MWC v CWC the Full Facts

I find this a really boring and tedious subject but I get around half a dozen emails about this very subject every month with all sorts of bizarre bits of conflicting and inaccurate information although thank god its died down over the last few years because I tend to think the two companies seem to have learned to live with each other.

What I propose to do here is to state the facts based on what I know to be 100% correct from reliable and accurate sources. Where something is conjecture I will state as much to avoid adding to the confusion. I am going to look at firstly the question of quality.  Telford Services who were at one time one of the leading MWC dealers before the proprietor became ill commissioned a report to put this very issue to bed one way or the other. They asked Paul Mason a respected member of the British Horological Institute to conduct a test on an MWC G10 Battery Hatch model which is a direct competitor to the CWC G10 models. It turns out that Mr Mason was recommended by the BHI as an independent watchmaker of the highest integrity with over 35 years experience.  Keep in mind this test is of the MWC G10 with battery hatch and that this model should not be confused with the MWC G10LM which is  a lower specification model made in a variety of variants by MWC or the MWC G10 100m version which is a higher specification the key here was as close as possible to compare like with like. The full report is copied below. I contacted MWC to ask for an image of the type of watch that was the subject of the report in 2007 and was sent the image below which is on the left. The watch on the right is the current model which is similar but slightly larger and with a sandblasted case.

               MWC G10BH Watch Tested by Paul Mason                                      MWC G10BH 2014 Model

Report by Paul Mason FBHI

Telford Services LLC, the United Kingdom’s leading supplier of military watches asked Mr Paul Mason FBHI to carry out an inspection of a Military Watch Company (MWC) G10BH Military Watch. Mr Mason was recommended by the BHI as an independent watch maker of the highest integrity with over 35 years experience. 

About Paul Mason

He served his apprenticeship in Watford repairing watches and clocks. He came third in Europe in his Final’s horological exams earning the right to become a Fellow of the British Horological Institute. He worked for five years at Cartier, New Bond Street, London, the premier jewellers, repairing and assembling new build watches.He started his own business in 1973. In 1980 Paul commenced making clock movements. First for longcase clocks and moving on to small movements and automata for the West End object d’art trade.
Paul carries out repair and overhaul of all leading brands of watches from rotary to Rolex to Patek Philippe. Repair and restoration of all pocket watches from English lever to top quality minute repeaters.
The Report
Watch : M.W.C Military Quartz Watch
Strap : Fully functional, hard wearing with stainless steel fittings.
Glass : Mineral Domed with polished edge. Scratch resistant.
Back : 2.7mm thick stainless steel, very strong. Good fit to case front. Screwed aperture for fitting battery.
Case Front : Stainless steel with Physical Vapour Deposition black, hard wearing, coating.
Movement : Ronda 705, good shockproof qualities.
Dial : Black with white lettering. Luminised Arab Numerals. Easily Readable.
Hands : White Batton with luminised centres.

Hard wearing robust watch. Good accuracy of timekeeping. Waterproof to 50 metres. Ideal for its intended use. Good Value for money.
About the Ronda 705 from Ronda Technical
Metal movement, repairable
Very long battery life
Power saving mechanism with pullled out stem: Reduction of consumption approximately 70%
Movement available as 2 or 3 hands version 
Battery   No. 371
Battery-life   6 years
Swiss Made 5 jewels, gilt EOL
The CWC G10

I don’t think anyone seriously disputes that the quality of the CWC is fine but I question the quality of the current G10 2000 compared to earlier models. I have referred to this myself because they seem much lighter and less substantial generally. I have several older CWC G10’s and the G10 2000 just feels like it’s built to a lower standard in the same way MWC make the G10LM as a lower grade G10. As a point of note though even the G10LM from MWC has a screw case back where the G10 2000 from CWC have snap on backs which are not ideal for immersion in water. If anyone has a test report on the CWC G10 I would be keen to post it here for the benefit of those weighing up the various brands. As far as the MWC and CWC 50m Battery hatch models the case backs are both push on. As you can see below the designs are similar but the MWC has a mote curved back although with both watches based on the same basic specification they are similar except the CWC is smaller and uses a 18mm strap and the CWC uses a 20mm strap.


                                      CWC Caseback 50m                                                  MWC Caseback 50m

As a point of interest I have added images of the MWC G10 100m and CWC GS2000 models case backs below for comparison. You will see that the MWC on the left is screw on and the CWC on the right is still push-on.


                               MWC 100m Caseback                                                        CWC GS2000 Caseback

I have tested the CWC and MWC G10’s and frankly the Ronda 705 and 715/715li movements in the MWC and the ETA 955 in the CWC (Ronda 715 in the GS2000) are both highly accurate as you would expect with a quartz movement so it is hard to go wrong. The main difference is that the MWC has a Ronda 715li with 10 year battery life where the standard ETA 955 or Ronda last 3 years.

Build Quality:
If we compare the old CWC prior to the 2000 I would say that the MWC and CWC felt the same as far as solidity but if you put a CWC 2000 or Navigator against the MWC G10 Battery Hatch model it feels less substantial. Overall I would says that in terms of performance they are both ideally suited to the job they are designed to do. 

MWC and CWC Models – A general overview

The rest of the models vary dramatically with CWC scoring in some areas and MWC in others. For example the MWC self luminous models are 100% brighter than any CWC with Luminova but when it comes to divers watches the CWC bezel is more positive although the black PVD versions of the MWC has a better finish in my opinion than the CWC. One other factor to consider is of course price, The CWC is vastly dearer but on the other hand if you want a watch which in the past was issued to the SBS the price might not be an issue. There is also the fact MWC no longer make a watch which is similar to the CWC SBS watch.

I have owned several of the CWC SBS models pictured above and I can't fault them as far as general quality and if you buy one secondhand on eBay you can wear it for a year and then get your money back so its a win, win situation. Buying one new is costly at £359 / $605 / €440. Below is the closest current MWC in appearance which is not really all that close but nevertheless quite appealing and not a million miles away in specification plus it has the Ronda 715li 10 year battery movement. I suppose the big factor is that at £159 / $265 / €195 is a fraction of the price.

In the case of chronographs I have evaluated the CWC Quartz Chronographs and the MWC Mil-Tec MKII and again because they both have quartz movements there is very little to say regarding accuracy because both are very similar and most quartz watches are accurate to 2 or 3 seconds a week in any case. Interesting the MWC copes well with immersion in water which is not always the case with a chronograph. As far as design I own a CWC and prefer the overall appearance because I think it is less busy looking and I like the recessed crown. What surprises me is that MWC make a chronograph very similar to the CWC model and thinking back I remember it on the website for the last time in around 2002-3. I found out recently from a US based MWC dealer who I buy various straps and other items from that they still make this model so why it is not on the site is totally beyond me. 


The MWC and CWC W10 models are interesting. I have looked at both and really can’t see any benefit of one over the other. The MWC Automatic W10 is considerably cheaper than the CWC although MWC also make a G10 Automatic which is cheap in my opinion at GBP115 for an automatic military watch with screw caseback. I think if you are looking for an automatic military watch the CWC W10 and MWC G10 Automatics offer the option to opt for one of two very different watches. Personally I like the MWC G10 Auto but the CWC W10 is a great watch too so it all comes down to taste. As an owner of a CWC W10 handwound I can vouch for the longevity of this model and the CWC auto uses much the same case ad a good reliable Swiss ETA movement so it should run for years.

                                          CWC W10                                                                          MWC W10 MKIII

Who Supplies what to whom 
It is interesting that if you speak to CWC they will drone on and on about how they are suppliers to the British Army and MWC are not. I spent 45 minutes talking to Richard Bliss at Silvermans about this point when I went into the store. So this is the position as I see it.

CWC: Beyond doubt supplied the UK forces in the past and at times Australia too but an information request to the MOD 18 months ago revealed that
CWC watches although were supplied to the British Forces sometime ago the MOD confirmed that current procurement for infantry use is the Seiko PXD433 which is supported by the information request and this link - I would appreciate an image of this watch because I have no idea what it looks like but suspect it might be a typical G10 like the Pulsar below.


MOD Pulsar G10

The information request submitted to the MOD was made by a military watch enthusiast and it confirmed that 302 Seiko PXD433 which are clearly a type of GS or G10 general service model had been issued since 2009 so they are not exactly plentifull, in the case of the RAF the Seiko PX8307X1 was procured with 905 issued since late 2010 (as of mid 2012) were are aware that this is the current choice but clearly the Citizen model is still in extensive use too, for Naval Divers the watch below which is Citizen Model BN0000-04H is the current choice and a quick search on eBay shows why because at around $165 (€125 or £102) it is much cheaper than the retail price of £389 ($655 / €477) for the CWC and clearly even in a procurement contract CWC could clearly not compete. 

Citizen Model BN0000-04H

What is clear is that bit by bit CWC is heading down the same road as Rolex and IWC in the past when they were just too costly for the military to procure due to increasingly tight budgetary restraints and both effectively became commercial brands with a military heritage. What surprises me is that CWC don't see to realize the days of costly military watches are behind us because what is clear is that the Pulsar G10 is cheap and made down to a price just the same as the MWC G10LM which the company sell in dated and non date versions is inferior to the CWC G10 overall but equal to the Pulsar and maybe somewhat better because it has a screw 
case back although it is clearly targeted at the Pulsar market and not CWC. What is apparent is that the Pulsar and watches of this type are fit for purpose and CWC will clearly not land large MOD contracts without a suitable model.



MWC: Based on The Concise Guide to Military Timepieces 1880-1990 by Ziggy Weslowski which MWC themselves and other military watch dealers stock it confirms that MWC supplied the British Army with W10’s in 1990 and yet if you ask Dieter at MWC who has been there since 1981 he says he has no comment on this particular sale so clearly not an admission or denial. I also spoke to Richard at MWC who confirms that they sell to various forces abroad and emailed supporting documents. He also confirmed that they have supplied the UK Government and among the organisations is the Metropolitan Police Anti Terrorist Unit and various other departments but he also pointed out that they are not overly interested in UK contracts as they have no UK presence to speak of but if approached they would tender but do not actively solicit the business. In spite of this I am aware MWC’s were provided to Gurkha’s at Catterick Garrison but again I found out the details of this from serving Gurkha’s not from MWC themselves but because the watches were MWC branded they must have reached them by some route. 


My feeling is that both brands must make the bulk of the sales via private sales to serving military, police, pilots and enthusiasts but clearly the market is quite small when it comes to the MOD and in the case of the U.S most serving military buy their own watch too. I found Richard Alexander's comment  when I called MWC interesting when he said "we are not particularly interested in the MOD" this could be explained by the fact that in the three years from 2009 - 2012 the MOD confirmed under the freedom of information request that 302 Seiko PXD433 which are clearly a type of GS or G10 general service model had been issued since 2009 and that sort of volume is not going to earn anyone a fortune. I have spoken to Richard Bliss at CWC and he is less forthcoming but my thoughts are that CWC have a winner with the 1970's remake Chronograph below.

CWC 1970's Chronograph Remake


Early CWC G10 from 1982 "Gulf War"

The other watch which I am aware is quite desirable is the early G10 in the thick case which is above and I am sure a limited edition of the Falklands War model could be a huge success for CWC too and I for one would like one because my old 1981 CWC G10 is looking very tired and I like the old chunky case model.

Click Below to go to the CWC and MWC Websites

CWC Watches UK:
MWC Watches: Europe MWC North America MWC-USA