The GG-W-113 manual winding watch - like the all original late 1970s United States military-issued one here - has both 12- and 24-hour markers, with a very Cold War-esque vibe. No fancy buttons or bezels. Just a very simple and reliable watch that does what it is specified to do – tell time on the battlefield.
Since the watch was first worn, it has been an information tool, giving its wearer some piece of intelligence otherwise not known. Perhaps nowhere is that truer or better realized than in the military watch. Almost as long as watches have existed, governments and military's have been buying and issuing timepieces to be used in nearly every military scenario imaginable. Strictly utilitarian, these watches have served as functional instruments, designed to give their wearers specific and accurate information in environments not often encountered by civilian watches.
The DoD association with issuance of U.S. military watches begins with specification MIL-W-3818B, issued by DoD for a general-purpose watch for military personal, with the first contract awarded in February 1964. The DoD contract called for a 17-jewel, hacking wristwatch with an extended service life; however, the 3818B wasn’t around long, eventually morphing into the GG-W-113 here in June 1967. Of note, the GG-W-113 was specifically issued to the American Air Force (USAF), beginning with the Vietnam war.
To understand military-issued watches, you first need to understand a bit about government purchasing. When the U.S. government contracts for goods, it does not shop like the rest of us. Instead of surveying the market and choosing from what is available, it publishes detailed criteria for exactly what it needs, and private companies – in this instance, American watchmakers Benrus, Belforte, Westclox, Hamilton, Timex, and Stocker and Yale - submit proposals for how they will meet that need, and at what cost. As a result, a number of different companies produced U.S. military issue watches under different contracts at different times.
During the same period, the GG-W-113 was issued by the General Services Administration (GSA). It was a general federal specification that was nearly identical to the MIL-W-3818B, with the most significant difference being a requirement for at least a 15-jewel movement, as opposed to the DoD specification 17 jewels. The GSA specification applied to watch contracts across the federal government, including the armed services. All will bear case back markings with contract type, federal stock number, manufacturing part number, contract number, manufacture month and year, and serial number, and were produced between 1967 and the late 1980’s, when quartz movements began to gain popularity and start replacing mechanical models.
Engraved on the caseback:
Fed. Stock No. 6645-00-066-4279
MFG. Part No. 39986
Cont. No. GS-03S-48541
Date Mar 1978
Serial No. 292344
This watch comes with its two nylon ZULU straps, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1978 Hamilton GG-W-113 U.S. Military-Issued Mechanical Watch
DIAL: Original unsigned dial with original hands; lume glows brightly, albeit briefly. Excellently aged patina on the dial indices and hands. Dial is standard field watch spec, uncluttered by brand name or other text.
CASE: One piece original 34.5mm (36.5mm w/crown) x 41.5mm stainless-steel case, indicative of an earlier issue, with a matte/parkerized finish. Of note, these featured fixed bars - vice removeable springbars - rendering these suitable for only ZULU or NATO straps. Access is via front/crystal, increasing protection from the elements.
CRYSTAL: Original acrylic crystal with very faint small scratches. It can be difficult to find military-issued watches such as these without scratches – they’ve served rough duty.
BAND: This GG-W-113 features its correct fixed bars, and comes with two nlyon NATO straps – one dark blue, green, and white, and another in OD green; both feature stainless-steel hardware. Both straps nicely compliment the military look of this Hamilton.
MOVEMENT: Original 17-jewel Hamilton Cal. 649 manual wind ETA 2750 mechanical movement, with 21-600 bph. The movement is hacking, contributing to the military nature of this Hamilton.
CROWN: Original unsigned stainless-steel crown.