The Nigel Cabourn X Timex Naval Officers Watch
The fourth Nigel Cabourn Timex watch has arrived. Dubbed the Naval Officers Watch, this functional time-piece draws inspiration from the hard-wearing watches worn by Royal Navy captains on the Arctic convoys of WWII.
It’s a classic military watch, featuring a 36mm stainless steel case, two black slip-through NATO straps (leather and nylon) and a clean, easy-to-read face. The case has been given a special treatment to mirror the look of sea air corrosion—a nod to the way the ships and equipment used on the convoys were quickly weathered by saltwater during the perilous journey in the harsh Arctic seas.
Tasked with delivering crucial cargo to ports in the Soviet Union, those involved in the Arctic convoys made what Winston Churchill described as, “The worst journey in the world.” Not only were they under constant threat of attack from German U-Boats lurking under the surface, but the extreme weather conditions also proved to be a dangerous adversary. Water washed on deck would swiftly turn to ice, adding so much weight to the ships they would capsize, so hacking away at the ice with axes became a daily ritual. This constant weathering gave the ships a unique patina—a distinct character only earned by valuable service in the harsh seas—and it’s this worn-in texture that’s been replicated on the Naval Officers Watch.
Continuing the sea-fairing theme, the watch’s black strap and white face echo the dignified attire of Royal Navy officers during WW2. The face also features the ‘Broad Arrow’ insignia in the place of the ‘12’ symbol on the face—a regular motif on Nigel Cabourn designs, this symbol was used to denote military or government property. The watch is water-resistant to 50 metres, and comes in a dual-branded military-style carry-case which features printed text inside explaining the inspiration behind the collaboration.
Timex have a long history of producing military watches, and are often credited with creating the military field watch. The story goes that at the start of the First World War, soldiers were in need of well-made, reliable time-pieces that they could read quickly. Reaching into a jacket pocket for a pocket-watch was too time-consuming in the midst of war, so Timex—who at that point were still known as the Waterbury Clock Company—set about creating a handy wrist-watch which would withstand the rigors of battle and could be read quickly without fuss.
The answer sounds obvious now, but at the time it was revolutionary—they took a small women’s pocket-watch called the Midget, shifted the crown around from the ‘12’ position to ‘3’ and welded some lugs onto the case to allow for an easily replaceable canvas strap. Simple, light and utilitarian, these watches created the blueprint for the field watch as we know it today. The brand played an important part in WW2, producing pendant-watches for nurses in military hospitals—the first time-pieces to bear the Timex name.
The Nigel Cabourn Naval Officer’s Watch continues this legacy. Built for purpose, it’s a seriously useful piece of kit, and a fitting tribute to functional military design.