Vertex is a one-of-a-kind brand, resurrected from the past, now back in business with some pretty cool toolish, military-inspired watches – and clearly, they are more than legitimate in this field! With a solid “Dirty Dozen” background behind these watches, the modern pieces done by Vertex have to be ready for action… And the brand’s latest piece is no exception to the rule. Meet the all-black, stealth looking Vertex M100B Black DLC.
The “Dirty Dozen” Connection
Re-incorporated 100 years after the company’s creation by the founder’s great-grandson, Vertex and its military-inspired watches are moving fast, with now two models in the collection – the 3-hand, modern interpretation of the MoD watches and the Monopusher Chronograph MP45 we already reviewed. But when talking Vertex, you have to keep in mind that these watches don’t come out of the blue and bear a true, legitimate pedigree.
Established in London in 1916 by Claude Lyons as Vertex Watches Ltd, the company is arguably best known for being the only British member of the Dirty Dozen. Producing watches for both military and civilian use, Vertex was based in Hatton Garden, London’s well-known watch and jewellery enclave, for almost five decades. Like many other manufacturers, The company hit hard times in the early 1970s with the Quartz crisis. After lying dormant for over 40 years, a gentleman by the name of Don Cochrane – who happens to be the great-grandson of the original founder – reincorporated the company in 2016.
When reviving the brand, Don Cochrane used the requirements set out by the British Ministry Of Defence (MoD) for what would become the Dirty Dozen as the basis for the new watches. Essentially, the Dirty Dozen is a set of military watches – known as WWW’s (Watch, Wrist, Waterproof) – that were created for the British Military under the auspices of the MoD, during World War II. “Dozen” refers to the 12 individual models created by the 12 chosen companies: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex.
The basic requirements for these watches were: Black dial with Arabic numerals, subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock and railroad-style minutes, luminous hands, hand-wound movements with 15 jewels, shatterproof Perspex crystal, waterproof to the standards of the era, precision movements that had to be regulated to chronometer criteria and a rugged case, capable of diminishing the impact of shocks. This gave birth to 12 watches, which obviously look all very equal. Following this commission, Vertex, working with four Swiss factories, began producing the Cal 59 Nav watch in 1944. In total, around 150,000 W.W.W’s were supplied to the British military by the Dirty Dozen between May 1945 to December 1945, of which Vertex contributed approximately 15,000 pieces.
When reviving the brand, Don Cochrane (as he explained in our recent interview) chose to use these requirements as well as the vintage Vertex watches to create a modern interpretation – not a proper re-issue, but more of a cool, toolish and robust watch evoking the Dirty Dozen. And after the inaugural (and successful) steel version, the M100 comes back in a second, black edition.
The Vertex M100B Black DLC
The fundamentals of the Vertex M100 have been kept alive with this new model – which is again delivered as a limited edition. Thus, the basic idea of a toolish, robust, utilitarian watch is still present, with a no-nonsense approach of watchmaking: a nicely designed, well-built, well-equipped piece that simply looks good and packed with nice details and vintage references.
The case of the Vertex M100B measures 40mm in diameter – a slight increase compared to the old Vertex WWW, but then again we’re talking interpretation and no re-edition – but keeps it reasonable. The stainless steel parts are all brushed and, for this edition, the case, caseback and crown have been coated with Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC), offering an extremely hard-wearing coating – more resistant to scratches than PVD for instance, which suits the concept behind this watch. Clearly, the combination of this black case with the military dial and inspiration is fully relevant here.
Talking dial, we find here the same modernized military dial as the Vertex M100. While the overall design is reminiscent of the WWW watches ordered by the MoD, Vertex has chosen to add some cool and contemporary elements. While one of the requirements was to provide highly contrasted and luminous dials, Vertex changes the painted Arabic numerals for raised, 3D-like plots for the hour markers (the numerals have some great depth), something that gives this M100B a unique personality. The rest feels totally military-inspired, such as the railroad minute track, the luminous syringe hands or the arrow at 12 o’clock.
Powering this Vertex M100B is the ubiquitous ETA 7001, a hand-wound, 17-jewel movement with a robust conception, running at 3Hz and boasting a 45-hour power reserve. The movement has the advantage to remain close from what was found in the Dirty Dozen watches, with its small seconds at 6 o’clock and its absence of date. The movement, finished with Geneva stripes and Rhodium-plated, is hidden behind a plain caseback – to ensure a 100m water resistance.
Price and availability
The Vertex M100B is delivered in a Peli case containing 3 straps: a black rubber strap, a red NATO textile strap and a black NATO textile strap (both with DLC-coated hardware).
The watch will be produced in only 150 pieces (soon to be sold out) at a price of GBP 2,624.40 (incl. UK taxes). Orders can be done directly from the brand’s website, www.vertex-watches.com.