Cabot Watch Company was founded in 1972 by Ray Mellor but is now owned by Silverman’s see http://www.silvermans.co.uk/ which is a military surplus, camping gear and military equipment dealer based in London, UK. CWC watches are of good sound quality and were supplied to the British Forces in the past although the MOD confirmed recently that current procurement for infantry use is the Seiko PXD433 - in mid 2012 and again in 2014 information requests were submitted to the MOD by two military watch enthusiasts we know who send us copies of the response which confirmed that 302 had been issued since 2009 so they are not exactly plentiful, for the RAF the Seiko PX8307X1 with 905 issued since late 2010 (as of mid 2012) was the current choice but clearly the Citizen model is still in extensive use too, for Naval Divers the Citizen BN0000-04H is the current choice and a quick search on eBay shows why because at around £225 (€250 or $299) it is much cheaper than the retail price of £699 ($940 / €775) for the CWC and clearly even in a procurement contract CWC could not compete with the budgetary restraints that the British Ministry of defence has to live with.
Something that is becoming very clear is that bit by bit CWC is heading down the same road as Rolex and IWC in the past when they were just too costly for the military to procure and effectively became commercial brands with a military heritage. In summary I have always found that CWC are fine and I have several in my collection although the models are rather dated in many ways maybe due to the conservative requirements laid down by the British MOD although these seem less rigid in recent years, some of CWC's remakes and retro models are actually very interesting and and are here https://www.cwcwatch.com/collections/heritage-reissue-historical-watches.
The conservatism shows in some models because CWC still use plexiglass in some of their G10 and all W10 watches where other companies have moved to mineral glass or sapphire crystal for improved durability. In addition the UK forces have not opted for Self Luminous technology which employs vials of active tritium gas.
The price of a surplus CWC watch is usually high in the UK and it frequently makes more sense to buy a new one. Unless of course you want to watch which is of a particular age for example the Falklands war versions command very high prices, a friend bought a mint 1989 First Gulf War CWC a year back in pristine condition for £110 where the current equivalent is £219 so it was quite a good buy.
It's quite interesting that the initial plan in 1980 when the British Ministry of defence were looking to replace the mechanical W 10 with a quartz model was that the new G 10 would use the same case pattern as existing watches, the problem was that the size of the watch movements at the time meant there was no quartz movement available that would fit into the W10 case - interestingly if you look at the specification sheet set down by the Ministry of Defence you will see that it pictures a W10.
The first quartz watches issued to British Army soldiers are known as G10 “fatboys”, this is due the very thick cases, there was no alternative but to use these cases because the ESA Quartz movement was very bulky by modern standards with a short battery life. The first CWC quartz watches were issued in 1980, with further batches also produced in 1982 which were used by British forces in the Falklands War. By the late 1980s the Fatboy model was no longer in production and the watches were significantly slimmer and much more manageable, these watches were the second case pattern with the current models being classified as the third case pattern. According to reliable sources the CWC G10 was issued from 1980-2006.
Occasionally you might well come across old CWC G10 models at Militaria fairs that are up to 30+ years old and still going strong. I think that says quite a lot about the long-term reliability.
The mechanical non dated CWC chronograph made in the 1970s was a design inherited from Hamilton for whom Ray Mellor worked prior to starting CWC just as in the case of the W10 models the Hamilton and CWC are extremely close in outward appearance.
General Description: The case is stainless steel, screw back and has a polished finish with an acrylic crystal, usual time functions. The winder is nicely finished and recessed.
Strap/options: I was sent one of these watches by a fellow collector who was curious about my general opinion of the watch. The watch I was sent came with a grey NATO strap which is the most historically accurate although many people use a black strap or the black and grey James Bond pattern but the US pattern military strap in Khaki or Black looks good too.
After I was lent this watch I wore it for three weeks during which time it proved very accurate and never gained more than 15 to 20 seconds a week although it has to be said that the Valjoux ETA 7760 is know for both accuracy and general reliability. The chronograph functions were very positive and I can't fault any aspect of the watch.
Conclusion: This watch is a very desirable piece of kit but costly at £2250.00 on the plus side it has a very good historical heritage and would likely hold its value quite well. This watch can be seen on the CWC site at this link
If this watch is too costly look out for a Precista PRS-5 which is pictured below and made to the same design as the Hamilton and CWC. If you look around you might find a tidy used example also the watch is not currently in production so new watches are not available. Another option is the MWC which is similar at £275 / €299 / $369 see this link
It has to be said that the MWC is based on later NATO specifications but it's in a similar spirit to the original watch. Of course where it wins hands down if you don't want to pay the price of the CWC is that obviously it is a fraction of the price of the CWC but its a hybrid quartz mechanical not a pure mechanical watch although in terms of the way it behaves anyone handling it would assume it was mechanical because it has a fly back secondhand etc.
Another contender might be the Hamilton
at €1775 (£1595) although at this price you are not far off the CWC's price there and I would be tempted to pay that bit more because the CWC will retain it's value much better and whilst the Hamilton is not close to the original in many ways the CWC is virtually indistinguishable.
Although the CWC and Precista look similar they are in fact very different although both are of excellent quality and represent great value for money although the Precista is unfortunately not currently in production. The CWC uses a 29 jewel Mechanical hand-wind, Valjoux ETA 7760 with modification. The Precista uses a ST-19 movement. The ST-19 is a 19 jewel column-wheel chronograph movement and is very much tried and tested and is directly descended from a Venus 175 movement.
The history of the basic design is quite interesting . Back in 1970 and continuing through to the early 1980's, the UK military issued mechanical chronographs with with two subsidiary dials, both the RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots used the same models. There were four versions of this watch built to DEF STAN 66-4 (Part 2) Issue 2: the first model was the Hamilton which then became CWC when Ray Mellor formed CWC after leaving Hamilton, there was alsothe Precista, and another watch called the Newmark. At the time all of the watches used used the Valjoux 7733 hand-winding chronograph movement (currently they use the Valjoux ETA 7760) and used acrylic plexiglass crystals and tritium painted hands and hour markers. As with many watches which use plexiglass crystals the water resistance rating was low and they are only rated at 3ATM.
Having had a good look at both models they are very similar but as far as case finish I think the Precista and has the edge, where this gets interesting is when we come to price. The Precista has to be taken out of the equation as I said earlier because it is not in production but the CWC is now £2250 although a friend who lent me his to take a look at swore it was only £899 when he bought it from Silverman's 4 years back and I confirmed this is correct at archive.org here you can see it was £899 in 2014 and now £2250 - I wish my earnings went up that quick! In fairness though the strength of the Swiss Franc will not be helping CWC and is one of the reasons MWC assemble in Germany. The CWC on current sale at £2250 can be seen here . In my opinion the CWC was fairly priced at £899 and it does have an interesting heritage but at £2250 it might be well beyond the reach of some people but one thing that is apparent from looking at eBay is that used examples tend to hold their price well.
Coming back to the watches themselves I can confirm that they are really not that identical but they are visually similar. I measured the watches and the Precista seems fractionally thicker at just under 15mm as opposed to 14mm on the CWC the diameter at 41mm including the crown is the same on both watches, as far as the lug to lug measurement the Precista is just over 1mm less than the 47mm measurement of the CWC, strap size on both is 20mm.
I must say that the sand blasted case on the Precista has the edge visually over the polished stainless steel case of the CWC. As far as the action of the movements is concerned both watches always operated perfectly and I found them to be very accurate over the time they were on test.
Interestingly when our watchmaker removed the case back of the Precista he thought the movement was a Venus 175 calibre, these are produced between 1940 and the mid 1960's. I am informed that Seagull bought the original tooling from Venus and that the parts used in the Sea-Gull ST1901 are interchangeable.
There is a very interesting article here which goes into great detail regarding these particular watches and is well worth a look for anyone potentially considering buying one. There is quite a lot of images of the various models to enable you to compare the different specifications although they are all very similar there are some quite subtle differences which to a collector may be important.
The hand-wound W10 was the predecessor to the quartz G10/98 models used by the armed forces of today. Interestingly in the British MOD specifications from February 1980 inviting companies to tender for contracts to supply watches to the British forces the requirement foresaw that the W10 pattern watches would continue with a quartz movement, however, there was a major problem because at that time no quartz movement could fit the case due to being far too thick. This situation led to the watches we still refer to as the G10 which are the current issue watches.
I was talking to another manufacturer who mentioned that their watchmaker was looking at a W10 casing a couple of years back and discovered that a Swiss quartz Ronda 715 movement would fit perfectly this meant that while the model in the MOD spec sheets which was not able to be produced 40 years ago using the ESA Quartz movement as mentioned above could be made now. Clearly CWC must have come to the same conclusion at some point that I'm remake of this watch that couldn't be made at the time was now possible, CWC have stuck very closely in many ways to the original specification but I note that MWC developed a hybrid model which not only looks outwardly mechanical but also has the accuracy of a quartz watch, a glass crystal giving it 100m water resistance (the originals used perspex) and a screw-on case back and a locking crown. Although this watch is a significantly updated version of the original 1960/70s models it successfully retains the originals outward appearance.
Interestingly Hamilton have also remade this model and it must be remembered that Ray Mellor who founded CWC originally worked for Hamilton brought the Hamilton W10 over to CWC the Hamilton remake is here https://www.hamiltonwatch.com/en-int/h76419931-khaki-pilot.html
It has to be said with the CWC mechanical at £449, the CWC quartz at £249 now factoring in the MWC mechanical at £225 and the MWC Hybrid at £149.95 I would be hard pushed to justify spending close to £700 on the Hamilton. Not only that but I think that visually the CWC and MWC look somewhat better I don't know what it is but there's something about the dial on the Hamilton just does not look right. Interestingly I note that this dial finish seems to be used on quite a few of the current Hamilton models and I guess some people might like it but we don't find it at all appealing.
We have always found CWC watches to be a solid and durable. Something which is evidenced by the G10 models which you occasionally find at Militaria fairs that are 30+ years old and still going strong.
The traditional G10 with battery hatch watch shown above was issued for many years although no longer issued it was a British Army staple for around 20 years. Interestingly the CWC don't appear on recent lists of UK issued models see https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/540450/DE_S_FOI_2016_06648___Information_of_British_Armed_Forces_Watches_and_suppliers_in__Annex_A_.pdf nor back in 2012 see https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzqjx2t3PlpWT2Fub1N5cFpCTUE/view?usp=sharing&resourcekey=0-93yh5O-Mz6n0PfWeRxt8MA
This classic G10 has a solidly made stainless steel case with a hatch on the back and has a matt finish with an acrylic crystal.
The winder is nicely finished and recessed. We put one of these on test for around four weeks and found it to be extremely reliable as you would expect with a quartz watch another quite small very wearable and desirable as a contemporary military watch with a long history.
This watch is a nice piece of kit and I have used lots of CWC models over the years but this one was the most accurate. I have to say in some ways it feels less solid than the models we have seen from the 1980s and 1990’s some of which still surface now and then at various military sales or watch fairs.
With thousands of these CWC G10 models issued it is a tried and tested timepiece that is not likely to give you any nasty surprises. Somehow it does not seem to be as substantial as the older battery hatch model but that is not to say that in normal use it is a criticism and I prefer the case finish on this version.
A friend of mine bought one of the new Precista G10 models which has been significantly upgraded and now has 100m water resistance and a sapphire crystal, this watch is pictured at the link below, it is cheaper than the CWC 50 meter model at £195 but it actually compares more closely to the CWC 200 meter water resistant G 10 which is significantly dearer at £299 see the precista at the link below.
What is quite interesting with all three models regardless of whether it is the MWC, CWC or Precista is that all three manufacturers have gone for exactly the same movement which probably tells you a lot about reliability and performance. Of course it has to be considered that this particular moment the Ronda 715Li is the only one which gives a 10 year battery life also be CR2016 battery is freely available so replacements will never be a problem years down the line when the time comes to fit a new battery. Of course many people would pressure test their watch before the battery expired anyway.
Coming to the other option MWC make a 300 meter water resistant watch in titanium which has to be a contender, this one is dearer than the Precista although cheaper than the stainless steel 200 meter CWC so this makes it a very positive contender especially as it is such a high specification. Having looked at one of these watches and being a great fan of titanium I would be very hard pushed to make a decision as to which model to buy, you can see the MWC at the link below.
Where the CWC watch and Precista differ significantly from the MWC is the overall dimensions. The MWC is quite a bit bigger at 42 mm including the crown whereas the CWC (39.5mm) and Precista (39.1mm) are both significantly smaller but again this comes down to what sort of watch you're looking for and the sort of dimensions you prefer, personally I find the larger case size makes the dial visibility better at night but that shouldn't be a deal breaker as both of the other two watches perform very well to. I suppose when it really comes down to is that the differences between them are not vast and they are obviously targeted at a very similar client base.
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