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
An original MIL-W-3818A watch made by Bulova. Photo courtesy ebay seller Decowatches.

Today in WW II: 5 May 1941 Emperor Haile Selassie enters Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sfter liberation from the Italians.  More 
5 May 1942 United Kingdom forces invade the French colony of Madagascar [Operation Ironclad].
5 May 1945 OSS Detachment 101 captures the Burma city of Sandoway from the Japanese.
5 May 1945 Japanese balloon bomb attack killed six people in a rural area of Eastern Oregon, the only combat casualties for the United States in the 48 states.
Visit the World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

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):

Type A-17
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:

CONT.NO. GS-00S-61940 SERIAL NO xxxxxx
DATE June 1969
FED STOCK NO 6645-066-4279

The U.S.A.F. GG-W-113 Pilots Watch

1968 USAF watch photo

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:

NOV 1979

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

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