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Because these watches are both dive watches and military watches, this thread will appear in both the DWF and P/MWF here on WUS.

This will be half review, half comparison.

Today I will be reviewing and comparing the British Ministry of Defense (MOD) contract CWC (Cabot Watch Company) Royal Navy dive watch and the Canadian Department of Nation Defense (DND) contract Marathon SAR (Search and Rescue) dive watch.

Both watches are issued to the members of the British Armed Forces and Canadian Forces respectively to their appropriate branches. In the case of the English, this particular watch is issued to members of the British Royal Navy (RN), while in the case of the Canadians, the SAR is issued to Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Technicians; SAR TECHs are generally Air Force, however members of the Army and/or Navy may be attached to this group as needed.

First some specs:

CWC Royal Navy dive watch

ETA 2824-2 (unconfirmed)
40mm without crown (45mm with)
12mm thick
20mm lugs
Screw down crown and case back
Fixed bars
60 click unidirectional rotating bezel
Mineral crystal
Water resistant 300m

Marathon SAR

ETA 2824-2
39.5mm without crown (46 with)
13.55mm thick
20mm lugs
Screw down crown and case back
Shoulderless spring bars
120 click unidirectional rotating bezel
Sapphire crystal
Water resistant 300m

The comparison begins!

Case

Both cases are made from stainless steel. While the SAR has a fully brushed finish, the CWC has a mostly polished finish, with only the top of the case (not including bezel) being brushed. This difference includes the blank stainless chapter ring surrounding the dial; the SAR has a brushed ring, while the CWC's is polished to a mirror shine. In the case of the SAR, a fully brushed case and bezel creates a very uniform utilitarian look. Without anything being overly shiny, it definitely emits a 'tool watch' vibe. I almost feel like I don't need to take care of it, because it's not shiny. The CWC's brush and polish combo gives it a very 'dress watch' look. I find myself trying to keep the shiny surfaces shiny.

Lugs:

The SAR has spring bars instead of the CWC's fixed bars. This has its advantages and disadvantages. While it's very nice to be able to quickly switch from rubber to steel to nylon to leather, spring bars can and do fail. Marathon's stock spring bars are shoulderless, and the bar itself is flush with the lugs. This gives it more strength, however it will never match the strength of fixed bars. CWC's fixed bars are extremely tough, and are essentially fail proof, however your choice in straps are somewhat limited. Any 20mm one piece nylon strap (NATO or 2/4 ring ZULU) or open-ended leather strap will work with the CWC, however it will not accept rubber, bracelets, 2 piece ZULUs, or close-ended leather due to the fixed bars.

Case back:

Both screw down case backs feature full military markings. However only the CWC features a historical marking: the Broad Arrow. This arrow has been in use within British culture to identify property belonging to the Monarch or government for hundreds of years, and is still in use today.

Crown:

Both crowns screw down. While the SAR's crown screws down securely after two turns, the CWC's crown needs only half to one full turn to secure. Both are extremely smooth, however I have found that the CWC crown screws down very easily with a little pressure, while you may need to fiddle for a second to line up the threads on the SAR before it screws down. The CWC's crown is straight knurled, while the SAR is cross hatched. I have found that the SAR's crown is much easier to manipulate both wet and dry.

Bezel:

The SAR wins hands-down in this case. The thickness of the bezel coupled with the deep notches creates an excellent gripping surface. The 120 click action is also buttery smooth; tight enough not to adjust accidentaly, but loose enough to manipulate without hassle. CWC's bezel while aesthetically amazing, is flawed. I have found that it is too thin, and the jimping is cut too shallow. And while I generally prefer a 60 click bezel, this one is very tight. This tightness coupled with the poor gripping surface makes for a useless bezel in my books.

The chapter rings on these bezel rings are nearly identical, with all minute markings present in addition to thicker minute markings at 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55, and the numbers 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 appropriately placed. Both chapters feature a triangle at the 12 o'clock position. The SAR has a fully lumed triangle, while the CWC has a tritium painted lume dot in the triangle.

Movement:

Both watches feature the ETA 2824-2 movement. This means a 28800 BPH, hacking, manual winding automatic movment for both pieces. The SAR has a quick-set date, while the CWC is dateless. Both watches have a very smooth sweeping centre second hand, and are sure to be very robust and durable.

Dial:

Both watches have black dials with white indicies. The SAR's hour markers are circular, save two rectangles at 6 and 9 o'clock, date at 3 o'clock and triangle at 12 o'clock. The CWC has all rectangular hour markers, however the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock markers are trapezoidal, and the 12 o'clock marker is a large triangle. While Marathon opted to omit numbers on the dial, CWC (using MOD specification) included the numbers 3, 6 and 9 at the appropriate hours for ease of use and quick time keeping. These numbers are not lumed. All minute markings are also present on both dials.

Branding on both dials is minimal, and both contain the same amount of information. The SAR is branded with the following information: Marathon, Automatic, 300m/1000ft, and Swiss Made. The CWC has CWC, T, Automatic, and Swiss Made. The 'T' on the dial denotes the use of tritium (Hydrogen 3) paint.

Both dials are very easy to see and understand.

Lume:

Although Marathon has produced and released several watches featuring gaseous tritium light sources (GTLS, or just tritium tubes,) the SAR has Marathon's proprietary 'superluminova' luminous paint called Maraglo, which requires a charge in light to glow. Maraglo is used on all hour markers, hands and the luminous triangle on the bezel. CWC continues to follow MOD specs and has tritium paint on all hour markers, as well as the hour, minute and second hands, and a luminous dot on the bezel triangle.

Interestingly, the CWC lume can also be charged with light, and will glow brightly for several minutes following the charge. However, this is where the differences start. While the SAR's lume is quite brilliant after a charge, as time passes the glow dims until it is extinguished entirely. The CWC, however, will continue to glow faintly for several years without the need for further charging due to the properties of tritium present on the dial.

Pictures!....FINALLY!

And here they are. Your patience has been rewarded. Pictures!
Please note that I only have a rather cheap point-n-shoot, so the quality of these photos is not nearly up to par with most of you. However, I think they look okay, so here they are.

Enjoy







 

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Excellent comparo! Thanks!
 

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Thoughtful comparison.

Owning both watches myself, I find your take pretty much spot on.
 
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Both watches are issued to the members of the British Armed Forces and Canadian Forces respectively to their appropriate branches. In the case of the English, this particular watch is issued to members of the British Royal Navy (RN), while in the case of the Canadians, the SAR is issued to Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Technicians; SAR TECHs are generally Air Force, however members of the Army and/or Navy may be attached to this group as needed.
 

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Both watches are issued to the members of the British Armed Forces and Canadian Forces respectively to their appropriate branches. In the case of the English, this particular watch is issued to members of the British Royal Navy (RN)
Not quite. The current issue CWC diver is quartz. According to CWC the non-date mechanical was issue at one time - for about a year, when it bridged the gap between the Rolex and the CWC quartz:

http://www.armywatch.co.uk/watches.htm
 

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And there's more to the UK dive watch roster than Rolex and CWC: Precista and Omega come to mind ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not quite. The current issue CWC diver is quartz. According to CWC the non-date mechanical was issue at one time - for about a year, when it bridged the gap between the Rolex and the CWC quartz:

http://www.armywatch.co.uk/watches.htm

true enough. i had meant to phrase that so that it would be clearer that that particular style of watch was issued, not that the automatic version of the watch.
 
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