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Old 30 October 2005, 03:58 AM   #1
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British issued dive watches.

British issued dive watches.

British Royal Navy Dive Watches – 1960’s to present day.

The first specs pertaining to a dive watch for the British Royal Navy were introduced in the 1960’s. At that time, 2 companies produced dive wristwatches that met the required specifications. These companies were Rolex and Omega. Here follows a brief description of the watches they offered :-

1) The Rolex Submariner ref 5513 & 5517

All stainless steel case, with water resistance of 200 metres. Black dial with circle T added to signify Tritium as the source of luminous. Screw down crown. Earlier models had a diamond shaped hour hand, with later models having the more easily recognised (to Rolex owners, at least) Mercedes hour hand. The steel case had fixed bars to lessen the danger of losing the watch through spring bar failure.
Case-back engraved with the Royal Navy stores numbers

0552/923-7697, broad-arrow below (signifying government property), and then below that an issue number and issue year. Eg 175/70, signifying watch number 175 of 1970.

The above modifications were made to the civilian 5513 before the watches left the Rolex factory.

2) Omega Seamaster 300

Similar to the Rolex, with all steel case and water resistance of 200m. This watch was basically the civilian model of the Seamaster 300, with subsequent modifications made after they left the Omega factory. The watches were delivered to the MOD’s UK agent (generally Goldsmiths) where modifications were then made. These included the brazing of fixed bars onto the case, circle T added to the dial (not always the case, as MOD conversion work is rarely consistent), and the case-back engraved with the stores numbers as per the Rolex above. The dials also came in a big triangle version IE a large triangle of luminous material at the 12 o’clock marker.

Onward into the 1980’s, and the Royal Navy saw a few different watch brands enter the scene. Among them were :-

1. Circa 1984, CWC made an automatic diver with an ETA movement. Based on the same MOD specs, so not dissimilar in looks to the SM300. Short lived though, probably due to the quartz revolution (more to follow)
2. Around the same time period, Precista also made an automatic diver with a 25 jewel ETA movement. Pretty scarce, and one that I have not seen in person and can command a very good price .
3. Cyma produced a jewelled quartz movement diver – again, fairly scarce in numbers. There has also been rumour of an Heuer version which appears to share the same case as the Cyma. If issued, the numbers were very small.

In more recent years, the CWC quartz divers have become the main issued dive watch for the Royal Navy. There are two versions of this watch available

1) The standard CWC dive model. Steel case with fixed bars, screw down crown, circle T dial. Water resistance now increased to 300m. Case back marked as follows

0552/6645-99 7573314, followed by issue number and year.

2) The SBS (Special Boat Service) version – same as above, but with black anodised case, and day date window on the dial. The black case is for extra stealth in special operations IE less reflections from a black case when compared with a steel case. Case back marked as follows

0552/6645-99 7995443

Both of the CWC dive watches are powered by a 7 jewel ETA quartz movement (cal 955.122)

In the last year, it is also reported that currently there are a number of issued versions of the current black dialled quartz Omega Seamaster. Some are still as per the stock civilian pieces spec., whilst others have been converted to include fixed bars and stores issue numbers on the case backs.


0552 is the prefix for Royal Navy. You may also see 0555, which relates to the Royal Marines.
6645 is the NATO stores prefix for wristwatches
99 is the NATO prefix for the UK.

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Old 30 October 2005, 06:24 AM   #2
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Very interesting Padi. Thanks for posting!
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Old 30 October 2005, 10:19 AM   #3
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Good one, Padi. You are a veritable encyclopedia when it comes to watches and vintage stuff!!
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Old 9 October 2011, 02:50 AM   #4
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Not sure if this would count as its for casual use rather than dive use, but interesting none the less:
-- Omega Seamaster Grand-Lux Stepped Pie-Pan 14K Gold OJ2627 '53 --
-- Omega Cal 320 Chronograph 18K Gold OT2872 '58 --
-- Omega Cal 321 Speedmaster Pro 145.012 '67 --
-- Rolex Submariner 1680 "Ghost" '79 --
-- Rolex SS Daytona 116520 '04 --
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Old 9 October 2011, 11:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by dsio View Post
Not sure if this would count as its for casual use rather than dive use, but interesting none the less:
lol.... I am pretty sure the SBS would be in the dive watch status.... would love to get my hands on one of theses rare seamasters.....

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