Longines, Stowa, Hanhart, Doxa, Blancpain — and the Tudor Submariner
French military watch history is much like the other European countries — moving from pocket watches to wristlets and then on to simple three-hand watches. Along the way, a mixture of some excellent watchmakers have provided watches for the French, including Longines, Stowa, Hanhart, Doxa, and Blancpain. However, the star of the show is the Tudor Submariner, which was issued to the French Navy, or Militare Nationale.
It’s not exactly known how many Tudor Subs received the “M.N.” designation over the watch’s 30 year run (from the ’50s to the ’80s). What is known is that the current market for them is intense, no doubt in part because of Tudor’s recent resurgence. Verifiable issued Tudor Sub prices and availability are very much in favor of the seller — textbook supply and demand here, folks. While they aren’t quite in the MilSub price range, expect to sleep on the couch for a month or so if you decide to jump on one.
Brazil, Argentina and Peru
The Cartier Santos, the Valjoux 72, Rolex and Heuer
Though he wasn’t quite a military member, it would be a disservice to not recognize Alberto Santos-Dumont’s influence on both wristwatches and military aviation. An aeronautical pioneer, Santos-Dumont is known as the Father of Aviation in his home country of Brazil. During his flying days, Santos-Dumont wasn’t a fan of fumbling with his pocket watch, so like any average world-renowned aviator, he went to his friend Louis Cartier and asked him for help. What resulted is one of the most iconic wristwatches in history: the Cartier Santos. It’s good to have friends, no?
In nearby Argentina and Peru, military aviators received iconic chronographs powered by the Valjoux 72 calibre. From roughly the early ’60s and into the ’70s, Rolex provided timepieces for the Peruvian military, most notably, the Daytona. Since vintage Daytonas are already quite pricey, adding the rare military provenance likely doubles the value. Too rich for you? Keep an eye out for a Heuer Autavia issued to the Argentinian Air Force in the 1970s. What you lose in the (overpriced) name, you gain in the knowledge that you scored an uncannily similar piece at a great value.