Inspired by the military watches that made history
The new Broadsword Recon Limited Edition is an extension of Bremont’s sought after Armed Forces Collection, a series of ‘Dirty Dozen’ inspired timepieces born out of Bremont’s official partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ has become synonymous in the world of horology. Here, we take a deeper dive into this influential collection of timepieces.
What are the ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches?
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ - a name for a group of 12 watches commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence to be durable, accurate and reliable - were produced by 12 different Swiss manufacturers for use by the armed forces in World War II. These watches have become important to collectors all over the world because of their rarity and their place in horological and military history.
The practice of wearing a pocket watch on the wrist is recorded as early as the nineteenth century however, following the Boer War this practice began to be integrated throughout the military. It was during the First World War that soldiers started using watches to accurately coordinate manoeuvres - they became more accurate and an essential piece of equipment. Before this, pocket watches had been too rare and expensive to have any specific military value and the concept of time was not yet centralised, however following the First World War this changed and the watch became of increasing importance to the military.
Strapping watches to the wrist made things much more convenient and opened the door to change. By the time the Second World War began, a good quality watch was an essential part of a soldiers’ kit and a crucial tool for planning and organisation.
Due to the rigours of war the requirements for the ‘perfect soldier’s watch’ placed on the 12 manufacturers included:
- Black dial with Arabic numerals
- Small second at 6 o’clock with railroad minuterie
- Luminous hour and minute hands and indexes
- Precise movements regulated to chronometer standards
- Shatterproof plexiglass and shock-resistant case
- Waterproof, easy-grip crown (for use with gloves)
- Best possible water resistance
These military requirements and the advent of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches drove important improvements in watchmaking and design, cementing these developments in the history of the wristwatch.
Following the First World War and during the second, when Britain had lost many of its watchmakers to the cause or the armaments industries, Switzerland, who maintained armed neutrality, started to ramp up its watchmaking output. It continued to meet demands for civilian orders during this period however the MoD needed specific military timepieces built to their requirements to be durable, accurate and reliable.
The 12 watch manufacturers tasked with supplying these watches were Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.
With the designation W.W.W – Watch Wrist Waterproof – on each watch case-back these pieces of military equipment have gone on to influence the design language of many watch brands since the 1940s.
Coined by watch enthusiasts as the ‘Dirty Dozen’, after the classic 1967 movie, this collection of 12 watches has become highly sought after.
Bremont’s Armed Forces Collection
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ military watches have a special place in the history of both watchmaking and Britain’s armed forces, and as such, have inspired Bremont’s own Armed Forces Collection.
The case backs of the Armed Forces Collection feature the Heraldic badges of all three services.
In 2019, Bremont proudly to entered into a partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) honouring Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Through this partnership, Bremont became the sole luxury watch producer allowed to legitimately use the signs, symbols and Heraldic Badges of all three services. This marked the first time that civilians could purchase official Bremont Military timepieces.
Bremont’s well-respected heritage and reputation within the military, specifically with the British military, made us the natural partner of choice for the MoD. Bremont has created numerous special-order projects at the request of personnel from all branches of the British armed forces and is widely recognised throughout for its discretion, its patriotism and its reputation for supplying products that are fit for purpose.
As you would expect, Bremont’s Armed Forces collection builds on the specifications originally set out for ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches, however the Bremont DNA can be felt in every timepiece through the exquisite engineering and material selection.
- Chronometer rated mechanical movements, tested to ISO 3159 regulation
- Black dial with Arabic numerals
- Hardened stainless steel two-piece case construction
- Super-LumiNova® for optimal legibility
The Bremont Broadsword is a contemporary take on the three handed ‘Dirty Dozen’ watch design which houses the chronometer rated BE-95-2AV movement inside its two-piece 40mm hardened steel case as well as a sub-seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Multiple layers of luminous paint on the hands and dial complete the original specification for the British Army. Available in a variety of case finishes including stainless steel, DLC and bronze. The latest timepiece to be added to the Armed Forces Collection is the Broadsword Recon, limited to just 200 pieces with a sandwich dial construction.
The Argonaut, a name inspired by Greek mythology and synonymous with Navy history having appeared on Commissioned ships for nearly 250 years. This exciting new 42mm hardened steel-cased military dive watch, houses a three-handed chronometer rated BE-92AV movement. The internal rotating bezel is operated by a crown at 4 o’clock, and readability on both the hands and dial have been crucial in the design process. With minutes being so critical in the marine environment, the highly legible orange minute hand can be seen very clearly and is filled with custom green Super-LumiNova®.
The Bremont Arrow is a 42mm cased mono-pusher chronograph. The pusher at 2 o’clock on the two-piece hardened steel case will start, stop and reset the stopwatch on the chronometer rated BE-51AE movement. The Arrow plays on the same British military DNA as the Broadsword but is aimed at the airman with its chronograph functionality, a necessity for any timed mission. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is a running seconds, and the chronograph has elapsed minutes on the 3 o’clock counter. Engineered with the utmost integrity, the Arrow is steadfastly accurate, durable and legible.
The Bremont Armed Forces Collection has been approved by His Majesty’s Armed Forces and combines the functionality and durability of these classic military watches, focusing on style and incorporating modern elements.
Discover the collection for your own piece of military timekeeping history at the Bremont Boutique in Cribbs Causeway.