1970s British Military Asymmetric Chronograph Watch

For over a decade, four companies - Hamilton, CWC, Newmark and Precistar - supplied the British military with simple, robust two-register chronographs with 30-minute counters.
Its black dial, Valjoux 7733 movement, and asymmetrical case design make it highly practical, and it remains popular today.
Hamilton Chronograph

History of the Valjoux 7733

In the early 1970s, while the United States was expanding its military to combat conflicts in Southeast Asia and the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the UK was moving towards disarmament, both in numbers and costs.
As part of this disarmament initiative, the Ministry of Defence revised the standard for pilot watches, called DEF-STAN, in order to produce pilot watches with cheaper movements that could be sold commercially.
The resulting movement was called Valijoux 7733.
This movement and unique case design became a staple of British pilot watches, and were used in the 1970s and early 1980s, before the advent of quartz chronographs.
Now let's take a closer look at this design that is still loved today.

The Design of the Valjoux 7733


DEF-STAN 66-4 (Part 2), published in April 1969 and amended the following year in 1970, brought about some small but important changes to the design of British pilot's watches.
Firstly, it now allows pilot watches to have an extra button or two to accommodate a stopwatch function.
This modification allows the use of the Valjoux 7733 movement (more on the movement below).
Furthermore, by positioning these buttons above and below the crown, vertical balance is achieved, resulting in a beautiful design never before seen.
Some things about this chronograph remain unchanged.
That is, the case shape is asymmetrical.
To prevent the crown and buttons from being accidentally operated during use, the right side is thicker than the left side.
Wristwatches with this design came to be called "asymmetrical chronographs."
Almost all pilot watch designs, including case designs, are regulated by the DEF-STAN 66-4 (Part 2) standard.
As a result, despite being manufactured by multiple brands, the appearance is almost identical.
The dial is black with white ink, and the 12 and 6 indexes and the dots indicating each hour are luminous.
The central hour and minute hands and a subdial at the 9 o'clock position allow you to tell the time, while the central seconds hand and 30-minute counter at the 3 o'clock position provide a stopwatch function.
Above the crown are the start and stop buttons for the stopwatch, and below is the stop button.
Valjoux 7733 chronograph used by the British military

Each brand's logo is located at the 12 o'clock position, and below that is a "T" mark indicating that the luminous paint used on the indexes, dots, and hands is tritium.
Hamilton and CWC products have a mark called the "Broad Arrow" on the dial, indicating that they are property of the British government.
As described below, the Broad Arrow mark is also engraved on the back cover.


British Army Chronograph Military Watch, Engraved Case Back

As with all military equipment, tracking of military watches after issue is important.
To make this process easier, military watches are engraved with four key pieces of information: item type number, issuer, year of issue and individual number.
The item type number for this watch was "924-3306", so this number is engraved on all products.
There are two providers in the UK and one in Australia, and their numbers are as follows:
0552: Royal Navy
・6BB: Royal Air Force
6645-99: Royal Australian Navy
Sometimes watches issued to one military force were withdrawn and reissued to another.
For example, the fourth one in the photograph has the "0552" crossed out and stamped "6BB" above, indicating it was issued to the Royal Navy and then reissued to the RAF.
Stamped beneath the issuer and item type number is the Broad Arrow mark, denoting that it is property of the King.
Below that, a serial number to identify each individual item and the last two letters of the year of issue are engraved.
Hamilton first began producing this watch in 1970, followed by CWC in 1973, Newmark in 1980, and Precistar in 1981.


Chronograph Valjoux 7733 movement

The two-button, two-register, 30-minute counter Valjoux 7733 movement was used by many watch makers in the 1970s to power attractive, affordable chronographs.
The 773 movements had a history of reliable design and parts interchangeability, making the 7733 well suited to simple chronographs and a great powerhouse for British military pilot's watches.
The movement is manually wound using the crown at the 3 o'clock position and has a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour.
The stopwatch function is used as described above.


Despite their simple yet attractive design, high quality and military ties, these watches have become highly sought after by collectors in recent years.
Because the production period was only one year, the Newmark and Precisca models are the rarest, and those in good condition trade for around 250,000 to 400,000 yen.
CWC and Hamilton models are widely traded, with good condition ones selling for around 250,000 to 350,000 yen.
Because they were used by the military for over 10 years and parts were highly interchangeable between models, there are many models that use a mixture of parts from various manufacturers (for example, a model with a dial made by Hamilton, a movement signed CWC, and the issue year on the case back does not match).
This doesn't mean that a watch with all these different parts isn't authentic.
To carry out such part replacements, you need to have a variety of parts available at any given time.
It is therefore a well-known fact that watch manufacturers commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence were replacing these parts.
With such a prestigious reputation, any military watch is worth buying.
If you can't get it from the original owner, we recommend sourcing it from a trusted dealer or the collector community.

Modern influences

So far, we've talked about how popular British military chronographs from the 1970s are today.
Due to their popularity, new watches based on those watches are still being sold today.
CWC still manufactures watches to the UK DEF-STAN standard and offers new hand-wound watches using the Valijoux 7760 movement.
The Precisca trademark is now owned by Eddie Platz of TimeFactors, and a remake of the watch with the Seagull ST-19 movement was sold for around 45,000 yen, but is now discontinued.
Both models faithfully reproduce the classic look of the asymmetrical chronographs of the time, but are equipped with modern movements and come with a warranty.
CWC Precisca Chronograph Remake

Hamilton also offers a product called Pilot Pioneer, which is a modern remake of this classic design.

Hamilton Pilot Pioneer

This is just my personal opinion, but there is something sophisticated about remakes.
If anything, it has been finished in a way that gives a sense of fashion-related taste.

For this reason, I feel like it's a watch made to imitate military models, and I don't really like it.
I think what draws people to military watches is the fact that they were actually used there.

That's why I have a special affection for watches from the 1970s.