MIL-W-3818B WATCH, WRIST: DTU-2A/P

On October 17, 1962 the MIL-W-3818A specification was revised by representatives of the Air Force, Navy and Army and identified as MIL-W-3818B. This revision was undertaken to accomplish the following results:

A. Reduce the variety of grades and types of watches.

B. Assure consistent quality of items.

C. Eliminate testing requirements of one year and substitute in lieu thereof a guarantee provision.


D. Incorporate a new case design.

The scope of the new MIL-W-3818B specification was intended to cover one type of general purpose 17 jewel wrist watch, with a daily accuracy rate of 30 seconds, a second setting mechanism (ie. hacking mechanism ) and be guaranteed for a two year period by the manufacturer.

The 1.40″ metal case and all other metal parts were required to be protected by a finish or preservative with the exception of parts which would be adversely effected or unable to properly preform if so treated. The dial is made of nonferrous metal, the dial face background of black with numerals and graduations in white. The triangular hour indice at 12 was required to be luminescent yellow while all other hour indices were to be luminescent green in color. The hands were fabricated from cartridge brass and painted white and the filled with green luminescent paint; the tip of the sweep second hand to be luminescent orange. In accordance with the specification the luminous material is Tritium (Hydrogen 3).

( Movement photo courtesy of Siewming )

The specifications required the movements to have 17 jewel bearings, stem wound and set, include a second setting mechanism, run a minimum of 36 hours without rewinding and have a 30 second or less daily accuracy rate. The crown, found at the customary 3 o’clock position, is straight knurled and includes the “dimple” typical of similar period Benrus U.S. military watches (ie. Benrus Type I / II and the MIL-W-446374). The crystal is acrylic – referred to in the specifications as: “copolymer plastic”.

The casebacks were to be marked either around the beveled portion or centrally located with the following information:

WRIST WATCH DTU-2 A/P

MIL-W-3818B

SERIAL NO. _____

FED. STOCK NO. _____

MFG. PART NO. _____

CONT. NO. _____

DATE _____

The strap originally specified was to comply with “Drawing C 8636227″ and was amended on January 12, 1966 to now follow the newly published MIL-S-46383 Type II strap – color black.

Benrus – the single source.

A number of companies submitted samples in 1963 to be tested, which included Benrus Watch Co., Longines-Wittnauer Watch Co., Matbey-Tissot Watch Co. and a year later (1964) by Clinton Watch Co. of Chicago. The Benrus Watch Co. was the only source that successfully met the requirements for approval and was formally notified on September 16, 1963 that its product was now listed on the Qualified Products List for Specification MIL-W-3818B. The other sources were notified by letter on November 21, 1963 that their samples did not meet minimum specification requirements.

On Febuary 2, 1964 the United States Marine Corps. submitted a “Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request” to the Contracting Officer for the purchase of 10,849 MIL-W-3818B wrist watches. A request for proposal was issued to the Benrus Watch Co. on February 7, 1964, with a closing date of Feb. 24, 1964. Benrus quoted a unit price of $28.28 each for a quantity of 10,849 wrist watches or a total cost of $306,809. A closing date extension on the was issued to Feb. 27, 1964.

The Bulova Watch Co. was also notified and afforded the same amount of time as the other watch companies but did not submit their product until February 13, 1964 – a lapse of 14 months from the original application request. The Bulova submitted was rejected on March 11, 1964 for failing the shock test performance (paragraph 4.8.9 of the specification). In a period of 20 hours the Bulova gained 1 hour and 22 minutes. This failure was sufficient cause to reject the Bulova watches as not qualifying for inclusion on the Qualified Products List.

Both the Bulova Watch Co. and the Hamilton Watch Co. (which did not submit their product for testing) took issue with the “guarantee provision of paragraph 3.21″ requiring contractors to be liable for repair of watches that fail to meet all specifications for a period of two years. The Frankfort Arsenal reported that it would not impose on a contractor this responsibility for watches which were abused or misused in the field. Furthermore the three other sources (Benrus, Longines, Tissot) that submitted their products for testing did not take any exception and were willing to meet this provision; as such the Frankfort Arsenal considered this requirement to be reasonable.

Finally the Bulova Watch Co. alleged that the Benrus Watch Co. was not a manufacturer of watches, but only imported cases and sold watch movements from foreign sources. The Frankfort Aarsenal concluded that the Benrus Watch Co. possessed manufacturing facilities in the United States and Switzerland. Benrus’ submitted proposal showed that it imported the movement and dial setting, dial stem and springbars and that the case, crown, attatchments, packaging material and jewel bearings were all domestically produced. The cost data submitted indicated that the costs of the domestic components were considerably in excess of 50 percent of the costs of all components and therefore the item must be considered a domestic source and product.

In the end Bulova, nor any of the other watch companies, never resubmitted a product sample for retesting and Benrus was left as the single source manufacturer of the MIL-W-3818B ~ WATCH, WRIST: DTU-2/A-P.

(It was brought to my attention that Matbey-Tissot Watch Co. should in fact be Mathey-Tissot Watch Co.; I’ve refrained from making the change due to the fact that the Frankfort Arsenal documents refer to the company as *Matbey*).

The following MIL-W-3818B is an example from the first February 1964 contract :

Note the “date of acceptance “: FEB 1964 and the extremely low serial number: 00127

( Photos of the 1964 MIL-W-3818B were kindly provided by Siewming – they remain his property and are used here with permission. )

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