The Explorer 2 is the perfect military timepiece 👌
I'd hesitate to call a watch that costs about half what a private makes in a year the perfect military watch... I'd struggle to consider it military at all.
Definitely a fair point! But you'd be surprised there's a large and thriving watch community within the military; whether it be Seiko, Rolex, Tudor or Casio etc. Even within other countries militaries! For example Tudor manufactures watches specifically for the French Navy.
You should check out:
Some time ago on this forum someone posted a link to an article written by a soldier entitled something like “Why it makes sense to wear a month’s salary on your wrist”, which posited that a good mechanical watch designed to survive tough conditions and not need a battery change in the field was a good investment. Since I have no military experience, I couldn’t claim that it all made sense, but it’s a legitimate point of view.
There is definitely a fairly large watch community in the military, I have several friends and acquaintances who are into watches as well.
I prefer these over Tudor though, as it's a Canadian company.
Marathon looks pretty solid they’re like purpose built military watches 👌 Don’t they use actual tritium tubes in their lume?
Indeed they do, which is what got me interested in them in the first place.
I've found tritium tubes to be a bit of a game changer for me, my watch is legible regardless of light conditions and without needing to use my free hand. It sounds trivial, bit the convenience is pretty amazing, particularly when combined with the quartz movement in the Navigator.
Ok now that is badass.
(former Soldier here)At some point in a career, Soldiers don't have to limit their purchase decisions based on what our base pay was in the basic training/junior enlisted years. To be fair and to your point— not many folks were blowing huge money on watches, but there is a pretty interesting article (and video) about a watch that is definitely a military watch and more expensive than the Explorer II.
Definitely worth a read:
Article: Delta Force — 2007 Rolex GMT-Master II (Ref. 16710) "Error Dial" W/ Box, Papers + Full Military Provenance
YouTube video: YouTube link
The Explorer II wasn't the watch I wore, nor is it my ideal watch for my mission set but I can see the merit of it being a military watch based on:
You would be surprised how many people to (include private’s) save up for things they can enjoy like cars, tools watches, not so tool watches, etc. I understand the point that these watches are expensive, but I have never met any military watch enthusiast who went out of there way to “flex” like what most people in society do when they get a watch or even something “nice”. Most military people even non watch people (I am speaking from experience) usually are just happy for each other when they get something that they worked hard for and wanted ( boats, car, etc..).
How is buying a nice watch and different than someone buying a boat, a truck (when you really don’t need one over just a car), or even just going out all the time?
With the way things are (the moving around, never being home, not having time to just “hang out with friends”), sometimes buying nice tools (granted each person has their own price and comfort level) that you can enjoy on a daily you worked for can make you smile when you are working long days.
Plus (speaking from experience) like every enthusiast with multiple different watches I know use their watches (like they do not baby them). I wore my Hamilton the same way I wear my Milligauss or Explorer 2…to the gym, field, work…
(I tend to try to keep only one or two main watch at a time + a Hamilton to give to people at work who get interested in the hobby/ gifts to commemorate. )
I'm not knocking the watch or the wearer, just the notion that a watch designed for cave exploration, sold by a luxury brand, and worth a huge portion of the average military member's annual salary is the perfect military watch. Cost matters, whether a Pte or Col.
There are lots of people in militaries around the world who wear expensive watches, so the fact a SOF operator wore a Rolex in Afghanistan isn't shocking. I have friends who brought Breitling, Omega, and TAG watches along on deployments, that doesn't make them perfect military watches either. Great watches, cool watches, but not perfect for the military.
The perfect military watch is one that the average member can put on their wrist, forget about until they need the time, and replace easily if/when it breaks. That's why the G-Shock, and Ironman models are so popular. I can't stand most G-Shocks, but even I can admit they are about as ideal as a watch can be for military/first responder service.
The perfect military watch is one that tells time. The perfect military watch is the one the SM values or just gravitates towards (and can afford). It is up to each person to determine what they gravitate towards and what works for them.
I understand your point about price, but the same argument can be made about anything…people tend to just buy what they value…and that is ok.
Why buy a MacBook when you can buy a cheap acer if you are just primary sending emails on your computer? Why buy a 65 inch tv when you can just buy a cheap small screen to watch the same things? Why buy a Iphone when you can just buy a burner phone?
Some people just value an item so they are willing to pay more for something they like and place value in (watches, computers, etc..)
I might need to work a tritium piece in the collection I don’t have one yet
And yeah in all reality I wear my Garmin for field problems and training; like as great as my automatics are I can’t plot MGRS points or navigate or use a compass lol
(nodding along in agreement on many of your points)
Great point on the Explorer II being designed for cave exploration— of all the things Rolex could have built a usecase around... what a bizarre choice. I digress...
I needed a watch that could be bomb proof (literally) and that was one of the major reasons I went down the G-Shock route myself when I was in the fight.
I also didn't know much about watches at the time and the internet wasn't as bountiful with horological crack cocaine in those years. My perfect watch would have been the Sinn EZM 1.1S if it existed back then. I can think of so many moments where the ability to count down + count up simultaneously would have been clutch.
One thing I would add to your point though, is that a "perfect military watch" is really one that is optimized for the individual's specific role/unit tactics/operational theatre— so it's a bit more accurate to think of military watches in clusters where there are watches optimized for flying (fixed wing pilots needing 3 time zones, whereas helo pilots might not care about a third time zone); the heavy pipe swingers need immediate readability, shock resistance, and a timing function; and the Air Force guys needed a watch that could detect the closest air conditioned building, wi-fi signal, and a countdown until the next chow hall opening.
Wasn‘t expecting this much commentary but it’s pretty cool!
TBH I think it’s interesting how Rolex transformed from being tool watches to being tik-tok fueled flex pieces in popular culture.
And I think wearing a piece like that now (or even say wearing a diver to go scuba diving) is kinda a cool nod to the past. And I’d even go as far to say it’s counter culture to that “flex“ culture.
I‘d almost compare it to how Carhartt (which is purpose built work wear) got transformed into a fashion statement or how Land Rovers (which used to be utilitarian vehicles built to compete with Jeepturned into luxury vehicles