During WW2, when the British Army decided that a supply of standardised wristwatches was required, they turned to 12 Swiss-based companies, as the British watch industry was busily engaged producing precision instruments for the war effort.
This series of timepieces were the first watches specifically designed for British Army service, and they initially became known as “Wrist, Watch, Waterproof” or “W.W.W.” as this was their official designation in the ordnance records. Previously, soldiers had been using their own personal timepieces – many of which were unsuitable for the rigours of military life.
The watches went into production in February and March 1945 and later that year they were delivered to the Army and began to be allocated to troops.
Watch collectors have named the selection of watches the Dirty Dozen, in reference to the 12 watch companies and the famous WW2 themed film of the same name. More recently, the Dirty Dozen watches have become particularly collectible, as their similar style makes them easily identified as a set, with collectors aiming to complete their collection with a watch from each of the 12 companies.