Smiths was the last UK manufactured mechanical military watch and the company was originally founded in 1851 being primarily a clock maker. The Smiths W10 was issued mainly in the 60s and early 1970s and was replaced by the CWC and Hamilton W10 in around 1972.
A variant of the Smiths W10 was also issued to the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a Navigator's watch and these are now very collectable they are easy to identify because the caseback markings begin with 6B/.
Whilst a lot of the details regarding Smiths are unclear it seems that during 1966 Smiths secured a contract to supply the British forces with a General Service watch and its likely the batch I bought in the 1990s were part of this run and they were all dated in the late 60s. This watch seems to have been supplied for 3 years up to 1970 this watch was manufactured to meet DEF 3-B issued September 1966 and subsequently DEF STAN 66-4 (Part 4)/Issue 1, issued July 1969. Information regarding this standard appears at http://www.h-spot.net/watches/mod/general_service_electronic_wristwatches_1980.pdf
Based on my experience and notes regarding the W10 its seems the watch was 36 mm wide X 40 mm from lug to lug and 11 mm thick and used an 18mm strap with Tritium paint for luminosity. Like the Hamiliton and CWC W10 it used an acrylic crystal. The Smiths W10 from Timefactors is also 36mm wide and has the designation PRS-29A Eddie at Timefactors also made a 39mm PRS-29B which was a good move because a lot of people find old pattern military watches rather small for today’s tastes and although they like the overall appearance they prefer a larger case. I find the issue of case size interesting because if you look at the IWC models they follow the same pattern:
The best of the Smiths models was the GS.4701 and production of this model ceased in 1971, It was rumored that when the Smiths factory closed Timex bought out the company and at some point destroyed the tooling and remaining spare parts but regardless of the various rumours the name was resurrected some years ago by Eddie Platts at Time Factors who produces Smith’s watches which look very similar to the original models. Interestingly I was offered a box of Smiths W10 watches in the early 90s from a UK contact which were all in running order at £20 each and looking on eBay they sell now at £750 or more! Maybe I should have hung onto them.
Having seen the Timefactors Smiths W10 it looks very well put together and if you are looking for a W10 of this type it is not a bad buy at £405 and has quite a good spec with a sapphire crystal and uses a ETA2801-2 movement.
You can see the Time Factors watches here and I think they capture the spirit of the original quite well http://timefactors.com/prs29new.htm
Personally, I think Time Factors have done a very good job with this watch because it looks very close to the original, the updates have made it much more usable on a day-to-day basis. A lot of people are sticklers for certain details such as an acrylic/plexiglass crystal but with all the limitations it causes regarding water resistance because it is so easily scratched all tends to make me feel it's often better to give up a bit of the original detail for the benefits of usability. Of course some people really do want something which is built to the original specs and I understand that but it's nice if there are variety of watches out there so you have options.
Finally the most collectable Smiths model is the De Luxe which used a 27.CS calibre movement and was apparently issued as a General Service watch for the RAF from the end of the 1950s to the early 1960s these watches are extremely rare and highly collectable. If you are looking for an original Smiths the site below is very helpful and has some watches for sale plus lots of tips https://www.smithswatches.com/collections/smiths-military-1
On the left-hand side we refer to the dimensions of the Smiths interestingly the IWC was exactly the same dimensions from 1936 to 1999 as can be seen below but you can also see how the dimensions have progressively increased over the last 21 years from 36mm to 40mm
Mark IX: 1936-1944, IWC caliber 83, diameter: 36mm
Mark X: 1944-1948, IWC caliber 83, diameter: 36mm
Mark XI: 1948-1984, IWC caliber 89, diameter: 36mm
Mark XII: 1993-1999, IWC caliber 884 diameter: 36mm
Mark XV: 1999-2006, ETA Cal. 2892A2, diameter: 38mm
Mark XVI: 2006-2013, IWC caliber 30110, diameter: 39mm
Mark XVIII: 2016 - 2020, IWC caliber 30110, diameter: 40mm
Interestingly the new MWC DD/01/AU also measures 40mm so it seems 40mm is the right size for these type of historical designs. The MWC can be seen here https://www.mwcwatches.com/products/copy-of-mwc-1940s-1950s-pattern-general-service-watch-with-24-jewel-automatic-movement?_pos=2&_sid=479e0e53a&_ss=r
Some manufacturers however of these types of watch have still remained with 38 mm and example is the Hamilton which appears here https://www.hamiltonwatch.com/en-int/h69439931-khaki-field-mechanical.html
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