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ELGIN CANTEEN UDT WATCH 'HERO'S WATCH OF KOREAN WAR' LUEL MEGAZINE MAY 2015

Sea diving technologies made rapid progress through the course of two World Wars. During these periods both Allied and Axis forces operated special underwater units composed of trained divers, such as Italy's Decima Flottiglia MAS or America's Naval Combat Demolition Units.

1940's German Combat Swimmer "Kampfschwimmer" and Royal Italian Navy "Decima Flottiglia MAS" with Panerai

As these units were specialized in high-risk operations they had the privilege of receiving the best diving equipments available at that time, including time pieces. While it is well known that German and Italian underwater units were issued Panerai watches (actually manufactured by Rolex), people don't seem to be interested about US Navy's diver watches. 

Early Radiomir Panerai by ROLEX SA. 

1940s Canteen by HAMILTON

The history of America's time pieces started with the completion of trans-continental railways, with its manufacturing technologies mostly imported from Europe. Typical American watch brands that represent this early time are Hamilton and Elgin. There is a general consensus now that the very first Diver's Watch of the US Navy was one made by Hamilton in 1943, nicknamed as 'Canteen(from the mechanism that locks the crown water-tight)' or 'Frogman(meaning UDT personnel)'.  

1940's U.S GI Canteen

1940s LONGINES Royal Navy Diver's Watch

2000s CARTIER "PASHA"

1950's ELGIN UDT Diver's "Canteen"

The watch in the above photo is Elgin's Diver watch developed in eartly 1950's. It was issued to a UDT personnel who served in the Korean War, most likely to be used during amphibious landing of Incheon and other coastal operations around the Korean peninsula. The watch is equipped with Elgin's 17-jewel movement made of some parts imported from Switzerland, and case and glass were fixed with lead to enhance water-proofness. Another interesting feature is water-detecting bar between 7 and 8 o'clock, which changes color if the watch becomes waterlogged. 

 

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