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G10 Watches

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A Brief History of Time

The term 'G10' is generally used to describe issue watches (1098 items) - a family of basic analogue military timepieces of a uniform format, i.e. steel body, black face and luminosity of a required specification. Though timepieces have been issued as early as the Great War it is usually accepted that they began to be doled out en masse - albeit on scaled issue - during WW2.

There have been many manufacturers over the years, notably: Buren, Ebel, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger Le Coultre (JLC), Longines, Cortebert, Enicar, FHF, Limi, Moeris, Montillier, Reconvillier, Rotary, Unitas, Kurth, Thommen, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. These were not 'G10s' in the modern sense and are referred to either as ATPs (Army Type Pattern) or the WWWs: Wrist Watch Waterproof.

The WWWs had a surprisingly long shelf life and were in and out of storage on an as & when basis - usually when the shooting started. Though many items were deliberately destroyed after WW2 (under the insistance of the various manufacturers to avoid flooding the market with quality Swiss-made watches) some (notably Vertex) were still being stored (and signed out) right up until the Gulf War.


G10 (For Men)

Standard issue for mortals

Clearly some sort of standardisation was required and the more familiar mechanical G10s (known technically as W10s) started to appear in the 1960s and '70s: Smiths, CWC and Hamilton. The early 1980s saw the gradual replacement of the windy-uppy mechanical W10s with good, solid quartz designs from both CWC and Precista.

This takes us up to today with the procurement horror that is the Pulsar. Generally regarded as being total kack, the Pulsar G10 has had a very short shelf life when compared to its predesessors. Though still being issued, once stocks are exhausted then it's safe to say that they're off the invite list.

'G10s' can be found both with and (generally) without date windows and whilst the earlier ATP & WWW issues were either mechanical or (in some cases) self-winding automatics, more modern watches are battery powered quartz. The glass - or 'crystal' - can also differ from contract to contract but G10s are generally acrylic.

Of late, certain Sneaky-Beaky types have been issued Nite MX10s. Whilst they're an issue item, they're not really of the classic G10 format. Rumours also abound of all manner of Gucci high-end shiny stuff being trialed and tested.

Crabs and other assorted Gods

Watches have been issued to aircrew since WW2 and (since the early '50s) have had the chronographic facility added to enable them to drop bombs and generally not get too lost. Previous aircrew watches (known as 6Bs) were made by IWC, Omega, Hamilton, Smiths, Lemania, Precista, Newmark, CWC, Omega, Seiko and currently (for the time being) Pulsar - which is basically Seiko, as Pulsar are now owned by them. These use the same movements as the lower-end Seikos and reviews from certain quarters have been less than favourable - notably crap luminosity. The early issue watches are worth lots of beer tokens to collectors.

G10 (For Gods)

Sons of Valhalla issue

The current growbag chronograph is the Pulsar PJN299X1 model. It looks Gucci enough - and is quite a hefty, attractive and reliable watch, but be warned: it is exactly the same watch that could, until recently, be picked up Harry Spankers at Argos for forty beer tokens - which is not bad for an excellent time keeper.

There are those that would lament the cheapification of such a badge of godliness, but it is allyness on the cheap nevertheless, so no bad thing. Rumour has it that it was Argos's most popular timepiece. I wonder why?

The Andrew

By far the pick of the watch crop goes to the Andrew, with a seemingly endless rich list of top-of-the-range wrist wear, notably: Blancpain, Omega, CWC, Cyma, Precista, IWC, Tag Heur and... wait for it... Rolex! Yep it's true. RN divers and other 'speshul people' have had fucking Rolex Submariners on ticket! Could you imagine a QM letting you anywhere near stores knowing he had a cupboard-full of Rolexes to 'protect'? No, me niether. You can astound friends and bore chums to death with that amazing fact. Needless to say, a genuine NSN-marked Rolex or Omega is worth a boathouse-load of beerchits on ebay.

G10 (For Sailors)

Muff Diver issue

It goes without saying that 99.9% of people who wear deep sea divers' watches are not divers, merely big-timing walty bluffers who like to create the impression that their sad, pathetic, worthless lives possess some modicum of excitement. But they do look rather spiffy it must be said - especially the CWC Special Forces model in sexy anodised black.

Today, dive watches are not quite the essential item they once were. These days, the chances are that it will be a dive computer rather than your trusty Omega Seamaster that will inform you that you're about to die horribly whilst spear fishing trout in a flooded quarry in Leicestershire.

Today's naval diver is likely to sport a Suunto D3 rather than a CWC or Precista, though the watches are still issued to complement the half a ton of characterless extruded plastic. Whilst the Suunto will keep the Health and Safety muppets happy, it does somehow lack the style and panache of a hefty analogue timepiece - and is absolutely no use for anything other than telling you that you're down fifty fathoms and that you have two minute's worth of mixed gas left. It won't tell you that you're late for boarding (when you're larging it up at the airport bar) in the same way that a big James Bond watch on your tanned and muscled wrist will.

G10s are worn from the familiar nylon 'NATO' strap. Once plain grey, these straps are available in a vast array of colours, hues and regimental patterns, which the desperate can probably source at their local PRI Shop. For the truly radical, the ARRSE strap is an absolute must. Now available in desert DPM believe it or not.

External Links

Most squaddies will never be issued a watch. Just try it. Go in to stores and see what happens. Go on... I dare you. The only other alternative is to buy your own. This has several... erm make that one... advantage. When you smash it in a alcohol-soaked frenzy or leave it in the ablutions after a forgetful post-piss up shave, you won't be reamed a fresh hoop by the Q.

Most service personnel opt for something robust and cheap, which is why Casios were the de facto 'issue' squaddy watch for so long. But squaddies - being the kit whores that they are - now have a much wider range of timepieces to choose from in the never ending pursuit of allyness.

Browse away!