Military Watches - Militaruhren are covered here

Wristwatches for sport are covered on this page.



+ WK1

- Wrist-watches were new at the time of the Great War. The first military operation to use the watch was the Crimean war, where an assault was timed to start using officer's pocket watches. Before the Great War wrist-watches were for ladies, who could not wear pocket watches.


   But meanwhile repressions and persecutions all over Europe had brought about a change in the character of anarchism. The Bakuninist International had held its last Congress in 1877. Since then a crisis in the watch-making industry had led to the ruin of the small home industries in the Jura, and large-scale production at Geneva took its place. Thus the backbone of anarchist trade unionism in Europe was broken and in March 1878 the Bulletin de la Fédération Jurassienne, which for seven years had been the chief organ of the Anarchist movement, came out for the last time. Le Révolté, edited by Kropotkin at Geneva, took its place with a new theory anarchist communism.

- The Spanish Labyrinth by Gerald Brennan first published 1942


Omega wrist-watch of T.E.Lawrence
The Omega wrist-watch of T.E.Lawrence, who later used the name T.E.Shaw in order to provide anonymity


TE Lawrence in Arab dress circa 1917
T.E.Lawrence in Arab dress circa 1917. At least two of Lawrence's wrist-watches have come up at auction in the last twenty years.


+ WK2

- Wrist-watches were firmly in-use and wide circulation by World-War II. Furthermore, navigation was now required in the air as well as at sea. Ships carried marine chronometers, about the size of a coffee can, usually three of them. In the air this was impractical. Thus, the navigational chronometer wrist-watch was invented. Air-forces of all sides would issue wrist-watches to navigators. German PoWs captured by the Allies would have expensive wrist-watches looted by their captors and sometimes vice-versa. I owned a # Rolex Bubble-Back which had been owned by an Italian PoW in North Africa. He had 'given it' out of 'gratitude' to the British Army officer whom had captured him and the Rolex went through the rest of the war on the Allied side. The Swiss watch industry made substantial profits from supplying both sides with wrist-watches and navigational chronometers.




+ Post-WK2

- The steady rise in the Standard of Living after the war meant that wrist-watch manufacturers could profit from manufacturing wrist-watches which associated themselves with places and activities which were a matter of aspiration for the wrist-watch buying public, which was composed largely of men. Most notable among these places and activities were the classic Hemingway sports such Scuba diving, automobile racing, and piloting aircraft or air travel.

+ SCUBA diving

- SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) was invented by Jaques Cousteau who had used re-breather apparatus during the war. Exotic locations in blue water were ideal for attracting the imaginations of the aspirational and wrist-watch which allied itself to this new activity was the water-proof Rolex Submariner. To this day, it's association dominates the subject of Scuba watches. Scuba diving wrist-watches were an important tool for divers until replaced by a the dive computer in the 1990s, which rendered the Scuba wrist-watch obsolete as a tool.


- Pilots and air travel attracted an equal quantity of aspiration and the 'pilot's watch' became the other main-stay of aspirational wrist-watch production. Notable among these was the Rolex GMT Master. Military pilots, particularly in the USAF and USN re-inforced this assocation by aspiring to own the by now ubquitous Rolex.


- Race-timing was done by pocket-watch size stop-watches but the association between pocket-watch chronographs and motor-racing was strong enough that wrist-watch chronographs became aspirational. This was aided by the movie-stars and racing drivers adopting these models of wrist-watches themselves, most notably Paul Newman and the Rolex Daytona and Steve McQueen and the Heuer Monaco.


- Of course, the military offer high levels of aspiration for aspirant male wrist-watch wearers, mainly the air force the army and to an extent the navy. Manufacturers of wrist-watches were not slow to recognise that official military contracts for supply or finding some way to get warriors to use their wrist-watches was going to result in a lucrative promotion.

+ Examples include:

- Rolex Submariner / GMT Master:

-- Nearly every pilot in the USAF/USN from the 1960s onwards aspired to own one of these Rolex wrist-watches. They might as well have been official issue.

- Gold Rolex GMT Master

-- Issued to CIA Ravens operating over Laos as a 'Blood Chit'

- Sinn EZM1

-- Issued to GSG9

- Brietling Emergency

-- Issued to former military working for intelligence agencies in-country and out-of-uniform.

- Rolex Submariner 'Mil-Sub'

-- Issued to Royal Navy divers in the 1960s

- Officine Panerai

-- Various wrist-watches issued to the Italian Xth Flotilla during World War II and in the decades after until the company was purchased by Vendome.

- Omega

-- World War II RAF pilots were issued with the Omega Broad Arrow wrist-watch.



Many watch companies claim that their watch is 'official issue' when in fact it is not official issue and is not used by the military unit in question. Check against the definitive reference work, which is Konrad Knirim's book on military watches.


- This period from the end of World War II to the invention of the quartz wrist-watch at the end of the Sixties was the golden era of the mechanical wrist-watch.


- The James Bond Rolex Submariner is perhaps the most significant Scuba wrist-watch or this era. Fleming had Bond use a Rolex in his novels but the actual Rolex used by Sean Connery in the movies appears to be lost. Even its fate is unknown.


Paul Newman at Le Mans
Paul Newman at Le Mans.

Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Daytona
Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Daytona Link - Paul Newman and his Rolex Daytona  Link - Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Daytona
Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Daytona




Sebring 1970 Steve McQueen wears a Rolex
Steve McQueen's Rolex 5512 sold for USD 234000 in 2009


Steve McQueen wearing Persol Model 649

Paul Newman and Jackie Stewart
Paul Newman and Jackie Stewart: Jackie Stewart wears his Rolex




Che Guevara lights his cigar
Che Guevara Wikipedia - and his Rolex GMT Master

Gunter Sachs & Arriflex
Gunter Sachs Link - Gunter Sachs wearing his Rolex GMT Master in Gstaad in the 1970s sports an Arriflex and a Rolex GMT Master


Jean-Claude Killy and his Rolex Explorer II
Jean-Claude Killy and his Rolex Explorer II

Jean-Claude Killy and his Rolex Explorer II

Grenoble 1967: Jean-Claude Killy takes victory in the men's downhill
Jean-Claude Killy takes victory at at Val d'Isere during the Grenoble Winter Olympics, 1968. At the lower edge of the frame you can see he is wearing a Brietling chronograph, not a Rolex. Killy was a Rolex man after he became a successful ski racer and racing driver and still holds a seat on the board of Rolex.

Flordia: Hunter S Thompson on his boat wearing a Rolex and smoking a Vantage cigarette
Hunter S. Thompson on his boat in Florida, unusually smoking a Vantage and not his Dunhill. Note his Rolex


Red Adair wears a Rolex President in gold
Red Adair wears a gold Rolex President


Heuer Logo



Steve McQueen Heuer Monaco
Steve McQueen Wikipedia - Steve McQueen wearing his Heuer Monaco Wikipedia - Heuer Monaco which sold for USD 87,600 in 2009



A French Kiss with Death - Steve McQueen and the Making of Le Mans by Michael Keyser with Jonathan Williams published by Bentley , Cambridge MA. ISBN 0837023-2


A French Kiss with Death - Steve McQueen and the Making of Le Mans by Michael Keyser with Jonathan Williams published by Bentley Link - Bentley Publishers, Cambridge MA. ISBN 0837023-2

Page 321

   In the late 60s, Jack Heuer president of the Heuer watch company Wikipedia - , which had been in operation in Switzerland since 1860, was looking for a way to publicize his line of products that for the first time included an "automatic chronograph."

   Having just invested a considerable amount of money developing these complex and innovative movements, he was reluctant to spend an equal sum on conventional and costly publicity campaigns.

   Through the grapevine, Heuer learned that Swiss driver Jo Siffert Wikipedia - was looking for financial backing for his racing efforts. Jack approached Jo, and before long the Heuer logo not only began appearing on the cars Jo was driving , but also on his drivers suit. To make the advertising package complete, Siffert also sported one of the new automatic chronographs on his wrist.

   We were amateurs when we made our Formula 1 debut," admitted Jack Heuer, " but we were the first brand name which had no special connections with the automobile world to become involved in this high caliber sport."

   In 1969, the company introduced the Heuer Monaco Chronograph, which featured several innovations. It was the first watch with a square water-resistant case. It was also equipped with the first self-winding chronograph movement.

   Quite naturally Siffert was one of the first people to receive one of the new watches, and when Steve met Jo for the first time at Sebring 12 hours in 1970 he'd admired the unique timepiece the Swiss driver was wearing. By the time the filming of Le Mans began, Steve was wearing a Monaco on his wrist and a Heuer patch on his driver's suit. The people at the company were quick to recognize the publicity they'd gain through the exposure and gave Steve a supply of the watches, many of which were handed out to drivers whom he'd become friendly.

   Production of the original Heuer Monaco Chronograph ended in the mid-1970s, and in 1985 Heuer joined the TAG Group (Techniques d'Avant Garde) Wikipedia - and become TAG Heuer.

   In 1998 the "Heuer Monaco chronograph re-edition by TAG Heuer" was introduced. Limited to 5000 pieces, the watches sold out quickly. In April of 1999, based on demand for the model which was no longer available, a new edition of the watch, numbered, but no limited, was introduced and by all reports is selling briskly.

   "I still have the original Monaco Steve gave me," comments Derek Bell Wikipedia - . "I don't were it much since its now a fairly rare collectors item, but when I do, I can't help thinking about him."

Jo Siffert wears the Heuer logo on his firesuit
Jo Siffert Wikipedia - Jo Siffert


Steve McQueen suits up and wears a Heuer Monaco
Steve McQueen suits up. The Heuer logo is visible on his firesuit on his right shoulder above his Heuer Monaco.


Article on Heuer timepieces:
Heuer Timepieces


Heuer Timepieces


Heuer Timepieces
Steve McQueen and Jo Siffert on a motorcycle


- Link - Heuer Monaco Website site dedicated to the Heuer Monaco




The stopwatch is a pocket-size watch with a chronograph, a function which can record elapsed time with a stop and start button. Early in the development of the sport of rallying, manufacturers produced a metal mount which could be fixed to the dashboard to hold the stopwatch so that the time taken to complete a stage could be recorded. Soon there were dual mounts for a clock and a stopwatch. Even triple mounts for two chronograph (stop watch) and a clock.

Using chronographs for rally timing is exciting but the most exciting function a stop-watch has ever been put to would be for timing the run of a torpedo fired from a U-boat. The range to the target had already been measured and the speed of the torpedo was known. From that they could determine how many seconds it would take to reach the target. If the second-hand reached and passed the time calculated with no explosion, then the torpedo had missed. The anxiety and excitement of watching that stop-watch must have been of the highest order.

Most of the manufacturers who made chronographs (stop watches) made chronographs for rally timing. Heuer, Sinn, Hanhart, and english manufacturer Smiths Instruments, who are the equivalent of German manufacturer VDO or American instrument manufacturer Stewart-Warner.

Most watches used in serious action are pocket watch size at 55mm or 60mm compared to wrist-watch size of 37mm or 42mm. Further more they designed to be worn over a suit of some kind, be it a SCUBA diver's wet-suit, aviator's flight-suit, sky-divers flight-suit, racing drivers fire-suit, an astronaut's space-suit. This means that they are shipped with a large strap, sometimes designed with a captive adjustment, where the strap already forms a loop and the hand of the wearer is placed inside the loop to prevent the watch being dropped while the wearer is suiting-up.

SCUBA divers, especially salvage divers; aviators, sky-divers and astronauts are all pre-occupied with not getting killed and therefore require a timepiece which is easy to read quickly without risk of error.


Heuer Rally Timers
A Heuer Monte Carlo chronograph and clock.


Heuer Chronographs Triumverate
A magnificent triple mounting of Heuer Chronographs and clock.


Heuer Monte Carlo chronograph dashboard mount and Halda race timer Sports Special and Twinmaster
Dashboard mount: Heuer Monte Carlo chronograph dashboard mount and Halda race timer Sports Special and Twinmaster


There are dials for Heuer race chronographs which have the prancing horse of Scuderia Ferrari imprinted upon them. I have seen these advertised for fabulous prices but there are watchmakers who can manufacture a copy for you should you want one for your Heuer Monte Carlo. They can even be antiqued to match the finish on the chronograph.



Heuer Clock
Heuer cockpit clock. The »T« on the dial indicated tritium paint was used in the figures.

Classic and Sportscar magazine article "The Italian Job" September 2009
Heuer Monte Carlo stopwatch and clock set fitted to the Shah of Iran's Lamborgini Miura SVJ


Grand Prix (1966)
From Grand Prix (1966): Pit crew hold the driver information board and the chronographs

Sometimes you see triple chronograph sets like this which have been used for race timing but on the dial they have the emblem of the racing team which ordered them. Depending on which emblem it is they can cost a fortune, but if you just want the look of the original then a watch-maker will make a dial for you which is visually identical. You can swap this one in and out as needed.

Grand Prix (1966)

Grand Prix (1966)

Grand Prix (1966)
From Grand Prix (1966): Heuer chrongraphs


Race Timing


Grand Prix (1966)
Grand Prix (1966) 00:07:31 : James Garner's wrist-watch

Grand Prix (1966)
Grand Prix (1966): What looks like an Omega Speedmaster Wikipedia - chronograph wrist-watch. The gloves are by Les Leston.


Grand Prix (1966) A three dial chronograph wrist-watch on the wrist of a racing driver
Grand Prix (1966): Three dial chronograph on the wrist of a racing driver. Inset: On the left an Omega Speedmaster


Grand Prix (1966)
Grand Prix (1966) 00:19:54 in the second half of the motion picture: James Garner and Toshiro Mifune. James Garner's wrist-watch is visible in this frame.


Grand Prix (1966)
Grand Prix (1966): Heuer chronographs on a Minerva databoard.


Riverside: James Garner and Phil Hill
Grand Prix (1966): Phil Hill wears a triple dial chronograph

- Link - - Heuer wrist-watch chronographs and dashboard chronographs

- Smiths / Jaeger Le Coultre timing at Mk1 Performance Link - Smiths / Jaeger Le Coultre  race timing. These were fitted to period British manufacture rally cars such as Mini Cooper S.



Burt Reynolds in Deliverance wearing a cut-down wetsuit and a wrist compass
Burt Reynolds in Deliverance (1972) Wikipedia - Deliverance is wearing a Scuba wrist compass, not a watch, in this case.

Burt Reynolds in Deliverance, showing Scuba wrist compass
Burt Reynolds tensions his bow in Deliverance (1972), showing his Scuba wrist compass.




Downhill Racer (1969)
Downhill Racer (1969)


Downhill Racer (1969)
Downhill Racer (1969)


Torino: Piazza Palazzo de Citta: Michael Caine and Camp Freddie in blue overalls wait for the location to be set up
The Italian Job (1969): Piazza Palazzo di Città: Michael Caine and Camp Freddie. Michael Caine wears a black wrist-watch with a black strap


'The Italian Job' (1969): Torino: Piazza Palazzo della Citta: Michael Caine's wristwatch
Michael Caine's wristwatch






Cross checks his Rolex
Cross, played by Burt Lancaster, checks his Rolex in the Cold War spy thriller, Scorpio (1973) Wikipedia - Scorpio




Jim Clark wearing his Brietling "Top Time" Chronograph
Jim Clark Wikipedia - wearing his Brietling Wikipedia - "Top Time" Chronograph


- Link - Classic Driver - The Thunderball Brietling at auction The Brietling Top Time Chronograph used by James Bond in Thunderball at auction



+ Apollo Moon Missions

- The Apex of this era in wrist-watches was also the Apex of human achievement: The Apollo Moon Missions. The creme-del-la-creme of USAF pilots were selected to man engineering's greatest ever feat of construction.

Buzz Aldrin wearing a NASA issue Omega Speedmaster cal 321
Buzz Aldrin wearing a NASA issue Omega Speedmaster cal 321

Apollo mission list with list of crew
Apollo mission list with list of crew








+ 1980s

Predator (1987) Lobby Card
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Wikipedia - Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator (1987) Wikipedia - Predator which was filmed on location in the Mexican jungle in what turned out to be highly adverse conditions. The watch has been identified at Link - Watches in Movies Watches in Movies as a Seiko

Predator (1987) The Documentary
Arnold's Seiko

Predator (1987)






The Predator's fingers on the buttons of his wrist computer
From Predator (1987)
01:36:00 The Predator's wrist computer out-does all other wrist computers, even wrist-mount decompression computers. Not only does it give you your position relative to the center of this galaxy or any other, together with local co-ordinates, but it features a nuclear demolition device. Obviously, the Predator has wrists which are on the large size, even by the standards of Arnold Schwarzenegger, so you need to be a big guy to wear one, even over your flight suit. These wrist computers are not easy to find on the surplus market but you occasionally see fully functional examples on Getting the nuclear demolition charge serviced can be difficult, with the nearest dealer only 89 million Parsecs Wikipedia - Parsec away. But the fact is if you are propping up the bar in the Mos Eisley Cantina Wikipedia - Mos Eisley Cantina  Link - Mos Eisely Cantina on the Planet Tatooine Wikipedia - Planet Tatooine Link - Star Wars and bragging how you once went eight rounds with Arnold Schwarzenegger and that you are a "... wanted man, with the death sentence in twelve star systems..." Link - Star Wars (1977)  - Script, and need a wrist-watch which matches the size of your ego, this, unquestionably, is it.

The Predator has activated the countdown on his wrist computer



Arnold Schwarzeneggar wears a Soviet Navy heavy gear dive watch
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governer of California: Twenty years later, he is clearly still traumatised at how big the Predator's wrist-computer was. Do not mention the event to him because I know he is still upset about it, and never speaks of it. Above, you can see that Arnold has hit back with the equivalent Soviet model of nuclear dive watch.

Zlatousk Soviet Navy dive watch, Belmorkanal papirossi cigarettes, Soviet Army compass, 7.62mm cartridge, Soviet cigarette papers
Zlatousk Soviet Navy dive watch, Belomorkanal papirossi cigarettes, Soviet Army compass, 7.62x54Rmm cartridge Wikipedia - 7.62x54R, Soviet cigarette papers.


Zlatousk Soviet Navy dive watch


Early 1970s: Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a Rolex

Eraser (1996) Panerai Luminor Marina
Eraser (1996) Wikipedia - Eraser (1996) - Arnold Schwarzenegger sets his Panerai Luminor Marina Link - Panerai in the Movies.



+ 1990s


The Expendables 2 (2012)
Sylvester Stallone playing Barney Ross in
The Expendables 2 (2012) wears a Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 PAM 382 with a phosphor-bronze Wikipedia - Phosphor-Bronze case



Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross in The Expendables 3 (2014) wears a Richard Mille Rm 032 chronograph in Titanium
Sylvester Stallone wears a wrist-watch by Richard Mille Wikipedia - Richard Mille wrist-watch , the RM 032 Ti Link - Oceanic Time - Richard Mille wrist-watch in Expendables 3 Link - Watches in the Movies - Expendables 3 Link - Expendables 3 wrist-watches Richard Mille Link - Richard Mille Blogspot - Expendables 3 RM 032 Ti SCUBA chronograph, in The Expendables 3 (2014)


The Expendables 2 (2012)
Arnold Schwarzenegger wears a Bell & Ross Wikipedia - BR01 46mm Instrument watch

Arnold Schwarzenegger wears a Bell & Ross BR01
Arnold Schwarzenegger wears a Bell & Ross BR01 while on a family day out in Los Angeles, CA. The vehicle in the backgroung is his Hummer.




Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms, shown in shipping case
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms, shown in shipping case.

The pusher to the upper left at ten o'clock starts a five minute count-down which is indicated by the orange quarter dial next to that pusher on the upper left of the face at eleven o'clock. The pusher with the guard at eight o'clock resets the maximum depth reached indicator. The indicator is a small red spatula which is hidden under the other two depth indicators in these photographs. The winder is to the right of the face at three o'clock. Unscrew and pull to alter the 12 hour hands and pull out further again to wind the wrist-watch movement. The gas release valve from the case is mounted in the case wall at two o'clock. The pushers and winders all operate with the feeling of strength and precision.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms, displayed in shipping case
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms, displayed in shipping case

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms on the wrist
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms on the wrist. The five minute count-down timer at ten o'clock has counted down to three minutes. In this photograph the maxiumum depth indicator, an orange square, is visible between the outermoist blue triangle depth indicator and the innermost orange depth indicator.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms alongside (right to left) a 1942 Lange B-Uhr bomber navigators chronometer and a Zlatousk Soviet Navy CH-131 divers wrist-watch

In the above photograph you can see the 'X Fathoms' is a comparable size, thickness and weight to both the B-Uhr and the Zlatousk CH-131.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms comparison with B-Uhr dial
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms comparison with B-Uhr dial. The X Fathoms is 55mm x 24mm and machined from titanium


Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms comparison with B-Uhr and Zlatousk CH-131
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms comparison with Lange B-Uhr and Zlatousk CH-131

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms view from three o clock
The pusher nearest the lens is the five minute count-down. The pusher to the right of frame with the guard resets the maximum depth indicator.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X fathoms view from twelve o'clock
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X fathoms view from twelve o'clock









- Guide to wristwatches for action & adventure.

- Le Mans (1971)

- The James Bond Rolex Submariner

- The Expendables 2 (2012)



- Link - Watches in the Movies Wrist-watches in the Movies

- Jakes world of Patek Phillip Blog Link - Jakes World Patek Phillipe

- Jakes World of Rolex Link - Jakes World Rolex

- Jakes World on Paul Newman and his Rolex Daytona Link - Paul Newman and his Rolex Daytona

- Jakes World Blogspot history of Panerai Links - Jakes World Blogspot Panerai History

- Wikipedia - RW Smith RW Smith watches - RW Smith was the protègè of the late great George Daniels

- Link - Hodkinee on George Daniels's space traveller's watch - Article in Hodinkee on George Daniels' space traveller's watch

- Michael Schumacher's Andemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Link - & limited edition.

- Link - Rolex Passion Report on Singer, dial-maker to Rolex - A fascinating article on the company Singer, who make dials for Rolex and several other wristwatch manufacturers.

- Link - Hodinkee wristwatch website on the Rolex Daytona type Paul Newman - Hodinkee wristwatch website on the Rolex Daytona type "Paul Newman"

- Link - High-resolution images of the Rolex Cosmograph Oyster 6263 with Black Ghost ROC Paul Newman dial in the auction at Christie's Geneva - High-resolution images of the Rolex Cosmograph Oyster 6263 with Black Ghost ROC Paul Newman dial in the auction at Christie's Geneva

- Link - Hodinkee wristwatch website - reference document for the Rolex Daytona Paul Newman - Hodinkee wristwatch website - reference document for the Rolex Daytona "Paul Newman"




A French Kiss with Death - Steve McQueen and the Making of Le Mans by Michael Keyser with Jonathan Williams published by Bentley Link - Bentley Publishers, Cambridge MA. ISBN 0837023-2







Table of Contents Locations - Fiction Locations - World War II Locations - Rennsport - Motorsport Technical Subjects New Material Added Bibliography Karte - Maps Index and Links

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