It might be 81 years since the start of World War II, but it seems that time has done little to diminish the appeal of the classic military wristwatch. In a seamless transition from the battlefield to the bar, the explosion in popularity of ‘mil-look’ watches has been howitzer-like.
The story of the original waterproof wristlet watch, commonly known as the WWW, dates back to the end of WWII when the Ministry of Defence introduced what is believed to have been the first standard specification for a military timepiece before commissioning 12 Swiss-based manufacturers to produce them. The standard decreed that the watches should be water and shockproof with matt-black dials, Arabic numerals, luminous hands and hour markers, an outer minute track and a shatterproof crystal, surrounded by a stainless steel case to house a movement of specific size. As a result, all the watches from the 12 manufacturers (Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex) looked more or less the same.
Military watch geeks have been collecting these originals for decades, but only recently have manufacturers revived the look, usually bringing it up to date with larger, more contemporary case sizes than the 36mm originals.