Postwar U.S. Military Watches
Following World War II the military had large inventories of wartime production on hand, but innovative designs were newly produced, particularly for pilots and others with specialized duties.
An original MIL-W-3818A watch made by Bulova. Photo courtesy ebay seller Decowatches.
The A-17 Pilots Watch
The A-17 watch was produced by Waltham and issued after World War II to U.S. Air Force pilots before and during the Korean War. It was very similar to the World War II A-11 but with red luminous markings on the numbers and hands. Case markings fill the back with these lines (for Waltham):
SPECIFICATION MIL W-6433
MFRS. PART NO. 10616-CS-12-24
SERIAL NO. xxxxx
ORDER NO. DA-36-038-ORD-8290
STOCK NO. 6244-10616-CS-12-24
WALTHAM WATCH CO.
The A-17A, produced by Elgin and Bulova in the late 1950s, was little different. Specifications MIL-W-6433 and MIL-W-6433A described these watches. These hack-movement, black face "navigation watches" had a parkerized case and 24-hour numbering in addition to the 12-hour numerals.
U.S. Navy BuShips Divers Watch
The Navy BuShips divers watch has a stem cover attached with a small chain. It was issued during the Korean War to Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). It is black faced with luminous numbers and hands. It will have markings for USN and BuShips on the dial and USN or USN BuShips on the back of the case (several styles).
The MIL-W-3818A Watch
In the 1960s the MIL-W-3818A watch with a black face, stainless steel case and 18 jewel movement was in use, manufactured by Benrus, Bulova and others (see top photo on this page). The specification called for at least 15 jewels and a hacking movement. This was upgraded to MIL-W-3818B by 1964 and continued in use, issued to Army personnel in Vietnam. The FSN was 6645-066-4279. This style is sometimes referred to as DTU 2-A/P.
Typical markings on the back of the case:
SERIAL NO xxxxxx
DATE June 1969
WRIST WATCH DTU-2A/P MIL-W-3818B
MFG. PART. NO XZ73065
FED STOCK NO 6645-066-4279
The U.S.A.F. GG-W-113 Pilots Watch
Starting in 1967 the GG-W-113 watches were issued to U.S. Air Force pilots, manufactured by Benrus, Hamilton, Waltham, and Marathon (photo, left, from 1968). The GG-W-113 had a steel case, the hack feature and was a little larger and more legible than the Army MIL-W-46374 coming in during the same period.
The U.S. Navy Benrus Type I Class A Dive Watch
One of the most sought after watches by collectors is the Benrus Type I Class A Dive Watch, MIL-W-50717, issued to Navy SEALs and other special forces from the mid-1970s forward. Its fat case and general appearance are very much like a Rolex Submariner, with a highly legible, unlettered black face. It has a 17 jewel automatic, mechanical movement. The case back has full mil-spec markings:
TYPE I CLASS A
Various dates from the mid-1970s will be found. Other variations of this watch were produced, as described on this web page.
Recommended Books about Military Wrist Watches
Find More Information on the Internet
There are many fine websites that have additional information on this
topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go.
Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.
For good results, try entering this: military wristwatch. Then click the Search button.