Discreet colour, robust material, extreme readability and technical attributes: these are military watches. They have special features that have always attracted a solid base of aficionados. Pure “army” style or models truly affiliated with an elite unit, these instruments do not leave anyone indifferent. And, above all, they all have a story to tell.
We strongly recommend you to read our article on Tudor and the Hubert commando as a further example.
HAMILTON Khaki Field Mechanical, the military watches of the GIs
All fans of military watches know the Kahki Field by Hamilton, the watch of the famous GI’s of the American army. They wore it during the landing as it was part of their kit. The latter also contained, among other things, a helmet and a pack of chewing gum.
Hamilton was an American brand before it became part of the Swiss Swatch Group. This Maison has always supplied the US army, which has even given several awards to the Khaki Field. Distinctions that salute its manufacturing quality and its chronometric precision. The Khaki Field Mechanical logically opened the hostilities on the stage of the video. There were two versions. One is in 38 mm (€495) like the original one. The other one is in 42 mm (€595) for the bigger wrists that want a more adequate size.
1940s military inspiration
Both faithfully reproduce all the details of the Khaki model from the 1940s. There is a large winding crown that is easy to handle and an ultra-readable dial. The dial has triangular markers and hands covered with Superluminova “radium” which asserts the vintage look of the whole. It also features a double hour scale, a typical detail of military watches, the use of which Frank sans C explained to you. Water-resistant up to 50 meters, the steel case is sandblasted to avoid reflecting light: a considerable asset when you want to stay discreet in operation.
As for the calibre, the Khaki Field Mechanical embeds the H-50 hand-wound movement offering 80 hours of power reserve. Don’t calculate, that’s more than 3 days of autonomy. Ingenious, the NATO type bracelet in green fabric has a brown leather reinforcement band at the level of the holes for the buckle, which obviously increases its life span. Good point.
ORIS Big Crown ProPilot TLP, for fighter pilots
The independent company Oris has been a partner of the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) since last year. This is the training school for elite pilots of NATO’s allied coalition forces, which is based in Albacete, Spain.
This rapprochement is an opportunity for Oris to create a very beautiful 44 mm instrument produced in 750 pieces in anti-reflective gunmetal grey PVD treated steel. This ProPilot TLP model (€2,050) is water-resistant up to 100 metres. It protects a dial with the same green colour as the TLP pilots’ flight suits.
A high-performance textile bracelet
This opus also features details such as the beige colour of the eagle in the school’s logo. The watch is also distinguished by its strap made of Ventile®. This high-performance, ultra-resistant and water-repellent textile was invented during the Second World War for Royal Air Force pilots.
Oversized crown, turbine-like bezel, luminescent hands and indexes: all the ingredients of the tool-watches that make Oris ProPilot so successful are present on this model equipped with a beautifully crafted automatic calibre. While the civilian version has the training school logo on the back, Oris offers pilots who graduate from the TLP the opportunity to personalise their watch by engraving their name and the year of the program in addition to the limited edition number.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”, for fighter pilots too
Another watch brand, another training school with IWC which has been offering TOP GUN models for a long time. For information, you should know that the Schaffhausen manufacture even designs secret models for the pilot instructors who prepare the elite pilots of the US army.
The Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”, in high-tech sand-coloured ceramic (€14,900), not to say beige, directly evokes the arid landscapes surrounding the China Lake naval air base located in the Mojave Desert, north Los Angeles. We won’t go over the innumerable qualities of ceramics again, all the information is in our article on ceramic watches.
Water-resistant up to 60 metres, this 46 mm-diameter model features a characteristic “ogive” shaped crown. It plays the chromatic card to the hilt since its Superluminova hands and indexes, like its rubber/textile strap, are also sand-coloured.
Anti-magnetic internal cage and depressurization resistant ice
The instrument houses a bi-directional Pellaton self-winding movement with a 7-day power reserve (indicator at 3 o’clock). However, you will not see this beautiful calibre because the titanium screwed back is solid and decorated with the TOP GUN logo. Other particularities of the instrument: it benefits from an internal antimagnetic protection made of soft iron and its sapphire glass resists to the depressurization. Last but not least, IWC only produces 250 pieces per year.
LONGINES Heritage Military, when military watches are inspired by the past in every detail
The story of the Heritage Military watch, a reinterpretation of a 1940s model, is an unusual one. It was a young English collector who found the original timepiece before providing it to Longines for study. It belonged to a certain Stanley Turner, a radio operator in RAF aircraft during the Second World War who was decorated several times for his exploits.
With a diameter of 38,5 mm, the Longines Heritage Military (€2,120) displays a very attractive vintage style. On the wrist, it is a delight (my favourite). It is equipped with an automatic calibre but it does not mention it to remain faithful to the source of inspiration. And it is so much better!
The blued hands contrast elegantly with a dial that deserves attention. It is indeed sprayed with micro-droplets of black paint to reproduce the aged look of the historic model’s dial. This process is done by hand. No two dials are alike. This makes each watch unique.
MATWATCHES Naval Aviator, with GMT option
At Matwatches (MAT for Mer-Air-Terre), the Naval Aviator (€2,450) is designed with and for US Naval Aviation pilots. It was released in 2018 in 150 pieces…sold out in no time. Given the success of this creation, the founders of the brand, based in Paris, decided to reproduce 80 pieces. Obviously, there will not be enough for everyone. The Naval Aviator comes from a meeting with Jerry “Leekster” Leeke. He was a business pilot before becoming a fighter pilot flying a US Navy F-14 Tomcat. With several combat missions and more than 400 aircraft carrier landings under his belt, the sky soldier has experience to spare.
The Swiss Made automatic calibre Naval Aviator is a robust GMT model in 316L steel with a second time zone function. To this end, it is equipped with an additional red hand with arrowhead that displays this second indication on the 24-hour scale of the bezel. The latter is rotating and has 24 notches, which allows an efficient and quick (re)adjustment of the time zone if necessary.
Good to know, the watch is delivered with three interchangeable straps: blue calf leather, Navy canvas and blue rubber.
AKRONE, military watches for elite troops
Just for you (but not for you), Frank sans C has discovered two Akrone military watches that are only for elite troops. So, for once, you won’t get the price of these watches. Don’t worry, Akrone has other great – civilian – models on its site.
Erwan, one of the founders of the brand (and 100% Breton), came with a titanium K-FSP “mailcoach”. The name of the instrument refers to the “Forces Sécurité Protection” of the GIGN. Their mission is to protect French ambassadors and diplomats around the world. And “Mailcoach” is in fact the name of a nightclub in Kabul, where the units used to go to decompress after duty.
Military watches for the military
Blue and black colours of the gendarmerie, 24 hours bezel and GMT hand for the reading of a second time zone: the watch also has a 24 cities flange including places where the FSP group has operated (Abidjan, Tripoli, Baghdad…). One will also note the presence of a gun metal treated insert on the bezel in a nod to the colour of the weapons, as well as the presence of a sight on the face of the crown.
There was also the C-03 1er RCP in titanium “gun metal” designed for the members of the first “Régiment de Parachutistes”. Only 100 pieces of this beautiful titanium instrument will be made for the paratroopers, whose logo appears at 6 o’clock on the dial. The bezel allows the watch to serve as a compass, a very practical feature for the soldiers of the 1st RCP who are used to operating in the desert. Its “sandwich” dial is driven by a Seiko automatic movement and its black strap bears the French colours. It is also made from an ultra-resistant elastic nylon parachute strap.