The 1980 RN Divers Automatic originally issued to RN Clearance Divers, NATO number 0552/9237697. This watch actually superseded the Rolex MilSub on the wrists of Royal Navy divers, and its first version, with a self-winding mechanical movement, is far rarer than the Rolex it replaced.
Up to 1980 the one contract CWC hadn’t managed to win was for diving watches. The Royal Navy had a long history with Rolex, dating back to the 1950s, and even worked with Omega for a while in the '60s. But by the late '70s, perhaps the higher price of the Submariner made the MOD look elsewhere and, given its good relationship with CWC, the Ministry came calling. CWC responded with a tough automatic dive watch of its own, built to the specifications of the MOD (DEF STAN 66-4 [Part 1] Issue 3, for those keeping score), which included a rotating bezel with a fully hashed luminous insert, sword hands and a boldly marked dial swathed in tritium lume, a 32mm mineral glass crystal, and fixed strap bars for use with pull-through nylon straps. Inside ticked the sturdy automatic ETA movement.
CWC sourced the rather curvy, beveled 44mm steel case that was first made by MRP S.A.,
The rare 1980/81 automatic CWC divers are truly special, representing a transitional period in military dive watches, a “changing of the guard,” so to speak, from Rolex to CWC, and a bridge from mechanical to quartz. The appeal of a Rolex MilSub is that it is essentially a watch from a large luxury brand customized to the specifications of a military unit for a unique purpose.
CWC watches are created from the get-go to be nothing more than military instruments, with no pretense or evocative name – Submariner or Seamaster – just a caseback stamped with codes and stock numbers. To those who appreciate the stripped-down utility of dive watches, or military watches in general, the CWC diver might just be the best example.
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