You will be aware that I am a fan of Vertex watches you will have also probably understood that I am also a fan of bronze watches….. and then this shows up !!!
The new watch is a limited edition of 150 pieces to mark the 75th anniversary of the final end of the Second World War with the surrender of Japan.
This edition follows the familiar design we have seen previously first with the M100 and then the M100B that being:
an 11mm high 40mm case
ETA 7001 manual wind movement
100m water resistance
Black matt dial with SLN 7501C arabic numbers.
The difference being the case made from CuSn8 bronze. You will discover should you listen to the excellent interview with Vertex’s Don Cochrane o the Scottish Watches podcast that this is the same grade of bronze as used on for the bronze Tudor Black Bay. Below is a link to the podcast.
If you would like to buy one of these special watches visit :
I had disappeared down one of those internet rabbit holes when I came across an article on an american website entitled “Here’s why your pants have a teeny tiny pocket that’s too small to use”. As a regular wearer of jeans, I had often pondered the answer to this question. I had in the past seen this pocket being referred to a the “fob pocket” but not thought any more about it.
The article explains that the little pocket was originally intended as somewhere to keep your pocket or “fob” watch. They originally appeared on Levis working overalls in the 1890’s when of course pocket watches were common.
During the current health crisis, I am like many of you working from home. I use a pocket watch as desk clock on my limited workspace. So, I thought why not use the watch as it was intended, in a pocket, maybe then I could get to use my wife’s grandfather’s gold Patek. Now before reading the article I had considered pocket watches required the wearing of a waistcoat, a fashion I am still not following despite the attempts of Gareth Southgate. I am however a regular wearer of “five pocket jeans”. Bingo, I am almost ready to experiment.
My pocket watch is one of the “found in a draw” objects from my Mother’s home. It is a Leonidas GSTP with a government arrow on the back. As with most families we had many family members who did some form of military service in the twentieth century so I am not sure of the origins of this particular piece; I like to think of it as having been my paternal grandfather’s, he spent the Second World War in the Royal Naval dockyard at Portsmouth, but I not completely convinced,
The watch has passed several decades unused in it’s draw. I took it home and wound it up, as I have come to expect from these less sophisticated vintage items – it ran. Not only does it run, it actually keeps pretty good time. It did rattle a little but all I had to do was prise off the back of the case and tighten up two little screws. Almost set for the experiment but no pocket watch is really practical without a watch chain. Without the chain it difficult to get the watch out of the “teeny tiny” pocket. In two days the famous purveyors of horological goodies, Amazon, supplied me with something appropriate.
So, is a pocket watch viable daily beater after all many millennials use rely on the modern-day equivalent – their mobile phone. An alternative title for this article might therefore be “Can I use a pocket watch instead of my phone?”.
After my couple of days trial, I have reached an interim conclusion that I your daily routine consists of sitting at a desk, a pocket watch does work pretty well as a desk clock. But once you move away, for whatever reason, you do need to remember to take the watch with you. If you try the other option of keeping the watch in the “teeny tiny pocket” it is not super easy to pull out ever time you need to see the time. If, however, you are on your feet most of the time consulting the watch in the little pocket represents less of a challenge.
After posting some images of the watch on Instagram on possible block to regular use of this pocket watch was pointed out by Alexandre Meerson, possible radioactivity of the hands. Making keeping the watch in the little pocket very close to your groin feel less inviting…. Oh well when I get used to using pocket watches I will just have to use the Patek 😊
First of all apologies for my “radio silence” over the summer. No excuse really other than the usual “non-watch” commitments in the real world.
Starting anything again after a little time can often be a little daunting, there are always reasons to put it off again. Well today I re-started two activities I have been putting off. Firstly,I have just returned from my first motorcycle ride for a couple of years, just a couple of miles around my area but satisfying feeling my intuitive operation of the controls returning.
So now here I am back at Grinidgetime, my return to the keyboard prompted by several announcements of new watches from the British value brand Christopher Ward. My particular attention was caught by three watches in particular, produced apparently with the approval of the UK Ministry of Defence. There is a watch for each of the three arms of the British military, Army, Navy and Air Force. A remarkably similar initiative to Bremont’s Armed Forces collection launched earlier this year.
Taking the watches one by one I will start with the Sandhurst, named after the Royal Military of the same name. The watch follows the now almost generic design of the Smiths W10. This modern re-interpretation comes in a 38mm brushed steel case with a rugged and precise Swiss-made automatic movement – a chronometer-certified version of the Sellita SW200-1. Usefully, this watch has a 150m depth rating.
It is very difficult not to compare this watch to the Bremont Broadsword. Both watches offer C.O.S.C certified movements. The Bremont is slightly larger at 40mm with a lower depth rating of 100m. The big difference being the price,The Sandhurst is offered at between £795 to £895 depending on which strap option you choose. The Bremont Broadsword £2595.
The next service to cover is the Royal Navy, here Christopher Ward offer the C65 Dartmouth, named after the famous naval officers training academy. The design is inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 ‘Big Triangle’ – initially known as the Royal Navy 0552, a Ministry of Defence commissioned piece that saw the first appearance of the popular inverted triangle. The Dartmouth uses a 41mm brushed steel case and the same Sellita movement as the Sandhurst, the watch is also rated at 150m.
For people looking for a Royal Navy watch the Christopher Ward offer differs significantly from the equivalent Bremont Argonaut. The Bremont having a slightly larger case (42mm) and higher depth rating of 300m. Again though there is a significant price difference. The Dartmouth at £795/895 compared to the Argonaut at £2795.
Then we get to the youngest of the three services, the Royal Air Force. This watch is called the Cranwell, named after the famous training college, it finds inspiration in two of the most definitive pilot’s watches ever made: the ‘6B/346’ models produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. Again the movement is same Sellita as the other two housed in a 41mm steel “light-catcher case.
For Royal Air Force fans Bremont have their mono-pusher model, The Arrow; again at a significantly higher cost £3595 against £795/895.
This collection of military watches from Christopher Ward clearly offers an alternative to watch buyers wanting to show their support of one on Britain’s armed forces. The advantage being the cost and the use of the single arms insignia on th ecase back. The Bremont range with the Argonaut and Arrow do offer more features but at a price.
I have had a quartz Citizen dive watch since the late eighties, to its credit it has done great service as an indestructible beach watch, that is until the year before last when it started to leak after I changed the battery. As a quartz watch I realised I did not love it, but I did have a grudging respect for its reliability and durability, I now miss its infallibility.
Since taking more interest in the world of watches I have clearly kept these opinion at the back of my mind, a reluctance to accept quartz watches. However after several reflective discussions with other members of the watch community I am now coming around, these watches are accurate and reliable which is all that many people look for in their watches.
One group of users for whom these attributes are important are the military. It probably has not escaped your notice that the British military are now longer issuing Rolexes, Omegas and other brands that now fall into the “luxury” category to their personnel. In particular the Royal Navy no longer gives out the super collectable Rolex Milisubs to their divers. Sometime in the eighties they changed to different British based suppliers in particular the Cabot Watch Company and Precista, CWC from what I understand being the largest supplier, I have not yet got to the bottom of who did what in which year. As well as being from different suppliers these watches also moved toward the use of quartz movements. Both CWC and Precista (Timefactors) now offer various versions of these watches on their websites.
This vague interest inevitably leads to e-bay browsing, which lead to the inevitable purchase of a Precista PRS18-Q, thinking, incorrectly, they were no longer available. One piece of advice, if you live in the UK, buying stuff from Australia can prove to be considerably more expensive than the purchase price, as there is VAT to pay and the consequent Royal Mail handling charge. You live and learn.
Anyway, the watch eventually arrives, my particular watch is a PRS18-Q from 2013. The first impressions are very positive, the two piece rubber strap being very comfortable, though the brushed steel finish and the height making the not really a formal “office” watch. My teenage son commenting that it looked like a “toy watch”, a comment I ignored. Despite not being an office watch I made the watch my “watch for the week” as I would for one of my usual reviews and of course immediately changed the strap to a grey nato, which seemed to be the most appropriate. I then hit on the optimal strap/Precista combination, a black MN strap from Erika’s Originals or as in the picture above the green version. Though given the current political climate maybe this is not the right time to mix up equipment of the Royal and French navies.
Wearing the watch for a week I rediscovered the utility of an “indestructible” dive watch. The first advantage being the ability to wear it on my cycle commute without fear of the constant vibration of London’s uneven streets damaging the mechanism. I could also time myself using the uni-directional bezel. Then the lume ! I have never had a watch with such a bright glow.
As I mentioned earlier I have discovered my watch is from 2013, so is a slightly different specification from the current PRS18-Q that now uses the Ronda 715Li quartz movement that gives a ten year battery life which still leaves me another four years before I would have to change it.
These are the other key specifications:
316L stainless steel, bead blasted
Diameter Bezel 39mm, 43.5mm across including crown
Lug to lug height 47.5mm
Lug spacing 20mm
Anti-magnetic 4800 A/m
WR 300 meters, double Viton ‘O’ ring seals on case back
So in conclusion, if you are looking for a tough reliable watch with an interesting back story this Precista is definitely worth considering, especially when you consider the current COSC version is on sale at a very reasonable £245. These are I assume these are attributes requested by the Royal Navy. On a final note I wrote to an old college friend who until recently been a Royal Navy diver to enquire about his watch experience/memories. He told me neither he or one of his ex-colleagues could remember their service watches, he had bought his own Tag Heuer… maybe watch people get a little to concerned about what is on our wrist.
The “big” horological event in London last week was probably the Bremont Townhouse; during which Bremont present their range, especially the new models to the public. This event, their third I think, has taken the place of a very expensive presence at BaselWorld.
This years event took place in a lovely Georgian building in Clerkenwell. The watches central to this year’s event was the three new military models. Bremont has always made much of their military connections but the three new watches are particular as they are the first presented as a collaboration between Bremont and the three arms of the British Armed Forces.
The core of the collaboration between Bremont and the military was the signing of an Armed Forces Covenant. The signing took place at Bremont’s Headquarters in Henley-on-Thames and is the first time an Armed Forces Covenant has been signed by any watch brand. Air Commodore John Wariner, Air Officer A6/A6 Force Commander based at High Wycombe signed on behalf of Defence to signify the start of a mutual relationship in support of Defence which will be further developed over time.
The collection ids made up of three watches, one for each service. The obviously “military” being the Broadsword (£2595) the “army” watch.
This watch is styled after the famous “Dirty Dozen” military watches of World War Two, which houses the chronometer rated BE-95-2AV automatic movement inside its two-piece 40mm hardened steel case as well as a sub-seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Multiple layers of luminous paint on the hands and dial complete the original specification for the British Army.
The “air force” watch is the Arrow.
The Bremont Arrow ( £3595) is a 42mm cased mono-pusher chronograph. The pusher at 2 o’clock on the two-piece hardened steel case will start, stop and reset the stopwatch on the chronometer rated BE-51AE automatic movement. The Arrow is aimed at the airman with its chronograph functionality, a necessity for any timed mission. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is a running seconds, and the chronograph has elapsed minutes on the 3 o’clock counter.
Finally, the model for the navy is the Argonaut (£ 2795 ), a name inspired by Greek mythology and synonymous with Navy history having appeared on Commissioned ships for nearly 250 years. This e 42mm hardened steel-cased military dive watch, houses a three-handed chronometer rated BE-92AV automatic movement. The internal rotating bezel is operated by a crown at 4 o’clock.
Each of these watches feature a solid caseback featuring Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Heraldic Badges.
One design element strangely missing from these watches is the British MOD arrow sign, this being explained by the fact these watches are not issue watches but developed together with the armed forces. One other feature the watches in this collection miss, that has been integral to most Bremont until now, is the “Trip-Tik”; case construction, this was apparently to keep the cost reasonable.
Personally, I found these watches a little disappointing, especially that they have been produced to a price point. I would have liked something developed with the military to show a little of that over-engineering that military watches are known for. However, I applaud the English brothers for wanting to give something back to the world to which they owe much of their products marketing and design.
Many watch lover’s have a special attraction to military watches. I have posted recently about the “Dirty Dozen” and 6BB watches, both past and revived.
Elliot Brown are now offering something slightly different a new watch designed together with the British military, not an old design refreshed or relaunched.
It’s the first military issued watch from a British company in over ten years and prior to being approved, was the subject of intense testing, surviving some of the most hostile conditions imaginable.
The Brief: capable of prolongued exposure to water and dust, durable, shock resistant, clear visibility day or night, unidirectional timing bezel operable with a gloved hand, easy strap changes and comfortable strapping options that don’t break.
As a piece of equipment issued by the stores, the Holton has been assigned the NATO stock number 6645-99-303-0677: Time-measuring instruments; United Kingdom, and features the ‘Crow’s foot/Pusser’s Arrow/Broad Arrow‘ on the dial in subdued grey.
The watch will also be available for non-military wrists from £425. I have not seen a watch in the metal, but Elliot Brown do have a good reputation. I hope to get my hands on one soon. In the meantime you can get more detailed from the Elliot Brown website.
After reviewing and enjoying the original Vertex M100 I was intrigued to experience the limited edition blacked out version.
I am sure I have read a comment from Don Cochrane of Vertex that this watch was how he imagined the dirty dozen watches might have evolved. The blacked out look making the watch even more appropriate for stealthy military operations. There is certainly no doubt that the black DLC coating does give a more modern look, especially on the superb, and subtly branded, rubber strap.
Aside from this particular watch I had been eyeing black cased watches for a time attracted by their purposeful modern. However whilst considering the merits of the M100B I realised that for me, black is not particularly new.
So this brings me to my first observation, the DLC finish does actually look more stealthy. On the first morning of wearing the Vertex ,my usually attentive wife, did not notice the watch at all, when I bought it to her attention she said she had thought I was wearing the Swatch on the right in the picture above. Now for some of us that might like to keep our growing watch collections less evident, this could be a bonus feature.
Like the original watch this one comes packaged in a Peli case with three straps – however in place of the leather strap there is a bespoke Vertex rubber two-piece strap. The two Vertex nylon NATO-straps this time are in Red with black DLC metal parts and all Black.
The star strap has to be the new rubber one. It is super comfortable and very “elegant” exception to what I was used to expect from rubber straps. I especially like the very subtle branding. The Vertex arrow featuring on the top near to the lugs and as a grippy looking pattern on the underside.
Only 150 M100B timepieces will be produced and when I checked last week there are still some available at £2624.40. Unlike the M100 no referral is required.
The other specifications remain the same as the original. A 40mm case housing a ETA 7001 movement with a solid caseback.
Then of course there is still the amazing lume….
In conclusion this watch is a great compliment to the original with the advantage that you do not need a recommendation to buy one.
For more information and possibly to buy one visit the Vertex website.
The launch of the Vertex M100 made many of us non-military specific watch enthusiasts familiar with the concept of the “Dirty Dozen” , a series of watches built by different manufacturers to British Ministry of Defence specifications. Given the number of watches and the limited numbers of particular watches available this is quiet a difficult collection to complete.
For those wanting a different challenge I have recently discovered the “ Fabulous Four” , or 6BB aircrew chronographs from the ‘70/80s. Four companies were contracted to produce these watches over that period: Hamilton, CWC, Newmark and Precista (prior to the 1970s there had been others).
These watches were based on the MOD specification DEF-STAN 66-4 (Part 2) issued in April 1970 which included a small but significant change from its previous version of 1969 . It allowed for pilot’s chronograph cases to feature either one or two “pushpieces,” or buttons, to control the watch’s chronograph function. That change allowed for manufactures to use the cheaper Valjoux 7733 movement.
These mechanical chronographs were eventually phased out in favour of watches with quartz movements.
Modern versions of three of the watches CWC, Precista and Hamilton are available and now the Newmark version is being re-launched via a Kickstarter offer this month. This watch re-edition is of the watch issued to RAF crew in 1980 but with the modern a reliable Seiko VK64A Meca Quartz movement.
The specifications will be :
16L Brushed Stainless Steel case
Case Diameter 38mm 12 – 6 and 41mm 3 – 9
Lug to Lug Length 46.5mm
Total Height (including crystal) 12.8mm
Lug Width 20mm
Water Resistant to 50 Metres
Domed Acrylic crystal with tension ring
Matt black dial with Super Luminova C3
Frosted steel hands with Super Luminova C3
The initial images look promising.
For those making an early commitment the watch will be available for £200.
I am keen to understand more about this watch although my initial thought are slight disappointment at the choice of movement, I would have preferred to see a mechanical one. However, I reserve judgement until I actually see one of the watches.
If you are interested you can visit the companies website.
My time with the new Vertex M100 prompted me to investigate the famous “Dirty Dozen” watches a little further. Fortunately, the information is really easy to find.
Despite none of these watches being from British brands and them being made in Switzerland I feel justified in writing about them on this blog as the watches were ordered and specified by the British government.
During the Second World War the British armed forces, like their equivalents in other nations, needed reliable watches for their service people. The British industry was converted to the production of war materials, so the War Department placed an order for custom-built wristwatches with twelve Swiss manufacturers, Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex. These needed to be accurate, reliable and durable, which meant they had to be regulated to chronometer standards, and also be waterproof and shockproof. More specifically the watches also had to have a black dial, arabic numerals, luminous hour and minute hands, luminous hour markers, a railroad minute track, a shatterproof crystal, and a stainless-steel case. Powered by a 15-jewel movements. This specification was known as WWW – watch, wrist, waterproof.
The different manufacturers delivered different quantities. The rarest being Grana with between 1,000 to 5,000 pieces whilst the numbers for Omega and Record reached 25,000 each.
Production numbers based on estimates published by Konrad Knirim’s in his book entitled “British Military Timepieces”
I will now be keeping my eyes open for a Grana or failing that a nice Vertex which would give me the opportunity to also buy one of the new M110s.
Vertex is not the only British brand to make their watches in Switzerland, but when I was thinking of a watch that would make the perfect companion on my family ski trip, it was the first watch that came to mind.
The first reason being the new M100 is clearly a watch made to wear when doing stuff , a robust military style tool watch. Secondly, I liked the idea of taking the watch back home. Fortunately, Don Cochrane, the founder of the brand, was happy to lend me one.
Founded over a century ago by Claude Lyons in London’s jewellery heartland, Hatton Garden, Vertex quickly grew to become one of the most successful watch companies in Great Britain.
During the Second World War the British Military selected Vertex, along with eleven other leading watchmakers, to supply the army with a new watch built to an exacting bespoke design. The specifications were precisely what you would expect of a military watch – waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level and rugged. On top of that, the dial needed to be black with arabic numerals to maximise legibility. This select group have became known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and are highly collectable.
Don Cochrane is the great-grandson of Claude Lyons and proud owner of Vertex Watches. His passion is to continue his great-grandfather’s legacy and pay tribute to these watches through the new Vertex M100, produced in Switzerland with significantly more attention paid to their manufacture than their predecessors made for the Ministry of Defence.
The details of the new watch are:
Custom ETA 7001 mechanical movement with rhodium finish and Cotes de Geneve decoration.
Moulded Super-LumiNova ® dial
Brushed steel case, box crystal glass, waterproof to 100m.
Hand wound with 42 hour reserve.
Black dial with arabic numerals to maximise legibility, in homage to the Vertex W.W.W watch of 1944.
Packaged in a Peli case with two straps – a black leather two-piece strap, with contrasting red lining and a bespoke nylon NATO-style strap in Admiralty Grey.
An attractive package, but there is a catch, to be able to buy one of these watches you either have to be the owner of one of the original watches or be referred.
The first time I actually saw and touched one of these rare watches was at the pre-Salon QP Watchmakers Club evening. Once over the initial excitement of seeing and handling one, the next thing you cannot fail to notice is the amazing lume on the numerals on the face, it is really very thick.
The M100 comes in a distinctly non-retro box, a Peli case, which you could realistically use as a travel case.
The watch arrives with two straps, a grey Nato and a more conservative black leather.
When I first discussed the watch with Don the first point we discussed was the 40mm case size, would a smaller case not be a more faithful reproduction of the orginal watch ? Maybe, was Don’s reply. Though as you will see from the images above the the more “modern” size wears well even on my scrawny wrist.
For a bit of variety Don also gave me a choice of a couple of their accessory nato straps. I picked one green and one a steel grey. These straps are made of nice thick fabric with Vertex branding on the keepers.
Unfortunately, for me I found these really nice straps too long for me. Which left me using the standard issue nato strap.
Thanks to its manual movement the M100 rewards the wearer with the opportunity for a moments contemplation when you reach for it in the morning to wind the mechanism. One of the reasons many of us enjoy owning a mechanical watch. Before leaving for Switzerland I wore the watch every day on the nato strap and could easily imagine being my “one watch”.
Whilst packing my bags for the week I wondered how the watch would suit my MN strap, after all both the watch and the strap are “military” style.
I think it worked really well, so kept it like that for a week. This combination proved to be the perfect companion on the ski trails; this week I was trying Nordic skiing for the first time. The watch being being really legible in all conditions. The “not huge” case allowing the watch to slip easily inside the different layers of winter clothing and elastic of the strap meaning I never had the crown digging into my wrist.
The style of the watch does not give the wearer the opportunity to show the world how wealthy/macho they are like some more instantly recognisable brands. The wearer does though get the satisfaction of being “in the know” being part of the Vertex community.
This “community” is the clue to Vertex brand. When I returned the watch to Don he explained this was how he wanted people to experience the brand, he did not want people to buy into the brand just by writing a big cheque. He wants people to have to make an effort to get one of his watches. This brings me back to why I started writing my blog in the first place. Why do people buy one watch rather than an other? As I have commented previously there are companies like Bremont that are constructing heritage through their various special editions and military collaborations. The Vertex approach is a more subtle, slow burn strategy. It will take longer to see whether it is a successful strategy, but assuming the watches Don produces are well accepted by the watch buying public and people do actual bother to make the effort required to possess one he could up with a solid brand based entirely on its own products; with a strong community of fans. From a purely business/marketing point of view I wonder what the numbers might need to be to make this strategy sustainable . It is however a very interesting approach that you could easily applied to other product categories.
So it was with some regret I gave the watch back, I had already been doing the “man-maths” to work out how to pay for this addition to my collection.
The good news is that Vertex are working on some further launches, which will enable a few more people to join the community. Watch this space if you can excuse this pun.
To find out more you can visit the Vertex website.