The Tudor “Canadian MilSub”
- 09 July, 2018
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A rare variant on the MilSub, my years of research into military Tudors has brought me into contact with a number of Canadian Navy divers whose invaluable information has helped shape reasearch on these watches. Nearly all Tudor MilSubs are essentially factory – specification watches with no discernable marking on the dials, unusual bezel inserts or hands.
This differs from Rolex MilSubs, which had a number of unique factors. Where it usually gets interesting with Tudor military watches is the caseback: French Navy watches were engraved “MN” on the reverse of the watch, with the South African watches the serial number, and such is the case with other documented examples.
Not all Canadian Navy – issued pieces are engraved. Those that are, however, are marked with the owner’s name and rank, the serial number or the Navy Stores’ stock numbers.
We know that Tudor reserved batches of watches for Department of Defence orders. These batches become apparent over time as serial numbers of examples with good provenance are collated and an understanding is formed of correct serial numbers for certain issued references. One of the most fascinating of any Canadian – issued watch is the 9401/0 non – date Submariner. The watches have dials similar to matte Rolex 5513s, with rectangular “3-6-9” plots, triangular “12” plot and the remaining circular plots.
The interesting twist is that these watches are fitted with “snowflake” hands. I’ve seen a number of “oddball” MilSubs, where Navy watchmakers have fitted watches with whatever they had lying around; this is part of finding out about MilSubs in their combat – state. The watch, however, has been seen in the above – mentioned configuration many, many times and nearly all have a history in the Canadian Navy.
These watches were delivered in a small serial – number batch and I suspect they were delivered in this configuration. One train of thought is that the Canadian Navy added the “snowflake” hands at the request of divers to improve legibility, as the logical use of hands with this dial would have been “Mercedes” hands. 9401/0 watches in this configuration actually have the same layout as the Tudor Heritage Black Bay watches.
The watches were issued as a stores item. In the case of the diving stores, the diving officer signed out all equipment, e.g. Masks, fins, etc., on “Temporary Loan Cards” to individual divers. A log was kept, which unfortunately did not go into any detail as to the model or serial number of a watch; it was more a checklist, so if six watches were handed out, it ensured six came back when the divers either left the team or were posted off the vessel.
The markings seen on a number of the 9401/0 is most likely a stores number. The rough “field” engraving, its style and its placement on the caseback would indicate that these markings enabled the officer to keep track of the watches issued.