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W10 Classic Military Watch - 4 Stunning Modern Remakes

Posted on October 01 2021

W10 Modern Remakes

Military watches are popular because they're simple.

Most military models, particularly vintage ones, follow the same template. They need to be legible, dependable and comfortable to wear.

So you'll find military watches usually have black dials, no clutter and are small, discreet pieces.

Even if you're not in the military these watches will serve you well.

And from all the world's military watches, there are some iconic designs. A great example is Rolex's Milsub. It's a classic watch that military watch collectors love.

But it'll also cost you tens of thousands of pounds.

That's not realistic.

But what about more affordable models? The W10 is one of my favourites. And a few modern manufacturers still make it.

So let's briefly look at the watches heritage and then I'll show you four current examples.

A Brief History of the W10 Military Watch


I'll make this quick because I'll cover some of the details when we look at the individual watches.

In the late 1960s, the British Ministry of Defence issued a specification for a general service watch. It was the recognisable DNA of a military watch at the time. A simple black dial, Arabic numbers and a hand-winding movement.

It was a continuation of the style that the British Army had used for WWII era watches.

W10 Specification sheet

The W10 watch that we know - with its distinctive tonneau-shaped case - was supplied by Hamilton and CWC. As you'll see below their history overlaps and they're both still involved in the story.

Tens of thousands of W10 watches were issued to the RAF and army, with the watch eventually being replaced by a quartz model.

It's a notable watch, with a utilitarian appearance and featuring the crow's foot emblem on the dial. Although the watch hasn't been issued to the British Armed forces for decades, the design has remained popular.

There are four models available at the minute. Let's take a look at each of them.

MWC W10B Automatic Watch


MWC's current version of the W10 represents the best value for money. Like the original 1970s watches, this model is a non-date version.

Like all MWC automatic watches, it houses a reliable Seiko NH35A movement. The original watches were hand-winding, but MWC has chosen to go with automatics and a single quartz version.

I prefer the automatic. And this variation - without the date, but with MWC's logo - would be my choice.

In keeping with the vintage aesthetic, the MWC is 36mm wide. Along with the mineral crystal and canvas NATO strap, that makes it faithful to the original.



Everything else is as it should be. The crow's foot logo (or broad arrow), marks this as government property. The dial is black and has contrasting bold white numerals. There's a neat minute track around the edge of the dial and it's true to the picture above of the specification sheet from 1980.

MWC wasn't one of the original MOD suppliers. The Swiss-based company came later. But they're arguably one of the leaders in recreating classic military designs. And their W10 would be a great place to start.

MWC W10B Non-Date

  • 36mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 18mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

Hamilton W10 Pilot Pioneer Watch
Hamilton was one of the original MOD suppliers and the Pilot Pioneer is their updated W10 release.

The original Hamilton W10 was supplied to the MOD between 1973 and 1976. That was before Hamilton pulled out of the UK and CWC took their place.

The Pilot Pioneer is authentic to the period. It retains most of the elements of the 1970s originals. There's a grainy, textured dial with numerals in a dated font. And the signature tonneau case? Like the MWC, it's only 36mm wide.

And that is the big selling point of this watch. It recreates the W10 as it really was. That and it's Swiss-made.

The fonts, aged-looking lume and hand-winding movement are all reminiscent of the original. The daily ritual of winding this watch harks back to an earlier era. And as a big fan of hand-winding watches, I get it.

So you get a foot in each era.

This is a modern watch. It was built in Switzerland with the latest watchmaking technology. But the major features look old. Take the glass, for example. It's a mineral crystal rather than the sapphire used on most Hamilton watches.

This heritage and build quality come at a price.

The Hamilton is pricier than the MWC. But it does include those important words at the foot of the dial - Swiss Made. If you want the full heritage of a W10 watch, take a closer look at the guys who were there first.

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer H76419931

  • 36mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 18mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Mechanical Movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

CWC Mellor-72 Mechanical

CWC was founded by Ray Mellor, former Managing Director of Hamilton's UK arm. He'd noticed that Smith's, a supplier to the MOD, had folded and that Hamilton wasn't competing for the contracts either.

To give you an idea of CWC's later success - they claim to have produced over 200,000 G10 watches for the military.

Cabot Watch Company - named after explorer John Cabot - picked up where Hamilton left off. That's not surprising as Mellor had all his Swiss contacts from his time at Hamilton. They produced their own W10 - an identical watch to Hamilton's.

The Mellor-72 is a tribute to the brand's founder and references the first W10 model from 1972.

Like the Hamilton, it's a hand-winding model, also powered by a Swiss movement. This time from Sellita.

Also like the Hamilton, this is a Swiss-made watch. And again, it's priced accordingly. However, the details of the design are closer to the MWC. It has a standard green lume rather than the retro lume of the Pilot Pioneer.

As you'd expect from a watch inspired by the original, this watch is a gorgeous recreation of the older model. Everything is as you'd expect, including a case that is 35mm wide and 11mm thick.

CWC has opted for an acrylic crystal for full authenticity and a simple press-on case back.

Like Hamilton, CWC offers a remake model. This time with a direct link to one of the men supplying the original W10 watches. This is a British company recreating a British classic.

CWC Mellor-72 Mechanical

  • 35mm Diameter (with crown)
  • 11mm Thick
  • 18mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Mechanical Movement
  • Hesalite Acrylic Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Baltany W10 Pilot's WatchI know very little about Baltany watches other than they are a Chinese brand. They appear to sell models that recreate iconic military watches. They have a small collection of models, with most being powered by Japanese automatic movements.

This model is typical of the brand. They've recreated a classic watch and released an unbranded automatic version. In this case, using the same NH35A movement as the MWC.

And that is why I've included this watch on my list. There's nothing special about it. But it's the least expensive on the list and comes with decent specs.

Those specs include a 36mm case, 100M of water resistance and a sapphire crystal. That's impressive for a sub-£200 watch.

It wouldn't be my first choice. I'm not a fan of sterile dials. But it is the most affordable way to get a W10 watch. It's a nice way to round out the list and makes a good contrast to the Swiss-made Hamilton.

My experience with other Chinese brands like Seagull, Corguet and Pagani Designs has been pretty good. Quality control can sometimes be an issue, but overall I've been happy.

Baltany Pilot

  • 36mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Mechanical Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

Conclusion


The W10 military watch is an iconic design. And it's more affordable than some other vintage models. Importantly, the style hasn't been recreated as many times as its cousin the G10.

Only a select few manufacturers currently produce this design. Importantly, two of those are brands that originally created the watch.

I hope that this piece passes on some of the passion that I have for the W10 design. It's distinctive with a case that harks back to the 1970s. For those who've served in the British military, it's a watch that will bring back a lot of memories.

So dig a little deeper and see if a W10 remake would be a good watch for you. I understand that it has a bold look and a case that is small by today's standards. So it's not going to be for everyone.

But if you're taken by this model, then you have some great options. These range from the unbranded Chinese bargain to the Swiss-made Hamilton.

As ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment below once you've followed some of the links in this article.

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