Luxury Watch Brands Salute the Troops

7 “Tribute to the Military” Watches


Wristwatches have long been useful tools in military life, and over the years various watch brands have created special timepieces to honor certain branches of the armed forces and those that support them. Here we re-present our updated list of seven “Tribute to the Military” watches.

 

IWC Schaffhausen, a watch brand with deep roots in making military-grade pilots’ watches, introduced its Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun collection in 2007. Created in cooperation with the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, known widely as “Top Gun,” the collection was expanded in 2012 with the addition of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Miramar, a distinctly military-styled watch named for, and paying tribute to, the area in California where the Navy’s elite Top Gun pilots receive their training. The Top Gun Miramar (also available in a chronograph version) has a big, 48-mm ceramic case and anthracite dial. The hands and chapter rings are in a camouflage beige color and the military-green textile strap is reminiscent of the fabric webbing belts in an aircraft cockpit. More on the watch here.

IWC Big Pilots Watch TOP GUN Miramar

Developed under a special trademark agreement with the United States Navy, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy SEALs is a rough-and-tumble timepiece designed to be worthy of the elite combat unit for which it is named. The watch is engineered to withstand extremely harsh conditions and features on its dial a new form of Super-LumiNova that is particularly visible underwater or in the dark. It also contains an in-house Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic movement intended to provide a high degree of accuracy. Jaeger-LeCoultre solicited the input of actual Navy SEALs in its development of the watch; some of its features, including the matte black bezel that reduces glare, are a direct result of these consultations. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy SEALs is limited to 1,500 pieces. You can download our test of the watch by clicking here.

Jaeger-LeCoultre MC Diving Navy Seals

Released in 2013, the Breitling Navitimer 01 Honor Flight Limited Edition is a watch made in tribute to the Honor Flight Network, which flies World War II veterans to the memorial dedicated to their service in Washington, DC. This special version of the Navitimer — an iconic pilots’ watch from a brand with a rich history of producing watches for aviation — has a deep blue dial with the Honor Flight logo just beneath the 12 o’clock position, and a solid steel caseback with an engraved “wreath and bracket” from the World War II memorial in the nation’s capital and the inscription, “Honor Flight — One Last Mission.” The watch, which contains a Breitling chronograph movement, is limited to just 56 pieces, representing the 56 U.S. states and territories that participated in the Second World War. Click here for more details on the Honor Flight Limited Edition.

Breitling Honor Flight Navitimer - Side

The striking skull-and-crossbones dial on the Bell & Ross BR01 Airborne is based on the patches worn by American paratroopers of World War II, who wore it on their uniforms as a defiant symbol of courage in the face of death. The skull on the dial is coated with Super-LumiNova so that it glows in the dark. On June 8, 2009, the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Bell & Ross introduced the 500-piece limited edition of the BR01 Airborne at a boutique in Paris. The brand has since followed up the original model with a 999-piece limited edition, the Airborne II, with a “phantom black” dial and “rifle barrel” patina finish.

Bell & Ross BR 01 Airborne
Bell & Ross BR 01 Airborne

While not a military unit per se, the cryptologists at Britain’s Bletchley Park played a crucial role in the Allied war effort with their deciphering of the Enigma and Lorenz codes used by Nazi Germany (as those who’ve seen the Oscar-nominated film, The Imitation Game, may already be aware). The Bremont Codebreaker pays tribute to these often unsung heroes of WWII by incorporating actual historical materials from Bletchley Park and its codebreaking machines into the watch. Limited to only 240 pieces in stainless steel and 50 in rose gold, the Bremont Codebreaker features pieces of the actual German Enigma machine in the winding rotor of its automatic movement and fragments of the punch cards used in the decryption machines embedded in the case middle (to spell out the watch’s serial number). Additionally, a piece of the floorboard from the actual Bletchley Park building where the codes were broken (thus shortening the war by probably two years and saving countless lives) has been incorporated into the watch’s crown. Click here to read our full-length feature on the making of the Bremont Codebreaker watch.

Bremont Codebreaker - front, with Enigma rotors
Bremont Codebreaker

 

U.S.-based Kobold takes pride in the fact that many of its watches are made in America, several with military usage in mind. The company worked with Navy SEALs to create the Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph, whose black-DLC-coated, 41-mm steel case is made in the U.S.A. and contains a solid ETA 7750 chronograph movement. The rugged “stealth” timepiece also features a bidirectional rotating bezel, a domed, nonreflective sapphire crystal, a screw-locked crown, and green-tinted luminous hands and hour markers that would pair well with a set of night-vision goggles. The price is $4,150, but if you’re a SEAL or other armed service member, says Kobold, you will be offered a “healthy discount.”

Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph

 

Graham, the Swiss watch brand with British roots, partnered with a decidedly American institution for the limited-edition Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy SEAL Foundation. Designed with the needs of the U.S. Navy’s highly specialized Sea, Air Land (SEAL) team in mind, the watch has been tested for endurance in climatic conditions ranging from scorching deserts to hot, humid jungles to icy Arctic environments. The watch also embodies “stealth” with the dark hues of its 47-mm-diameter case with black PVD coating, and the use of carbon fiber for the side-mounted “trigger,” a hallmark of Graham’s chronograph watches. Graham donates a portion from the sale of each watch to the Navy SEAL Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing support and assistance to SEALs and their families. Click here for more details, including pricing.

Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy Seals Foundation - angle
Graham Chronofighter Oversize Navy Seals Foundation

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

21 Responses to “7 “Tribute to the Military” Watches”

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  1. durjoy

    Tribute to Military watches — not necessarily means to be worn by actual combat personnel and surely the point of affordability is justified . The the article says Tribute to Military that may be little different than what it would mean ” Watch for Military ” … like performance cars are not always driven by Racers but by people who seldom even checks inside the hood …

    Reply
  2. Nate Bradley

    What about a CWC? Military perigee with a reasonable price.

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  3. Pierre Brown

    Also of note are Hager Watches and the new Hager Skymaster made by a military and government veteran for military and government employees. The new Skymaster was made in tribute to A-12 Oxcart pilots (precursor to the SR71) and uses a Dubois Depraz proprietary movement made for Hager with recessed crown and pushers. There are quality watches out there used by USMIL but they never receive any coverage as they are often overshadowed by these conglomerates.

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  4. michael mescher

    Forgot to mention Hamilton,Swiss Army,Timex and Wenger.Some of these even have automatic movement options

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  5. michael mescher

    Yeah sure they look cool.But why not an actual article about watches actually purchased and used by the military.Take it from an ex-enlisted Navy man.No one in the military,not even most officers are going to be able to afford or even use these watches.How about an article that has brands such as Luminox,Traser,Casio,Lumetech,Kobold just to name a few.Although these watches are military inspired don’t think that most of them would be used by any military person

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  6. I agree with many of the comments made. There watches are not true (and some don’t even come close) to true military watches, or are watches that would be used by military personnel (except as jewlery, just like the rest if us).

    This article would be much more interesting if watches with true military heritage were discussed. To me looks just like another price of advertisement.

    Reply
  7. Robert Cuny

    The article mentions that the case for the Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph is made in the USA, but the manufacturer’s website photo displays a watch face marked “Made in Nepal”.

    The comments following the article are as interesting to me as the article.
    I must agree with the comments about price for the watches reviewed.
    If actual military use were to be taken into consideration, it would be worthwhile to write a follow-up article reviewing the watches mentioned in the comments section.

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  8. I have a problem with these watches. Few are priced at a level that those they supposedly pay tribute to can afford, and I doubt that the companies profiting from using such hallowed names donate any to the troops. Call them what they are – cynical marketing campaigns designed to sell wannabe’s expensive toys that have nothing to do with elite fighting forces. Kudos to Rolex and Patek for being among the few companies that don’t go down this path.

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  9. Scott Slavin

    The other posters here are right, the G-Shock is the true military watch. Served for 14 years in the USAF and Army and the G is what we could afford and wore. I’m a police officer now and still wear a G-Shock at work. I love watches it’s the only jewelry I wear, but at work it has to be able to take a beating. This was true while I served and true now.

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    • michael mescher

      Right on brother.Eight years in the Navy and the only thing I could swing has far as affordability was Casio G-shock,Timex and Seiko quartz diver.

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    • Paul H.

      I agree having owned a G-Shock Rangeman for a couple of years i got rid of my other watches, love this watch so i bought another G for best one of there aviators.

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  10. I’m an Army EOD (bomb disposal) technician with 17 years of service and five combat deployments. Just like Carlos said above, most of us rock Casio, Timex or Suunto products. Jaeger LeCoultre? Seriously? As a bomb tech, I’ve got a (borderline unhealthy) fixation with precision mechanical timepieces. I’ve got a Hammy and a few other low-end Swiss auto-powered microbrands, but when I kit up at work, I strap on a Casio Pathfinder. The watches in this article run about two to three months’ pay for most Soldiers. People who wear mechanical watches with ‘Navy SEAL’ in the title because they think that’s what Soldiers wear are kidding themselves. Dilettantes.

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  11. steve armstrong

    You just have to look at the price of some of these watches to tell you that the military do not wear these (unless they are high ranking officers or have an issued pilots watch). Why would you pay that much for a watch that would get scratched senseless? Casio G-shock and Suunto were the favourites when I was serving.

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  12. Carlos Jaraamillo

    Honestly , the Casio G Shock was the true Sailor, Marine, or Soldiers watch. Sold at the PX. Held well in water,, mud you mane it. And luminescent enough to read during night time swims without looking like 49th and Broadway. No guys gonna shell out his pay for something you can’t use,,that’s too pretty, and ya gotta keep wiping to see the fancy little numbers. G Shock. Great back then, probably still is now.

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  13. Martin Dawson

    Hi Chris, you are right, I know one solider who wears a Omega Seamaster and another ex- who wears a TAG all the time. A lot wear G-Shock but the most coveted is the humble CWC. I’m one of the last Instrument Technicians and look after watches as part of my job and I get loads of requests for CWC. I could sell hundreds! but no way, its my job…

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  14. mohamed shartouh

    That is Ok , but where is the Panerai Military…..!!!!

    Reply
  15. Mark Lewis-Jones

    I think that it is noteworthy, when speaking of Bremont’s Codebreaker, that while “not a military unit per se”, the military aviation DNA of the brand is such, that they do not have to resort to paying Hollywood celebrities exorbitant sums to pose in a photo with one of their watches. Indeed, it should be mentioned that Bremont assorts literally dozens of elite pilot squadrons around the world, and that these pilots all actually have sought out, and paid for, their Bremont timepieces for the phenomenal quality of workmanship, utility as an aviation timepiece, and value for the dollar. Enough said.

    Reply
  16. Chris launder

    But do the military actually wear watches like this ? I doubt it , must of them seem to prefer multi function shockproof stuff like Casio g Shocks .

    Reply
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