Category: Vintage Military Watch

Collecting Vintage Military Watches

A Vintage Military watch makes a great collectors item. The watch is a popular gift, that often a father gives his son at some key landmark in their age. The gift of the watch may come with a history, or be a symbolic symbol that can be kept and handed down through the generations. Perhaps that is why we have a fascination with watches, as they come with a back story. This sense of history in a watch is particlualrly the case when it comes to vintage military wristwatches. If a watch has been worn in combat, it presents us with a connection to the past, with a sense of how history impacts on the everyman.

These two factors, the grand symbolic gift and the connection with history is why collecting vintage military wristwatches holds such a fascination with many people. Military wristwatches vary in style and in price, from the standard classic military issue manual wind up watch of World War 2, such as the Hamilton, with its classic black face, white numerals, and olive-drab canvas strap to the early Rolex watches of World War One.

IIf you want to start collecting military wristwatches, one can start with military issue watches from recent conflicts in Iraq, or even the Sixties and watches from Vietnam. Combat worn watches have a real sense of history and fascination. At the other end of the scale are the rare technological advances that have occured during watch history, and represent a technological heritage. These often are sold at auction and are for serious collectors.

Vintage military watches can be conserved or restored, and it is important one understands the distinction between the two. Conservation can be defined by the fact that is a reversible process, where you clean, or protect the existing parts, such as the dials or hands. Restoration maybe where parts are replaced, like restoring a vintage car, one may have to find replacement parts to make it work. This is in effect irreversible – so may mean the watch will lose its value. But you do end up with a classic functioning watch.

When buying and selling vintage military watches, it is important to understand these two key distinctions, and understand why and for what purpose you are buying the watch. As with any vintage collectible, try to understand the cedents of the military watches, and if possible, find out whether it come with historic paperwork to back it up. That not only helps authenticate the watch, but may add to the history and mystic of the watch. Often pictures from the regiment, or even the watch on the original wearer, with military record cards.

So whatever reason you collect vintage military wristwatches, there are plenty of sources, from eBay to auctions houses, and many sellers supply replacement parts and straps. Whether you collect to wear, or just to build a collection, or just have a legacy, vintage military wristwatches are great watches to own, buy and sell.

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What Exactly Defines Military Wristwatches?

 So what exactly defines military wristwatches?  Here are two examples of standard issue military watch in the G10 style. One from CWC and one from the Marathon Watch Company.  Both watch companies make standard issue watches for the military in both the US and Europe. 


CWC (Cabot Watch Company) have been supplying watches to the British military for over 30 years, and replaced the previous Hamilton (UK) watch. Even today the CWC G10 watches are issued to British servicemen, and continue to be the watch of choice for the Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom. 

 The history of military wristwatches date back to World War 1, and grew in popularity in World War 2. The need for a distinct clear face, with easy to read Arabic numerals were key, and those principles can be seen in contemporary military wristwatches today. 

 Of course, military wristwatches have developed and evolved, with pilot watches and diver’s watches. The US military today do can wear commercial
watches, as long as they meet certain specifications, and most major watch
brands have a history of making military watches.

 The Vintage military watch is a popular collectors market, with battle worn watches being most desirable. Contemporary watch designs contain many style influences from the standard military watch G10 style, with its dark face, clear white numbers, and NATO style strap – for example look at designer brand Burberry’s take on the military watch style.
burberry military watch Burberry Military Watch 


The similarities are clear, with its NATO style strap and black watch face. 

 So whether you are a collector of vintage military watches, or just like the design styling influence of military wristwatches, there are plenty of choices.

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