Dirty Dozen Watches: The Most Coveted WWII Era Watch Is Easier To Get Than You Think
Like the best superheroes, the greatest vintage watches are usually the ones with the most interesting origin stories. Unfortunately, the better the story, the more people you’ll face to mark your Grail. (See: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, designed by the late Gerald Genta and considered the first high-end steel sports watch, or the Rolex “Comex” Submariner, which was field tested by French divers in the 70s.) In the case of the Vaer A12 Dirty Dozen, however, you can add a real superhero watch to your wrist as easily as ordering a new pair of swimwear, and at a significant discount compared to to the original.
The origin story of the Dirty Dozen looks like this: In 1944, at the height of World War II, the British Ministry of Defense ordered a watch to equip its soldiers on the battlefield. The result was the WWW (which stands for Watch. Wrist. Waterproof.), A simple two-hand steel hand with white numerals on a black dial and a small seconds counter at six o’clock. Twelve Swiss watchmakers signed up to build it, including big names like Omega, IWC and Longines and lesser-known ones like Grana, Timor and Record. Over 140,000 watches were made and distributed to British soldiers, and somewhere later they earned the nickname Dirty Dozen, after the Original 12 Watchmakers and Charles Bronson’s 1968 Nazi Revenge movie.
Much like Pokémon cards, part of the appeal of the original Dirty Dozen watches is to collect them all, and some are much rarer and more valuable than others. While Record and Timor coins are still relatively easy to find on the second-hand market, Grana only produced around 1,000 WWW, making it the most collectable of the group (the first Charizard edition, though you want).
In faithful homage to this WWII legend, the Vaer A12 retains all the essential details of the original, including the white-on-black dial, small seconds sub-dial and a vintage 36mm case. . It also adds some subtle upgrades like sapphire crystal (which is stronger than the original) and 100m water resistance (so you don’t need to hide it in the toe of your sneaker when you go. to the beach). Like the 1945 version, it also has a Swiss-made hand-winding movement, which means you’ll have to wind it every 40 hours or so, just like they used to do. While the Vaer A12 comes with a choice of Horween leather straps, anyone looking for authentic wartime vibes should opt for the woven khaki nylon one, which is a solid replacement for the canvas straps of the era. (and also happens to look great with indigo denim).
So why buy a reproduction when you can own an original? For die-hard collectors, there really is no comparison to the real thing. For the rest of us, however, there are a few good reasons. At $ 899, the Vaer is probably a third of the cost of the cheapest original Dirty Dozen, on the one hand. On the other hand, owning a 75 year old watch is reminiscent of owning a 75 year old car – it requires a whole new level of care and attention. (It may or may not contain radioactive radium as well.) The Vaer A12 Dirty Dozen gives you everything that made the original the icon that it is, without having to worry too much about dropping it to the floor. the bathroom or accidentally wearing it in the pool. Charles Bronson would certainly understand.
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