Posted on October 10 2017
Introduction to MWC Watches Submariner Range
Since it's launch in 1954 Rolex's Submariner watch has become established as a design classic. The original watch was a part of the Swiss manufacturers Oyster Perpetual line and was designed as a sports and diving watch.
Such was it's reputation as the best available divers watch at the time that the British Ministry of Defence chose Rolex as the suppliers to their Navy divers. The resulting watch was the military Submariner, or MilSub, one of the rarest Submariners.
Adding to the mythology of the watch was it's endorsement by the leading cultural influencers of the time. Many will remember Sean Connery's Bond wearing his Submariner in Dr No. As Ursula Andress emerges from the sea watch nerds everywhere try to get a peek at Bond's watch. That watch was an essential part of the character. Ian Fleming, writing about Bond in Casino Royale, said “He could not just wear a watch. It had to be a Rolex”. The worlds best spy and womanizer needed to be seen wearing the worlds best divers watch.
Imitation was soon to follow.
What this all means for us, as watch enthusiasts, is that the Rolex Submariner has essentially became a style of watch. Like a G10 or a Flieger pilots watch, the submariner is a recognisable type of watch, transcending any one company. Now when we talk of Submariners we mean a specific style of divers watch produced by a variety of manufacturers, including Rolex.
One of the popular companies that have ran with the Submariner design is Swiss watch producer MWC – Military Watch Company. Established in Zurich in 1974 they have carved out a niche producing watches which are often inspired by military issued designs. The Submariner falls into this category. A classic design with a proven history of use by British armed forces.
So what are the essential elements of a Submariner watch?
The details will always vary slightly, but roughly speaking the basics are simple.
- 40MM Case – Although some manufacturers may go for 42-44MM
- Submariner Case with Crown Guards
- Rotating Bezel with triangle and lume pip at 12 o'clock
- Round Indices with Rectangles at 3, 6 and 9. Triangle at 12.
- Mercedes Hands
- Chapter Ring
MWC's raison d'etre is to produce authentic military watches so they have stuck very closely to the Submariner's original concept. Unlike other manufacturers, for the most part, they haven't been tempted to include bright colours, white dials, flamboyant bezels or a variety of hand sets.
Here we take you through the basics of the companies Submariner offerings.
They sell a series watches, many very similar, so we're just giving a selection – but bear in mind there's more than one version of each watch.
Stainless Steel Quartz Submariner
This is the base model. It has everything you'd expect from a standard Submariner. It comes in at 40MM and has the default Stainless Steel case used on all MWC Subs. The Lug to Lug measurement is 49MM. Like all of their watches in this range the dial is black. The indices are as expected and the lume is green Super Luminova.
The pictured watch is the branded version, but there's also an alternative unbranded watch available too. Whereas the Rolex is powered by their own in-house automatic movement, this MWC has a Japanese made Ronda 751Li quartz movement. The Li signifies that this movement uses a lithium battery to give a ten year battery life. Handy if you want to retain that 300M water resistance.
At 15MM thickness this is quite a substantial watch without being awkward. A true desk diver. At this lower price range the glass is mineral crystal. Like most of MWC's watches this model comes with a canvas NATO strap. On the plus side, they're easy to change and it can be nice to swap out the strap regularly to keep things fresh. However, they're not so good if you're wearing the watch for sport or diving and regularly get the canvas wet.
Automatic Submariner with Stainless Steel Bracelet
Like the quartz version above this watch also maintains all the Submariners classic design points. It's housed in the same Stainless Steel case and outwardly looks the same.
Internally it's powered by a 24 jewel Automatic movement, Seiko's reliable NH35A. Along with the stainless steel bracelet this makes for a heavier, more weighty watch. It comes in at 170g rather than the previous watches weight of 89.5g.
Now with the addition of a sapphire crystal, for many, this will tick all the required boxes for the ideal Submariner. An authentic design, 300M water resistance, an automatic movement and Stainless Steel case and bracelet.
Automatic Submariner in PVD Case with Sterile Dial
Many of the watches in the MWC line have subtle differences. There'll be an automatic and a quartz version of the same model, or a watch than can be purchased with a Nato strap or a steel bracelet. Here we have a Submariner than has two main deviations from the companies basic watch.
Most noticeable is the case. The size is the same, the crown guard is there and the crown is still of the screwdown type. However, the stainless steel case now has a PVD coating. This black layer gives the watch a 'stealth' look and reduces the chance of reflections. The bezel numbers have a slight purple tinge too, again reducing the chances of the watch catching the light in a combat or hunting scenario.
What's maybe less noticeable at first glance is that the dial is sterile. It doesn't include the company name or any information about the movement or water resistance. MWC also do this same watch with or without a matching PVD bracelet and with a quartz movement rather than the automatic Seiko movement.
Automatic Submariner with Tritium GTLS
At the top end of the MWC Submariner range is the automatic watch with Tritium tube illumination. GTLS stands for Gaseous Tritium Light Source and is self-explanatory. It's radioactive Tritium gas in a glass vial. The gas should provide illumination for up to 25 years.
In order to mount the small vials on the watch both the dial and the hands differ from the standards used on the other Submariners. With a vial mounted at each of the numbers the dots and traingle lume at 12 o'clock have been replaced. The dial also now advertises that the watch uses Tritium.
In another twist, the ceramic bezel has both a black background and numbering. The effect is to draw the eye back to the tritium loaded dial and aesthetically works well as the busier dial is offset by a toned down bezel. As one of the most expensive Submariners in the range the watches comes fitted with a stainless steel bracelet.
GMT Quartz Submariner
This final watch has all the same elements of the earlier watches, but with the addition of a GMT hand. This is achieved by using Ronda's 515.24 Quartz movement.
The additional hand is the only change to the watch face and the touch of red it adds is quite pleasing on the eye. In order to use the GMT function the numbers on the bezel have been changed from displaying 60 minutes to 24 hours. The overall impression is a busier, more featured feel to the watch. A step away from Rolex's classic but very much still a Submariner.