Military watches are universally awesome, but there’s a certain sub-species of military watches that are undeniably the coolest.
We mean dive watches, of course.
From the combat divers of the French Marine Nationale, to the members of Israel’s Shayatet 13, to the United States’s very own Navy SEALs, all required watches, and those watches were required to be one thing: robust.
Blancpain started it all with the Fifty Fathoms, which was designed by the founder of France’s combat diver unit, Captain Bob Maloubier. Purpose-built to his exacting specifications, its revolutionary gasket system and spare, bare-bones appearance established a design lineage that’s carried across the Swiss watch industry. The Fifty Fathoms truly laid the blueprint for all dive watches to follow.
Starting in the 1970s, the U.S. government issued MIL-W-50717, which set special specifications for watches destined for use by the Navy SEALS. As this was the height of the Vietnam War, thousands of these watches were needed to outfit military divers working in the Mekong Delta. At the time, Benrus was already known for supplying two classes of field watches to the U.S. military: one, the MIL-W-46374 field watch, meant for infantry, and the MIL-W-3818B for use by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
So it seemed fitting that Benrus would get the nod once more to supply watches to the military, this time to elite diving units like the SEALs.
Thus, the Type II was born. Perfectly-suited to the needs of the SEALs, its asymmetrical 43mm corrosion-resistant steel case was rated to 1200 feet. Several thousand of these watches—around 9000—were made according to the specifications and were given the designation “Class A"—the highest grade that could be designated to military-issue equipment.
This particular watch dates from 1979. With a correctly-notched screw down crown, it bears the requisite military engravings on the back. Possessing an appropriately-weathered look that suits its lineage, it’s the perfect military dive watch, combining robust internals with a military heritage that’s sure to impress.
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