'Dirty Dozen' Military Watches
These 4 watches are part of the infamous ‘Dirty Dozen’ which is a name given to the group of 12 wristwatches that were issued by the British Ministry of Defence during WWII.
During the war, the MOD were in need of a large number of timepieces, specifically ones that were would be able to withstand the challenges presented by the daily life of a soldier at this time. They had to be very durable, legible, reliable and accurate timekeepers. Since most manufacturers (watch manufacturers included) in Great Britain at this point were involved with the war effort, the MOD turned to some of the best Swiss watchmakers of the time. The 12 Swiss watchmakers that presented suitable pieces were Vertex, Buren, Longines, Timor, IWC, Omega, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Grana, Record, Lemania, Cyma and Eterna.
Each of these watches has the easily identifiable mark ‘W.W.W’ to the back that stands for ‘Watch’, ‘Wrist’ and ‘Waterproof’. They had the specification of Luminous markers, Arabic numerals and black dials.
They also had the Broad Arrow MOD stamp to the case and dials.
Pictured here is an example of the W.W.W and the broad arrow, as marked in the back of a Record case.
The Longines is one of the most desirable watches, due to the fact it has a slightly different and larger case design as well as the fact it is one of the lesser produced. It is often called by its nickname ‘Greenlander’ as it was alleged to have gone on the 1952-54 British North Greenland Expedition. This has been disproven, however it is known that these were used for other expeditions into extreme cold climates.
They are generally £4000 – £5000 in good original condition.
It is estimated that around 150,000 of these ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches were produced in total; however, they vary greatly in rarity due to the amount produced by each company. For example, Grana produced around 1000, making them the rarest whilst Omega produced around 25,000 which makes them one of the more common models. Whilst collecting the full ‘Dirty Dozen’ would be a very difficult and not to mention expensive task (£35,000 - £45,000) you can own one of the more ‘common’ models for around £1300 - £1600 depending on condition and originality. A great everyday watch that sits comfortably on your wrist and has the cache of having the likelihood of a military mission in WW2! They have proved to be a fine investment in the past few years, and prices are continuing to spiral upwards.
Kembery Antique Clocks currently have several of the Dirty Dozen in stock which come direct from a private collection and have a large selection of WWI and WWII military pocket watches from the same source.
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