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Thread: CWC Divers, issued v civilian

  1. #1
    Master helidoc's Avatar
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    CWC Divers, issued v civilian

    I've recently acquired a CWC RN Diver, that has absolutely delighted me, and become pretty much welded to my wrist since it arrived. I've started looking at other variants such as the SBS, but couldn't help but notice the very substantial premium on earlier issed examples. Many of these are going to be over 20 years old, a bit scuffed with fading tritium lume. I know some issued watches of more recent manufacture hit eBay a couple of years back, but with concerns about title due to them being pilfered from stores.

    I've been trying to get my head around the issued premium and desirability. Clearly collectors love them, and are prepared to pay for one of a smaller pool of watches. I'm sure being issued allows a story to be told, SBS commandos taking on our enemies with guile, a few 9mm rounds and their trusty dive watch. The reality is in many cases probably closer to ended up stores with other gear, some of which went into service, some heroic, some not so. Its not really a Rolex Milsub situation, where the military watches were quite different to the civilian ones they were derived from. I hate to mention Rolex on this forum, but it bears some resemblance to the 15-20% premium on those due to the presence of a piece of paper or plastic card, which is a nonsense, but it is the market.

    I like the idea of an SBS, pristine with working lume. If in another life I had been in the forces and had a watch issued to me that I had worn for years I would have an emotional attachment to an object that was part of my life experiences.

    I think all the variants are fine watches, but at the moment I'm not seeing the need to chase something neo-vintage and issued. Is there an attraction that I have missed?

    Dave

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    Last edited by helidoc; 20th November 2022 at 11:47.

  2. #2
    Craftsman
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    CWC Divers, issued v civilian

    This will be an interesting thread, and some far more knowledgeable people will be along shortly. I tend to agree with you. I think CWC make solid, dependable watches with genuine heritage. I have a RN Diver and an SBS, neither of them issued and both bought second hand from this very forum. But personally I canít see why someone would want to pay thousands more, for the same watch, just because it was Ďissuedí. When as you quite rightly point out, most will never have been near a clandestine mission, and spent there life sat on a shelf. Most military guys I know would, if given an SBS, think itís an old fashioned lump of metal and continue to wear their Garmins and Suuntoís.
    I can completely understand why people may collect different variations, years etc and also why a watch with a genuine story behind it may demand a premium but I canít help thinking we may romanticise on what Ďissuedí actually means.
    Everything I have said is just my opinion, and everyone is free to attach whatever value they want to an issued watch. This watch collecting lark is a hobby so each to their own.


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    Last edited by Bobbyf; Today at 09:38.

  3. #3
    Master
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    I woke up one day and decided I wanted a CWC Diver. I had long admired them but had always been hunting other watches.

    A nearly new, matte cased RN Diver popped up in SC at what I thought was a very reasonable price so I went for it. I didn’t really know much about all of the different references of the RN/SBS divers and thought this watch would be a great way to dip my toe in the water for not much outlay.


    Pretty much as soon as I put the watch on my wrist, I knew I wanted a “vintage” issued version. I loved the nearly new one but I am a vintage guy at heart, I love the watches with nice patina, I don’t care one bit if the lume works or not, so long as it’s a pleasing( to my eye ) colour etc.

    So, I started looking for an issued version and like you couldn’t quite get my head around some of the prices being asked. I don’t mind paying a bit over the odds for a watch I really want but the prices didn’t sit well with me.

    I bid on a few on e bay but missed out as they went higher than my max bid, I made a few offers for watches I knew people were selling on here and IG but ultimately I couldn’t spend the money being asked.


    So, I bought an 83 reissue at less than half the price of the issued ones, trying to convince myself it was going to be enough. When it arrived, it’s an absolutely lovely watch but again, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I got an issued one.


    So, I sold the 83 and kept looking for an issued one. One thing you quickly notice is the issued ones don’t exactly fly off the shelf when they are £1200 upwards… so, I bided my time a little, watching a few that had been hanging around for sale, hoping the sellers would reduce the prices to something I felt was more reasonable.

    I made a few more offers and thankfully one was accepted on a watch I thought was very cool.


    During the conversations with the sellers, some had multiple watches for sale and you are correct, different years can mean less watches were issued than the year previous and although the watches are next to identical, the prices vary, sometimes dramatically.

    I can understand the huge prices being asked for the very first references 83s etc but don’t quite understand why a 95 is more expensive than a 97 or vice versa.

    If BMW sold identical M3s year on year but tried to charge customers more for a 2021 car over a 2022 based purely on the fact they made less cars in 2021 folk would just laugh.


    One thing I would say in defence of the higher prices is, it’s generally proper military collectors that decide these prices and they try hard to justify them. I kind of understand as they want a watch from every single year and for the years where less watches were made, the pool of available watches is smaller so sellers ask higher prices.


    In the end everyone is different and we all have different budgets too. I was happy paying what I paid for my 97 issued version but I was at a watch meet during the week where a guy openly admitted he had zero clue why these watches cost what they do.

    Anyways, as we all know well enough, watches can be a funny old game.

    PS, I would love an 2000s, issued SBS but I’m simply not prepared to pay the asking prices.







    Last edited by Slevin Kelevra; 19th November 2022 at 22:19.

  4. #4
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    There are a number of things at play here that influence the desirability and there for price.

    Until the late 1990s / early 2000s you could not buy a CWC from Silvermans, they only sold them straight to the MOD (and BBC) so prior to a given year they are all ‘issued’ watches - yes some may have sat around in stores or on the wrist of the QM, rather than on the wrist of the bloke on the embassy balcony but they are a true issued military watch. Earlier watches command a bit of a premium for this reason.

    The MOD did not need thousands of watches every year so some years are rarer than others E.g. the 1980 automatic dive watch probably numbered less than 100 examples made, there are more 1980 reissues on wrists than the original. There are far more Milsubs out there

    The world of truly dedicated CWC collectors is very small, less than 10 people world wide (I would guess and I would not include myself in it this), the majority of these guys also collect the ephemera that goes with the watch including stories etc, this can push the price up and some dealers think it’s the watch driving these prices, it’s not.

    I guess some people do like the image and daring do that the CWC represents, other realise they are a very well made watch and if you are of a collecting bent they offer the perfect collecting opportunity - look at our very own Ken and his former CWC navigator collection. Different years, services, numbers etc. collectors always want the one they don’t have.
    Last edited by Sinnlover; 20th November 2022 at 15:39.

  5. #5
    Master sish101's Avatar
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    Interesting article, exactly what I like about this forum.

    The high number of CWCs in the Friday posts recently have got me looking at them with interest. But as someone new to the brand, I'd be getting in at the lower end, cost wise.

    Sent through the ether by diddling with radio waves

  6. #6
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    https://cwcaddict.com/rn-diver

    May be of interesting read for some.

  7. #7
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    Some interesting thoughts in this thread (for those that like mil watches!).

    I'm new to this and don't really see myself as a collector as sadly my budget is not that strong so I can't ever see my self owning the same model watch from each year issued.

    I started off with a CWC G10, purchased new from Silvermans. On receiving it I didn't initially understand why they were so popular so I sold it. But once sold the enthusiasm of this forum made me want an issued one, so my thoughts turned to maybe sourcing an issued one or possibly a fatboy. But like the OP I baulked at the 'issued price premium' so I gave up and bought a G10 Sapphire - now my daily wear.

    I then wanted a CWC divers to go with my G10 and like @sish101, I started out at the lower end with a second hand, non issued quartz RN Diver to test the water. But, as nice as they are I wanted an issued auto but again couldn't get my head around the prices. I prefer the fatter minute hand so managed to get an '83 reissue quartz. I really like it and whilst it's not issued I think I'll stop there and enjoy it as the 'issued' watches are too rich in price to rest easy with me.

    I was considering an 1980 reissue auto but again .....£££'s. Just my thoughts and TBH I do slightly envy you chaps with your issued collections...........!

  8. #8
    Grand Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slevin Kelevra View Post

    That does look fantastic. I can understand why people hunt these down.

  9. #9
    Master helidoc's Avatar
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    CWC Divers, issued v civilian

    Iím not blind to the charms of older / issued but looking at eBay, the premium on issued is the thick end of 200%, maybe £1400 for a watch that would be £550 new, and £400 used.

    Context is potentially important. If it was my issued watch, that would matter.

    If I bought the watch in the story below, the watch has a lot of history and context.

    https://cwcaddict.com/f/jasons-war-w...ry=Watch+Story

    I can see why collectors might value that package of watch and itís back-story. The eBay ones are all context free, and the premium is too hard for me to swallow.

    Edit: While driving home my thoughts turned to the Bremont MB1, which to get you need to have been ejected from a plane (!) or have fairly deep £10000+ pockets. I wouldnít ever buy one, itís someone elseís story. Maybe that has some similarities to issued watches. Maybe

    Whatever year or issue status, the CWC Divers are terrific watches.

    Dave


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    Last edited by helidoc; 20th November 2022 at 19:15.

  10. #10
    Master
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    Id love a CWC Navigator too but if you think the Divers are overpriced......

  11. #11
    Master
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    I know that certain issued military watches are rare things indeed & highly sought after. By comparison, how vanishingly rare are the CWC chronographs built by CWC & supplied to the BBC?

  12. #12
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy2254 View Post
    I know that certain issued military watches are rare things indeed & highly sought after. By comparison, how vanishingly rare are the CWC chronographs built by CWC & supplied to the BBC?
    Very! And they command a price to match.
    I have seen maybe half a dozen examples
    Last edited by Sinnlover; 22nd November 2022 at 17:47.

  13. #13
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slevin Kelevra View Post
    Id love a CWC Navigator too but if you think the Divers are overpriced......
    I've had my 1981 CWC Navigator for around 37 years, since being issued with it in the RN, when I was a Navigator. Used it at sea for navigation in small and large warships, and for astro-navigation on a yacht delivery trip across the South China Sea. Lots of personal history, but about the only time it gets a wearing now is at a Trafalgar Night dinner...

    That makes the value vs the usage hard to reconcile; in some ways I'd rather put the value into a watch I'd wear regularly. OTOH...

  14. #14
    Master
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    Yeah, im not sure I'd keep a watch I never wear.

    Great provenence, Im sure a Military Collector would snap your watch up.

  15. #15
    Master goregasm's Avatar
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    CWC Divers, issued v civilian

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    Very! And they command a price to match.
    I have seen maybe half a dozen examples
    +1 to this.. Iíve had mine about 6-7years now and thought it was expensive back then. Some of the prices now are astronomical





    ..and donít get me started on Navigators. Again 6-7yrs ago I paid about £300 for my Ď81.

    Last edited by goregasm; 26th November 2022 at 08:43.

  16. #16
    Craftsman
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    Apologies but, why were they given to the BBC?

  17. #17
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddiex View Post
    Apologies but, why were they given to the BBC?
    They were given to corespondents to help time pieces to camera
    Quite common for use by war correspondents apparently.

    The editors also used CWC pocket chronos for timing filming

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    They were given to corespondents to help time pieces to camera
    Quite common for use by war correspondents apparently.

    The editors also used CWC pocket chronos for timing filming
    Interesting - Thanks!

  19. #19
    Iím a G10 chap and I have to say, the prices are going through the roof. Itís the one you donít have that keeps you searching. No doubt the same for the diverís watches.
    The holy grail is the none lume Navigator as used on Nuclear submarines. I missed a 1981 none lume fat nav in terrible external condition recently. Dial and hands looked OK and it was a runner. A service with Olivier would have sorted it out. I put in offers and they were rejected with no counter offer. Very poor info from the seller and no description. You had to know what it was, I could not believe the seller made no reference to the rarity, just called it a British army watch. It was filthy dirty.
    I eventually found out what he would accept, raced home on a journey taking 35 mins and it was sold to someone else in the meantime.
    I felt gutted as I should have paid the price there and then and not wasted more time.
    In the cold light of day with my sensible head on, why was I prepared to pay over the top for something that was dirty and bashed? Simple answer, it was really rare and it would have been the pinnacle of my collection.

    So if anyone has a none lume Navigator for sale from any year, Iíd be interested!!

  20. #20
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by helidoc View Post
    If in another life I had been in the forces and had a watch issued to me that I had worn for years I would have an emotional attachment to an object that was part of my life experiences.


    Sent from my Google Pixelbook Go using Tapatalk
    I had a few issue chronographís during the time I was in, they were just bits of issue kit and certainly not as special as lots on here seem to think that were. Unless I desperately had to wear my issue one Iíd wear a Seiko that I bought in the Naafi thatís still going strong in my bedside cabinet.


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