The Best Military Watches to Collect (And Why You Should Be Collecting Them)

G.S./T.P. Pocket Watch

In 1939, the British were caught somewhat with their pants down, and quickly needed to procure a large number of pocket watches for military use. Many of these “General Service, Trade Pattern” watches were purchased from Swiss manufacturers and from retail channels, and thus different dial configurations and specs exist.

W.W.W. “Dirty Dozen”

Produced at the tail end of World War II by 12 Swiss and British companies for the British military, the “Watch.Wrist.Waterproof.” has today become known colloquially as “The Dirty Dozen,” after the (awesome) film of the same name.


These Vietnam War-era American military watches are the gateways into military watch collecting for many an enthusiast. Like the A-11, they were produced in numerous iterations, so it pays to do your research to have an idea of what is approximately “correct” for any given reference.


Here’s an example of a contemporary military dive watch that one could both buy new and as an issued example — if one could convince a serviceman to part with his! Made by Canadian company Marathon, which has been producing mil-spec watches for several generations, the TSAR, GSAR, and MSAR lines constitute a series of robust, automatic and quartz-powered divers that use tritium tubes for the ultimate in luminescent dials.

CWC Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Pilot’s Mechanical Chronograph

Housed in an asymmetric case with a 30-minute counter beneath 12 o’clock, a running seconds counter at 9 o’clock, tritium lume, an acrylic crystal, and a hand-wound Valjoux movement ticking away inside, its cool looks, comfortable 39mm sizing and inscribed caseback make it a compelling military timepiece.

Eterna Kon-Tiki Super

A highly specific dive watch to collect, the Eterna Kon-Tiki Super — in various iterations — was issued to various units within the Israeli Navy. Though it’s commonly assumed that all of these watches were issued to Shayetet 13 — the IDF’s equivalent of the Navy SEALs — “shayetet” means “flotilla,” and there are other “shayetet” units.

Ultimately, military watches are watches — they’re meant primarily for telling the time, and nostalgically waxing poetic about military history while wearing one is a secondary concern. So whether you’re a watch nerd, a history buff, a military nerd, a veteran, or all (or none!) of the above, it’s time to discuss military watches — what to look for, where to buy from, and some of the best watches to collect.

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