Pilot watch

The A-17 pilot navigation watch developement began in 1943 when the USAF was still called the United States Air Corps.

Cold war

The A-17 had the initial vocation to equip long range bomber crews based in Europe. Then it became the F-86 Sabre pilots watch during the Korean war.

 

Military lineage

Waltam was the main supplier to the United States Army since WWI. The A-17 was the 3rd Waltham military watch to be purchased by the U.S.A. after the Field & Marine and the A-11.

MIL-W-6433

The A-17 was a developement of the A-11 with radium on the numerals, indices, H/M hands and on the seconds hand. A 13-24 hour track was added to read military time. 

product_image

A-17NG NATO GREEN

MIL-W-6433 compliant
Automatic Soprod M100 R4 regulation
40mm diameter
Stainless Steel
Domed sapphire crystal
NATO green gradient dial 
Screw-in crown and case-back
10ATM water-resistant
Old radium X1 grade Superluminova® luminous
Military green synthetic tactical strap
Swiss made

Dispatch in 4-5 days
CHF 1,550.00
Add to basket
More info
product_image

A-17NG PATINA

MIL-W-6433 compliant
Automatic Soprod M100 R4 regulation
40mm
Stainless Steel
Domed sapphire crystal
Screw-in crown and case-back
10ATM water-resistant
Old radium X1 grade Superluminova® 
Military green synthetic tactical strap
Swiss made

Delivery in 4-5 days
CHF 1,350.00
Add to basket
More info
product_image

A-17NG NATO BLUE

MIL-W-6433 compliant
Automatic Soprod M100 R4 regulation
40mm diameter
Stainless Steel
Domed sapphire crystal
NATO blue gradient dial 
Screw-in crown and case-back
10ATM water-resistant
White X1 grade Superluminova® luminous
Military green synthetic tactical strap
Swiss made

Dispatch in 4-5 days
CHF 1,550.00
Add to basket
More info
product_image

A-17NG

MIL-W-6433 compliant
Automatic Soprod M100 R4 regulation
40mm diameter
Stainless Steel
Domed sapphire crystal
Screw-in crown and case-back
10ATM water-resistant
White X1 grade Superluminova® luminous
Military green synthetic tactical strap
Swiss made

Delivery in 4-5 days
CHF 1,350.00
Add to basket
More info

Key features

The watch

Made like Waltham would have made it today. The A-17 NG.

Aviation legends

The A-17 has been worn by many pilots who made the history of modern aviation, and in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of aviation advancement. Amongst them, Captain Milburn “Mel” Apt of the United States Air Force which we remember and honor. On September 27, 1956 Captain Milburn Apt became the very first man to fly at over 3 times the speed of sound by flying the UASF Bell X-2 Starbuster to the incredible speed of Mach 3.196 which is 3,377 km or 2,098 miles per hour.

F-86 Sabre Pilots

The A-17 had the initial vocation to equip long range bomber crews based in Europe. Then it became the F-86 Sabre pilots watch during the Korean war.  It also equipped the crews of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet and the F-104 Starfighter. 

MIL-W-6433

On December 31, 1948 United States Air Force Colonel J.C. Harvell, Chief of the Equipment Laboratory Engineering Division, sent out a letter to the Waltham Watch Company asking for their comments on Specification N° 21277 (later be known as MIL-W-6433).

This letter was sent out also to the Elgin National Watch Company, the Hamilton Watch Company, the Bulova Watch Company, the Gruen Watch Company and, surprisingly, the Longines-Wittnauer Watch Company.

But, in the end the USAF chose to exclusively use the Waltham Watch Company for their new Type A-17 pilot’s wrist watch.

Military time

In the military world, a slight confusion about time interpretation can be fatal. Therefore, the military had to improvise a time system that reduces any chances of ambiguity. This brought the adoption of the military time system also known as the 24 hour clock system.

When on March 23, 1951 Mil Spec MIL-W-6433 was adopted by the USAF for the Waltham A-17 it did in fact feature a 24 hour dial. This watch was intended as a navigation timepiece for pilots.

 

Symmetry

The A-17 was a resolutely utilitarian tool watch for pilots. However,  It featured one very sophisticated design element. The knurled bezel and the knurled case-back profile were perfectl symmetrical. This interesting design element has been mantained in the new generation A-17.

 

Lollipop

The counterweight of the central seconds hand of the A-17 had a distinctive shape which came to be calle the lollipop hand. The A-17 was the first military watch to feature this particular hand design.

U.S. Property

The legend was born on March 23, 1951 when Mil Spec MIL-W-6433 was approved for the Waltham Type A-17.  The American armed forces went on to purchase more than one hundred thousand A-17's each carrying the military and procurement identification data. This gave the A-17 its unmistakable case-back design which has been mainained in the NG A-17.

 

The inspiration

The original 31.5mm 1951 Waltham A-17
specified by MIL-W-6433.

The Waltham Watch Company

Founded in 1850 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, it moved four years later to the small town that would give the company its name.

Since it beginnings, Waltham has always stood out for the high-precision and superior performance of its instruments. These characteristics earned Waltham a place with the most important organizations and institutions at the beginning of the 20th Century, including the U.S. Military, and Railroad Companies in 52 countries across 7 continents.

Waltham industrialised watchmaking and was the largest watch brand in the world in the first half of the 20th century.

Waltham instruments were selected by the pioneers of the time, such as Sir Ernest Shackleton on his trek towards the South Pole, Robert Peary when he conquered the North Pole, Charles Lindbergh on the first non-stop transatlantic flight, Roland Rohlfs on his 34,610ft world's altitude flight record and by Top Gun pilots at "fightertown USA" in Miramar.

About the brand

The inventor of the American watchmaking system. An incredible story of human ingenuity.

Project curator
Stan Czubernat

Stan Czubernat is a historian and self-trained watchmaker and restorator of antique watches from the pre-WWI era up to the late 1930s.  He is self-trained in the craft of antique watch restoration. He specializes in the Waltham and Elgin brands but on occasion will restore an Illinois or a Hampden time piece from this period.

He has restored over one thousand antique trench watches and wrist watches, his favorites being the Waltham Depolliers, RED 12's, Elgin's Star Dial Series and semi-hermetic cases. Stan is the author of  two books about WWI American Trench Watches, "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War" and "Elgin Trench Watches of the Great War". He is the founder of LRF Antique watches.

Stan has assured the historical consistency of the project and has collaborated in the design of the new Field & Marine.