Posted on March 14 2022
You're a former British soldier with a passion for watches. Specifically, vintage military watches. You're drawn to the models used by your nation during WW2.
You're wearing your favourite when you discover that the brand is on hiatus. You then negotiate to bring the brand back. More than that, you recreate their most iconic model - the one that you're wearing.
That's Ben Briggs's story. He went from wearing a vintage Timor watch to running the brand from my hometown. I met him for coffee and got my hands on the Timor Heritage Field watch.
Timor Heritage Field WWW
Timor Heritage Field WWW Watch Review
I'll come back to the Timor brand later. First, let's take in the basics of the Heritage Field WWW watch. Most of what you need to know is in the name.
This is a recreation of a vintage Dirty Dozen field watch. The WWW refers to "Watch, Wrist, Waterproof" - terms used by the Ministry of Defence.
This is a reasonably small watch, with a hand-winding Swiss movement. The design is very familiar to military watch fans and the brand is clearly marketing the watch around a couple of main features. This is an authentic remake of a classic military watch and, like the original, it's Swiss-Made.
The heritage aspect is arguably the most important selling point. The design is proven and the history is established. The challenge for the brand was to be faithful to the original but also to balance this authenticity with modern tastes and budgets.
You just need to pick up the Heritage Field to understand Ben's thinking - something that he reiterated as we chatted over coffee. As he's keen to point out, this isn't merely a modern watch with a vintage aesthetic.
This is an authentic recreation for fans of the original. So there's very little compromise here.
With the watch in hand that becomes more obvious. It's compact with a historically accurate 36.5mm case. The faithfulness of the design was reinforced when Ben opened his watch roll and brought out a WW2-era Timor for comparison.
This watch doesn't sit on the fence. It doesn't try to straddle the modern and the vintage. Instead, Timor has picked a side. It's a bold choice. And it's a bit of a gamble. Both the size and the price (remember this is a Swiss-made watch) could be stumbling blocks.
Did the gamble pay off? Let's have a look at the watch in more detail.
The Timor Heritage Field WWW Watch in Detail
If this is the kind of watch that you buy then you'll recognise the design. The black dial with simple white numerals is a style favoured by the military. The case is uncomplicated and gives the impression that this watch is a tool.
And the original was. It was created to be worn in combat at the height of WW2. It was practical rather than ornate. On that earlier model, there were no unnecessary design cues and any attractiveness came from its simplicity and functionality.
Ben has recreated those details verbatim.
Take the case. It's very simple with a spartan design. This new version has a bead-blasted finish. That gives the watch a rugged appearance. It's also handy for cutting down on glare and finger marks.
Of course, the case size is the area of most discussion.
I've recently been wearing a 38mm Bulova Hack and a 40mm Bremont Broadsword. Both watches were inspired by vintage military designs - the Bremont being another Dirty Dozen watch.
This Timor is a little smaller than the Bulova. And it's quite a bit narrower than the Bremont.
I can get away with it.
I like smaller watches and I have slims wrists. But given the trend for larger watches, this could be an issue for some buyers. However, I'd counter by reminding you that we've probably seen peak 'large watch'. Rolex, Tudor and others have recently released smaller models. Hopefully, we're seeing a gradual shift to sensibly sized watches. And I'm sure that you'll agree that vintage-inspired pieces usually work better when they're modestly sized.
Still, there's no getting away from the size issue.
I guess it depends on how much you value authenticity. Because that is a major selling point for this watch. The original was 36.5mm wide, so this remake is too. As a side note, my bestselling watch, the MWC G10LM, is 35mm wide. So it's clear that military watch buyers are comfortable with this. And why wouldn't they be? If a watch is a tool - particularly when used in combat - it's important that it's unobtrusive and comfortable.
And the Heritage Field is comfortable. Particularly when I swapped out the NATO strap. My personal preference was to use Timor's two-piece sailcloth (easily done with the quick release feature). The stock watch comes with both black and olive NATO's.
The attempt to pay homage to the vintage Timor is even more evident in the dial. This looks exactly like the original - a design laid out at the time by the MOD.
It works for me.
The numerals are very legible and there's a neat railroad minute track around the edge of the dial. The lume is a retro-looking beige and the sub-second hand is positioned at the bottom of the dial. I like that it only very slightly encroaches on the numerals.
The hands are a treat, with Timor's signature lumed tips. Again, it's a small detail that adds to the overall appeal.
The militaristic dial is protected by a sapphire crystal and the watch's width is increased a little by the use of a substantial crown. I discussed this with Ben and he'd consciously made the decision not to use a screwed-down crown. That's particularly helpful on this hand-winding variation.
The rear case again aims to faithfully recreate the simplicity of the earlier Dirty Dozen watches. It's plain and functional with only the necessary text.
Inside, the watch is powered by a Swiss-made Sellita movement. That, along with the Swiss-made credentials of the watch, is the main reason that this model costs the best part of a grand.
The Sellita SW216 is a reliable movement and the daily winding is something that I find quite satisfying. If you don't, the watch is also available with a Sellita automatic movement.
Having worn the watch for a month two points stand out. The first is the authenticity of the design. It looks and feels like a vintage military watch. The second is the quality. As you'd expect from a Swiss-made watch at this price point, it's well made and well finished.
A Brief History of Timor Watches
Timor watches are now headquartered in Newcastle Upon Tyne. That's a long way from the brand's roots. Timor was originally founded nearly a hundred years ago in Switzerland.
From a base in the Jura mountains, the company quickly expanded and by the 1930s was selling abroad. Timor was particularly well established in Germany, France and, of course, Britain.
For most watch fans, it's the Second World War period that interests us.
Timor watches from that era are of most interest to us now. At the beginning of the conflict, Timor made watches to the Army Trade Pattern or A.T.P specification. They then became one of twelve manufacturers known as the Dirty Dozen. Ben has recreated both Timor models - but it's the Dirty Dozen design I have on my wrist as I write this.
What is a Dirty Dozen Watch?
During World War 2 Britain's Ministry of Defence commissioned watches to be made for troops. The watch specifications were simple. They had to be accurate and reliable. They also had to be waterproof and shockproof.
The design was also specified. Submitted watches must have black dials with clear Arabic numerals and a railroad minute track. The glass needed to be shatterproof and the hands were to be lumed.
As you'll have guessed, twelve companies manufactured the watches that were issued to British soldiers. Aside from Timor, there were watches from brands that you may not be familiar with - Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Lemania, Record and Vertex. There were also a few names that you're more likely to recognise - Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, IWC and Omega. Omega made 25,000 units of their model.
These twelve watches are now known as the Dirty Dozen.
Following the end of the war, Timor moved more into dress and fashion watches. But like many Swiss brands, the introduction of quartz models in the 1970s crippled the business.
It wasn't until the last few years that Timor re-emerged. The new incarnation of the brand focused on reviving the most popular models from the brand's past and ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign in 2020.
Where are Timor Watches Made?
The Timor Heritage Field WWW watch is made in Switzerland. Although now based in the UK - and the new watch having been designed there - Timor watches are still made in Switzerland.
That's important for the brand's reputation and heritage. It adds authenticity and continuity to the new incarnation of the company. Importantly, Timor has the words Swiss-Made at the foot of the dial. That means a lot to watch fans.
It also explains the pricing.
A Swiss-made watch with a Swiss-made mechanical movement costs the manufacturer more to produce than a Chinese homage military watch. That is reflected in the RRP.
The Timor Heritage Field WWW watch is built for a very specific customer. If that's you then you're going to love this watch. It's very faithful to the original WW2 design it has excellent build quality.
It looks like the earlier model - with the same iconic design and the same Swiss-made credentials. The dial, the case and the strap are all full of vintage charm. It's a compact piece that wears well on my slim wrist.
The packaging is plain, but high-quality, and suits the brand's ethos.
But like any watch, this won't be for everyone. The case is small by today's standards and the price could be too much if you're shopping on a budget. It's not the most affordable Dirty Dozen style watch.
But when I hand the watch back later this week I'll sad to see it go. And that is always a sign that a watch stood out from the crowd.