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Why the military watch craze? Explanations

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 12 April 2017

Watches. New or vintage, they provoke passion and I, for one, won’t tell you the opposite. This is true for certain pieces more than others of course. If watch investments, whose success has been increasing for the past 10 years, mainly deal with chronographs and of pieces from historic brands, a particular category has experienced exponential growth in popularity: military watches. Let’s take a closer look…

CWC Vintage 1979 W10 Military watch

The quest for the rare

The speculation factor, principal element: the rarity of these pieces. Not only do military watches represent a tiny part of watch production, but by their use on the terrain, military watches were often mistreated and the pieces that do manage to survive and be in good physical condition and function are even more rare to find.

The quest for authenticity

In the eye of the collector: the search for authenticity. What more authentic beauty is there than a piece that wasn’t made to please but to save lives and achieve the impossible? I need not say more… Robustness and clarity associated with their origins. Military watches do indeed share these elements in their DNA.

CWC 1970 Chronograph

Authenticity for those pieces that had spent time in the field, and which in their well-preserved condition show the scars of being in the front line.

The stories are numerous, and you know how much we Rhabilleurs love hearing about them, and sharing them with others. A watch’s history is connected to the men and the women who wore it, to the missions accomplished, and to the events lived through.

Not many things are more dramatic and more intense than a war. If the most atrocious conflicts arise by the cause of Men, they’re also responsible for the most heroic and remarkable actions and emotions. Hence, the growing interest and the all-consuming passion that these pieces provoke allowing such achievements!

The exquisite beauty of patina

When we’re looking at physical appearance, added aesthetic value can be seen by the even patina of a black dial that turns slightly chocolate brown, and the patina of white or silver markers easing into a cream or eggshell colour. The military watch is a favourite target, the main cause being their life at the front. Logical right?

Auricoste Type 20 Movement

Sea, air, sun. Continuous intensive exposure of these pieces to the Elements make them (if they manage to get to us) even more valuable. Their patina is not only “patina,” but proof of history and of provenance. Tropical dials, markers with patina, and bezel inserts from the past we love so much are hence common…to the delight of aficionados and collectors.


Our opinion, which is far from being neutral since these pieces move us, is more than positive when looking at what they represent: the quintessence of functional and purified aesthetics. Add robustness of movement to the mix and their worth should be blatantly obvious. …At least we hope so!