Best Military Watches – Watches Of The Battlefield

Military watches played an important role in building up what we know of timepieces today. They have rich histories that will get you to appreciate more what these niche watches have to offer.

Why Get a Military Watch?

It wasn’t until the dawn of the WWI when people started wearing wristwatches on the battlefield. Pocket watches used to be the go-to accessories of armed forces. However, their impracticality in the actual warzone led to the development of wristwatches designed for military use. These wristwatches allow the free use of two hands which is especially helpful in situations wherein the availability to move both hands can spell the difference between life and death.

Many watchmakers at the time of the World Wars were commissioned to manufacture timepieces according to military specifications. The common thing about them is that they all have to be tough, legible, reliable, affordable, and serviceable.

Military watches fascinate collectors because of their exclusivity and rarity. They were originally made for military use only but now that they’ve been decommissioned, civilians have a chance to obtain them. In addition to that, these specific timepieces have gone through wars and other historic events. Owning a piece feels like you’ve taken part in the historic events that shaped the world as we know it.

The Best Military Watches

Here are the best military watches you can find today:

CWC G-10 Field Watch

The G-10 Field Watch from the Cabot Watch Company was first introduced in the 1980s. It was mass-produced for the British Ministry of Defense and was designed to be an affordable, everyday military watch that can be used anywhere without worry.

The 36mm G-10 Field Watch has a stainless steel case, an acrylic crystal, a battery hatch for easier replacement, a NATO strap, large Arabic numeral hour markers, hands and markers filled with SuperLuminova, and an ETA 955.102 quartz movement.

Pros:

  • Very legible watch face
  • Affordable and is an effective tool watch
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Water resistant up to 50m

Cons:

  • Acrylic crystal gets scratched easily
  • You can’t replace the straps
  • No date window

Price: $100 to $220

Marathon Navigator

The Marathon Navigator is the company’s solution to Kelley Air Force Base’s request to provide a military watch that can be used by paratroopers and pilots. In 1986, the watch was released, featuring a fibershell case that’s incredibly lightweight but astoundingly sturdy. A new version that’s more suitable for casual use has been released by the company.

The 41mm Marathon Navigator has a case made of fibershell, a stainless steel case back, an acrylic crystal, a nylon strap, a bidirectional rotating bezel with large Arabic numeral hour markers, a dial with 12 and 24-hour Arabic numeral hour markers, a date aperture, tritium-filled hands and markers, and a 3-jewel ETA F06 quartz movement.

Marathon Watch WW194001BK 2019 Edition Navigator Swiss Made Military Issue Pilot’s Watch with Tritium - Sapphire Crystal, Steel Crown, Battery Hatch - ETA F06 Movement (41mm, Black, No Markings)
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • MIL-SPEC: Built to Government...
  • TRITIUM GAS TUBES: Self...
  • PILOT'S WATCH: Designed for pilots...
  • HIGH TORQUE MOVEMENT: Swiss made...
  • SWISS MADE: Marathon watches are...

Pros:

  • Accurate hand movement
  • Very sturdy build
  • Good lume brightness
  • Tine and lightweight, making it very comfortable to wear
  • Water resistant up to 30m

Cons:

  • Date window is too small
  • Case has an odd shape
  • Crystal can get easily scratched

Price: $200 to $300

MIL-W-46374 and the GG-W-113

The MIL-W-46374 and the GG-W-113 are military watches used by the American G.I.s in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. Since then, watchmakers have made a version of these watches themselves, developing variants with mechanical and quartz movements.

The 40mm GG-W-113 and MIL-W-46374 both have a stainless steel case, an acrylic crystal, a nylon strap, a screw-down crown, a black dial with 24-hour and 12-hour markers in Arabic numerals, luminescent hands and markers, and a 24-jewel self-winding movement.

Sale
Marathon Watch WW194003SS-NGM Swiss Made Military Issue Field Watch (GPM) ETA 2801 Movement, Tritium and Sapphire Glass (39mm Case to Crown, Stainless Steel, No Government Markings)
7 Reviews
Marathon Watch WW194003SS-NGM Swiss Made Military Issue Field Watch (GPM) ETA 2801 Movement, Tritium and Sapphire Glass (39mm Case to Crown, Stainless Steel, No Government Markings)
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • MIL-SPEC: Built to Government...
  • TRITIUM GAS TUBES: Self...
  • FIELD WATCH: Designed for general...
  • MECHANICAL MOVEMENT: Venerable...
  • SWISS MADE: Marathon watches are...

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Durable with reliable movement
  • Splash resistant

Cons:

  • No date window
  • Lume isn’t that strong
  • Acrylic crystal gets scratched easily

Price: $200

A-11

The A-11 is the most iconic timepiece used by the US military during World War II. It’s known for having a no-nonsense design and sturdy build. Three manufacturers were commissioned to develop the A-11: Bulova, Elgin, and Waltham.

The 32mm A-11 has a stainless steel case, a black dial with large Arabic numeral hour markers, an acrylic crystal, luminescent hands, and a 15-jewel hacking movement.

Pros:

  • Seconds hacking enabled
  • Sturdy build
  • Legible watch face

Cons:

  • Size might be too small for some users
  • Crown might be too big
  • Acrylic crystal gets scratched easily

Price: $300 to $400

Marathon Search and Rescue (TSAR/GSAR)

The Marathon Search and Rescue models were created in accordance with the request of the Canadian and US governments. They’re worn by combat divers and military troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. They pass ISO standards in terms of quality and reliability.

The 41mm Search and Rescue watch has a 316L stainless steel case, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a screw-in crown, a unidirectional bezel with large Arabic numerals, a black rubber strap, a date window, and a 24-hour marker. The luminescent hands and markers all have Tritium gas tubes and Maraglo™.

The TSAR features a 3-jewel ETA F06 quartz movement. On the other hand, the GSAR has a 25-jewel ETA 2824-2 automatic movement.

Sale
Marathon Watch WW194007 Tsar Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Diver's Quartz Watch with Tritium Illumination and Sapphire Crystal (41 mm, US Government)
35 Reviews
Marathon Watch WW194007 Tsar Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Diver's Quartz Watch with Tritium Illumination and Sapphire Crystal (41 mm, US Government)
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • MIL-SPEC: Built to Government...
  • TRITIUM GAS TUBES: Self...
  • SEARCH & RESCUE: Designed for...
  • HIGH TORQUE MOVEMENT: Swiss made...
  • SWISS MADE: Marathon watches are...

Pros:

  • No-nonsense design with a legible watch face
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Solid build that can withstand rigorous use
  • Power reserve of up to 36 hours
  • Water resistant up to 300m

Cons:

  • Date window can be confusing to read
  • A bit heavy to wear
  • Rubber strap is flimsy

Price: $900 to $1,200

Smiths W10

Smiths is a famous British watchmaker that manufactured military watches from the 1950s to the 1970s. They made their designs and movement in-house in their office in England, giving them the freedom to do whatever they want with their products. The W10 is considered the last mechanical watch issued to the military that originated from the UK.

The 35mm W10 has a stainless steel case, an acrylic crystal, Arabic numeral hour markers, tritium-filled hands and markers, and a calibre 60466E manual-winding movement. The movement is protected by a lining with anti-magnetic properties.

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Sturdy casing
  • Good lume brightness

Cons:

  • No date window
  • Crown is unprotected
  • Acrylic crystal gets scratched easily

Price: $1,050

6B/159 Navigator Watch

The 6B/159 Navigator dates back to WWII and was developed by JLC, Omega, and Longines for the Royal Air Force navigators. The British Ministry of Defense requested these watchmakers a timepiece that has a simple design and a case made of either stainless steel or chrome, and this watch was the result.

The 32mm 6B/159 Navigator has large Arabic numeral hour markers and non-luminous hands. Various movements were used by the manufacturers back then.

Sale
Marathon Watch WW194013 Navigator Swiss Made Military Issue Pilot’s Watch. ETA F06 Movement, Date and Tritium (41mm, Black)
73 Reviews
Marathon Watch WW194013 Navigator Swiss Made Military Issue Pilot’s Watch. ETA F06 Movement, Date and Tritium (41mm, Black)
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • MIL-SPEC: Built to Government...
  • TRITIUM GAS TUBES: Self...
  • PILOT'S WATCH: Designed for pilots...
  • HIGH TORQUE MOVEMENT: Swiss made...
  • SWISS MADE: Marathon watches are...

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Minimalist look makes it suitable as a classic dress watch
  • Sturdy build

Cons:

  • No lume on hands
  • Hard to find nowadays
  • Quite expensive for its features

Price: $1,100

Hamilton Khaki 50mm Mechanical

The 50mm Khaki Field Mechanical has a stainless steel case, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a cow leather strap, large Arabic numeral hour markers, a red-tipped seconds hand, 24-hour markers, a date aperture, luminescent hands and markers, and a calibre H-50 mechanical movement.

This model is just like the other Khaki Field watches, except for its size. It’s an excellent watch for rugged use.

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Water resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • It’s gigantic and hefty
  • Date window is barely  visible
  • No date window

Price: $1,700

KonTiki Eterna Super

The KonTiki Eterna Super wasn’t originally designed for military use. But, because of its robustness, sturdiness, and legibility, the Israeli Defense Forces’ special naval unit found it perfect for military use. Because of this, KonTiki started supplying the Israeli military with specially-made Eterna watches.

The 44mm KonTiki Eterna Super has a band, case, and bezel made of stainless steel. It also has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, unidirectional rotating bezel with large 60-minute markers in Arabic numerals, a screw-down crown, a date aperture, luminescent hands and markers, and an ETA 2894-2 movement.

You can identify if the watch is part of the original models served to the Israeli government by looking for the presence of a serial number and Hebrew lettering on the watch’s case back.

Eterna Men's 1973.41.41.1230 Super KonTiki Heritage Watch
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • Automatic Swiss movement
  • Metal bracelet
  • Luminous hands and hour markers for...
  • Rotating bezel, push-pull-crown
  • Water resistant to 660 feet (200...

Pros:

  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Very legible watch face
  • Bezel has solid clicks
  • Sturdy build that can withstand heavy use
  • Power reserve of up to 38 hours
  • Water resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • It’s thick and heavy
  • Limited number of pieces produced
  • Bezel has no lume in it

Price: $1,800 to $2,000

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen is a movie about the adventures of 12 fictional soldiers during WWII. The same name was given to the group of watches worn by actual soldiers during the Second World War.

The British Ministry of Defense commissioned Buren, Timor, Cyma, Vertex, Grana, Record, IWC, JLC, Longines, Lemania, Eterna, and Omega to develop a watch that’s accurate, reliable, and passes chronometer standards. In addition to these criteria, the watch should be shockproof and waterproof. About 150,000 pieces were produced at that time. Today, the Dirty Dozen remains to be one of the most sought-after collection by enthusiasts.

The Dirty Dozen’s size varies from 35mm to 38mm. They all have a black dial, a screw-on case back, a stainless steel case, a shatterproof acrylic crystal, a small seconds subdial, Arabic numeral hour markers, luminescent hands and markers, and a variety of 15-jewel movements.

Pros:

  • Shockproof watch case
  • Legible watch face
  • Splash resistant

Cons:

  • No date window
  • Domed crystal reflects sunlight
  • Acrylic crystal gets scratched easily

Price: $2,000 to $3,000

Tudor MN Snowflake 1977 Submariner

Tudor is known for supplying several naval armies in the 1950s. The Snnowflake Submariner is probably the most popular among the military watches the company has developed. The design of the Snowflake is the result of the French Marine Nationale requesting the company to alter the hand and make it more visible underwater. Tudor’s Black Bay line is the more modern version of the Snowflake.

The 40mm MN Snowflake has a stainless steel case, a unidirectional rotating bezel with a 60-minute marker, a snowflake hour hand, a Plexiglass crystal, a magnified date window, luminescent hands and markers, and an ETA movement.

Tudor Submariner Automatic-self-Wind Male Watch 94010 (Certified Pre-Owned)
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • Tudor Submariner Snowflake 94010...
  • Grade Rating: 87 / Condition: Very...
  • No papers offered with this watch
  • Authenticated Luxury Consignment by...
  • Watch year: 1979. All images shown...

Pros:

  • Solid bezel clicks with no play
  • Legible watch face
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Straps are easily changeable
  • Water resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • The face and the case back are bulging
  • Strap feels cheap
  • The crown might be a bit large for some

Price: $2,000 to $9,000

Benrus Type I and Type II

Benrus specifically built both the Type I and the Type II in accordance with the request of the US military to develop a reliable, water-resistant accessory. The Type I has lumed hour markers while the Type II has a 24-hour dial with lumed indices. Benrus also created a non-lumed variant of the Type II to cater to military personnel who are working on environments sensitive to radiation emitted by the tritium tubes.

The 43mm military watch has a parkerized steel case, a domed Plexiglass crystal, a notched bi-directional bezel with a luminous triangular pip at the 12 o’clock position, luminescent hands and markers, and an ETA 2620 automatic movement. Both the Type I and Type II exhibit the same features except for the style of the hour markers.

Pros:

  • Sturdy build with reliable movement
  • Bezel has no play
  • Great lume brightness
  • Water resistant up to 360m

Cons:

  • Asymmetrical shape might not be to your taste
  • The Type II looks crowded
  • It’s a bit thick and heavy

Price: $2,300

CWC RAF 1970s Pilot Chronograph

This military watch from CWC is one of the asymmetric-cased chronographs used by the British Ministry of Defense in the 1970s. They’re called asymmetric because of the case design which favors the side where the crown is found. The thicker layer protects the crown from being accidentally moved while military personnel is in operation.

The 47mm RAF 1970s has a stainless steel case, a NATO strap, a black dial filled with tritium, subdials with 60-second and 30-second measurements, luminescent hands and markers, and a Valjoux 7733 movement.

Pros:

  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Legible watch face despite the subdials
  • Classy style despite having a military feel

Cons:

  • Limited pieces available
  • Thick and heavy
  • No date window

Price: $2,500

B-Uhrens

B-Uhrens is short for the German word “Beobachtungs-uhren” which means observation watch. In the 1930s, Hitler created the Luftwaffe and commissioned the development of a timepiece suitable to their bomber navigators. Specifications were sent to these five manufacturers who then supplied the B-Uhrens to the Luftfahrtministerium: Stowa, A. Lange & Söhne, Laco, Wempe, and IWC.

The 55mm B-Uhrens feature a Breguet balance spring with an iron core for added anti-magnetic protection. The watches also have a steel case, an outer ring consisting of 60-minute markers in large Arabic numerals, 12-hour markers on the inner ring, sword hands, luminescent hands and markers, an oversized crown, and a leather strap. Manufacturers used different movements for their B-Uhrens models.

Pros:

  • Seconds hacking enabled
  • Highly legible watch face
  • Excellent lume brightness

Cons:

  • It’s thick and large
  • Oversized crown
  • Original ones are hard to find and are very expensive

Price: $3,000 to $50,000

Vertex M100B

The 40mm Vertex M100B has a stainless steel case which has been treated with DLC technology to give it a rugged-looking black finish. This military watch also features a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a plain black dial with rhodium finish, large Arabic numeral hour markers, a seconds subdial, luminescent hand and markers, and an ETA 7001 movement.

The original M100 is a military watch that’s part of the Dirty Dozen collection and the timepiece used as a reference for the M100B. The Dirty Dozen consists of watches exclusively built for military use during the World Wars.

Pros:

  • Very legible watch face
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Sturdy build that can withstand shocks and bumps
  • Power reserve of up to 42 hours
  • Water resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Very, very limited supply as only 150 pieces have been produced
  • No date window
  • Expensive for its features

Price: $3,400

IWC IW327009 Watch Mark XVIII

The 40mm Watch Mark XVIII has a stainless steel case, a convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, a screw-in crown, a black calfskin strap,  large Arabic numeral hour markers, a date aperture, luminescent hands and markers, and a 25-jewel calibre 35111 automatic self-winding movement.

The Mark XVIII was inspired by the Mark XI which was a part of the Dirty Dozen collection. The vintage Mark XI has a nylon strap while this one comes with a leather strap. Except for this difference, everything else in the Mark XVIII is similar to its Mark XI predecessor.

Pros:

  • Thin and lightweight, measuring only 11mm thick
  • Has anti-magnetic properties
  • Central hacking of seconds is possible
  • Power reserve of up to 42 hours
  • Water resistant up to 60m

Cons:

  • Large crown
  • Limited number produced
  • A bit expensive for its features

Price: $3,500 to $4,350

Longines Weems Second-Setting Watch

The American Naval Lieutenant Commander Philip Van Horn Weems saw the need for pilots to avigate with ease without having to bring a delicate marine chronometer with them up in the air. It led to the creation of the A-3 model which was patented under Longines/Wittnauer in 1929. It has a movable inner dial which can be adjusted to sync with the radio time signals in the time zone where pilots are in.

Various models have been released but they all have legible watch faces with large Arabic numeral hour markers and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Some models have a rotating bezel while the earlier versions feature a rotating inner dial.

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Classic look that makes it suitable as a dress watch
  • Sturdy build

Cons:

  • Oversized crown
  • They’re thick and heavy
  • They’re hard to find nowadays

Price: $4,000

Lemania Royal Navy Monopusher Chronograph

Monopusher chronographs first appeared in the 1940s when the British Ministry of Defense contracted watchmakers Breitling, Lemania, and Rodania to create a chronograph timepiece with a single button for starting, stopping, and resetting the chronograph functions. These watches were issued to RAF pilots, and Royal Navy sailors and submariners.

The 38mm Royal Navy Monopusher has a stainless steel case, a NATO bracelet, an acrylic crystal, large Arabic numeral hour markers, a 60-second chronograph subdial, a 30-second chronograph subdial, tritium-filled hands and markers, and a 15CHT manual-wound movement.

Pros:

  • Sturdy build
  • Good lume brightness
  • Legible watch face
  • Water resistant

Cons:

  • Hard to find
  • Expensive for its features
  • No date window
  • Acrylic crystal gets scratched easily

Price: $4,400

Heuer Bundeswehr Flyback Chronograph 1550G ‘3H’

The “Bund” Flyback Chronograph was produced by Heuer in the 1960s for the Italian and German pilots. Although many other companies manufactured timepieces like the Bund for the army, they all feature dual chronographs, Valjoux movements, and rotating bezels.

The 42mm Bund has a stainless steel case and a stainless steel bezel that rotates in either direction. It also features a Plexiglass crystal, a 30-second chronograph subdial, a 60-second chronograph subdial, large Arabic numeral hour markers, tritium-filled hands and markers, and a Valjoux 230 automatic movement.

Sale
TAG Heuer Men's CAR2B11.BA0799 Analog Display Automatic Self-Wind Silver-Tone Watch
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • Round watch featuring luminous...
  • 43 mm stainless steel case with...
  • Automatic self-wind movement with...
  • Stainless steel bracelet with...
  • Water resistant to 100 m (330 ft):...

Pros:

  • Great lume brightness
  • Legible watch face, including the subdials
  • Accurate hand movement

Cons:

  • The original Bund strap looks cheap
  • They’re a bit hard to find nowadays
  • The crown and pushers are unprotected

Price: $5,200

Omega Seamaster 300 1957

Even though the Seamaster 300 was developed in the 1950s, it wasn’t used by the British Ministry of Defense until the 1960s when they replaced the Rolex Submariner as their main dive watch. In terms of quality and functionality, the Seamaster 300 is on par with any MilSub.

The 39mm Seamaster 300 has a stainless steel case, band, and bezel, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, a bi-directional rotating bezel with a luminous pip at the 12 o’clock position, a black tropical dial with vintage indexes, luminescent hands and markers, and a Master Chronometer 8806 self-winding movement.

Pieces of Seamaster 300 with genuine military markings are more expensive because they belong to the group of watches the Special Boat Squadron actually used. They’ll easily fetch five figures in the market.

Omega Seamaster The 1957 Trilogy Limited Edition Men's Watch 234.10.39.20.01.001
⌚️Limited Quantity⌚️
  • Limited Edition, 3557 Pieces Made
  • Self-winding Automatic Chronometer...
  • Super-LumiNova Luminescent Hands &...
  • Special 'Vintage' Designed...
  • Kit Includes: Black Colored NATO...

Pros:

  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Highly legible watch face
  • Anti-magnetic properties
  • Power reserve of up to 55 hours
  • Water resistant up to 300m

Cons:

  • Limited edition timepiece makes it hard to find
  • Very expensive for a military watch
  • No date window

Price: $19,800

Seikosha WWII Japanese Kamikaze Watch

The Kamikaze was a product of the Seikosha division of Seiko. It was mass-produced in the 1940s for the Japanese military which supposedly distributed it to Kamikaze pilots on their last flights. Although there’s no way to confirm this speculation, the Kamikaze watch remains noteworthy because of its oversized case.

The 48mm Kamikaze has a steel case coated with nickel, a fluted bezel, an outer ring with 5-minute markers, large Arabic numeral hour markers, radium-filled hands and markers, and a 15-jewel manual-wound movement.

The Kamikaze was specifically made to be this large and thick because they’re meant to be worn by pilots over their gloves.

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Easy to adjust because of the oversized crown
  • Good, sturdy build

Cons:

  • Very, very hard to find because most of them have been destroyed
  • Oversized crown
  • The watch itself is incredibly huge

Price: $40,000+

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Milspec I

The Fifty Fathoms was the brainchild of Captain Bob Maloubier, MBE who worked with a Spec-Ops unit during the WWII and Lt. Claude Riffaud of the French Navy. Their idea of what an ideal military dive watch should be were brought to several watchmakers, but only Blancpain took it to production. Up until today, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms remain to be one of the best military dive watches the world has seen.

The 41.5mm Fifty Fathoms Milspec I has a bronze alloy case, an acrylic crystal, a coin-edge bezel with large 15-minute markings, a calfskin strap, radium-filled hands and markers, and an A. Schild caliber 1361 automatic movement.

Pros:

  • Seconds hacking is enabled
  • Accurate hand movements
  • Sturdy case with a no-play bezel
  • Water resistant up to 90m

Cons:

  • Very expensive for a military dive watch
  • No date window
  • Very hard to find nowadays

Price: $65,000

Rolex Military Submariner

Various Rolex Submariner models were developed for the British Ministry of Defense, but only a few – the 5513 and the 5517 models – made their mark as the best military watches in the world. They’re referred to as “Milsubs” and they can be easily recognized by the large “T” written on the dial which indicates the use of tritium for the lume.

The Milsub models have a stainless steel case and bezel, a 60-minute rotating bezel, sword hands, a nylon strap, and luminescent hands and markers.

Pros:

  • Sturdy build designed for military use
  • Legible watch face
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Water resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Very expensive for a military dive watch
  • Only a limited number are available
  • No date window

Price: $100,000+

Conclusion

Watch collectors crave to have military watches, especially authentic ones that actually went to the battlefield and back.  Despite being simple-looking, these military watches do their job well in keeping time even in dire situations.

If you’re looking to collect iconic military watches, it’s best to start with the timepieces we’ve listed here.

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