Home > mint-lounge > features > Armed for the army

A few days ago—after much goading and severe emotional blackmail by the missus—I sat down to watch Olympus Has Fallen, the Gerard Butler film that came out earlier this year to much critical derision and even more box office success.

What is the film equivalent of an “un-putdownable" book? Un-look-awayable? Whatever it is, Olympus Has Fallen is it. Throughout the film, however, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the timepiece that Butler’s character was wearing. The watch seldom got more than a few nano-seconds of screen time. But I am pretty sure it was a Casio G-Shock of some kind. Something big, strong, rugged and indestructible.

But in fact there are several brands out there that specialize in the “big, rugged, indestructible" segment of the market. Wait, this is a segment? Make no mistake about this: This is a thriving segment that offers the amateur commando operative in all of us much more than just a G-Shock.

In general there are some characteristics common to these military models. The most obvious is material. Most of them have cases made of some form of reinforced polymer or steel, scratch-proof glass, and a fabric or polymer bracelet that is usually resistant to sweat and other chemicals.

Usually these pieces also boast of high resistance to at least water, and also to shock, dust and even electric and magnetic fields.

Another feature of military timepieces is very high, very low, or variable visibility. This might seem a little random. But apparently, one brand manager told me once, there is a military rationale for this. Sometimes soldiers need to be able to tell the time instantly at a glance. Even in very low visibility conditions. Hence the dials with hands and indices in highly luminous material that glow in the dark. In other cases they want dials that emit very little light, so as to deter being spotted by enemy snipers or sentries. And sometimes you want both.

The Casio G-Shock, of course, is the first such watch that comes to mind. A million years from now, when the human race has been wiped out and the planet is a barren sphere of death, alien visitors will find little G-Shocks lying all over the place keeping perfect time.

But there are many other brands too. Luminox, for instance, is particularly popular in military watch circles. The company’s specialty is excellent visibility. The Luminox Light Technology, or LLT, works by placing tiny little gaslights on the hands and indices that the company says will burn continuously for over 25 years.

Lum-Tec is another brand I am particularly fond of. Much smaller than Casio or Luminox, Lum-Tec makes combat-style watches in small quantities in the US and also boasts of a proprietary technology for high visibility. And you can order them online straight from the company.

Suunto, better known for making high-tech performance sports watches, also makes military styles. So does Seiko, though you’ll have to scour through their massive catalogues to find the styles. Some of the basic Seiko 5 and Monster models work well.

Once upon a time armed forces all over the world used to source their watches from brands at the upper end of the market today. Names such as Rolex, Officine Panerai, Movado, Tutima and even Girard-Perregaux. Not any more. Nowadays you are more likely to see suppliers such as Marathon that furnish some American and international forces.

And finally there is Victorinox. Better known for its indestructible knives, the company also makes outstanding watches of great quality and superb value. Look at the brand’s entry and mid-price levels and you can pick from a wide array of military-style complete with army-style NATO straps.

But if you want to combine both high-end and high-risk, then all is not lost. Earlier this year Longines launched a new collection: the Heritage Military 1938. The GMT model, in particular, is terribly attractive. Though if I was Gerard Butler and I was wearing one of these beauties, I would definitely take it off and keep it in a very safe place before rescuing the US president. Priorities, people!

Also Read | Sidin’s previous Lounge columns

Subscribe to newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Click here to read the Mint ePaper Livemint.com is now on Telegram. Join Livemint channel in your Telegram and stay updated

My Reads Logout