The Eterna is probably the second rarest (after the Grana) of the so-called “Dirty Dozen” WW2 military watches with only an estimated 5,000 produced during World War 2. The British Ministry of Defence needed watches to issue to army personnel with very strict specifications, 12 watch manufacturers were eventually accepted, resulting in the nickname “The Dirty Dozen”. They were: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.
These were all mostly delivered in 1945 and accompanied by a pigskin or canvas strap.
5000 Eternas were produced, one of the smallest runs. More formally, these watches were known as W.W.Ws, a code established by the British Army to distinguish these from other military equipment and it simply stood for Wrist. Watch .Waterproof.
The MoD specs were exactly what you would expect a military watch to be – waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level and composed of a case that was rugged. Two serial numbers were required, one being the manufacturers number, and the other (with the letter) being the military store number. On top of that, the dial needed to be black, with Arabic numerals and sub seconds in order to maximise legibility. The case-back had to include the W.W.W designation and a broad arrow marking, with the dial only displaying the latter. The broad arrow frequently seen on military dials and case backs is the traditional marking for British Army property.
As you see this is one of the best condition Dirty Dozen in the market. It’s simply marvelous. The case , dial, hands, radium, everything is simply flawless.
The caseback has the respective markings on the inside, however none on the outside. This isn’t common at all. Some might say the caseback could have been skimmed to remove the markings to a more civilian look, which wasn’t that uncommon with even some dials having the broad arrow painted over. I honestly don’t think the caseback was touched, but for some reason impossible to explain, this particular watch only has markings on the inside. Not going to make up some romantic story about it, it is what it is. We are #NotYourAverageDealer so we’ll leave the fairytale stories for the others...
One of the most beautiful and mint condition Dirty Dozen watch in the world and one of the least produced ones, that’s it.
When collecting vintage watches you know the 3 most important things. Condition, condition, condition....