An inner 24-hour scale was once common on military watches, as it allowed the user to easily tell the time using a 24-hour system. While most watches that utilized these scales were indeed meant for soldiers, the style also crept into watches that were merely produced concurrent to their issued brethren and were meant for the civilian market. Some of these civilian models were actually purchased by soldiers for use in the field in the 1940s and 1950s, despite the fact they weren’t created under military contract. Here are three vintage examples that utilize 24-hour scales and exude a military cool.
Wittnauer 24-Hour Military Style
What we like: While not an issued watch, this small Wittnauer has many of the hallmarks of a 1940s or 50s mil-spec piece, including a screw-back case, 24-hour scale, radium-coated dial and outer minute track. Add to that some camouflage-looking patina, faded lume, step bezel and feuille hands, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful, military-inspired watch.
From the seller: 1950’s. Original dial has a light patina that looks fantastic. Center seconds. Great looking blue steel hands. Inner 24 hour. All steel case with a screwback is in very nice condition.
Bulova Field Watch A17A
What we like: While issued American military watches from the 40s through the 60s are often diminutive compared to modern-day watches, this A17A will look right at home on a smaller wrist, and checks all the right boxes for utilitarian cool. A matte steel case and dial minimize reflections, while a radium-coated dial and hands with 24-hour scale make the watch perfect for night operations (or, you know…a night out). While the radium may have faded a bit with time, the military cool of this issued piece remains fully intact.
From the seller: Case is in good condition, with no signs of polishing, and normal signs of wear consistent with age and use. Matte black dial shows signs of patination and age. Luminous material shows aging and degradation. Luminous syringe hands are in good condition with matching patina. Unsigned crown.
Longines “Sei Tache”
What we like: The “Sei Tacche” is so called for the six notches on its screw-down case back — not the most elegant descriptor perhaps, but the Italians do know how to pick a nickname. These simple, time-only watches, though for the most part not issued pieces, were sometimes used by soldiers in the 1940s, and though this example doesn’t have any military engraving, its 24-hour scale could very well have been put to military use.
From the seller: Original dial has wear consistent with age; there is some damage to the lower left lug.