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Credit where credit is due on MilSub hands...

April 14 2011 at 7:22 AM

tomvox1  (Login tomvox1)
VRF Dial Archive Curator
from IP address 96.232.167.143

Just sort of ruminating on this (and it's probably obvious & old news to many here) but I think that the UK MOD obviously came to prefer the Rolex Oyster case/crown structure but mandated that Rolex duplicate Omega Seamaster 300 hands when granting them their contract:

SM300Med3best.jpg

We know that in fact the SM 300 was issued by the MOD several years prior to the Submariner.
We know that the "Niad" pressure-fit crown system on the Omega was highly unreliable and prone to flooding in shallow water.
This then necessitated retrofitting of a screwdown crown (denoted by the "A" prefix) on the SM300 and this most likely also disenchanted the MOD regarding the Omega's suitability for the required duty.
I have heard that there is not really much to chose between the Seamaster's cal. 552 and the Rolex 1520. Of course, watchmakers love those pre-1970 Omega movements because they are easy to service! happy.gif Nonetheless, I do not believe movement was the reason for the MOD's decision to switch.
I am not sure about the price component but can't imagine that the SM300 was much more expensive than a 5513, if at all.
And so we have to conclude that the MOD turned to Rolex because of their superior water resistance...with the proviso that they adopt the more legible Omega-style "Gladiator" hands and spear-tip sweep seconds (and maybe even the 60-tick bezel). Hence:

[linked image]
(Photo from VRF Archive by Mike Wood)

Like I said, I don't think I'm breaking any new ground but just wanted to write it out for my own--and other MilSub novices'--benefit.
Best,
T.


 
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Faz
(Login Faz99Master)
VRF Member
70.27.223.163

It makes perfect sense....

April 14 2011, 7:54 AM 


...when you look at the Milsub in comparaison with a regular 5513. If I were a top ranking military dude in charge of determining what time pieces were going to bu used in the field, it's clear that the Omega attributes were legibility and function (dial, hands bezel) and the biggy, was water resistance which Rolex wins hands down with the Oyter case.

I wonder if there was any, even microscopic, collaboration between both manufacturers in regards to the hands design that finally found it's way into the Submariner?

Thanks for brigning up this facinating subject!


Cheers,



 
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tomvox1
(Login tomvox1)
VRF Dial Archive Curator
96.232.167.143

RE: Collaboration...

April 14 2011, 8:02 AM 

That is an interesting question, Federico, because we also know that it is common to find MilSubs fitted with Omega hands to give the appearance of a more valuable full spec version. And yet these hands are not interchangeable, to my knowledge, and parts in the Rolex and/or the Omega hands have to be altered to make them fit. At least that is my understanding.
But I would doubt the watch world's two fiercest competitors would collaborate on anything, much less a lucrative military contract they were both competing for. wink.gif
All the best,
Tom

 
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Faz
(Login Faz99Master)
VRF Member
70.27.223.163

But would Omega roll over and play dead...

April 14 2011, 8:16 AM 

...in letting Rolex use the hands design? After all, it's not a standard design. Was this design propritery to Omega?

Cheers,

 
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tomvox1
(Login tomvox1)
VRF Dial Archive Curator
96.232.167.143

I'm not so sure that components like hands are really "copyrightable"...

April 14 2011, 9:44 AM 

If they were, why wouldn't Rolex have sued the multitude of Mercedes hands imitators?

[linked image]

I'm not even so sure dial designs are really all that proprietary...

[linked image]

wink.gif
Best,
T.

 
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Pete17
(Login Pete17)
149.176.250.16

X2. I agree Tom, sounds logical to me.

April 14 2011, 10:23 PM 


 
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Steve.P
(Login 2wsxcde3)
VRF Member
58.8.81.10

I've always believed the Rolex was altered to meet the Omega spec >

April 14 2011, 9:17 AM 

A failsafe design which is still used today by CWC, the current Ministry Of Defence supplier of watches for the UK armed forces.

http://www.cwcwatch.com/sbs-divers-watch.htm

Steve.P

 
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Jason (964RS)
(Login 964RS)
VRF Member
85.211.76.231

+1 Steve

April 14 2011, 10:08 AM 


 
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MC Yoon
(Login munchiew)
VRF Member
202.158.0.70

Great Stuff! ....

April 14 2011, 10:06 AM 

Learnt something new today. I have always admired Omega. In fact, just bought another Bullhead today to add to my small Omega collection.

 
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ortope
(Login ortope)
VRF Contributing Member
82.60.94.94

MOD specification for the Milsub

April 14 2011, 10:29 AM 

A few weeks a go I posted a document showing the specification wanted by the MOD for the Milsub:

[linked image]

Here are my two watches:

[linked image]

Cheers

AZ


    
This message has been edited by ortope from IP address 82.60.94.94 on Apr 14, 2011 7:46 PM


 
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Steve.P
(Login 2wsxcde3)
VRF Member
58.8.81.10

50 years on

April 14 2011, 11:10 AM 


 
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Jason (964RS)
(Login 964RS)
VRF Member
85.211.76.231

If its not broken..... ;)

April 15 2011, 2:32 AM 


 
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tomvox1
(Login tomvox1)
VRF Dial Archive Curator
96.232.167.143

Very, very cool, Adriano, and what a fantastic pair of MOD-issued divers--WOW! Best, T. nt

April 14 2011, 12:46 PM 

nt


 
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Frank
(Login maritimewatches)
VRF Member
74.100.96.52

Beautiful watches!

April 14 2011, 2:07 PM 

Enjoy them!

They're tougher to find than a Rolex Milsub!

Frank

 
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