Report from the field on military watches
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Thread: Report from the field on military watches

  1. #1
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    Default Report from the field on military watches

    Just wanted to write a post describing the watches I saw while serving in the 101st Airborne.

    Almost every soldier wears a watch. Most wear a G-Shock. Officers wear the Suunto Core a lot, and NCOs like to wear the Garmin Foretrex on their IOTV or plate carrier (nobody wears it on their wrist).

    As far as analog watches, I saw a few cheap timex's that seemed to work well.

    My company commander wore a Marathon GSAR all day every day on a black NATO strap.

    I wore G-Shocks a lot, but also a Marathon GSAR and a Marathon Navigator (the modern plastic non-symetrical cased one). The tritium worked perfectly. Wore the marathon navigator to JRTC, air assault school, a bunch of field time with no issues, and wore a G-Shock to ranger school.

    Saw a special forces Major wearing a Rolex Explorer II with a white dial. Also saw a random lieutenant colonel with a Rolex Explorer that looked like it had been PVD'd black.

    Saw a tag aquaracer on a random CPT once.

    Most are fully on the quartz digital train, but there are some holdouts.
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    Welcome to WTF!
    Thank you for your service, and for the SITREP.
    However, it's gonna take me a few extra minutes with Mr. Google, owing to the lack of pictures and the decryption of abbreviations.

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  3. #3
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    I served in the US Army from 1976-1997. It was a different era. The G-shock didn't exist and a solar atomic would be my preferred watch now, even though I was commissioned. I have a GW6900-1 and it's my beater for working in the garage building stuff, on the car, in the yard, etc. Indestructible; I've tried and failed miserably. The Suunto Core is too much $$$ for a watch that could get ripped off the wrist or otherwise destroyed.

    Affordable quartz watches didn't hit the scene until the late 1970's. Then basic problem for me with them was batteries dying. Doing so in the middle of nowhere was unacceptable. I wore these hand-wind mechanical Hamiltons operationally throughout my career and could always find a WWV signal to set them. Wound them daily; it becomes an ingrained habit. Left one is identical to a MIL-W-6433A GG-W-113 with 17j ETA 2750 movement (hacking). Right one is a MIL-W-46374B with 7 j Durowe INT 7420-4 (non-hacking). These are small and thin watches. They don't get in the way of anything and their domed acrylic crystals aren't very light reflective, especially after they've been worn some. Uncle Sam also bought a Timex plastic cased watch in the same era with same style dial and hands; GI's universally hated them. They couldn't take a licking and keep on ticking like the Hamiltons could. These were overtaken by the Marathon about the time of Desert Storm. I kept wearing the Hamiltons. If it's not broke, don't fix it.

    From the same era, I also have this Seiko SQ RR Approved SXC158P 7546 made in September 1979 (Seiko serial numbers contain year/month of manufacture). It was a mid-tier quartz with a 4-jewel 7546 movement, hence the "SQ" marking. Unlike quartz today, it has a battery hatch on the back that allows popping out the old cell and dropping in a new one. Accuracy was tweaked in the factory by cutting a couple traces on the circuit board, making it more accurate than most 32 kHz quartz movements. The jeweling will probably allow it to run damn near forever. I keep changing the batteries about every five years, and it keeps running. Forty years isn't too shabby for a day/date analog quartz. Wore it most of the time when I was in service school or in garrison.

    Go back another ten years from my era into the 1960's, and you'd see the Bulova versions of the Hamiltons above, a variety of Seiko divers including the famous 6105-8110 "CPT Willard", and pilots wearing a 24-hr Glycine Airman AM/PM, and later the Glycine SST, in addition to other more expensive aviation oriented watches. The latter ones weren't suited much for ground-pounders; they didn't have the water resistance required for survival in the jungle paradise. Hope this gives some perspective from the past.


    Iconic Vietnam War era Seiko 6105-8110 with a "turtle" style case very popular in the 1960's. Added to their ruggedness with significant crown protection. The 6105 had a very unique and very identifiable asymmetric shape. Extremely expensive in excellent condition now commanding over $2k. Most show quite a bit of wear. They came stock with a rubber waffle strap. This one isn't mine. You can have a "CPT Willard" built with period case, crown, dial, hands, strap and bezel insert, with a modern Seiko mechanical movement (usually an NH35/4R35; sometimes an NE15/6R15) and domed sapphire crystal for under $500.

    Last edited by jalind; 07-01-2020 at 12:16 AM.

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