I have always had a respect for the Royal Marines, principally due to my youthful failure to pass the selection test to become an officer. It would appear that respect for this elite corps is widely held and so is incredibly marketable if a brand/product has an association. Given this affection I tend to notice when a Marine related watch pops up. Recently I have realised this is not a rare event. The Royal Marines would appear to have sanctioned more watches than any other arm of the military, certainly from the UK.
So, I thought it might be interesting to see how many I could find, this is the result of my “research”.
The most recent offering is the Christopher Ward Lympstone, named after the location of the Commando Training Centre in Dorset, and site of my personal lack of metal. This watch features a 42mm brushed steel case coated in suitably military gun metal PVD. Power is provided by a Sellita SW200 COSC movement and is usefully water resistant to 600m. The RM connection demonstrated subtly with the corps crest laser-engraved on the screw down caseback. The price online is currently £875 before any of the Christopher Ward seasonal offers, which already looks very good value for the specification.
As you would expect Bremont have not missed the opportunity to associate themselves with the corps, they have to date produce two watches for serving or ex-Marines. The first being the limited edition, 350 pieces, S500/RMC based on the standard customer S500 with corps colours an the dial and a case back engraved with the corps crest.
The more recent second series of watches, based on the new HMAF line and feature the Royal Marine colours at 6 o’clock, a subdued “ROYAL MARINES” at 12 o’clock and the corps’ crest engraved on a closed caseback. This watch is available to be bought by past and presently serving Royal Marines who may select from the Argonaut, Arrow or Broadsword models. Only 150 of each version will be produced.
Breitling have produced special limited edition for various military organisations over the years so naturally they also produced a couple of specials for the RM/SBS (the special forces element of the Marines) and in 2015 a limited edition Avenger Seawolf model to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the corps.
At this point we have covered the offer of mechanical watches from the luxury sector. However, collectors who prefer quartz movements or prefer to invest less need not despair, there are some potentially more economical battery powered options available.
The best place to start is the CWC SBS diver’s which is actually issued to members of the SBS. Capable of submersing to 300 metres / 1000ft and made for the toughest conditions. This watch which has been issued now for 30 years. The original MOD specification dates back to 1987 signed by the Officer Commanding Royal Marines for CWC.
Then also from CWC there is the G10 which was issued with the 0555 ( Royal Marine stock number) for one year only in 1995. So you can look for actual issued watches on the second hand market or buy an identical ( minus the stock number) G10 new from CWC for £219.
We then move on to the Royal Marines recent collaboration with Citizen, which has given two watches, firstly the Citizen Royal Marines Commando Super Tough GMT watch is made from ion plated titanium and is fitted with a Citizen Eco-Drive movement. The watch features ultra thick Sapphire glass 2.5mm and it is fitted with a Kevlar strap. The case back is engraved with Royal Navy Ensign and comes with a special presentation box in the Regiment colours.
Then the watch I think is actually the more “military watch” the Royal Marines Commando Super Tough three hander.
Both of these Citizen models use the Eco-Drive movement so will not ever require a battery, which would seem perfect for military personnel who might often find themselves a long way from any shops. The watches though do not seem to offer anything more than their non-Royal Marine equivalents other than “Royal Marine Commando” on the dial and the Royal Naval ensign engraved on the caseback.
This really concludes the selection of serious collaborations. You can find pocket watches on e-bay with Royal Marine crest applied to the case for very little money though I doubt these are “official”.
It would now be very interesting to understand if my original idea is correct. Is there a military unit that has had more “official” watches? I can only imagine maybe the USAF, but then only if you put all different squadrons and aircraft types together. I am clearly ready to be corrected.