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The specialist for military watches
The Pilot Watch Magazine
26 December 2023

Timepieces for the British armed forces

Cabot Watch Company, or CWC for short, is a specialist in military watches and was founded in 1972 by English watch expert Raymond “Ray” Mellor. The brand is named after the Italian adventurer and navigator Giovanni Caboto, who was the first European explorer to reach the North American mainland in 1497.

And this is how it all begins: Ray Mellor goes to sea as a young man in the 1940s. He transported British and U.S. soldiers across the seas aboard the troopship Queen Elizabeth in the Merchant Marine. After World War II, Mellor married and joined his wife’s uncle’s watch business. Later, by now managing director, he moved to the Swiss Hamilton Watch Company, for which he set up the London branch in 1962. When this was taken over by an American group, Mellor decided to set up his own watchmaking company – and christened it with the name of his personal seafaring hero, John Cabot. It is the birth of the Cabot Watch Company.

CWC has produced hundreds of thousands of military watches for British military personnel in times of peace and conflict.


The favor of the hour

In the early 1970s, the British Ministry of Defense sources watches for its soldiers from a variety of manufacturers. For divers, timepieces are purchased from Omega and Rolex; for pilots, there are pilot’s watches from Precista and Newmark, among others; and – last but not least – for foot soldiers, chronometers from Smiths and Hamilton. But in 1972, Smiths ceases watch production and Hamilton no longer renews its contracts with the military due to a difficult market environment.

Ray Mellor seizes the opportunity, negotiates with the Ministry of Defense himself and soon supplies the British armed forces with watches from CWC. These are manufactured in Switzerland according to strict military specifications using high-quality components. Mellor initially produces automatic watches, later switching to quartz movements like most of his competitors. In 1996, Ray Mellor sells his watch manufacture to London-based Silvermans, a supplier of military equipment that now distributes CWC watches outside the barracks gates.

To this day, Silvermans continues to supply its CWC timepieces and bracelets to the British armed forces. Incidentally, the CWC watch strap “Strap Watch Wrist Nylon” is even the official designation for NATO bracelets. Originally designed exclusively for the military, the watches now enjoy great popularity not only among soldiers, but also among civilian friends of the military look as well as collectors.

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