Men have peculiarly acquisitive instincts - how many men do you know who are obsessed by collecting something? It may be cars, watches, clothes, cameras, books, golf clubs, rare birds, works of art or racing bikes. We're no doubt reflecting some ancient instinct which had us collecting weapons, women or whatever was required for our survival and that of our genes.
One item that a man of style might collect is watches - and why not vintage military timepieces?
|Photo Grey Fox|
There's a move towards smaller watches of plainer design - possibly in response to the proliferation of what I call footballers' watches - huge ugly timepieces, (often 44mm or more in diameter) covered with enough dials, pushers and winders to keep the most frustrated engine driver happy. Nowadays a sophisticated minimalist watch design can work well with formal or informal wear. What better than vintage military watches to fill this niche and to appeal to man's collecting instincts?
The watches in these pictures were made for the British military between the forties and sixties, a vibrant period of military watchmaking, before electronics brought rather soulless quartz watches. They are small by today's standards, around 34mm to 36mm in diameter, but they stand out on the wrist because they were designed to do just that - and to be instantly legible. They are robustly designed with movements which are beautifully made and generally easy to maintain.
|Vintage military Hamilton watch - photo Asos|
Most can be bought for under £500, though collectible ones like the Omega 53 or Mk11 navigators' watches made by Jaeger LeCoultre and IWC can cost in the thousands. Unlike modern watches, however, they should hold their value, and in many cases actually appreciate. Inevitably, buying vintage military watches is a minefield - a lot of fakes are sold on eBay and even on watch fora and by dealers - get good advice before you take the plunge.
There is one watch in the picture below which is modern, can you spot it?
|Photo Grey Fox|
Military watches are often worn with one-piece nylon or "NATO" straps - these can be bought in a wide variety of colours so you can change the appearance of your watch to suit your mood.