Throw Back Thursday – The Issued CWC Diver. The Follow Up of the 5517…
‘Throw Back Thursday’ is back! As some of you will be aware, Bulang & Sons has a rich heritage going back to the days when Bernhard ran his groundbreaking blog ‘100 Percent Rolex’, the original ‘Rolex Passion’ website. We occasionally share some classic posts and this edition is a great read – enjoy!
Hereby I present you a very special and mysterious watch. The issued CWC Diver, made for the Special Boat Services (SBS) and troops that went along on missions. These watches are, however, still kind of a mystery.
Well, over the last few weeks I heard some different stories about these watches. But from what I was told from the owner and a good friend and military-watch specialist this is the story so far.
At the end of the 90s there was a SBS group operating in HongKong. Doing stealth recon on the Chinese border. Operations at night; ‘black ops’. And they needed a less ‘shiny’ watch for that. It seems, the unit contacted the Cabot Watch Company (CWC) to see if they could get the watches made black. CWC made some prototypes and as the SBS unit liked it they wanted to order about 120 watches. CWC did tell them that that was not an option, as they had to make a bigger series. The outcome was, that the SBS got their numbers but CWC was allowed to sell the rest of the watches on the market. And there seems to be the big difference. The other watches also have the military numbers on the back (0555…), but not the issue number and year. As that number was engraved by the military itself.
The rest of the watches hit the market without issue-number and as the original bunch was still in service in the Middle-East, it seems that a lot of people thought on the CWC SBS as a marketing watch – well it isn’t! The issued watches have seen their share of action. And there is the difference also. As the issued versions only came back after 2000 when the unit came back from Hong Kong. After the rest was already on the market. Mine was issued in ’98.
Ok, so it isn’t a Rolex… it even has a battery. But when we look at it from an historical point of view, it has some of the same feeling. Used by the SBS and also units who went into missions with them.
Even closer then we think… The guy I bought mine off was issued one, when he was in Poole with the SBS. He was issued a Rolex Milsub at first… but when the bezel fell off in bad swell on the beach he went to the MOD. They took the Milsub and gave him the CWC as the better alternative. Imagine….
The owner also gave me something special to me. This smock he got when he came into Poole.
There are more stories to these watches and we still have to learn more about them. I’ll keep you posted!