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.

Flying (and Diving) Into Darkness: Three New Breitling Blacksteel Watches

Breitling goes “back to black” with three new line extensions of its Colt Chronograph Automatic, Navitimer 46, and Avenger II Seawolf models, all in cases made of “Blacksteel,” a metal with a layer of highly resistant carbon-based treatment that Breitling first starting using for its watch cases in 2012. Here’s what you need to know about all three new watches.

Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic Blacksteel - front

The military-inspired Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic Blacksteel (above and below) has a 44-mm case with a satin-brushed finish and a “Volcano black” dial with a circular raised motif radiating from the center. The dial’s large hands and hour markers are enhanced with Super-LumiNova, and the unidirectional rotating bezel features four “rider tabs” — a hallmark of Breitling’s aviation-influenced sports watches — which enable the wearer to easily turn the ratcheted bezel even while wearing gloves. The movement is Breitling Caliber 13 (based on the ETA Valjoux 7750), a COSC-certified chronometer with a 1/4-second chronograph function and date display. The subdials at 12 and 6 o’clock tally the 30 chronograph minutes and 12 chronograph hours, respectively, while the subdial at 9 o’clock displays the running seconds. The date appears in a window at 3 o’clock, and the central chronograph seconds hand has a red arrow tip for ideal legibility against the dark dial. The screw-locked crown helps maintain the watch’s water resistance to 200 meters (660 feet). The watch (price: $5,100) is available on a rubber Ocean Racer or Diver Pro strap or a military-style fabric strap.

Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic Blacksteel - reclining
Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic Blacksteel - dial CU

 

The Breitling Avenger II Seawolf Blacksteel (below), the latest iteration of Breitling’s professional-grade divers’ watch, is a 1,000-piece limited series with a brushed 45-mm-diameter blacksteel case that is water-resistant to an astounding 3,000 meters (10,000 feet). The case is equipped with a decompression valve for saturation diving and a unidirectional, ratcheted, rotating dive-scale bezel with four rider tabs. The double-gasket, screw-locked crown boasts protective reinforcements and a non-slip grip. The dial, in Breitling’s “Cobra yellow” color, makes for a stark contrast with the black case and strap. It has large, luminescent-coated hands and hour indices and is protected under a thick, curved sapphire crystal that is glareproofed on both sides. Its COSC-certified movement, Breitling Caliber 17 (based on the ETA 2824-2), features automatic winding and a high frequency of 28,800 vph. The Avenger II Seawolf Blacksteel ($4,625) comes with a black rubber Ocean Racer or Diver Pro strap, a high-tech military fiber strap, or a strap combining a tough, military fabric exterior with a rubber core.

Breitling Avenger II Seawolf Blacksteel - front
Breitling Avenger II Seawolf Blacksteel - angle
Breitling Avenger II Seawolf Blacksteel - side

The Breitling Navitimer 46 Blacksteel (below) is the only one of the three new models powered by a Breitling in-house Caliber, the automatic Caliber 01, which carries a COSC chronometer certification and holds a power reserve of more than 70 hours; it has a blackened winding rotor that is visible through a sapphire window in the watch’s caseback. The satin-brushed blacksteel case measures 46 mm in diameter and is outfitted with another distinctively Breitling element, a bidirectional rotating bezel with a circular slide rule, a device designed to aid pilots in making calculations related to airborne navigation. Differing from the classical Navitimer dial, with its three silvered subdials, this watch’s dial has just two tone-on-tone subdials — small seconds at 9 o’clock and 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock — along with a date display at 6 o’clock. Red is used for the subdial hands and for the central sweep-seconds chronograph hand. The black rubber strap features a new aircraft tire-tread motif, a style now available on all Navitimer models. The Navitimer 46 Blacksteel retails for $9,225.

Breitling Navitimer 46 Blacksteel - front
Breitling Navitimer 46 Blacksteel - side
Breitling Navitimer 46 Blacksteel - back