The best vintage military watches: The British Ministry of Defence's "Dirty Dozen" WWW list

The best vintage military items: British Ministry of Defence "Dirty Dozen" WWW list

Dirty Dozen Military Watch sales page

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Military watches have become very popular in recent times and are becoming harder to come by.

We have received many questions asking about all of the Dirty Dozen brands, so we have compiled a list of all of the Dirty Dozen products.

These watches are highly prized among collectors for their functionality and historic value.

Many military watches have survived actual wars and are in excellent condition, which is why they command such high prices.

Origin of the name Dirty Dozen

The name "Dirty Dozen" comes from a 1960s film that tells the story of 12 fictional warriors and their adventures.

Every soldier in the film wears a military watch.

In reality, the watches worn by the warriors in the film were commissioned by the Ministry of Defence and were primarily worn by British soldiers in the Second World War.

With the exception of a few variations that are very similar in terms of hands, case design, and size, the Dirty Dozen is unique to its era.

It features a black dial with luminous Arabic numerals and hands.

The crystal is made of acrylic, which is very durable and will not shatter even if it breaks, and the case is made of stainless steel.

Dirty Dozen Military Watch sales page

The first military watches were general-purpose models

Vintage military watches are designed to perform a specific task with the greatest possible precision.

The appeal of this military watch is its design that emphasizes functionality.

Military watches are the ultimate timepieces, with no extras added and everything except what is truly necessary removed from their design.

During World War II, Britain imported Swiss watches and issued them under the name "ATP (Army Trade Pattern)".

Most of the watches issued at this time were around 29-33mm in size, had chrome or steel cases, silver or white dials, and luminous indexes.

There were two types of second hands: one in the same position as the hour and minute hands, and one that was separate (small second).The watch had a 15-jewel movement and there were two types of case backs: snap-back and screw-back.

However, wristwatches at that time only had military dials, product numbers, and issue numbers, and were essentially civilian models.

Therefore, the British Ministry of Defence decided that such watches were unsuitable for the battlefield and set its own specifications to create a new watch with functions specifically required on the battlefield.

The Dirty Dozen, the British Defence Forces' military watch

The Dirty Dozen movie poster

The specifications were named "WWW," an acronym for "Wrist," "Watch," and "Waterproof," and because 12 Swiss manufacturers produced watches with these specifications, the group became commonly known as The Dirty Dozen, after the title of a famous 1967 war movie.

The Dirty Dozen watches were not issued until May or December 1945, so they saw little actual use during World War II (Victory in Europe Day was May 8, 1945).

However, wristwatches continued to be in circulation for a few years afterwards, and some were even issued to foreign military forces.

The WWW spec had the following rules:

Sizes range from 35mm to 38mm in diameter excluding the crown.

The dial is black with luminous paint around the indexes and a separate second hand.

It must have a 15-jewel movement between 11.75 and 13 lignes (approximately 26.5 and 29.3 mm), a shatterproof crystal, and a chrome or stainless steel case.

Specification requirements also included that it be waterproof and chronometer certified.

The case back (all except IWC models have screw-backs) is engraved with four marks: the Broad Arrow (a mark indicating British government property), the letters "WWW", the manufacturer's number, and a military supply store number beginning with an alphabet.

Dity Dozen W.W.W. Certified Watch

The twelve manufacturers known as the Dirty Dozen varied in size and production capacity, but each produced as many watches as they could, for a total of approximately 150,000 watches.

The twelve manufacturers are: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.

Enicar was also founded to make WWW-certified watches, but the company never made it into the Dirty Dozen because its watches were not accurate enough.

Longines Military Watch Case Back

Although WWW watches were called "job watches," they were actually only available to relatively high-ranking soldiers, such as artillerymen and radio operators, and were never issued to infantrymen.

There are no clear records as to which soldiers were issued WWW-certified watches and for what reasons, but in any case, the end of the war was drawing near by the time this watch was produced.

After the end of hostilities in Europe in 1945, conflicts continued around the world, so the Dirty Dozen watches were renumbered and sold to the British and other armies.

At the time, the Netherlands, which was in conflict with the Indonesian resistance movement that had declared independence, also purchased WWW-certified watches from the UK.

However, some of the watches acquired by the Netherlands ended up in the hands of their enemy, Indonesia, and the "KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger: Royal Dutch East Indies Army)" stamp was removed and the letters "ADRI (Army of the Republic of Indonesia)" were engraved instead.

IWC watch engraved with ADRI, Republic of Indonesian Army

The authority to handle WWW certified watches is the British military unit called the Royal Electronic and Mechanical Corps, which is responsible for ensuring that the watches are in working order and meet the specification requirements.

Therefore, over the years, many non-genuine parts end up being used in WWW certified watches to meet the specification requirements.

The original radium dials were replaced with tritium and promethium substitutes, resulting in some watches still bearing the name of the original maker and the Broad Arrow stamp, but with a different material used for the lume, such as promethium or radium.

Other dials available are the Ministry of Defence dial, engraved with five numbers identifying the maker of the Broad Arrow and Dirty Dozen, and the NATO dial, engraved with the Broad Arrow, a circled "T" for tritium, the stock number and the maker code.

To complicate things further, there are still new and emerging minor variations being discovered that would qualify as legitimate WWW-certified dials in addition to the differences mentioned above, all of which has further fuelled the collectors' market.

Since each brand produced different amounts of watches, the brand from which the watch was made is also an important factor in determining its value.

For example, although Omega uses the venerable 30T2 movement in a 35mm stainless steel case, only 25,000 were produced, so they are currently valued at around 300,000 to 400,000 yen.

British Defence Forces Omega Military Watches

British Defence Forces Omega Military Watch Movement 30T2

British Defence Forces Omega Military Watch Case Back

British Defence Forces Omega Military Watch Case Back

Products from a brand called Cyma, which is not well known among modern watch enthusiasts, also use the caliber 234 movement in a 37mm stainless steel case, and are likely to be popular with military item collectors as they are practical even by today's standards. However, with only around 20,000 pieces produced, these watches are valued at around 250,000 to 400,000 yen.

Cyma W.W.W. certified watch

On the other hand, Grana models are trading at very high prices.

This brand's 35mm stainless steel model, equipped with the in-house caliber KF320, was only produced in quantities of 1,000 to 5,000, and is currently valued at up to 2.5 million yen each.

Grana W.W.W. certified watch

"Dirty Dozen" WWW List


Vintage Military Watch Buren Buren_rank12

The charm of Beuren

1) Personally, I don't like the word "Grand Prix" underneath the Buren signature as it seems to diminish the watch's value as a military collectible.

2) It’s not very well known.

11 - Eterna

Vintage Military Watch Eterna Eterna_rank11

The charm of Eterna

1) Compared to the Vertex and Record, the Eterna is a more valuable watch among collectors, but as a WWW, the syringe-like needle is less than ideal.

10 - Record

Vintage Military Watch Record_rank10

The appeal of records

1) I personally love the Record brand.

2) The small details, such as the open circle on the number "9," are unique and make it superior to the 11th and 12th places.

9 - Timor

Vintage Military Watch Timor Timor_rank9

The charm of Timor

1) Although it is a lesser known brand, the case shape in particular is superior to the other three brands (ranked lower).

8 - Vertex

Vintage Military Watch Vertex Vertex_rank8

The charm of the Vertex

1) The numbers are large and stand out on the dial.

2) The "Vertex" font creates a three-dimensional effect and is more balanced on the dial than other brands.

3) It differs from other WWW watches in that it has a Swiss Made signature above the hand track.

7 - Omega

Vintage Military Watch Omega_rank7

The appeal of Omega

1) In terms of brand awareness, this should be in the top 4, but we ranked it lower because it is so common.

2) The shape of the dial and case could be improved.

6 - Lemania

Vintage Military Watch Lemania_rank6

The appeal of Lemania

1) In my personal opinion, the Lemania brand has a better balanced dial than the Omega. The Omega has a better brand recognition, so it's a good match.

2) A circular bezel and a stepped case.

3) Rather than being a watch manufacturer, they are a movement manufacturer, so you can trust their precision.

5 - Grana

Vintage Military Watch Grana Grana_rank5

The charm of Grana

1) The small numbers arranged in a circle are very unusual.

2) It's not the prettiest, but I just like it, so I rank it higher than Lemania and Omega.

3) Best of all, it has the lowest production numbers of the Dirty Dozen.

4 - IWC MK X

Vintage Military Watches IWC_rank4

The Appeal of the IWC MK X

1) IWC is a well-known brand and is familiar to many people, not just those in the watch industry.

2) The Mark XI (Mk. XI) is popular, but the Mark XI is also very rare, with only 6,000 units produced.

3) If the IWC signature foam was longer and didn’t have a syringe-like needle, it would have ranked higher.

By the way, this is the successor model, Mark 11.

IWC Mark 11

The difference with the 10 is that the standards have been changed for airline pilots.
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IWC & Jaeger-LeCoultre's best military watches

3 - Cyma

Vintage Military Watch Cyma_rank3

The appeal of Cima

Cima watches are made of stainless steel, which is why many of them are still in good condition today.

In addition, the case size excluding the crown is 38mm in diameter, the largest of the Dirty Dozen, and it is still easy to use today, which is another reason for its popularity.

The length, including the lugs, is approximately 45mm.

The image below shows me wearing the Cima military outfit that I personally use.

Cima's Vintage Military Watches

2 - Jaeger-LeCoultre

Jaeger-LeCoultre Vintage Military Watch JLC_rank2
Jaeger LeCoultre 1940s Military Watch

The allure of Jaeger-LeCoultre

This watch created by Jaeger-LeCoultre is a true "practical watch" made for combat.

This is a rare product and does not come on the market as often as other manufacturers' products.

The case is especially robust and made to withstand any weather or environment.

The black dial minimizes sunlight exposure, while the use of luminous material on the bold indexes and thick hands maximizes readability.

1 - Longines Greenlander

Vintage Military Watch Longines Longines_rank1

The appeal of the Longines Greenlander

1) The stepped bezel is unique to Longines.

2) Mercedes-Benz needles (cobra needles, cathedral needles) are used by only three companies

3) It is one of the most well-known brands and the 12.68z movement is also attractive.

4) It has historical value (it was said to have been used in the British Northern Expedition to Greenland, but apparently that is not the case. But its history is interesting).


Currently, many watch manufacturers, such as IWC, Longines, and Bell & Ross, produce military watches that are modern adaptations of those from that time.

Vertex recovered once again under the founder's grandson, and now sells modern versions of the WWW-certified watches that it produced under its own brand at the time.

However, regardless of the brand or size, all WWW-certified watches from that time have one special thing in common:

The point is that these watches are precisely crafted to achieve one purpose: to achieve high accuracy even under adverse conditions.

While wearing it on your wrist, you can think back to where it has been and what it has seen; that's something only a genuine WWW-certified watch can do.

Dirty Dozen Military Watch sales page