Military watches are rumored to have been named that when the German military requested a German watchmaker to make a watch for a soldier in a guard tower. Another story is that military watches were first used by a German naval officer who needed a wristwatch when he could not tell the time by pulling out his pocket watch since both of his hands were otherwise occupied by his weapon. Yet another tale tells that an order was placed at a trade show in Berlin by Wilhelm I and saw action in the Boer War.
So, what makes a watch a military watch? The terminology usually implies a sturdy watch that the manufacturers made to military specifications. In the past, some defense departments collaborated with watchmaking companies for providing military men with appropriate watches for matching the activities they were involved in. IWC provided watches for pilots, Rolex made watches for divers and more. The common denominator has been that they be rugged, easily read and often had straps that were NATO-style.
The #1 most expensive of all military watches ever known was sold at a Christie’s auction in Geneva for $1,734,862. It was a Patek Phillipe that was purchased by a Swiss museum. According to the archives at Patek Phillipe, this military watch was made in 1936 and sold later that same year on September 28. It is rumored to be a 55mm prototype that is very unique and the only one of its kind in existence. It sports a black lacquer dial, Arabic numerals made of a luminous material, and an hour hand that is rotating only once every 24 hours.
Here are 10 of the most expensive military watches available for purchase right now:
10. Swiss Army Men’s Alpnach Mechanical Chronograph Watch - $ 2,295.00
This Swiss Army watch offers timeless design, a rotating bezel that is unidirectional and has green accents on the black dial. It is self-winding with a chronograph movement. The crystal is scratch-resistant and anti-reflective.
9. Luminor Submersible - ACCIAIO - 44MM- Automatic - $7,200.00
The movement on this military watch is OP III caliber and its functions include immersion time calculation, date, hours, minutes, and seconds. The automatic mechanical movement is complemented by 21 jewels, Glucydur® balance, and a 42-hour power reserve. It also offers an anti-shock device called Incabloc®. The 44mm case is made of polished steel and the bezel is brushed steel.
8. Breitling Chronomat 44/ CB0110AA/A698-740P - $9,995.00
This military offering from high-end watch manufacturer, Breitling, is a water-resistant chronograph watch with a mechanical movement. It has a dial of white mother of pearl and is set with diamonds on the bezel. It also has a self-winding chronometer movement that is automatic.
7. Omega Railmaster Steel Vintage Diving Watch with Military Markings- $14,323.22
This is a 1957 Swiss made vintage watch with perfect mechanical functionality. It is quite rare, was made in 1958, and is fully guaranteed for authenticity. It features broad arrow hands, a black face, a 38mm stainless steel case, and luminous dial. It is not water resistant, however.
6. IWC Pilot's Watch- Spitfire Chronograph 18K Rose Gold - $24,300
This watch is new and Swiss made with a 43mm case. It has chronograph, day and date functions and is water resistant. It also has a genuine leather band and the movement is automatic/kinetic with an analog display.
5. Panerai Luminor 1950 GMT PAM 493 Special Limited Edition in 18K Rose Gold - $28,000.00
This Swiss made military watch has a rose gold 44mm round case, easy-to-read 12-hour dial, dual time zones, large Arabic numerals, sapphire crystal, luminous hands, and a power reserve indicator. The face and band color are both brown and the Swiss movement is automatic and mechanical. It is water resistant to 50m (5 ATM).
4. Omega Grail - Military Chronograph Pilots Watch - Vintage 1939- $32,778.13
This Swiss made military watch is pre-owned and in original condition. It has a genuine leather band, 17 jewels, 12-hour dial, Arabic numerals and a 38mm case. It is aviator style and also has a round stainless steel case manufactured between 1930 and 1939.
3. 1968 Czech Republic Limited Edition PRIM Orlík 55 l.e.- $50,000
Developed under the orders of the Ministry of National Defense, this military watch offers fluorescent indices, revolving ring, and hands, as well as an anti-reflexive surface, high shock resistance, and it is watertight up to 5 ATM. It also offers a precise tick and consistent reliability. The casing, bottom and winding wheel are made of Phonix MAZ, which is a special stainless steel that prevents light reflection. In addition, it has Umaplex glass that's 2.7 mm thick for resisting high pressures. According to one Czech ex-soldier, these military watches were also by the divers in his unit and were purported to be waterproof to a depth of 60 meters.
2. U-Boat Black Swan Lux Watch Italo Gold & Diamonds - Fontana Limited Edition S - $100,000
This amazing vintage military watch has a solid 45mm diameter 18 K gold case, satin finished hands, a cup crown of 18K gold plus 11 karats total weight of black and white diamonds totaling 800. Each one was singularly set on the buckle and the case with great patience. This watch contains a total gold weight of 108,25 gr. The movement is automatic mechanical and the entire watch was made with personalization that meets U-Boat specs. The crystal is made of high-quality sapphire and is scratch proof. The watch’s dial has one ruby and two dials that are superimposed. The watch strap is crafted from alligator black leather that has been hand-finished with black diamonds alongside the buckle.
1. Hublot Mp 05 Laferrari 50 Day/1200 Hours Men's Watch- Power Reserve- $345,000.00
This amazingly expensive Swiss made military watch has a hand wind movement, sapphire crystal that is scratch resistant, skeleton dial, fixed bezel, a digital dial, 46mm titanium case, and an 8.5-inch black rubber strap. It also has a push/pull crown and a Hublot caliber hub9005.h1.6 engine. This watch has a water resistance to 100 feet/30 meters. It is a limited edition that only included 50 watches, hence the price.
Written by Garrett Parker
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