The Dirty Dozen. During the 40s, towards the tail-end of World War II, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) made custom orders from 12 manufacturers in Switzerland for military spec watches to equip its soldiers.
The watches needed to have a black dial with Arabic numerals, to be waterproof and luminous, regulated to a chronometer level and composed of a rugged stainless steel case. Furthermore, they had to have fixed bars, have a broadarrow on the dial, signifying that it was the property of the government and also on the caseback which included other government serial numbers. Nicknamed the ‘Dirty Dozen’ by collectors, they were officially set out by the MoD as W.W.Ws, standing for ‘Watch, Wristlet, Waterproof’. The result was a group of 12 watches, that embodied the very idea of ‘purpose-built’, and it doesn’t get any more utilitarian than this.
Amongst the brands that produced for the MoD was Record. Whilst Records are one of the most common of the Dirty Dozens, this example is made extremely rare for two reasons. Firstly, its condition. The Record W.W.Ws were housed in chrome plated cases and a lot of these cases deteriorated and lost most of its plating. This example though is in near perfect condition with a very sharp and unpolished case.
Furthermore, like the rest of the Dirty Dozen, the Record came equipped with a radium dial whereas this example has a very rare NATO dial. The Ministry of Defence replaced these dials to safer tritium dials sometime in the ’60s and its design language is very unique with a broad arrow right where the logo is meant to be.
With its lack of logo and military style design, this is a purely utilitarian watch with a fantastic rugged design.