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Your Guide to the “Dirty Dozen” – Including the Only British Member, VERTEX

Your Guide to the “Dirty Dozen” – Including the Only British Member, VERTEX


In our modern time of cell phones and wearable tech, it’s not difficult to fail to remember exactly how vital the humble mechanical wristwatch used to be. However even a short invasion into the universe of military watches is sufficient to give a clear update. Tough, dependable and totally fit-for-reason, these basic watches have assumed a basic part in the effective execution of military tasks that significantly formed the course of modern history. Especially during World War II, the time frame which we will zero in on with the end goal of this article. Apparently the most popular such watches from this period are those of the British Military. All the more explicitly, the Dirty Dozen.


Chances are you’re as of now acquainted with the Dirty Dozen, or have in any event heard the name. That is likely on the grounds that the “Dozen” is among the most sought-after arrangement by military watch authorities. In case you’re curious about the name however, permit me to give a concise presentation. The utilization of wrist-worn watches in military clash truly started in World War I. Pocket watches – the well known selection of men of the day – demonstrated excessively unwieldy and tedious to use down and dirty. Also the interruption of bumbling around with the residue cover, and so forth could accidentally open your situation to adversary snipers.

The beginning – but fundamental – arrangement troopers concocted was to tie their pocket watches to their wrists for simpler access. This before long developed into the “trench watch”, which fundamentally utilized a little pocket watch case with wire drags patched on either end so a lash could be connected. The plans were not normalized, and the warriors regularly needed to buy these watches themselves. Which means they were not given by the government.

The plan of these watches kept on developing all through the war dependent on the input from the consistent “field testing” they were exposed to. For instance, white dials with dark numerals were before long reversed as it turned out to be evident that white content against a dark foundation was more decipherable. Moreover, glowing paint – containing radioactive radium – was acquainted with empower perusing in low-light conditions.

By World War II, the wristwatch was well and really settled as a fundamental piece of a gentleman’s day by day clothing. Accepting he could manage the cost of one, obviously. Pocket watches actually endured – even inside the military – however their fame kept on disappearing. As you would expect, the wristwatch assumed a considerably more critical part in the Second World War than it did in the First. However there was certainly not a lot of normalization in the plan of these watches until the mid 1940s.

The Dirty Dozen

According to the history books, in 1943 Commander Alan Brooks (later to become Field Marshal) perceived the benefit of having a general-use watch for the military. Up to that point practically all help watches were close to home non military personnel things. Given that this “general-use” watch was bound for a functioning combat area, the MoD set explicit measures for how it should look and capacity. These included:

  • Black dial with Arabic numerals, auxiliary seconds at 6 o’clock and railroad-style minutes
  • Luminous hour and moment hands in addition to brilliant hour markers
  • Movements with 15 gems, 11.75 to 13 ligne in diameter
  • Shatterproof Perspex crystal
  • Waterproof to the guidelines of the era
  • Precision developments that must be managed to chronometer measures in an assortment of conditions
  • Rugged case fit for reducing the effect of shocks
  • Water-safe crown of good size

The military code for these watches was W.W.W. (Watch, Wristlet, Waterproof). They were additionally needed to be engraved in three spots with the Broad Arrow or Pheon (which signifies property of the British Crown.) On their casebacks was the enlightening code W.W.W. Two chronic numbers could be found also, one being the common chronic number of the producer and the second a military one what began with a capital letter.

As some portion of its concise, the British MoD plainly specified that these watches were expressly implied for ‘General Service.’ This didn’t imply that each fighter would be qualified for one; it was and absolutely stays over-the-top to give a watch managed to chronometer principles for each warrior. With the term ‘General Service,’ the British implied that these watches would be given to uncommon units and undertakings separately like ordnance individuals, staff individuals, architects and faculty of the Communications Corps.

At the time, British watch production lines previously had their hands full with the assembling of weapons and weapons. In this way, demand officers were shipped off Switzerland to discover companies that could satisfy the request. Eventually, twelve companies would be chosen: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex. (In spite of the fact that Vertex was actually a British watch company, it had Swiss Manufacturing plants.)

About 145,000 W.W.W’s were conveyed to the British military by each of the 12 makers. The table beneath from Konrad Knirim’s book British Military Timepieces gives an outline of the number of watches were contributed by each maker:

As you can see, a few – like Grana and Eterna – delivered generally low volumes. This makes it especially trying for authorities attempting to discover pleasant instances of each to complete their “Dozen”. An errand that is made boundlessly more troublesome by the way that these watches were overhauled, suppose without the best of care, by the R.E.M.E (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers) who often slashed and changed parts between the different models. Then again, spending a lifetime looking and ordering a complete set should be an exceptionally remunerating experience indeed.

The Vertex Connection

As the solitary British individual from the Dirty Dozen, Vertex sticks out. The facts demonstrate that the company had fabricating capacities in Switzerland on account of its accomplices there. But at the same time all things considered, Henry Lazarus, child in-law of company organizer Claude Lyons and a skipper in the British Army, had the option to practice his impact to get his company on the list.

That’s not to say Vertex didn’t have the right to be there. A long way from it. All things considered, the company had been providing watches to the British military since 1915. What’s more, as you can find in the table above, Vertex gave too much the aggregate, with a commitment of 15,000 bits of its Cal 59 Nav watch.

It is this equivalent watch, alongside the prerequisites set out by the MoD, that Don Cochrane utilized as the reason for the M100; the watch that relaunched the Vertex brand in 2016. On the off chance that you don’t have the foggiest idea who Cochrane is, you can peruse our meeting with him here . The M100 – and the later M100B – are not expected as immediate reverences to the Cal 59, yet rather draw on it for inspiration.

The result is a contemporary device watch with clear military feelings, fulfilling both the necessities of the MoD and the modern watch darling. It will not suit all preferences, and sadly for the numerous military watch gatherers out there, it will not permit you to complete your “Dirty Dozen” set either. Be that as it may, it is as yet a pleasant watch all the same.

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Opening photograph credits: A Collected Man