Cabot Watch Company, or CWC, doesn’t have a long, rich history like so many of the big Swiss brands, nor a founder with a melodic name who invented a complication in the 19th century. In fact, it was founded in 1972 by a businessman who saw an opportunity. In the early 1970s, the British Ministry of Defence sourced watches from a number of brands. For divers, there were Omega and Rolex, for pilots, Precista, Newmark, and Hamilton, and for foot soldiers, Smiths and Hamilton. But by 1972, Smiths had stopped making watches and Hamilton, facing the Quartz Crisis, decided that MOD contracts weren’t lucrative enough to continue. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hamilton’s Managing Director for the UK, Ray Mellor, decided to go his own way.
Mellor had served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, on ships transporting troops across the Atlantic. After leaving Hamilton, Mellor was visiting Bristol in the southwest of England, when a name came to him. The famous explorer John Cabot had launched his New World expedition from Bristol in the late 15th century, and Mellor’s penchant for the sea led him to call his new company, “Cabot Watch Company,” after the sea captain. Given his history with Hamilton working on contracts with the MOD, Mellor decided to focus his efforts there and soon CWC watches were being supplied to the British Army, Navy, and Air Force.