Looking back at the heritage of luxury watchmakers, many of them had their start by building military commissioned watches. Some of the more notable brands include IWC, Bell & Ross, and Panerai to name a few. With that said, it’s no surprise how huge the market is gunning towards military-grade luxury watches these days.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not in the military; you can be an outdoorsman or just an avid fan of said watchmaker in order to appreciate what goes into a military-grade luxury watch. Some would claim that a watchmaker’s ability is only as good as its ability to create such a timepiece.
At its core, military-grade luxury watches were created to be simple, yet functional. It would carry a minimalist design but still maintain its sturdy construction, following the mantra: “function over form”. There is also a staple checklist that comes with these types of watches in terms of functionality. It has to be able to meet certain criteria, which include water resistance, easy readability, highly durable construction, and of course accurate movement.
Scroll down below to see which of these military-grade luxury watches would best suit you. Whether you’re into military, navy, aeronautics, or even inspired pieces, there’s definitely something for everyone.
It wouldn’t be a list about military-grade luxury watches if we didn’t include the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner. As Rolex is known for its durability, the Oyster Perpetual Submariner is what brings it to life. Its oystersteel material that wraps around the watch comes second to none, making it both a robust and functional design. Many of Rolex’s watches are bathed in gold and the Oyster Perpetual Submariner is no different. The hour markers on the dial are fashioned out of 18ct gold, which has since gone on to become a distinctive and iconic feature. There is also a unidirectional bezel, another key functionality for the Submariner. Its 60-minute engraving helps a diver to safely and accurately monitor diving time and decompression stops. The bezel is made out of cerachom, ensuring it is virtually scratch-proof.
Image Credit: Rolex
Panerai’s longstanding history with the Italian Navy is what birthed the idea of the Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech timepiece. It’s a diving watch — for obvious reasons — with 300m water resistance as well as being extremely lightweight due to its carbon fibre-based material. At the heart rests the automatic mechanical P.9010 calibre, which was executed entirely by Panerai themselves. It comes with Incabloc anti-shock resistance while also carrying a power reserve for up to three days. Its carbotech dial is 47mm, making it easily readable thanks to the illumination from the hands and hour markers. There are only 33 of these made worldwide and with it comes a special experience: an opportunity to participate in a two-day training session with Comsubin, Commandos of the Italian Navy.
Image Credit: Panerai
Breitling is known for its precise chronograph aviation timepieces, with many of its watches themed towards pilots. One of its more popular collections that isn’t related to the aviation industry are the Breitling Professional watches, and that is where you will find the Chronospace Military. You’ll have two choices in terms of case material: titanium or steel, which will protect the SuperQuartz movement with an EOL indicator. This calibre movement is chronometer-certified by the COSC for extreme precision so you can rest easy. To aid in its precision, the Breitling Chronospace Military also comes with a digital calendar, a four-year lifespan for its day and date indicators, an analog and 12/24 hr LCD digital display, and lastly, NVG-compatible backlighting. There is also a bi-directional rotating bezel and luminescent markings for its hands as well as hour markers.
Image Credit: Breitling
Being one of the youngest luxury watchmakers in the industry, Bell & Ross is by no means a young upstart. With already a wide variety of collections available, B&R has its own fair share of fans who fell in love with its sharp and boxy design while the dial remains circular in form. B&R draws plenty of influence from pilots, divers, and racers but the BR-X1 Military is something entirely different. It’s limited to only 250 pieces and it houses an automatic mechanical BR-CAL.313 calibre movement. It’s also a skeleton chronograph with an x-shaped upper bridge while the case is 45mm in diameters and made out of khaki high-resistance titanium. Superluminova C3 fills out the the indices and hands of the watch, giving it a nice glow in dimly-lit areas.
Image Credit: Bell & Ross
IWC’s longstanding relationship with pilots watches dates back years and each time, it brings something new to the table. One of its latest is the IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun with the case made entirely out of ceratanium. Within it rests the automatic self-winding 79420 calibre with up to 44 hours power reserve. There is also a soft-iron inner case to protect the watch against magnetic fields. On the dial rests a day and date display, a split-seconds hand for intermediate timing, and a chronograph function with hours, minutes, and seconds. To round things off, the dial is coated in luminescence to give off a nice, subtle glow when reading the time in dimly-lit surroundings.
Image Credit: IWC