W.W.W. - Watches Wristlet Waterproof



Updates

The long list of updates that was previously here has been moved to: Update Log

Introduction

In the early 1940s the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) put out a specification set for military watches that it wanted to supply its troops with. The companies that produced a watch that met these specifications and that the MoD accepted were: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, JLC, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. This page is an attempt to collect information about these watches.

Amoung the common features of these watches is the engraving of "W.W.W." (for Watches Wristlet Waterproof) on the outside case back of the watch. (Although by today's standards, one wouldn't consider these waterproof.)

At various internet sites these watches are either refered to as W.W.W (or WWW) watches or also (less often) as Mark X watches. Sometimes, depending on the user or context, the IWC WWW is refered to as the Mark X only.

Details

On the outside caseback of all WWWs there is a (Vocabulary) letter (not necessarily unique) associated with each brand. See the table below for the letter for each brand.

All of these watches, except for IWC, are screw back cases. The IWC is snap back.

Brand Vocab. Dial Back Mvmt Caliber Case Size(mm) Lug Size(mm) Case Metal Scans NATO Dial Scans MoD Dial Scans Comments
Buren H D B M 462 36.5 18 Chrome top. Rarity: moderate
Cyma P D B M 234 37 18 SS 1 2 3 4 5 6 Rarity: quite common
Eterna P or Q D B M 520 36 18 SS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rarity: moderately rare
Grana M D B M KF320 35 18 SS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Rarity: Very rare
Grana WWWs are quite rare and difficult to find.

Scans 3-7 are of a Grana with a MoD dial.

JLC F D B M 479 35 17 (was incorrect before) Chrome top. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 m1 m2 p1 Rarity: moderate
Weak case finishing.

Scans m1 and m2 are examples of MoD dials.

Scan p1 is an example of a MoD dial, where the encircled 'P' indicates that the luminous is made of Promethium.

Lemania L or Q D BL BQErr BQ M 27A 36.5 18 Chrome top. 1 2 p1 Rarity: moderately rare
I have seen some with a different type of caseback. Not sure about this type of caseback.

Scan p1 is an example of a MoD dial, where the encircled 'P' indicates that the luminous is made of Promethium.

Note I previously had an incorrect example of a 'Q' caseback. This has now been corrected. The correct caseback is under the 'BQ' link. The one I had incorrect is under the link 'BQErr'. One clever reader pointed out that the example with 'BQErr' is likely a Record caseback where the 'L' is stamped out and the 'Q' is added. It was also suggested this was done because the original 'Q' casebacks were very corrosive.

Longines F D B M 1268Z 38 18 SS 1 2 3 m1 Rarity: moderately common
Often referred to as the 'Greenlander'.
The outside caseback of this watch should contain the number 23088 (the model number) at the top. Just below this is another number. THIS number should match the number on the back of one of the lugs. The other number is that associated with the vocab. letter described above.

Scan m1 is an example of a MoD dial.

IWC M D B M 83 35 18 SS Click here for MUCH more details.
n1 n2 m1 Rarity: I see one I haven't seen before about once a month.
Click here for more details.

Scans n1 and n2 are examples of NATO dials.

Scan m1 is an example of a MoD dial.

Omega Y D B M 30T2 35 18 Some metal alloy. Nickel? SS? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Still searching for an example. m1 Rarity: very common.

Those interested in acquiring one of these watches should pay careful attention to the dial and try to get one with an original dial.

  • Look carefully at the fonts of the numbers (especially the '7'). Make sure there is NO 'hook' to the font of the '7'.
  • Make sure the subsiduary seconds dial is a 'step down' (i.e is placed at a lower level to the surface of the other part of the dial).
  • Make sure the font of the 'A' in the word OMEGA on the dial has a flat top and NOT a pointed top.
There are many versions of this dial and the original is the most sought after by collectors.

A reader of this page who use to work on repairing Omegas sent me this as part of an email:

"The part number for Omegas was W10/VB 10033 and the individual spare parts followed so that, from memory, a part number for a balance staff W10(the Army Ordnance code for timepieces, including clocks etc) /VB (Ordnance for wristwatches) followed by 10033 (the Omega code) followed by /22 thus W10/VB-10033/22."

Scan m1 is an example of a MoD dial.

Record L D B M 022 K 36.5 18 Chrome top n1 n2 n3 m1 m2 Rarity: moderate

The previous Vocab letters (A,F) that were in the Vocab column before have now been removed because I don't think they are correct.

I believe the correct Vocab letter for Record is 'L'. In addition to this, there should be a 3 digit number on the back of the 11 o'clock lug that should be the same 3 digits as the last 3 numbers of the L# that is on the outside case back of the watch. (If this is not the case, it is an indication that the case back is from another watch.)

Scans n1, n2 and n3 are examples of a NATO dial.

Scan m1 is an example of a MoD dial.

Timor K D (*) B M 6060 36.5 18 Made of some type of metal. Not chrome top. 1 2 3 4 5 Still searching for an example. m1 Rarity: moderate
(*):The hands in scan 'D' are likely NOT original.
Original hands are likely in scan '1' and '4'.

Scan m1 is an example of a MoD dial.

Vertex A D B M 59 35 18 Chrome top. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Rarity: moderate

Special Dials

NATO dials

...more details at a later date. I hope...

IWC Code: W10/445-5890
Record Code: W10/445-9830
Omega Code: W10/445-2031
Timor Code: W10/445-9855

MoD dials

I will classify MoD dials observed under the following categories.

Special Casebacks

Pakistani Broad Arrow Casebacks

Some WWWs that were returned by the army personel were then used by the Pakistani Military. This is often seen on WWWs with a "P" under the broad arrow engraved on the back.

Examples

KNIL Casebacks

Some WWWs that were returned by the army personel were then used by the Dutch Military. This is often seen on WWWs with "KNIL" engraved on the back. For more information on KNIL click here. Another article on this topic is here.

Examples

ADRI Casebacks

Some WWWs that were returned by the army personel were then used by the Indonesian Military. These have "ADRI" engraved on the back. I know of only two examples of these. Note these examples also have KNIL on the back. It is assumed that this watch was re-issued first as "KNIL" and then re-issued as "ADRI".

The Dirty Dozen

Some very keen collectors have managed to collect all 12 WWWs. They often refer to this set as "The Dirty Dozen". (It's a term of endearment.) In their honor, I have added this section. (If you have the complete set, send me a scan at the email address below and I will add it. Note, if the scan is too big, I will reduce the size.)

Flag Country Scans Comments
Portugal 1 Owned by a collector in Portugal.
Japan 1 Owned by a collector in Japan.
Netherlands 1 Owned by a collector from the Netherlands.
UK 1 Owned by a collector in the UK.
UK 1 Owned by a collector in the UK.
Germany 1 Owned by a collector and military wristwatch expert in Germany.
Germany 1 Owned by a collector in Germany.
Belgium 1 Owned by a collector in Belgium.
Malaysia 1 Owned by a collector in Malaysia.
UK 1 Owned by a collector in the UK (North Wales).
Australia 1 Owned by a collector in Australia.
USA 1 Owned by a collector in the USA.


Contact

If you have suggestions for other information that could be added to this page related to WWWs, please let me know.

Contact: mmh365 [at] gmail.com