Military Watches: Introduction

Military watches have a certain appeal that cannot be provided by other jewelry or different watch types. These watches display a level of technical sophistication from military functions demanding accuracy and precision. They are also preferred for their durability and style. Additionally, military watches are practically perfect for pilots, athletes, or outdoorsmen.
A Brief History of Military Watches

The armed forces were the primary groups to use military watches. Chronometers or naval pieces were the first military watches. Although they had served their purpose well, they lacked the features that could clock precise seconds needed in aviation.
World War II

The need to determine precise seconds in World War II gave birth to Navigator watches. A technological advancement introduced with these “pilot watches” allowed the pilot to synchronize the seconds hand with correct reference time before taking off. This feature also eliminated navigational errors by permitting manual corrections to radio time signals while the pilot is in flight.

The development of the hack feature in these watches improved the accuracy and speed of synchronizing 2 or more military watches. This made the seconds hand jump to the next seconds mark instead of smoothly shifting to the next mark.

The United States preferred smaller aviation watches. These had faces as small as 30mm. Germany preferred larger watch faces measuring up to 55mm or more.

The Second World War also gave birth to wristwatches as a response to providing pilots a convenient way to check their watches. IWC provided a solution by designing a watch that could be strapped onto the pilot’s wrist. IWC’s first design featured a 55mm case with a black dial, luminous hands, and a revolving glass bezel. The bezel had an arrow used by pilots to check flight time. This watch was strapped to the pilot’s wrist using a long oversized leather strip.
The Cold War

Airplanes ascended to a powerful military and political level during the Cold War. The military watches were specifically manufactured to fly with these powerful machines. Military watches in this era were larger than those of previous American navigators. Most of these watches had matte black dials marked with white Arabic numerals.

Shatterproof Perspex acrylic crystal is among the features introduced with these new set of military watches. This protected these watches from magnetic fields. This feature also made the pieces water-resistant up to 20 feet and even in low-pressure operational altitudes.
Contemporary Military Watches

From the 1970’s onwards, the military watches took on a form recognizable today by many. Very few changes have been introduced to military watches. These include the use of Tritium tubes for illumination in military watches.

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