5 ICONIC MILITARY WATCHES
UNIQUELY CRAFTED LIMITED WATCHES
5 minute read
Words by: Mr. A. Silva, Founder of Fromanteel Watches, Amsterdam - The Netherlands (CET) | 5 minute read
In many ways, military watches are the original wristwatches. Although some ‘wristwatches’ have been spotted by the end of the 17th century, these were often nothing more than small clocks attached to bracelets. Back then most clockmakers set the trend for large standing clocks. Among them was the eponymous Amsterdam based clockmakers family, Fromanteel, whom then introduced the super accurate pendulum mechanism.
Modern watches, as we know it, only really took off (pun intended) with the advent of the age of flight in the early 20th century. Most brands began then affixing their timepieces to wrists to meet the needs of airmen during WWI and World War II. For pilots, it was crucial to be able to check the time without taking the hands off the controls. Also, as it was for the need to synchronize, precise timing, between airplanes and – for example - bomber raids.
This is how the pilot watch came to light. Since, the staple elements of a pilot’s watch have been high-contrast legibility, luminous markings, strong cases and a magnetic resistance (to shield the watches from magnetic fields elsewhere in the airplane). Many of the anti-magnetic elements have become common traits in every Fromanteel watch, as this would later prove to be beneficial for all who operate machines or drive/ pilot vehicles.
Currently, it is uncommon for military services to issue iconic timepieces such as the military watches of the past, due in part to budget restrictions. In fact, the military, only issues watches to some of its units while the rest of the troops are left to purchase timepieces out of pocket. Many soldiers in the Dutch army, for example, choose to wear robust case yet comparably low price tags watches. However, in the past two years, Fromanteel has proudly been the only Dutch watch brand commissioned to produce some of the most iconic watches the Dutch military forces have ever worn.
THE 5 ICONIC DUTCH MILITARY WATCHES
1 – THE FROMANTEEL 298 GMT
Nihil Nobis Nimium, or in English ‘Nothing is Extreme’ is the famous slogan on the creed of the 298 Squadron of the Royal Dutch Airforce. The 298 is the oldest and still operational squadron of the Dutch Airforce, founded in the last month of WWII in April 1945 on the RAF liberated airfield of Gilze-Rijen. Nowadays the 298 Squadron, or better, ‘The Grizzlies’ fly powerful Chinook transport helicopters for peacekeeping missions all around the world. The 298 issued Fromanteel to design a GMT pilot’s watch. GMT stands for ‘Greenwich Mean Time’ and is the ‘0’ point on the 24-hour scale of international time zones. As the 298 Squadron is operating on a world scale, the Fromanteel 298, displays both the ‘local’ and the ‘GMT’ time. This watch was uniquely made for the 298 and is not for sale.
2 - THE FROMANTEEL FLIPPER-111
In 2017, the Dutch Submarine Services needed a specially created watch for their 111-year anniversary. Fromanteel was commissioned with this task, and the ‘Fromanteel Flipper’ (ref: F-111) came to be. The watch was named after the famous two dolphin-badge that each member of this elite service gets to wear after they complete the challenging training program. This special submariner doesn't have the usual ‘Mercedes’ hour hand; instead, it has a ‘Roman Sword’ hand, as it allows for more surface area the contrasted beige paint could be applied to, allowing for better legibility of the watch. Also, the hour indexes are displayed in minute decimals for legibility but also for better measurement of seconds indication – which proves to be crucial in coordinated dives and torpedo launches. The ‘Flipper’ is limited to 350 watches only and no longer available.
3 – THE FROMANTEEL WILDCAT
The vehicle of choice for the Dutch Special forces would be the versatile Cougar troop transport helicopter, operated by the brave men and women of the 300 Squadron of the Royal Dutch Air Force. The 300, also named ‘The Wildcat’ Squadron, operate from both land and sea on anti-terrorism and piracy missions all around the globe. Fromanteel worked with the 300 Squadron to craft a special Twin-Time pilot’s watch. Large and high-contrast indexes and hands were chosen for this project, allowing for full readability of the dial. Pilots of the 300 Squadron each received a very limited edition of this specific watch end of 2017 directly from the Fromanteel atelier.
4 – THE FROMANTEEL MLD 100
When the Royal Dutch Navy’s Air Service (in Dutch: De Marine Luchtvaartdienst, short: MLD) Celebrated its 100th year anniversary, it commissioned Fromanteel to craft a stylish GMT aviator to commemorate the service’s centenary. The Service was founded in 1917 when the Royal Navy flew reconnaissance missions with balloons over hostile territory. The young Dutch Naval officer, Alfred Rambaldo, inspired many of his fellow officers to use manned balloons to coordinate artillery attacks and bomb enemy submarines. Late 2017 members the MLD received their unique watch.
5 – THE FROMANTEEL 10 DECEMBER
Probably one of the most honorable military commissions, issued to Fromanteel, is the Fromanteel 10 December watch. This watch symbolizes much of the Royal Dutch Marine Corps creed, tradition and beliefs. The name originates from the date of founding; 10 December 1665 – when Lt. Admiral Michiel de Ruyter and Commander at Sea Willem Joseph van Ghent founded the Corps (which was the first Marine Corps in the world). The Dutch Marine’s first mission was during the ‘Raid on the Medway’ in which de Ruyter commanded a raid on the English fleet, stationed near London, successfully ending the Second English-Dutch War in June 1667. Since the Marine Corps commemorate the fallen and their founding year on 10 December.
INTRODUCING THE LIMITED FROMANTEEL MILITARY SERIES
For us watch lovers, however, the iconic military watches of the past decades will forever hold a dear place in our hearts. The true utilitarian purpose of these time instruments lends a unique aesthetic to these military watches, which have continued to inspire the design of high-quality watches to this day as shown above. In honor of the commissions as mentioned above, Fromanteel will soon be launching a limited and pre-sales only based line of watches inspired by the watches mentioned above for the watch lovers among us. These watches will be uniquely certified and crafted once in our atelier in Bienne, Switzerland.