Not many know these days that, back when reliable wrist watches were a rare commodity in Korea,
US Military issue watches were an object of envy in the back alley watch shops and local black markets
(so called spooky market) of imported and smuggled goods. These secretly circulated military watches were
very much the symbol of American predominance. As long as you could own a waterproof watch with a sturdy case,
bright luminescent index and 24-hour military time indicators, manually winding the spring every morning was not a big deal.

Military issue watches are categorized by various standards such as the production date, purpose, country of origin and manufacturing company. As with other military issue items, military watches rarely had visible brand logo on them with only a few exceptions, and were managed by complex military specification codes (some Spec. codes however include information about the manufacturer). Of course there was no such thing as fancy packaging to please the customer, which, from collector's point of view, ironically adds to the fascinating atmosphere of the military watch.

Throughout the history of modern warfare, many military watches have been produced for many wars, and some of the world-famous manufacturers like Patek Phillipe and A.Lange & Sohne were also part of this history. 

Patek Philippe Pilot Watch 1936


A. Lange and Sohne  German Military pilot Watch Ref. FI 23883 1940's

Let us take a close look at the modern US military issue watches. First, we need to know about the 'Military Specification Ref. No. 46374'. By the end of 1960s, US watchmakers bidding for a government contract had to go through in-depth researches on cost efficiency and functionality on the field to meet the requirements of this specification. 

As a result, from 1968's Spec. No. 46374A to the current 46374G, countless number of mil-spec watches of the 46374 family have been produced for almost half a century. The picture below shows one of the very first Spec No. 46374A models manufactured in 1969.

This model was issued to infantry soldiers for their 'normal' operations rather than the special forces. Its shape and size is quite rustic and small with 33mm plastic case and nylon strap. In the case is a very simple manual movement designed to keep time only. And if it broke down, it was advised at that time not to repair it but a new watch was issued instead, because it cost less to manufacture one than to repair.

This means the 46374 watch was not meant to last longer than necessary, as clearly marked "Non-Maintainable" on the back of the case and the packaging box.