The MIL-W-46374D Specification

A Major Shift in Mission

Click watch for more images
Click watch for more images
Copyright 2002-2005 by E C Frederick
All rights reserved. No text or images may be used without the written consent of Ned Frederick
SandY 184A W-46374D Type 2
Hamilton MIL-W-46374D Type 1

With the arrival of MIL-W-46374D on 10 October of 1986 the W-46374 specification began the process of becoming a major comprehensive specification for military wrist watches performing a variety of functions. MIL-W-46374D superceded the nearly 20 year-old GG-W-113a spec as well as the previous MIL-W-46374C spec. W-46374D specification created five "Types" of mil watches, including a more expensive and more accurate Type 1 variant. This was a major departure from the cheap non-maintainable nature of the MIL-W-46374 specifications published over the previous two decades. Here are the five types and a brief description of their characteristic requirements.

Type 1 - a mechanical analog type watch with a hacking 15 jewel (minimum) manual wind movement. Accuracy was improved over previous MIL-W-46374 specs to ±30 seconds per day (@ 75°F), and this was the first MIL-W-46374 watch that was defined as "maintainable". Watches made under this MIL-W-46374D-1 spec were high quality like the GG-W-113a watches that they replaced, and like the older MIL-W-3818B watches that the GG-W-113’s had replaced in the late 1960’s. NB: The date inscribed on the back of MIL-W-46374D-1 watches refers to the "date of acceptance" of the watch by the DoD.

Type 2 - a mechanical analog manual wind watch but with no particular movement requirement. Accuracy was at the old level of ± 60 sec. per day. This was basically the same old MIL-W-46374 non-maintainable watch defined over the previous 20 years. Most often the models produced under Type 2 (MIL-W-46374D-2 and subsequent Type 2’s) have been cheaper, almost disposable watches with 7 jewel, or fewer, non-hacking movements. All have been made with plastic cases.

Type 3 - created the first analog Quartz specification. Type 3, 4 and 5 watches all hack. Type 3 has battery installed. Accuracy ±0.7 seconds per day (@ 75°F).

Type 4 - is a Type 3 with the battery in the box, rather than in the watch

Type 5 - is a Type 3 with no battery included.

Dates on the back of MIL-W-46374D Type 2 - 5 watches all refer to the date of manufacture (assembly). Either integral bars or removable stainless steel spring bars are required. Either should be "capable of withstanding a static pull on the strap of up to 15±0.5 pounds on each bar without damage…" Strap must be Type II MIL-S-46383. Black or OD colors were allowed. A neat bit of watch trivia here is that the luminous treatment on the hands and the dial could be either Promethium or Tritium. Promethium is a radioactive material used for a brief period in watch luminous systems in the 1970's and 80s (See Seiko RAF Chronographs of that era, with the encircled "P" on their dials). I haven't seen any MIL-W-46374D watches with Promethium, but if one happened to be produced, even as a prototype, it would be eminently collectable just on the basis of its exotic nature and rarity.

These five Types persisted through the W-46374F revision.

Various Models and Their Value

The SandY 184A, along with some of its variants, is one of probably two MIL-W-46374D-2 watch issued. Like the earlier 184 it is one of my favorite watches for everyday wear. The dark olive case and strap are attractive, and the larger case size (39mm X. 39mm) makes it more aesthetically contemporary than some of the older and smaller-cased MIL-W-46374 issues. This is also the last model (along with the Type 1 Hamilton) to have this distinctive and classic dial design. Watches issued under later revisions of MIL-W-46374 have new and more updated dial layouts. It is the last SandY watch to mix this old school and new school look.

The Lost Marathon:

There was also a Marathon/Gallet watch made in the late 1980's under the MIL-W-46374D specification. This unusual and rare watch is pictured in Imai's Military Watch Encyclopedia (p. 326). I have been fortunate to have been loaned an example of a June 1990 issue of this special watch by a well-known collector and have included a photographic study in the nearby link. The unusual (for a W-46374 Mil Watch) hand design and unique and highly legible dial layout add to the uniqueness of this Marathon issue.

Little is know about this watch other than: it was, at the very least, issued to Canadian Forces in 1990; it was designated model "348" by Marathon; and it was a Type 2 non-hacking mechanical watch.

Because of the scarcity of this Lost Marathon, I suspect it was made in small numbers. A mint example could fetch over $200 from a serious collector.

Click watch for more images
Marathon 348 W-46374D Type 2

SandY 184A's in good condition can fetch close to $100, but the Type 1 steel-cased Hamilton MIL-W-46374D is the real collectors item in this family. The Hamilton MIL-W-46374D is an updated version of the excellent GG-W-113 watches of the previous two decades. It has a high quality 17 jewel ETA manual wind movement. It hacks and was made to a higher standard of accuracy. My Hamilton MIL-W-46374D keeps time to within a few seconds a day. For these reasons and because of it's clean yet classic dial design, the Hamilton MIL-W-46374D can command close to $200 on eBay. I have seen mint versions, recently serviced, selling for $300 at retail. Because these watches were issued in 1988, they still have a bit of active luminous (tritium) material. They are about half as bright as a new luminous watch but they can be read in the dark, once your eyes have adapted.

I believe there was only one issue of the Hamilton MIL-W-46374D. The date of acceptance for that contract is June 1988. Interestingly enough the watches in the final contract award for Hamilton GG-W-113 watches are dated FEB 1988. These last GG-W-113 watches and the Hamilton MIL-W-46374D watches are really the same watch with just two noticeable differences: the inscriptions, or course, differ; and, the dial of most (but not all) of the Hamilton MIL-W-46374D watches have the H3 and radiation symbol.

Back to the Main MIL-W-46374 Page