Immediately following WWII, Britain was victorious but broke. The rapid demobilisation of British forces meant that there was a lot of war surplus, and this included watches. Adverts appeared in newspapers offering surplus military grade watches for sale at prices that would make todays collectors weep tears of joy.The oversupply of military watches, in relation to the reduced numbers of troops that needed them, declining military spending, and the high quality and durable nature of the watches remaining from WWII, appears to have led to something of a lull in procurement. One of the exceptions to this however are the spectacular RAF Jaeger LeCoultres, and IWC Mark 11 watches. Many watches from WWII remained in regular military use up to and beyond the 1970s.
This watch also features what is now regarded as a hallmark of mechanical military grade watches, the hack function. You will likely be familiar with the scene from war films of a group of soldiers about to embark on a mission, ordered by the C.O. to “synchronise watches”. The purpose of this was to have everyones’ watch running on exactly the same time, to facilitate close coordination of operations. This is what the hack function is for, to allow a watch to be set precisely and easily. Pulling out the crown leads to a small interrupter lever touching the balance wheel, allowing the seconds hand to be stopped precisely, and then restarted when the crown is pushed back in.
By the 1970s the UK military grade watches was back under some financial pressure, not least due to the ailing British economy of the day. Smiths watch production was nearing the end of its days, and a new company, Hamilton began producing the W10 that was to succeed the Smiths version, and was issued from 1973 to 1976.This watch was manual winding with a Hamilton calibre 649 movement, which was a rebadged ETA 2750 movement, again with hack seconds, and in a suitably 1970s tonneau shaped case. The case was also of a monocoque design, which increased water resistance, and the movement could only be accessed by removing the glass.