Marathon Military Pilot's Watch (USAF issue)

Review and images by H. Seung


This is a 1990 USAF issue Marathon Pilot's watch in very good condition. These pilot watches had undergone severe cockpit banging and testing before being issued to fighter pilots who were to participate in the Gulf War. The particular watch I have here was acquired from an USAF pilot stationed in Korea during the mid nineties. It has a new plastic crystal and comes with an original 20mm black nylon band that is actually long enough to be worn outside a flight jacket.

The watch has a screw-down crown, is waterproof to 660 feet, and is housed in a heavy steel case, similar to the Precista British Military Diver's Watch I had reviewed few hours ago. Vials filled with tritium gas and a phosphor are stuck onto the hands and numeral marks to provide incredible nightime viewing, without the need to "charge it up" from a light source.

It has 0-11 hour marked bidirectional bezel to serve as a navigational timer rather than an elapsed time indicator of most dive watches, probably to reference the Zulu time in combat missions. The luminescent marker at 12 on the bezel has fallen off, so it's been painted white by the previous owner.

About the movement... The original movement was quartz but (you guessed it!) I had my master watchmaker outfit it with an automatic movement, so the second hand sweeps and no more battery leakeage problems! You won't find many military watches with an automatic movement. The particular automatic movement used was taken from a Bulova and is Swiss made. You can also unscrew the crown and wind it manually. It also has the desirable hack feature in that the second hand stops when the crown is pulled out the furthest for precise time setting (HACK is military slang for synchronizing several timepieces to a single time source). It keeps excellent, if not perfect, time.

The back of the case has the usual military serial numbers and reads as follows:

Unfortunately, Marathon Watch Co. no longer make these steel cased Pilot's watches any more. The ones they have nowadays are housed in black plastic case and do not have much needed screw down crown for water resistance.


Marathon Pilot's Watch Photo Album by H. Seung