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History of CWC

If you are interested in learning more about the CWC history and its historical models, please visit cwcaddict.com

Early years pre-CWC

 

1940s

Ray Mellor (top image, fourth from right) was a young man at the start of World War II. Working in Bristol docks while residing with relatives to escape the London Blitz, he joined the Merchant Navy and served on the Queen Elizabeth troop ship transporting thousands of troops from New York to Scotland during the battle of the Atlantic.

1950s - 1970s

After the war, Ray found employment firstly with a fine cutlery distributor and then various watch brands, before replying to a small advertisement in the horological journal. He applied and was given the job to set up a retail distribution network in the UK for a watch company, which turned out to be Hamilton. He ended up as managing director of Hamilton UK, controlling a network of many retail shops, and developed the MoD side of the business, winning many government contracts for them.

The formation of CWC

1970 - 1972 

Possibly due to the quartz crisis in the early '70s, Hamilton decided to close UK operations and Ray was given a few months to shut down all the shops and offices, which left him out of the job.

Around this time Ray was driving his son to Bristol university and, during the journey, they were discussing what to call his new venture, which was to continue supplying the MoD with watches under his own brand. As they were driving to the top of the steep hill in Bristol, they saw the 105ft tower built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot's famous voyage from Bristol to the continent of North America four hundred years earlier. Cabot tower came in to view and Ray pondered that Cabot was an explorer who set off from Bristol on a new venture, and as he was in Bristol about to set off on a new venture, he called it 'Cabot'. 

Cabot Watch & Clock company later changed to Cabot Company Ltd.

1972 - 1980

Cabot Watch & Clock Company was formed and, during this period, Ray was able to use his immense knowledge of the military watch industry to immediately establish Cabot Watch Company as the foremost supplier to the military, quickly securing contracts for the mechanical W10, which continued until 1980. The contract for the mechanical pilots' asymmetric chronograph was also secured and supplied throughout the 1970s and 1980s to RAF, Navy and Commonwealth pilots. CWC chronographs were also issued to BBC war correspondents. CWC produced many handheld timers and stopwatches, ranging from torpedo timers to stopwatches used by the BBC and ITV in the newsrooms.


1980

In 1980, CWC made the first quartz watch supplied to HM Forces, the G10 Quartz (nicknamed "Fatboy"), and in the same year won the contract for the watch that replaced the Rolex Milsub - the CWC 1980 Royal Navy Diver Automatic, probably the rarest milsub to date.


1981

The 1981 RN auto diver watch differed slightly from the 1980 with a different dial configuration and a different ETA movement.

Logo change

1982

The CWC logo was changed from a simple typeface on all models. All CWC watches were issued with the new oval logo from 1982 onwards.


1983

The first quartz divers watch issued to Royal Navy clearance divers. This watch remained the watch of choice to the Royal Navy well into the new millennium.


1987/88

A very special watch was requested by the Royal Marines based in Poole, the black Special Boat Service (SBS) issue quartz 300m divers' watch. CWC is the only company awarded this contract and continues to supply this watch to select branches of HM Forces today.

Late 80s

CWC produced the Fleet Air Arm chronograph using the Valjoux 7765 movement supplied in small numbers to RN aircrew and Commonwealth pilots.

 

1990s 

CWC continued to supply G10 service watches in ever increasing numbers (up to 20,000 in 1991), together with quartz Royal Navy divers' watches, SBS, stopwatches, ships' clocks and Aircraft clocks.

 

1996

Ray Mellor was very busy supplying contract after contract to the MoD, BBC, ITV and commonwealth countries; however he had major heart surgery and his wife became unwell, which prompted him to seek a buyer for his business.

He had been supplying Silvermans Ltd. with G10 watches for retail sale since the late '80s and had built up a good trading relationship, which developed into a partnership whereby Silvermans purchased the company. Mellor remained active in the company so he could pass on his knowledge of the watch industry and MoD contracts to Richard and Malcolm, who already had previous experience with purchasing and selling CWC watches for many years, buying watches at MoD auctions and direct from CWC. Although Ray was involved in an advisory capacity, it quickly became apparent that his love of military watches and pin sharp mind meant that he became more involved with CWC under the new partnership and continued to work on contracts and purchasing for the next 15 years, working 3 or more days a week with Richard and Malcolm in the Cabot offices at the Silvermans HQ.

 

Late 1990s

CWC reintroduced the mechanical W10 with a Tritium dial and mechanical ETA movement. CWC also added an automatic version using the ETA 2824-2. The Mk.1 diver automatic was developed by Ray, Richard and Malcolm as there was a demand for an automatic version of the RN quartz.

With the Silvermans retail expertise, CWC models became more widely available to the retail market, but quality and Swiss manufacturing were never compromised. Whatever was sold at retail was exactly the same as used by the military, often from the same batches, and this is still the case today.

CWC won a tender to supply the RAF quartz chronograph to the Bangladesh Air Force, complete with a metal bracelet.


2000

CWC won the contract to supply the GS2000 to the RAF. This was very similar to the G10 but with a sealed case back without battery hatch, and a Ronda movement. This continued for a quite a few years and was specified with an 'L' on the dial (SuperLuminova) for use in aircraft. A further contract for chronographs to the Bangladesh Air Force was completed in the early 2000s.


2003

CWC produced a re-issue of the 1970s mechanical chronograph using a modified Valjoux 7760 movement and Tritium dial. Limited to 415 pieces, these are now highly sought after.


2005

CWC supplied the SBS divers' watch under contract for the Royal Engineers. These are stamped with the 6645 NSN and are unique to this year only, which makes them highly collectable.


2006

CWC changed most of the dials to L (SuperLuminova) as Tritium painted dials ceased production in paint form across the watch industry.

 

2006 - 2014

CWC history and reputation as a genuine military watch manufacturer grew with the proliferation of the internet and mobile technology. However, military contracts were few and far between with massive cutbacks in government spending and cheap digital watches; however the need for a rugged, reliable, clear and precise military timepiece is still a requirement for the military.


2015

CWC once again supplied the black SBS divers' watch under contract, mainly issued to Royal Marines and currently to Royal Navy and other branches of H.M. Forces.


2017

Saw the introduction of the 1980 Royal Navy Clearance Diver re-issue watch.


2019

CWC introduced the 1983 quartz Royal Navy Diver re-issue and the 1987 SBS black diver reissue.

2020

CWC proudly produced a commemorative limited edition of the 1980 RN clearance divers' watch exclusive to serving and former members of the Royal Navy diving branch.

2020 was also the year CWC launched the Mellor-72 W10 re-issue and the quartz T20, using the same case as the Mellor. This was the watch specified by the MoD in 1980, however the G10 case was selected due early thicker quartz movements.


2021

Today, CWC continues to supply watches and CWC straps to British Forces.

The CWC "Strap Watch Wrist Nylon" is the official term for military strap. We have supplied these for many years in Military Grey colour and this is issued in grey on the CWC SBS watch.

 

CWC has produced hundreds of thousands of military watches over the last 50 years for British service personnel in peace time and conflict. Our timepieces have been worn by all branches of HM Forces.


CWC watches are manufactured to military specifications, which includes fixed strap bars, and this feature continues throughout our whole range. We also make upgrades or enhancements to improve performance; our G10 GS Sapphire is up-rated to 200m waterproof and features a sapphire glass and eight year lithium battery module.

 

Many early watches still survive today, having seen military service, a true testament to their durability. Some CWC watches are now becoming very rare and collectable, fetching many thousands at auction.

We are extremely proud of our heritage and products, which not only give great service, but also great pleasure to own.

 

Every CWC watch carries the quality and durability inherent in all genuine military watches: strength, durability, clarity, precision and functionality, designed purely for purpose.

All CWC watches are Swiss-made.

All CWC watches come with a three year warranty when purchased new.

 

 

 

 

Cabot Company Ltd, 422 Mile End Road, London, E1 4PE
Telephone
02077 900 900 (for retail sales) | Telephone 02077 911 011 (for contract sales)

 

info@cwcwatch.com

Registered address Handel House, 95 High Street, Edgware HA8 7DB. (accounts only)

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