It’s hard to get into a discussion about the history of timepieces without eventually happening upon military history. Since the mid-1800s, militaries around the world have relied heavily on timepieces to coordinate tactical maneuvers, navigation, diving, and range estimates. Though the watches vary between their respective countries of issue, you can be sure each watch is purpose-built with the intent to survive tough climates, shock, water submersion, dirt and grime — you know, a thorough beating.

As it goes for just about anything “military”, issued timepieces are some of the most collectible in the watch world. Between enthusiasts looking for a rugged watch to go on adventures with, fashionable folks pulling off military-inspired looks, and history buffs bolstering their military regalia collection, the military watch market faces the perfect storm of demand. Couple that demand with a fixed number of issued timepieces, and you start to see the whole picture. The rabbit hole of military watches and their history delves very deeply, very quickly, so we’ve broken our overview into two parts: those countries from the West with influential and interesting military timekeeping history, and those from the East. This week, the West — America, Britain, Germany, France, and the unlikely Brazil, Argentina and Peru — flexes its stuff.

MORE TOUGH TIMEKEEPING: Best Affordable Dive Watches | The History of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso | The Kaventsmann Triggerfish Bronze A2, a Watch that’s Literally Bombproof

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