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Military-issued wristwatches are one of the most interesting subsets of vintage timepiece collecting, if for no other reason than that they were built for exactly one purpose: versatility. It's easy to forget in today's world of precise digital timing and measurement that a wristwatch was an extremely important tool for military personnel. Whether on land, in the air, or at sea, a watch was required to keep time--accurately--and withstand the rigorous conditions of the field.
The British Ministry of Defence and Her Majesty's Armed Forces have long commissioned timepieces for their troops. Many of their issued watches have become cult favorites among collectors. In the 1940s, the MoD contracted with 12 brands (the "Dirty Dozen") for the W.W.W. (Watch, Wristlet, Waterproof). But after the Second World War, the MOD granted contracts to other brands, at reduced costs due to the austerity measures of the post-War economy. This was mandated by a revised Defense Standard (Def-Stan).
Starting in the 1970s, three companies manufactured chronographs to the pilots of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force: Hamilton, Precista, and CWC, which we offer here. These chronographs are notable for their asymmetrical cases--stamped 0552, in this instance, to denote property of the Royal Navy--which are larger on the right side to protect the crown and pushers. The dials, like other military chronographs of the period, are stark: black with large, luminous Arabic numerals and hands.
DEF-STAN 66-4 mandated that all military-issued chronographs have a start and a reset pusher. Thus, these watches all contain the Valjoux 7733, a robust movement that is almost ubiquitous in chronographs of the period. This ubiquity allows for ease of service, thanks to a greater interchangeability of parts, making these chronographs highly collectible and imminently desirable.
Steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Valjoux Caliber 7733 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1975.
Overall Condition: Steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels and no signs of over-polishing. Case does have minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in very good condition with fine even patina, particularly to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Unsigned crown. Case back bears military markings: "0552-924-3306," "4874-75."
Includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle