Watches Used by the U.S. Military

Written by david ferris
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Watches Used by the U.S. Military
The wristwatch remains a widely used item among U.S. military personnel. (Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

The wristwatch is such a common, everyday item that one might forget that it's needed on the battlefield. Indeed, the simple wristwatch has for decades formed part of the equipment of the solider, sailor, or pilot. While watches were first adapted by the Navy, other branches followed suit, and by World War II, the chronological precision that watches provided became indispensable, particularly for pilots.

Benrus Type I Class A Military Dive Watch

In the waning days of the Vietnam War, Special Forces and Green Berets personnel were supplied with this new kind of watch. Its unique durability and precision was designed to withstand the rigours of hazardous missions in the jungles of Southeast Asia. At the time, it was the only military watch equipped with automatic movement, and its "Class A" certification represented the highest standard given to military timepieces.

Hamilton Military Watches (MIL-W-46374)

The Hamilton watch, basic yet reliable in its engineering, is one of the military's most widely used timepieces. They feature a 12/24-hour military clock, olive-drab band, stainless steel encasement, and mechanical-wind functionality. They are most commonly issued to soldiers on the ground and the simplicity of their design serves to tell time accurately and consistently even in chaotic situations.

Marathon Military Navigator's Watch

The Marathon Military Navigator's Watch was designed for the rigours of the modern Air Force. It was first used in combat by pilots in the first Gulf War, and its screw-down crown and heavy steel case permitted it to withstand intense banging and wear-and-tear in the cockpit. The Marathon Watch Company continues to manufacture this series, but with a less durable plastic case.

Army Air Force Type A-11 Wristwatch

This vintage timepiece was widely used in World War II and manufactured by Bulova, Elgin and Waltham. Like most military watches of that era, it had mechanical (rather than automatic) movement and was designed to be easily synchronised with other watches. Stylistically, they bore a white or black face, dull stainless steel case, and a black or olive-coloured band.

Marathon MIL-PRF-46374G Type II

This sleek, black, steel watch, also manufactured by Marathon, remains popular among present-day members of the Armed Forces. It features three hands and 12/24-clock numerals, and was engineered to meet new performance standards issued by the military in the 1990s. Military personnel can also opt to wear their own privately owned, commercially manufactured pieces as long as they meet the same standards.

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