A different WWW

Timekeeping Selects: Cyma British Military Watch (Sold)

Style By Photo by Eric Yang/Henry Phillips
editors-note-CYMA-soldEditor’s Note: For all the shiny new watches we come across every week, nothing gets our hearts racing like a great vintage timepiece. These are watches with stories, some known, some lost to history. Watches from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s come from an era when a man’s timepiece was his everyday carry, a tool for the job that wasn’t put away when things got down and dirty. Many vintage watches bear the marks of use that we endearingly call “patina”, and remain that much more lovely in spite of (or because of) it.

The other appealing aspect of vintage watches is their rarity. Even the most common old timepieces are becoming harder to find in good shape. So while you can walk into a retailer and buy a brand new watch anytime, finding a good vintage piece requires patience, persistence, research and legwork. This leads us to our new series, Timekeeping Selects, a partnership with Analog/Shift, the New York-based purveyor of vintage watches. We’ve done the legwork for you, handpicking the coolest, most unique old watches, all of which have impeccable authenticity and are serviced and ready to wear.

Before the World Wide Web, there was the Watch, Wristlet, Waterproof. This decidedly more analog version of “WWW” was a specification laid down by the British Ministry of Defense to procure timepieces for its ground troops starting back in the Second World War. As the name suggests, the watches needed to be “waterproof”, which in those days was a term more loosely applied and meant that your watch crystal wouldn’t fog when carrying a rifle in the rain. The watches also had to have luminous, clear markings and hands, be resistant to magnetic influences, and have fixed strap bars that wouldn’t pop loose at the slightest tug. Of course, all of these requirements mean that the watches had a no-nonsense utilitarian look about them and have stood up to the test of time better than a lot of other vintage watches.

While the watches that were built to the WWW specs looked largely the same (that’s generally how specifications work after all), some are more coveted than others. So while the Hamiltons and CWCs are still cool, the watch we’ve got today is more desirable. Cyma, one of those brands lost to the so-called Quartz Crisis of the 1970s, built thousands of WWW-spec timepieces for the MOD. Their slightly larger case size (38mm) and better steel sets them apart — not to mention the slightly exotic Cyma name, which you’d be hard pressed to see on another wrist. The fixed bars take 18-millimeter NATO straps which, while trendy these days, are the only (literally and figuratively) way to wear this mil-spec timepiece.

This example has the proper and original MOD markings on the caseback, original dial, and hands that have been re-lumed to replace the hazardous original radium markings. The Cyma caliber 234 hand wound movement winds and sets smoothly and keeps admirable time so you won’t be late to muster. Or that 14:00 staff meeting.