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Six of the Coolest Military Issued or Field-Inspired Mechanical Watches

Often steeped in history, these six watches are reporting for duty.

| By Robin Nooy | 7 min read |

In tactical combat missions or survival situations, soldiers depend on various instruments to complete their tasks and stay alive. For some missions, timing is essential, and as such, the watchmaking industry has always been a significant supplier to military forces, whether it is the Air Force or the Navy. Nowadays, most rely on digital instruments, but that hasn’t diminished the appeal of a good mechanical military issued or field-inspired watch. On the contrary, members of the armed forces have long proved the importance of the backup mechanical watch, and civilians love to rely on the tool-like properties often attributed to Mil-Spec watches as well. So much so that even today, various brands enjoy bringing back or reinterpreting historic military watches. With that in mind, here are six of the coolest ones now available.

Tudor Pelagos FXD

Last week, Tudor released a new version of its utilitarian Pelagos FXD. Sharing a history with both the US Navy and the Marine Nationale, the Pelagos FXD was introduced two years ago. It stood out thanks to its fixed lugs and the unconventional countdown diving bezel, making it a perfect instrument for underwater navigation. The all-titanium Pelagos FXD now changes from blue to black, and following the requirements of the US Navy, it now comes with a more traditional count-up diving bezel. The rest is similar to the previous editions, with the MT5602 manufacture movement under the solid caseback and single-pass straps in green fabric or black rubber. The Tudor Pelagos FXD Black retails for EUR 4,120.

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Quick Facts – 42mm x 12.75mm – titanium case  -fixed lugs – unidirectional rotating bezel with ceramic insert – sapphire crystal – closed caseback – 200m water-resistant – matte black dial – white indices & hands with Super-LumiNova – MT5602 manufacture movement, automatic – 28,800vph – 70h power reserve – silicon hairspring – variable inertia balance wheel – hours, minutes, seconds – single-pass green fabric or black rubber strap – non-limited edition – EUR 4,120

Bell & Ross BR 03

While it’s not a genuine military issued watch, there’s no denying the Bell & Ross BR 03 collection deserves to be on this list. The very tool-like and extremely legible watch is based on flight instruments from both military and commercial aircraft. The iconic square design has recently been resized to 41mm by 41mm and with a slightly retouched profile. It’s available in stainless steel or black ceramic, with various dial colours. Power comes from the BR-CAL.302, hidden from view by the closed caseback. Each one comes with either a rubber or calfskin leather strap, with an additional black fabric strap in the box. Prices range from EUR 3,700 to EUR 4,500.

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Quick Facts – 41mm x 41mm – stainless steel (9.65mm height) or black ceramic ceramic (10.60mm) – flat sapphire crystal – closed caseback – 100m water-resistance – multiple dial options in both materials – 12/3/6/9 layout – hands with Super-LumiNova – BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300 base), automatic – 28m800vph – 54h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date – rubber or calfskin leather strap – additional black textile strap – permanent collection – EUR 3,700 (steel) or EUR 4,500 (ceramic)

Doxa Army green hunter

The elusive Doxa Army has one of the most interesting stories when it comes to military (inspired) watches. It was a watch made in the mid-1960s for professionals and never intended to be commercialised. However, as these things go, it surfaced anyway, and Doxa saw the opportunity to bring it back last year. First presented in black ceramic and limited, and later in stainless steel, the Doxa Army is equal parts quirky and cool. This all-steel Green Hunter is the way to go, although it also comes with a bronze bezel. It uses the tried-and-tested ETA 2824 and comes on a Beads-of-Rice bracelet or green FKM-rubber strap, with an additional camouflage NATO-style strap in the box. It retails for EUR 2,210 on rubber or EUR 2,250 on steel.

2023 Doxa Army Green Ceramic Bezel Full Steel

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Quick Facts – 42.50mm x 45.5mm – helmet-shaped stainless steel case, brushed & polished – bronze unidirectional bezel with green ceramic insert – sapphire crystal – screw-down crown & caseback – 300m water-resistant – beige dial with black markers & Super-LumiNova – orange hands with Super-LumiNova – ETA 2824, automatic – 28,800vph – 42h power reserve – central hours, minutes and seconds, date – green FKM rubber strap or steel bracelet with extendable folding buckle – EUR 2,210 (rubber strap) or EUR 2,250 (steel bracelet)

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Chronograph

Last year’s Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Chronograph is a very cool re-edition of a pilot’s watch issued by the Royal Air Force in the 1970s. The original is known as the Fab Four watch, which was the foundation for this slightly modernised yet very faithful reissue. The 40mm by 14.35mm case closely follows the asymmetrical design of its historic counterpart, with partly shrouded crown and pushers. The black dial has a grained texture and beige-coloured indices with white hands. Replacing the Valjoux 7733 of the original, it comes with the calibre H-51-Si, a hand-wound chronograph movement based on the Valjoux 7753. Worn on a brown leather strap, this cool pilot’s chronograph costs EUR 2,195.

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph H76409530

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Quick Facts – 40mm x 14.35mm – stainless steel, brushed – pump-style pushers & pull-out crown – sapphire crystal – solid caseback – 100m water-resistant – matte black dial, grained – beige-coloured numerals & white hands with Super-LumiNova – bicompax chronograph layout – calibre H-51-Si, hand-wound cam-lever operated chronograph – 28,800vph – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with 30-minute counter – brown leather strap – EUR 2,195

Longines Pilot Majetek

Few bands can match the aviation history of Longines, a brand that has made a significant impact on the development of dedicated pilot’s watches. Watches such as the Lindbergh Hour Angle watch or the Majetek Vojenske Spravy, the latter of the two making a comeback earlier this year. The new Pilot Majetek retains the spirit of the original, yet in a modernised package. It has a beefy 43mm wide cushion-shaped case with a bidirectional bezel, triangular marker and black small seconds dial. The automatic calibre L893.6 delivers a solid 72 hours of running time and has an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring. It comes on a leather strap in green or brown or a khaki NATO-style strap and has a sticker price of EUR 4,150.

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Quick Facts – 43mm x 13.30mm – stainless steel case, brushed & polished – sapphire crystal – fluted rotating bezel with triangular marker – solid caseback – 100m water-resistant – matte black dial – embossed numerals and tracks – small seconds subdial – luminous hands – Calibre L893.6 (ETA A31.501 base) – automatic winding – 25,200vph – 72h power reserve – silicon hairspring – brown or green leather strap, or khaki NATO-style strap – EUR 4,150

Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT

The Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT is the result of an ongoing partnership between French watchmaking company Yema and the French Navy, the Marine Nationale. Following previous special edition watches, this has a redesigned case and a new colour combination. The navy blue dial is paired with a two-tone sapphire bezel insert and bright yellow touches. A solid caseback covers the GMT YEMA3000, the brand’s proprietary automatic GMT movement. You get the choice of either a stainless steel bracelet or an FK Viton rubber strap, both supplied with a complementary elastic MN strap in blue. It retails for USD 1,349 on the bracelet, or USD 1,379 on the FKM Viton rubber strap.

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Quick Facts – 38.5mm x 12mm – stainless steel case, brushed – bidirectional bezel with two-tone 24H insert – double-domed sapphire crystal – solid caseback – 300m water-resistant – navy blue dial – applied indices & hands with Super-LumiNova – yellow central seconds & GMT hand – date window at 3′ – calibre GMT YEMA3000 automatic – 28,800vph – 42h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date, 24h hand – steel bracelet, FKM Viton rubber strap or elastic MN strap – USD 1,349 (bracelet + elastic strap) or USD 1,379 (FKM Viton rubber + elastic strap)

6 responses

  1. so, out of all these “military issued or inspired” watches, only one is issued, and even that is “kinda”. LOL

    of course no sane military organization would issue mechanical watches in 2023!

  2. I can see the military spending $5K for the troops watch -NOT! The Yema would be a stretch for officers. So it leaves the weekend wanna be’s.

  3. paxOs Wait till the next electronic blast setting all those quartzie off the mark.

  4. Most of these options are just a wish list. Most will just wear a G-Shock.

  5. Maybe some of these would be bought as unit/op trophies but none would ever be issued or bought as actual tools.

    In my experience (30 plus year in airforce) there are three ‘real’ military watches kicking around in 2023 (very, very broadly):

    1. garmins (in areas where connected devices are allowed – getting fewer and fewer) or
    2. g-shocks (where connected devices are banned and for in the field) and
    3. brietling aerospaces (where connected devices are banned and you work around aircraft and ships)

  6. It seems as if there’s a fair amount of uneducated people that make comments about what the military issues or doesn’t issue. There are mechanical watches still issued to S.O. divers in the military . Mechanical/ automatic tool watches will always have a place , especially in the military.

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