These watches were used by the people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their countries and being able to capture a bit of that spirit in the form of a watch is nothing short of magical.
The watch seen here is a 1978 MIL-W-46374B standard field issue watch from the United States Army. The original spec Mil-W-46374 was first issued in the late 1960s during the Vietnam War but continued production for years to come in several revisions. Each revision after the original was designated with a letter following the original model designation. This watch, a model B, was from the second generation of revised watches that began production in 1975 after the end of the Vietnam War. When it comes to these watches, the B model was the first model run to have all of the dials printed with the H3 and radioactive labels. These were there to notify the wearer that the watch contained tritium (known as hydrogen-3) and that it was radioactive as a result.
This is one of several watches from the private collection of a United States military veteran of 31 years who was deployed in Iraq and later stationed as a Senior Military Representative at the Pentagon. His merits include the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart, among many others. His career took him around the globe. All the while he collected watches and took great care to keep them in perfect condition. Some watches he picked up at flea markets while others were gifts from other soldiers.
The stainless steel case is in excellent condition. There is a faint scuff on the lower left lug but shows no significant scratches or dents. Additionally, there are some light scratches on the crystal that have been left to preserve the originality of the watch. The watch wears the correct and presumed original crown, case-back, and fixed strap bars. The case measures 33mm not including the crown and has an 18mm lug width.
The Dial and Hands
The factory original matte black dial and hands are in excellent condition. The dial is clean and the hands contain all of their original lume as evident by its even age and presence across all lume plots and hands. As noted above this model features the H3 and radioactive symbols on the dial indicating the use of Tritium for the luminous material.
This watch is powered by a 7 jewel manual wind Durowe 7420/2 movement. The watch was recently serviced and is running well.
|Location||New York City|
|Model||Standard Field Issue|
|Movement||Manual, Durowe 7420/2|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Nato Strap|