US Mil Canteen Divers by Elgin and Hamilton

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Thread: US Mil Canteen Divers by Elgin and Hamilton

  1. #1
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    Default US Mil Canteen Divers by Elgin and Hamilton

    I'm not going to try to better Billy's excellent page on these early US-issue dive watches, but I do want to add my photos and 2p to the mix.

    First was the Hamilton, which may have made it into service in WW2 - there seems to be some discussion about that. Billy Schorr and I have been going back and forth about it





    Next was the Elgin, which we know came later. For some reason, this later watch commands significantly higher (20-40%) prices than the Hammy It definitely is a better watch: it wears a bit bigger, is more legible and the canteen cover and crown are easier to use. I find it interesting that collectors seem to value the later watch more, which is somewhat unusual.





    Both watches went to the units which were the precursors of the US Navy SEALs. In WW2 these units were called Naval Combat Demolition Units and drew members from the Scouts and Raiders and Scout Swimmer teams, along with demolition experts from the SeaBees. The NCDUs eventually became the Underwater Demolition Teams, which co-existed with the SEALs (b. 1962) until 1983, when the remaining UDTs were re-flagged as SDV Teams in 1983. There is obviously much more to this history and I can recommend some reading to anyone interested in learning more.

    Cheers all, Colin

  2. #2
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    Very cool vintage watches, Colin.
    I noticed that in HBO's The Pacific there are quite a few watches on the actors. They certainly have the vintage look down.

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    I don't have cable, but will eventually watch The Pacific on disc I'm sure. In the previews I saw the watches looked period-correct and it doesn't surprise me that the crew paid attention to the little things for this production. I mean, one wrong watch just kills the suspension of disbelief!

    These are fun watches and more than just from an historical perspective. Small, but very wearable and virtually unnoticeable on the wrist. In the summer I like a small/light watch, my big divers go into the box when it's hot and humid. It's a bit of a relief to wear a watch that isn't constantly reminding you that it's on your wrist.
    Cheers all, Colin

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    Great post, Colin. I would be interested to know more about your discussion with Billy. Perhaps you could both continue it over here?

    Is that the original and "correct" strap on the Hamilton and one of those '50s straps from Sheps on the Elgin? (I picked up a few of those in readiness for future purchases!).

    Unfortunately, I guess these two are essentials in a collection of military dive watches...!

    Regards

    Jon'.

  5. #5
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    It is one of the 50s nylons on the Elgin, not sure how 'official' it is. The strap on the Hamilton is a plastic one from Ranger-Tennere and possibly the one it was worn on, so I've kept it. Ranger-Tennere, Plastic Services Corp and one other company who's name escapes me at the moment made the one-piece plastic straps.

    PSC made them in gray and maroon and they were marked 'Ordnance Dep't USA' and had buckles marked "Elgin" on the back, so they were probably the issued ones in the 50s. The PSC straps differ slightly in top surface design in that they have chevrons in the pattern near the loose end. The original milspec called for a two-piece plastic strap with the chevrons and US Navy on the top side, but one of these milspec straps has yet to surface.

    The plastic straps were intended as replacements for the cloth WW2 style for service in hot, humid environments.

    One other note: while the Elgin insignia is painted black-on-black, the Hamilton insignia appears to be embossed or stamped.

    Cheers all, Colin

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