Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 12 May 2018

Military time

In which G.M. Norton shows off yet another watch.

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you my new-to-me Soviet watch from the 1950s so thought you may enjoy seeing another of my timepieces.

This time, the watch in question is a Smiths. Smiths were a British watch company in business until 1970 or so, with all the watch components completely made in Blighty. As well as selling an enormous amount of watches to the public, they also had military contracts to supply timepieces to the armed forces.
Probably their most well-known military watch was the W10. Only produced for four years from 1967 to 1970, the Smiths W10 was the final mechanical military watch to be made in the UK. A favourite among collectors, today they cost from £800 upwards, depending on the condition.

That's too expensive for my pocket. Thankfully, Sheffield-based Timefactors, that now own the Smiths trademark, produces a faithful recreation to the late 1960s W10. In addition to this model, which has the catchy name, PRS-29A, they also made a second version, the PRS-29B that's slightly larger and has a sapphire crystal glass rather than the scratch-prone acrylic (although scratches to acrylic crystals can be buffed away with Polywatch).

Although the Timefactors PRS29A is good value, I was lucky to get one for a song on Messrs E&Bay some time last year. 

I absolutely adore this watch. Like the original, it's only 36mm and as it's based on military spec, it has fixed bars. If you're not up on your horology terms, the bars hold the strap in place. Usually, they can be removed but as the army face all sorts of rough and tumble, it made sense for them to have fixed bars rather than spring bars so there's no risk of your watch getting knocked and inadvertently falling off your wrist.

As the watch has fixed bars, it does limit your choice of straps. Unless it's a clip-on strap, which Timefactors do supply, you couldn't get your local watch person to fit a leather strap on it. Instead, you use nylon straps (largely known as NATO straps). These are slipped through the bars. I love NATO straps - if they get dirty, you can just put them in the washing machine and you can get them in a whole host of interesting colours to complement your outfit. 
Aside from the fact that you wind the watch up (who doesn't love that?), the dial is my favourite part - the black dial and white numbers and minute markers mean it's clearly legible and the broad arrow mark is symbolic to British issued government items.

If you like your military history or appreciate an easy to read watch that doesn't need treating like a baby then the PRS29A could be for you. 

G.M. Norton

Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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