THE DIRTY DOZEN
The 1940s to 50s hand-wound watches were expected to be water-resistant to 20 feet, including water-resistance under low-pressure at operational altitudes. Nearly all of these Cold War models were Swiss Made except for exceptions like the British Made Smith’s W10 which is not one of the dirty dozen and came later. This watch has the distinction of being the last mechanical watch actually manufactured in the United Kingdom for supply to the military. These Smith’s W10’s were popping up everywhere in clearance auctions until the mid 1990’s at reasonable prices (£60/70) but are now hard to find and have become very costly. I was in the UK last year and saw a nice on in the Burlington Arcade in London at £1250 which it seems was maybe a little high but having spoken to Austin Kaye in the Strand it seems it was not overly expensive for a nice example. Unfortunately Austin Kaye which started trading October 1946 closed in January this year after trading for nearly 75 years which was rather bad news because they always had interesting military watches available. Of course this all goes to show that military watches are also a better investment than many items.
After the Smith's watch above the W10 pattern watches were manufactured by CWC, Hamilton and MWC. Hamilton ceased production in the early 1970’s and production was continued by Cabot Watch Co better know by the initials CWC. The CWC W10 is still made today by CWC in the original spec with plexiglass and MWC also continue to manufacture this model in automatic variants and a hybrid mechanical / quartz variant, the MWC's were upgraded to a glass crystal with 100m water resistance and screw down crown. The CWC and MWC look similar in appearance and both have automatic movements but for practicality I tend to favour the high water resistance rating of the MWC but if you want a watch that is almost exactly the same spec as the 1970s watches then the CWC might be more appealing. The reality is that once they are on the wrist they all look much the same.
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