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Military Watches which Served their Owners well in Wartime

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War is horrific-there’s no doubt about that! Soldiers risk their lives on land, sea, and in air to protect us and our way of life. While we might not be physically there to show them our support, we do support them emotionally and stand by them at every hour of their need. Another companion which has always stood by soldiers is a military watch.

Military Watches / Tactical Watches

A military watch not only tells the time, but also provides other functionalities and features that are not present in regular watches. These watches have served them well in wartime and it can be said that they indeed played a vital part in ensuring their safe return from the battlefield.

Military watches date back to the late 19th century; at that time, wristwatches were only worn by women and men wouldn’t even think about wearing a watch on their wrists. They only used pocket watches. They were utilized on the battlefield as well by commanders, officers, and generals.

However, the convenience and ease of wearing a wristwatch was realized quickly enough during wartime and as such, in 1880, the German Imperial Navy was the first to issue military wristwatches to seamen. Other countries also adopted this tactic, including the British during the Boer War from 1899 to 1902. The Japanese too, started issuing wristwatches to soldiers in the Sino-Japanese War.

By the onset of the First World War in 1914, military technology had become sophisticated and military watches were even installed in fighter planes. They were issued as wristwatches to soldiers and pilots on both the allied and axis sides. The American watch manufacturer Hamilton was the first to produce a military watch by the name Khaki; this model is still in use.

Many other brands like Elgin and Omega also manufactured tactical watches and supplied them to the army, navy, and airforce. By 1930s, the type-A military watches had gained popularity in America due to its special visible design, black dial, Arabic numerals, and white hands. The second hand could be stopped too, so that soldiers could synchronize their clocks with each other’s on the battlefield.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Britain, America, and Germany had their own military watch producing industries. Major manufacturers included Omega, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and IWC, while the German brand A. Lange & Sohne dominated the German market. All these watches were waterproof and shockproof.

After the end of the war, there was a massive improvement in watch-making technology. In the Vietnam War, tritium watches were utilized by American soldiers that allowed them to see their watches better in low-light conditions. Eventually, tritium was filled in small glass capsules and they were used as the dials in the watch.

In the 1990s, with advancements in electronics, control systems, and computers, military watches became multifunctional and were equipped with calendars, alarms, altimeters, barometers, etc. Brands like Luminox, G-Shock, and Suunto became popular when the Gulf War broke out in 1990.