One of the Dirty Dozen of military watches commissioned by the MOD. Twelve companies supplied watches during 1945, including Record. The others were Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Timor, and Vertex.
HOW DO WE DATE THIS WATCH?
During the second world war the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) were not happy with the performance of ‘standard’ Swiss watches, and UK watch factories had already stopped making watches and switch to producing mainly aircraft instrumentation. So the MOD issued a tender to make a watch. Each watch had to be accurate (to within chronometer standards), waterproof and shock proof. It must have a black dial, luminous hands and dial, railroad minute track and sub seconds. Twelve firms answered the tender, and delivered their watches in the second half of 1945, and these twelve variations became known as the dirty dozen. More can be read in this Hodinkee article.
The first thing to check on any of these watches is authenticity. Many items got swapped or changed by the royal engineers who serviced the watches, and they were more concerned with functionality over originality. This makes spotting ‘franken’ watches where parts are fitted together to make a whole more difficult. The watch arrived with us with years of dirt on the case, which is a good thing in this case as it backs up the owners story of the watch being in his family for as long as he knew. It was also on a leather strap, clearly old and been fitted for some time that had failed at the buckle. As some point the case back has been swapped for another Record case back – the L number that denotes a Record case back should have the last three digits to match the 712 stamped on the lug, and this one says 738. This was probably done at the same time the dial was fitted – 10034 on the dial rather than Record indicates this was a MOD dial (10034 was the part number of the watch in the MOD records – this might have been done quite early in the watches life, as later ones had Tritium lume instead of Radium. Here is a good write up on the changes often applied.
So this watch has good provenance, but a replacement MOD dial and the incorrect case back fitted. The hands are the right design, but as the lume is brighter than the cream on the dial we suspect they were switched to Tritium hands at the service. If you are a collector of the dirty dozen watches, this will all be familiar to you. If not, glad we can educate and inform!
The case has scratches as you would expect of a 70+ year old watch that has been worn (quite likely in military service!). We have cleaned the case, polished the crystal and the Record 022K 15 jewel movement is running very sweetly. We have added a NATO style strap, but would point out that NATO straps didn’t occur when the watch was made – neither did NATO!
This watch will be supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity.
Please see the HD video below for more detail.
Width with crown 39.1 mm
Width without crown 35.9 mm
Between lugs 18 mm
Lug to lug length 46.7 mm
Bracelet maximum length n/a
Thickness 12.9 mm
All sizes are approximate
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