G10 Watches

The whole G10 story is very interestingly and most squaddies never get issued with a watch contrary to what many people think. Hence many armed forces such as in the United States work on the basis of an item being what is described as “fit for purpose” of course this can encompass everything from something like Casio G shock (a popular choice for field use by serving military worldwide) right through all of the watches which are frequently termed G10. The term G10 and its origin is quite unusual because in the UK military for soldiers to get their hands on one, they had to fill out a form called a G1098, or G10 for short hence the reason the watches are always now referred to as G10’s and anybody who is either UK serving military or ex-military will frequently know exactly what type of watch is being referred to when they hear that term.
Three Typical G10's are pictured below. The models are Marathon G10, The CWC G10 which is similar to the model used in the 1982 Falklands war and the MWC 300m G10 with GTLS and sapphire crystal case. All these models are currently available from the respective manufacturers.

The term 'G10' is generally used to describe issue watches which share a range of characteristics i.e. stainless steel case (although some very high specification models made by MWC use titanium cases) , clear black dial with prominent numbers and In a case of the watches issued in the UK luminosity either through tritium paint on the older models or Luminova or equivalent on current models. Some very high specification G10 or equivalent watches such as those made by Marathon in Canada, Nite or MWC in Switzerland use GTLS tritium tubes and these are also employed quite frequently on watches used by many forces worldwide but not by British forces at the current time. The Marathon watch which we would consider to be the closest to what is termed a G10 in their range is the one pictured above which is $360 it is a very high quality quartz watch with sapphire crystal and there is also an automatic at $650
CWC in the UK produce a large range of G10 watches and these were issued to the UK forces until a few years ago when the procurement contacts were placed with Citizen and Pulsar (probably on cost grounds) but the CWC is a traditional British pattern military watch and still has an acrylic (plastic) crystal on the basic models which in my opinion has both pluse and minus points because on the one hand it’s shatter resistant but on the other easily scratched and not very water resistant although the scratches are easily tackled with a product called polyWatch sold by CWC themselves as well as other companies. The CWC G10’s are here
http://www.cwcwatch.com/collections/general-service-watches and run from £170.00 to £299.00 (US$211.00 - US$372.00) The most traditional of the all is this model which retains the battery hatch. The latest models with sapphire crystal and 200 meter water resistance are an excellent specification and use the Ronda 715li movement also used by MWC.

The largest current range of G10 watches is made by MWC and frankly the amount of specs and variants is staggering with all sorts of dials, luminessence, cases, water resistance ratings etc. There are basically six ranges on the website here although the G10 EVO range I would not consider personally to be a true G10 as they are complex and encompass chronograph functions. I would consider the others to be true G10 / General Service watches. The MWC’s in my opinion are the highest rated G10’s in the world because they are water resistant to to ratings of up to 300m / 1000ft at the top of the range shown here in the case of some of the higher end models and they also have tritium GTLS tubes and there are even some models in the Titanium range with hybrid movements that require no batteries because they are charged by the movement of the wrist and store the electricity generated in an Electricity Storage Unit or E.S.U, they also have a solar model with unlimited battery life due to the sophisticated solar powered movement which has super accuracy and is charged by either artificial light or daylight. The Titanium MWC’s are here.

The history of the G10 is interesting because there have been so many manufacturers over the years among them Jaeger Le Coultre, Longines, Hamilton, IWC, Omega, Record, Smith’s Timor and Vertex plus of course the CWC’s and MWC’s still made today. Some of these early watches are perhaps not what we would term a G10 today because many were the handwound predecessors such as the W10 but these models that preceded the G10 are also still made by both CWC and MWC and can be seen at the links below:




MWC W10 Range

Interestingly we were recently told that Vertex is making a comeback and there is some information here  the watch looks very similar in general concept to the original watches but it will be somewhat larger at 40 mm diameter but based on what we already know about the watch its going to be high quality product.

Interestingly it's rumoured that after World War II many of the military watches which were produced during the War were destroyed at the insistence of the manufacturers because of worry worry that a large number of high-quality Swiss watches would suddenly find their way onto the market and obviously prevent the sale of new watches. Even though this is highly likely to have happened there are still quite a few World War II military watches floating around and in fact when you look in newspapers from the late 1940s right through the 1950s fifties and even the early 1960s you'll see that these watches were frequently advertised for sale. Clearly if it's true that the majority were destroyed the fact that they were still quite plentiful after World War II indicates that the Swiss watch manufacturers had plenty of reason to worry.

THE G10 NATO Strap

Other than the watches themselves something else which you will frequently see if the sale is what is termed the G10 NATO strap. The straps appear everywhere on watches such as Daniel Wellington as well as Timex and Pulsar watches I have frequently seen them being used on high-end watches such as Rolex Submariners and Omega’s. There is a good reason for these particular watch straps being used by the military which is because if one of the watch pins breaks the watch will not come off the wrist for this reason people who are engaged in activities which put the watch strap under considerable strain and where they are using watches with spring pins often use these straps as a safeguard. The original straps will all NATO Admiralty grey though nowadays they are available in every colour under the sun and have frequently been modified by military watch manufacturers to suit specific watches. For example you will frequently find that the straps are now made with PVD buckles to suit black PVD watches on which they are fitted. From a historical angle the NATO strap first appeared in 1973 making its debut in the British Ministry of Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-15 which can be viewed at this link.

As we outlined earlier in the case of the watches for soldiers to obtain one of these straps they had to fill out a form known as the G1098, or G10 for short hence these also referred to as G10 straps.  

It's interesting to note that the initial specifications have been modified In recent years. The official width now stands at 18 mm, although both 18 mm and 20 mm straps are issued by the Ministry of Defence. Also, the fittings are now made of stainless steel where at the beginning they were chrome plated. Also the original straps were always heatsealed and bonded where these days many straps are made with both heatsealing and stitching or sometimes just stitched. There are quite a lot of suppliers of high-quality straps but I've added some links below.


CWC NATO Military Straps


MWC NATO Military Straps

Timefactors NATO Military Straps