In the earlier article, we have covered the fascinating history of the Dirty Dozen watches. If you have not yet read about it, check it out below:
The WWW Standard
The WWW Military Watches a.k.a Dirty Dozen watches are military watches issued to the British Army during WW2. Before the appearance of Dirty Dozen - the W.W.W. watch standard, the British army was equipped with civilian watches swapped with military dials. The dials are usually white with a small second sub-dial surrounded by railroad minute track. These are the typical watches that helped the British Army been through the toughest time during WW2. As you can imagine, the watches build using civilian standards are not the perfect tool for the tough environment in the battlefield. Thus, the MoD drafted out a new set of specifications for a wristwatch calling it W.W.W. — Wrist, Watch, Waterproof. All W.W.W. watches have to fulfil the below requirements:
- Movement regulated to Chronometer standard
- The diameter needs to be between 35 to 38m, not including the crown
- Using solid stainless steel/chrome plated case
- Using a shatterproof crystal
- Using a black dial with luminous hour markers and hands, and a railroad minute track
The MoD originally wanted to engaged British watchmakers for the order, however, most of the British watchmakers are fully engaged in the manufacturing of war supplies during the time. Therefore MoD have turned their head towards Switzerland and placed the custom order on manufacturing the watch.
Twelve companies would fulfil this brief: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex.
Each company will deliver the maximum number of watches their production capacity will allow. It is reported that the total manufacturing number of W.W.W. watches are around 150,000 at the time of delivery.
Why another article on Dirty Dozen Watches
We decided to make another article for Dirty Dozen because I have just acquired a Timor Dirty Dozen and would like to share how it feels to own an original Dirty Dozen watches from 1945.
Although the Dirty Dozen watches are best known to be the watch issued to British Army during the WW2 period, because the watches weren’t delivered until between May and December of 1945, it is unlikely that any of the Dirty Dozen Watches saw any wartime use in Europe during WW2. The watches however have not yet finished their mission, the Dirty Dozen watches remained in circulation to more missions to come and even reissued to other militaries.
The watches know to be issued to the British Army during the toughest time is the more humble “ATP” watches. ATP is thought to stand for either “Army Time Piece” or “Army Trade Pattern”.
The ATP watches are usually fitted with a Radium Lume painted white dial and have to comply with some specific standards including nighttime visibility and shockproof.
Below is an example of an ATP watch.
Although the Dirty Dozen watches might not be fighting the battle during the toughest period, the design adopted and the rarity makes it one of the best military to collect.
Enough about the background, let's dive into the looks of the Dirty Dozen. The particular model I have acquired is the Timor Dirty Dozen.
Around 13,000 Timor is know to be manufactured back in 1945.
The case of the Timor is a Stainless Steel Case with a size measured at 36.5mm. The stepped case added more texture to the Timor v.s. other rounded cases Dirty Dozen.
Of course, being a military watch, it is fitted with a fixed spring bar. It will easily match with any of your modern day Nato.
I have picked this yellowish Tudor BlackBay Style Nato straps to match with the tropical brown dial of the watch.
The case back engraving
There are a few variances on the case back engraving of the Dirty Dozen. The Timor have the manufacture name "Timor", W.W.W. indicating the standard, Military and Civil serial numbers engraved at the back of the watch. Every time I look at the watch, I wonder about the life of its previous owner(s) and how he contributed to the war. It is just fascinating!
For army soldiers to be able to check out the time anytime and anywhere even under a trench, the watch dial has been painted with Radium. Whilst highly effective in illuminating a watch at night, or in low light conditions, radium is highly radioactive with a half-life of 1600 years. I was heard that the unique Tropical Brown dial of my watch is also caused by the Radium on the dial that speeds up the ageing of the watch. The unique tropical dial is what attracts me to this particular example.
Will I get killed if I wear a Radium dial watch?
Good Question! I was so worried about this when I just received the watch. The night when I received it, I spent a night researching the videos and articles about Radium Dial watches. I came across an interesting video lecture by Kathleen McGivney, COO, RedBar Group made in the Horological Society of New York. She introduced the concept of the penetration power of alpha radiation and concluded that there is only minimal radiation penetrating the case of the watch and arrive our wrist. And we should not worry about this and should simply ENJOY!
An insightful video: Check it out if you also own a Radium Dial Watch
Conclusion Owner's View:
A quick summary after owning the Dirty Dozen for about a month. The watch is in a perfect size that will match almost all outfits including a smart casual shirt and tie. The design certainly doesn't look old and you are sure that the watch can handle our daily living conditions easily as it has been through worst!
With more and more collectors turning their heads to military watches, our wild guess is that price of Dirty Dozen watches will have an upward potential for up to 30% in the next few years.
So if you see one in the market, don't think, get it!
Thanks for reading. We will have our friend sharing her thought on her CYMA Dirty Dozen in the next issue.