Military Watches-- An Essential Sub-set for Watch Collectors

Military Watches-- An Essential Sub-set for Watch Collectors

The military watch has a storied history, deeply connected to the developments in modern warfare and technology over the last century. Originally designed as a tool for soldiers to synchronize maneuvers and maintain strict schedules, military watches have evolved significantly, influencing both civilian watchmaking and fashion.

The Birth of the Military Watch

The origins of the military watch trace back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when pocket watches were the norm. However, the practical limitations of pocket watches in combat scenarios led to the development of wristwatches, which allowed soldiers to quickly check the time without using their hands.

The first major adoption of wristwatches in a military context occurred during the Boer War (1899-1902), where British officers used them to coordinate troop movements and artillery strikes. However, it was during World War I that wristwatches, colloquially known as "trench watches," became indispensable. These watches featured luminous hands for reading in low-light conditions, rugged cases, and sometimes shrapnel guards to protect the glass.

Standardization and Innovation in World War II

World War II necessitated a massive scale-up in military watch production. Watches were standardized across the Allied forces, focusing on durability, reliability, and legibility. Features like waterproof cases, radium-painted dials for night-time visibility, and robust movements became standard. The German military issued the B-Uhr to their aviators, a watch that was large, easily readable, and featured an anti-magnetic escapement to keep precise time even when exposed to magnetic fields.

This period also saw the introduction of the A-11,  D12 , Supplied by several manufacturers, including Bulova, Elgin, and Hamilton, Omega . And these classic designs remain extremely popular in the homage watch community. Many modern watch brands attract watch enthusiasts by paying tribute to these historically renowned designs .

The Cold War and Technological Advances

During the Cold War, military watches continued to evolve with technological advances. The focus shifted towards greater precision, durability, and the inclusion of new features like shock resistance and water resistance. Brands like Rolex and Omega supplied watches to various military forces. The British MOD (Ministry of Defense) issued specifications for military watches that led to the production of watches like the Omega Seamaster 300 and the Rolex Milsub, both highly sought after by collectors today.

Moreover, the advent of quartz technology in the 1970s revolutionized military timekeeping by offering unprecedented accuracy. Watches like the Seiko 7A28, equipped with the world's first analog quartz chronograph movement, became part of standard military gear.

The Modern Era

In the modern era, military watches have adopted even more advanced technologies. GPS integration, solar charging, and digital compasses are standard features aimed at enhancing the functionality of military personnel in the field. Brands like Suunto and Garmin lead in this segment, providing watches that can track a soldier’s location, altitude, and even health metrics in real-time.

Influence on Civilian Watchmaking and Fashion

As military watches have evolved, their influence on civilian watchmaking and fashion has grown. The rugged, utilitarian design of military watches, combined with their rich history, has made them popular among collectors and fashion enthusiasts. Brands like Bell & Ross and Panerai, which draw heavy inspiration from military designs, exemplify how military aesthetics can transition into lifestyle and luxury markets.


From their origins in the muddy trenches of World War I to the high-tech wrists of today’s soldiers, military watches have a rich history of development. They have not only been essential tools of warfare but have also shaped the landscape of global watchmaking. Today, they continue to be celebrated for their robustness, history, and distinct style, transcending their utilitarian roots to become icons in the world of horology.


Militado Homage Military Watches :

D12 : Militado 36mm D12 Quartz Vintage Field Watch

Movement:  Japan VD78 Movement
Case material: 316L stainless steel
Case back: 316L stainless steel 
Watch mirror: Domed Sapphire Crystal, Clear AR Coating
Water resistance: 100 m /10 ATM
Luminous: Swiss Super lumious
Crown: Screw-Down
Case: Screw-Down Case

ML1868: Militado Retro VK61 Quartz Chronograph Watch ML1868

Model: ML1868
Movement: VK61【quartz chronograph movement】
Movement characteristics: Subsecond Dial, 60-minute Chronograph
Case material: 316L stainless steel, Bead Blasted
Case back: 316L stainless steel 
Watch mirror:  Sapphire glass with Clear AR coating
Water resistance: 100 m /10 ATM
Luminous: Swiss Super-Luminous, two-color luminous(BGW9+Retro)
Crown: Screw-in
Case: Screw-Down Case

Militado Retro VK61 Quartz Chronograph Watch ML1868

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