The brand Marathon might be new to some, but not for Canadians, Americans, and especially military watch fanatics like us. The moniker is better known to watch collectors be among the few that, until today, officially offers no-frills timepieces to the military. Those regimes include the United States and Canadian army since circa 70 years ago.
Let’s dive a little deeper. The company that was to become Marathon Watch was founded in 1904 as Weinsturm Watch, later to be named Wein Brothers. In 1939, Morris Wein founded Marathon Watch, supplying fine precision timepieces throughout North America. Since 1941, Marathon has been manufacturing timing instruments for the Allied Forces, and today the fourth generation of the family continues the tradition with a wide range of tools measuring time, temperature, and distance. Marathon watches combine military durability with Swiss engineering and craftsmanship to ensure the highest level of quality and precision. All these traits unveiled on their take of the 1960s MIL-PRF-46374G military watch.
Entering the navigator watch realm, Marathon has based on the MIL-PRF-46374G specifications and manufactured for the US army ill today with several revisions, lending them to be the longest-running specifications required by the US government. This particular model follows the type III / class 1 variation and summarising what it is all about; it needed to have a rotating bezel equipped with elapsed time ring, and electrical quartz movement that able to maintain long life that able to withstand magnetically, water and corrosion resistance along with high altitude. Further, the watch needs to have a nylon strap attached to it and to use tritium for its luminous hands and markers that have to glow for 8 hours or more in total darkness. The unique asymmetrical case with the military 24-hour dial indication proved to be the military issued watches back in the 1970s. All these traits seen on MIL-W-50717 mil-spec watches for the US military, and Marathon keeps all there in check.
Made in Switzeland, Approved by US Government
The Pilot Navigator started from a request from Kelley Air Force Base in US. In 1986, Texan’s Air Force base needed watches that could endure extreme changes in pressure when used at high altitudes, while remain legible and accurate. Therefore, Marathon manufactured this watch was created to meet those demands. The Pilot’s Navigator is mend for pilots and para-troopers during mission, like for instant, been issued to those troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for their missions. “There were approximately 50000 pieces of these made for them,” mentioned Mitchell Wein, the current owner of Marathon Watch. “These were in fact, the first ever quartz pilot watches made by my father, specifically for the Air Force. And we were the sole supplier to the US government even when we are from Canada.”
Although the Wein family had them first made in stainless steel case, the ones that were supplied to the Air Force Base were actually made out of fiber shell high impact case with a steel back, allowing to be durable while staying lightweight. Also, the material choice has had helped the government to keep their pricing low without compromising Marathon’s strength in military watchmaking. Since then, both the military and now the watch civilian markets have received the iconic Navigator in that lightweight material, until now. The all new Pilot’s Navigator Stainless Steel NGM - Nylon Defstan Strap Ref. WW194013SS-0103 finally comes in full stainless steel material, just like the very first Navigator that Marathon had made prior to the government’s contract.
Tribute to MIL-W-50717
Since this specific model built to be taken mostly for aviation sectors, it fits appropriately for the military trooper’s branch all round. The Marathon Pilot’s Navigator celebrates form over function, a non-flashy watch for sure, but builds with a purpose to aid the army with their missions. This particular reference differs from its “US Government” signed dial; the “NGM” acronyms affirm the “No Government Markings” on its dial.
The Pilot’s Navigator sets forth as an excellent tool watch with a unique personality. It starts with its unique case shape entirely made with 316L stainless steel, that measures 41mm wide, with a height of just 11mm thick and 48mm lug to lug. Further, the finishing of the bi-directional bezel gets a black steel insert, with a 12-hour marking specifically designed for the pilots. The parkerised matte case pays tribute to the original MIL-W-50717 mil-spec with matte finishing that also serves to be anti-corrosion for that period. The dimension of the timepiece stays true to military watches of yesteryears, which enables one to feel its sturdiness and with all sense of purpose, to be out in the field.
Asymmetrical case design
Moving to the case profile, The Pilot’s Navigator has from a sleek and a sense of masculine attractiveness to it to its unique bold case design that you do not see much in the market. The case has an asymmetrical shape, where it gives full crown guard architecture, from the lug sides on the right to the screw-down crown in which grants a proper 100m water-resistant. This in which allows one to feel the case has a winder side from the other, which made it a pretty darn cool and tactical feel. When the watch viewed from the front, it lets off only as a no-frill tool watch, only to be complemented by its short lugs and hour bezel. However, when one views it from the top, it is where it shines with its unique case profile, with the lugs streamline together as a whole with its masculine yet unique side profile. This results in a striking silhouette, letting the wearer feel substantial with its asymmetrical case.
Its L-shaped lugs are flushed together with the overall case, and further features the drilled lug holes to allow easy strap change. Flipping it over, we get the case-back, allowing it to withstand high altitude 35000 ft that satisfy military-specifications. Right on the case-back, we understand the essential government markings and specifications engraved. These provide credentials on the Pilot’s Navigator as manufactured following US Government specification. All that said, we assure it is safe to say that both us watch collectors and the US military for use in operations.
Tritium gas tubes and MaraGlow™ that glows 24 hours
As you’d expect from a tribute to the first Navigator watch, the dial needs all the right ingredients to live up its livery. Underneath its flat sapphire crystal, Marathon has applied tritium gas tubes with MaraGlo™, a total of 14 encapsulated tritiums (Isotope H3) on its hour markers and syringe-style handset, allowing one to view the time with maximum legibility even when you are in the dark for more than 24 hours. The result is a constant emission of light. No more charging them by external light sources like conventional SuperLuminova. The dial features Arabic hour markers right beneath the tritium tubes, only to flange further a set of 24-hour markers reading inside. Lastly, its a US Government variation, having “Marathon” logo at the top and sans the ” US Government” logo at the bottom half. The dial gets additional markings with the “H3, hazard emblem” to indicate the tritium gas usage. All this information on the Reissue is easy to determine, even at a glance. The dial of Marathon is a direct re-make of its MIL-W-46374, saving from the use of the new applied tritium gas tubes.
Inside its heart lies the traditional Swiss ETA Quartz movement. Powered by a Swiss-made, high torque, 3 jewel ETA FØ6 quartz movement, the Military Navigator guarantees you a high degree of accuracy in timekeeping. The ETA FØ6 movement is accurate to -0.3/+0.5 seconds per day and also includes an End of Life (EOL) indicator that will advance the seconds hand once every 4 seconds to inform you that a battery change is needed. The replacement battery is a 371 cell. Attached to the Pilot Navigator is an upgraded 20mm high-quality black nylon Defstan strap. It not only allows one to strap on the field watch like it supposed to, feeling sturdy and waterproof if it gets wet, and also sticking to the government’s criteria of having the Nylon strap attached to each piece when it is issued to a pilot. Nevertheless, the nylon strap matches with the adventure theme, elevating its sportiness and ruggedness as a whole.
Essential Govt Markings on Case-back
In all, Marathon products are manufactured with the utmost care and go through various quality control measures. This attention to quality presented in the Marathon Pilot’s Navigator Stainless Steel NGM - Nylon Defstan Strap Ref. WW194013SS-0103, combining military toughness with refined craftsmanship from military watches of yesteryears. The world of military-style tool watches ever populated in the industry, where consumers have the options to choose from. Still, not all have the right to get approved by the US Government even until today and able to stand out with its unique design that not seen on the market. The all new steel Navigator stands out from the rest in this way since day one, and besides that, their watches always built with a purpose in every aspect that offers startling value for money for us watch collectors.