We are skilled in the repair and restoration of a whole range of different types of watch – both modern and vintage. One group of watches we regularly work on are military watches. These watches tend to have some age to them, but alongside this there’s often a fascinating story behind each and every one.
Arguably the most famous sub-group of military watches is the “Dirty Dozen”. In the 1940s, the MOD needed watches produced to a certain specification for issue to the armed forces. The given specification was demanding due to the conditions some of these timepieces would be used in. Watches needed to be durable, water resistant, accurate timekeepers and have luminous dials/hands. They also needed to display designated serial numbers and codes on the case back and feature a black dial with arabic numerals and a sub-dial for seconds.
Twelve manufacturers were eventually approved to produce these watches – hence the name, the Dirty Dozen. In alphabetical order, these makers were: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger Le Coultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. As you may note, all these makers are Swiss. Unfortunately British watchmaking had been in decline for some time, so lacked the required means of production to make such timepieces.
We’ve been lucky to see a number of “Dirty Dozen” watches throughout the years, though some brands are rarer than others. Take the Grana for example – it’s estimated that only between 1000-1500 were produced – we’ve not had one of these arrive in the workshop quite yet!
Repairing and restoring watches like these is a real skill. Simply due to the age of the watches, there are often many more worn parts. On top of this parts can be scarce, so it may be necessary to make parts to replace anything which is worn. During the restoration of such pieces it is important to be sympathetic to the nature of the timepiece and to appreciate the history behind it. We help guide our clients on the best way to restore such pieces without losing the original character.
It should be said, the “Dirty Dozen” is only one group of Military Watches. We regularly repair many different types, including vintage pocket watches, the CWC G10 & W10, Luftwaffe pilot’s watches, WW1 Trench watches and even military timepieces produced by Rolex and Tudor.
Do you have a military watch in need of repair? If so, get in touch and see how we can help. We are watch repair specialists with a fully insured freepost watch repairs service. We offer repairs to clients all around the UK and we are experts in the repair of modern and vintage watches. As holders of a Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award and business partners of the British Horological Institute you can be confident in the service we provide.
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W.E. Clark & Son Ltd.