CWC: The history of military watches made by businessmen

Ray's PhotoTroop transport Queen Elizabeth

Early CWC predecessor

Ray Mellor (fourth from the right) was a young man during World War II, living in Bristol with relatives to escape the Blitz.
He served in the trading convoy and on the staff of the troopship Queen Elizabeth, which made thousands of trips between New York and Scotland during the war.

1950s to 1970s
After the war, Ray first worked for a cutlery sales company and then for various watch brands.
He then came across a small job advertisement in a watch magazine which offered him the task of creating a network of watch retailers in the UK.
This is the future Hamilton.

He rose to become Managing Director of Hamilton UK, managing many of the retail stores and developing the MOD business which won many government contracts.

The Beginnings of CWC

1970 to 1972
The quartz crisis of the early 70s led Hamilton to publicly close all of its stores and offices.
A few months later, Ray closed all of his stores and offices and left Hamilton.
Around the same time, he took his son to Bristol University, and on the way he told him about a new venture: offering MOD under his own watch brand.
As I was climbing to the top of a steep hill in Bristol, I saw a tower that was 105 feet tall.
Cabot Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate the voyage of John Cabot.
When Ray saw the tower, he assumed that Cabot, like him, had started a new business in Bristol.
That's why he named it Cabot.
His Cabot Watch & Clock Company was later renamed Cabot Company Limited.

1972 to 1980

CWC HamiltonCWC Chronograph

The Cabot Watch & Clock Company was founded and the company soon became a leader in producing military watches for the armed forces.
It was all thanks to Ray's vast knowledge that he had accumulated up until that point.
The military contract for the mechanical W10 lasted until 1980.
During the 1970s and 1980s mechanical pilot's asymmetrical two-register chronographs were also issued to the RAF, Royal Navy and pilots.
This has become a collector's item known as the "Fab Four," along with the Precista, Hamilton, and Newmark versions.
CWC chronographs were also issued to BBC war correspondents.
CWC manufactured many of the timers and stopwatches used by the BBC and ITV.


In 1980, CWC produced the G10 Quartz (commonly known as the Fat Boy), the first quartz watch issued to the British Military.
In the same year, it won a formal contract to replace Rolex's MilSubs, which had been issued to the Royal Navy since the 1950s.


The CWC 1980 Royal Navy Diver Automatic is perhaps the rarest MilSub.
It featured a rotating phenolic resin bezel, tritium luminescent hands and dial, a 32mm mineral glass crystal, and a fixed strap bar with a pull-through nylon strap.
Inside was a sturdy ETA2783.

The 1981 1981RN auto diver watch had a different dial configuration and ETA movement from the 1980 version.

Chrono Watermark

1982: Change of logo
The CWC logo has been changed to a simpler typeface.
Since 1982, all CWC watches have been released with the new oval logo.

1983 <br>The first quartz diver's watches were issued to the Royal Navy's Underwater Treatment Unit.
This watch remained in use by the Royal Navy for a very long time.

1987/1988 A special request came in from the Royal Marines based in Poole.
This is a quartz 300m diver's watch issued to the Special Boat Unit.
CWC was the only company awarded this contract and continues to supply some of the British military with these watches to this day.

Late 1980s
CWC made chronographs for the British Fleet Air Arm.
It used the Valjoux 7765 movement, which was issued in very limited numbers to Royal Navy aircrew and Commonwealth pilots.

1990s <br>Alongside quartz Royal Navy diver's watches, SBS, stopwatches, marine and aviation watches, the company issued over 20,000 G10 service watches in 1991.

In the mid-1990s, the PDV black case and diver's watches issued to the Special Boat Forces were fitted with day and date functions.

1996 <br>Ray was keeping very busy with contracts for the MOD, BBC, ITV and Commonwealth countries.
Meanwhile, with his wife's health declining and him having undergone major heart surgery, he began looking for a buyer for his company.

Ray has been supplying retail G10 to Silvermans since the late '80s.
This Silvermans Company acquired CWC.
Even after the acquisition, we continued to build a very good partnership with Ray and Silvermans.
This enabled us to transfer watch industry know-how and knowledge of MOD contracts to Richard and Malcolm at Silverman.
They already had many years of experience selling CWC watches and purchasing CWC watches through MOD auctions.

Although Ray was in an advisory role, it seems his love for military watches kept him deeply involved with Silvermans.
It is known that for the next 15 years or so, Ray attended Silvermans' Cabot office three or more days a week.

Late 1990s
CWC reintroduced the mechanical W10 with a tritium dial and a mechanical ETA movement, and also added an automatic version using the ETA2824-2.
Ray, Richard and Malcolm also developed the then sought-after RN quartz automatic version of the Mk Diver Automatic.

Thanks to Silvermans' extensive retail expertise, the CWC model was made available to a wider retail market.
However, the quality and Swiss manufacturing remained largely the same as those issued to the military, and remain so to this day.

CWC also won the rights to issue RAF quartz chronographs with metal bands to the Bangladesh Air Force.

the year of 2000
The CWC obtained the right to issue the GS2000 to the German Red Army.
The GS2000 issued to the German Red Army is very similar to the G10, but with a closed caseback and no battery hatch, and uses a Ronda movement.
I was instructed that this should be an L dial (Super-LumiNova) for use on aircraft.
Delivery of chronographs to the Bangladesh Air Force ended in the early 2000s.

CWC has produced a re-edition of the 1970s mechanical chronograph in a limited edition of 415 pieces.
It uses an improved version of the Valjoux 7760 movement and a tritium dial, and is currently a very popular product.

Year 2005
CWC supplied SBS diver's watches under contract to the Royal Engineers.
They are engraved with the NATO number 6645 and are unique to this year, making them highly collectable.

With the discontinuation of T tritium paint, T tritium paint dials became scarce in the watch industry, so CWC transitioned most of its dials to L Super-LumiNova.

2006 to 2014
CWC's history and reputation as an authentic military watch has evolved with the spread of the internet and mobile technology.
Around this time, major government funding cuts meant there was a demand for cheaper digital watches, and military supply contracts almost completely disappeared.
However, what the military needed was a military watch that was sturdy, accurate and reliable.

SBS Watermark

CWC has begun reissuing black SBS diver's watches to the Royal Marines.
It now also supplies the Royal Navy and other branches of the British Armed Forces.

1980 Watermark

A reissue of the 1980 Royal Navy clearance diver watch has been announced.

CWC has announced a remake of the 1983 Quartz Royal Navy Divers and a reissue of the 1987 SBS Black Divers.


CWC has produced a commemorative limited edition of the 1980RN clearance diver's watch for current and former members of the Royal Navy's submarine force.

2020 was also the year that we released a reissue of the Mellor-72 W10.
Using the same case as the Mellor, the T20 was a MOD designated watch, but the G10 case was chosen due to its earlier thick quartz movement.

Today, CWC continues to supply watches and CWC straps to the British Army.
CWC's "Strap Watch Wrist Nylon" is the official name for the NATO strap.
It has been available in grey for many years and the CWC SBS watch is patented in this grey colour.

Over the last 50 years, CWC has produced hundreds of thousands of military watches in times of peace and conflict.
CWC watches are used by all branches of the British Armed Forces.

CWC watches are manufactured to military specifications, right down to the fixed strap bar.
This remains the CWC standard today.
We also provide upgrades and enhancements to improve performance.
The G10GS Sapphire is waterproof up to 200m and is equipped with sapphire crystal and an eight-year lithium battery module.

Many early clocks are still in use today after having served in the military during wartime.
This is a testament to its durability.
Some CWC watches have become so rare that they are offered at auction as desirable collectors' items.

Today, CWC watches still boast the same quality and durability as all military watches.