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Best 24 Hour Watches for the Vintage Lover
Some people nowadays are no longer familiar with 24 hour time, much less the existence of watches that feature it. Technology and the demand for convenience have made “military time” seem so intimidating to the general public that they don’t feel comfortable using it anymore. Despite this, it is a system that has been around for centuries and will likely stay for generations to come. Yes, watches that feature 24 hours are still a thing even until now. In fact, there are still many well-established brands that continue to manufacture great 24 hour watches. So, whether you’re a fan of military time or you just want to explore the best 24 hour watches available in the market, this article is just for you!
The Importance of Military Time
If it weren’t for the establishment of the 24 hour system, we wouldn’t have the 12-hour method we enjoy so much today. It is something that dates back to as early as the ancient Egyptian civilisation when they used the sky to aid in telling time. Furthermore, 24 hour watches and clocks are direct descendants of the sundial, which is an apparatus that used the sun’s position to know the time of day. However, as centuries passed, the 24 hour method started losing followers and eventually became more of a unique way of telling time.
24 Hour Watch vs 12 Hour Watch
There really isn’t much of a difference between the two besides the obvious. A watch with a 12-hour analogue is more commonly used by many today. It typically features twelve indexes or numerical figures to represent the AM/PM hours. It also usually has 12 o’clock at the top centre of the dial and 6 o’clock at the bottom. Most of the watches we see and own are probably ones that use this system. In addition, 12 hour watches appear to have a more decorated and customisable dial since it has less time markers around it.
A 24 hour watch, on the other hand, can be presented in many ways. It normally includes 24 indexes or numerical figures, from 1-24, for each hour of the day. The dial is often presented in two layouts either with the noon at the top and midnight at the bottom or vice versa. Nowadays, 24 hour watches are commonly used by those in the aviation industry, those in the military, and those who simply enjoy using this method. Using a 24 hour watch has its fair share of pros and cons, which we will tackle later on.
Best 24 Hour Watches to Consider
Although 24 hour watches aren’t as popular as 12-hour ones, many recognised brands offer a selection of timepieces using military time. We’ve listed down some of the best 24 hour watches you can get at different price points.
1. Glycine Airman Vintage “The Chief” (GL0246)
It would only be right to begin this list with a brand best known for their collections featuring 24 hour dials. Glycine has been in the watchmaking industry for over a century as it was founded in 1914. At present, it is recognised as a trailblazer for creating masterful timepieces catered to those involved in the aviation world and frequent travellers. The brand’s philosophy is centred on creating durable and reliable watches that are worth the price.
The Glycine Airman Vintage “The Chief” watch is a very straightforward timepiece that looks like it can withstand intense circumstances. The rugged exterior is emphasised by the 40mm grey-coated stainless steel case, a bezel in the same colour, and a black leather strap. The dial has a black matte finish and is protected by a domed plexi glass. Furthermore, it has white painted Arabic numerals and Super-LumiNova indexes with silver-coloured Super-Luminova hands. The two screw-in crowns at 6 and 8 o’clock also add a rather vintage feel to the entire piece.
For its technical specifications, it follows a GL293 Swiss automatic movement and has a power reserve of 42 hours. Its other functions include a date component at 6 o’clock, GMT 4 hands, and a bidirectional bezel. Lastly, this model has a water-resistance of 30m (1 ATM), meaning it can only endure splashes and is not suitable for water activities. If you’re looking for an unambiguous 24 hour watch with a vintage style then this piece should be on your options list.
2. Longines Heritage 24 Hours
Longines is a more familiar brand among the ones listed so far. It is known to be the oldest registered watch brand dating to as early as 1832, making it one of the most well-established watch manufacturers at present. A brand that has been around for that long is only expected to have an array of milestones throughout the years. However, a key accomplishment that fits with our theme is Longines becoming the official supplier of navigation instruments to the International Aeronautical Federation.
The Longines Heritage 24 Hours watch boasts a contemporary and innovative design. It seems quite intimidating at first glance because of the busy-looking dial, but it really has a modern vibe to it. The exterior includes a 47.5mm stainless steel case paired with a crocodile-patterned, black leather strap. The black dial displays numbers, indexes, and hands in silver and features a total of three dials and a date component at 12 o’clock.
The Heritage 24 Hours has a self-winding automatic movement that runs on the Longines Calibre L789. Lastly, it has a power reserve of a whopping 54 hours. This piece does an excellent job mixing complex features with a modern and simple overall design. Indeed, this is another 24 hour watch that you have to check out for yourself.
3. Hamilton Khaki Field Day-Date
Hamilton is an American watch brand best known for its military-themed collections. However, it is also a brand that has its fair share of contributions to the aviation industry, specifically the US Airmail service. At present, Hamilton is known as the Official Timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. This proves that until now, Hamilton is dedicated to creating innovative watches not just for the aviation industry, but also for the rest of the world.
Adventurous and creatively functional are the perfect words to describe the Hamilton Khaki Field Day-Date watch. A single look at this piece and you’ll immediately feel the fearless and straightforward vibe oozing out of it. It comes in a 44mm stainless steel case paired with a green textile strap. The dial is in grey and has white numbers, indexes, and hands. The watch also features a unique 24 hour analogue layout and a day-date function in the right-most corner.
The Khaki Field Day Date runs on an automatic Caliber H-30 movement, which gives it a top-tier power reserve of 80 hours. With a water-resistance of up to 100 meters, this piece is the perfect 24 hour watch for the adventurous at heart.
4. Raketa Polar 0270
Raketa is another brand with a rich and extensive history. A lot of people know them for being the manufacturer of the first watch to ever get to space. However, there is a lot more to them than just that great feat. Raketa is best known for its active participation in historic events, from producing precision components for the war to their involvement in different Soviet polar and space explorations. They are a brand that has proven their commitment to creating durable and high-quality pieces through decades of contribution to history.
The Raketa Polar 0270 is a limited-edition release in celebration of 50 years since it was first produced. It is an iconic model that made use of a 24 hour analogue to compensate for the consecutive periods of day/dark in Russia. It has a very striking design, particularly in the dial area. The Polar 0270 comes in a thin 35mm gold-plated stainless steel case with a black and red genuine leather strap. The dial comes in a grey colour with an outline of the world map and its two hemispheres in the centre. The display includes numbers, hands, and indexes all in black with Super-LumiNova on some of the dial markers.
The Polar 0270 runs on a 2623 calibre and has a power reserve of 42 hours. In addition, it also has a 24 hour manual winding function and a 2.5Hz frequency per hour. Overall, this is a true vintage 24 hour timepiece that was manufactured to handle the harshest situations, making it an excellent choice for those who value durability above all else.
5. Poljot International Polar Bear
Poljot is another Russian brand that has been in the market for over 90 years. It was originally known as the First State Watch Factory but was changed to Poljot, which means the flight, after Yuri Gagarin’s space mission. In the ’90s, Poljot International was founded to incorporate Russian traditions with modern-day watchmaking. While all Poljot International’s pieces are being manufactured in Germany, its Russian roots are still present in each model they release.
The Poljot International Polar Bear watch is a very exotic yet modest piece. Its appeal lies in the cohesiveness of the overall design, from the colour combination to the font used. The dial comes in an antique white colour with blue and red hands. It also features numbers and indexes in black, further enhanced by a vintage font. For the exterior, it has a 43mm stainless steel case and a black leather strap. Furthermore, among the different 24 hour watches mentioned thus far, this model is the first to feature a dial layout with noon at the top and midnight at the bottom.
For technical information, the Polar Bear watch is powered by a manual winding calibre 2423 movement, boasting a power reserve of 38 hours. If you’re looking for a mechanical 24 hour watch with an unconventional yet seemingly natural design, then don’t miss out on this masterpiece.
6. Glycine Airman 46 (GL0058)
The first-ever Glycine Airman line was released in 1953 and eventually became their most popular collection. The Glycine Airman series made world time easily accessible to people, making it a perfect watch for jet setters. Since then, Glycine has consistently evolved their Airman collection with only quality and innovations in mind.
This Glycine Airman 46 watch has a relatively different vibe in comparison to the Airman Vintage. It has a more gentle and modest look brought about by its colour combination. The 46mm stainless steel case and bezel paired with the brown calf leather strap add softness to the exterior of the watch. The silver-coloured dial, covered by a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, features black painted numerals and Super-LumiNova indexes. Like the previous Glycine model, it also has a bidirectional bezel with two crowns at 6 and 8 o’clock.
The Airman 46 is powered by a GL293 Swiss automatic movement with its signature decorated rotor and has a power reserve of 42 hours. It also features a date component at 6 o’clock, a GMT hand, and an additional timezone on the bezel. While it has a similar vintage feel to it, this model is a lot more subdued, making it a great 24 hour watch for those who prefer flexible pieces.
Last on our list is, of course, the King of Luxury Watches. Rolex was founded in 1905 by Hans Wildorf. What started as a simple vision of a wristwatch has become an array of masterful, luxury timepieces. In 1954, Rolex released a piece with a 24 hour rotating bezel called the GMT-Master. It was initially meant for pilots of Pan American World Airways, but it caught the attention of the public along the way.
This Rolex GMT-Master II watch is the perfect 24 hour watch for the true watch connoisseur. Everything about it screams luxury, from the bidirectional bezel to the Jubilee bracelet. It comes in an oyster steel case paired with a Jubilee bracelet. The black dial is decorated with dot hour markers while the ceramic bezel features the 24 hour markers in silver. It runs on an automatic movement, boasting a power reserve of 70 hours. While this piece has a very strong appeal to it, it is also versatile enough to be worn on any occasion.
Pros and Cons of a 24 Hour Watch
After getting to know some of the brands that offer great 24 hour watches, let’s look at the different pros and cons that come with owning a 24 hour watch.
- A 24 hour watch is straightforward. What you see is what you get. You don’t have to worry about the discrepancies that happen with AM and PM. This makes it a more efficient method of telling time, which can also increase productivity in the long run.
- In some countries where the weather can be extreme, like Alaska or Russia, using a 24 hour watch is the best option because it can get difficult to tell the time when your surroundings don’t change. These watches are very convenient for people who live in places where this happens.
- It looks very professional. Since 24 hour watches are often associated with people in specific industries, it definitely gives off a vibe that makes you seem polished and adept.
- They are unique and not a lot of people are even aware of the existence of 24 hour watches. This is a good thing if you’re the type of person who wants to feel different and distinct from everyone else.
- It would take time for you to adjust. If you’re used to the 12-hour system, switching to military time will definitely take some getting used to. It won’t be easy especially if your brain has been conditioned to understand the 12-hour system since you were young. Furthermore, when you do get used to it, other people may not understand when you start using the 24 hour method in your daily life.
- Again, if you’re not used to the 24 hour system, it may take you longer to read the time compared to normal. You’ll have to think for a while, process it, and even count at some point before you get the time right.
Now that you know a little more about 24 hour watches, their history, and some of the brands that offer great pieces, hopefully, it’ll be easier for you to discern whether making the switch to a 24 hour watch is worth it. Indeed, 24 hour watches have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. What makes these timepieces so great is that they are the predecessors of what we use today. A watch that has such a deep origin and rich heritage is always worth knowing.
If you’ve noticed, most of the watches featured in this article have histories related to great professions like pilots and explorers. This further proves how accurate and reliable 24 hour watches are. If you’re one who prefers dependable, precise, durable, and unique timepieces, then definitely consider getting a 24 hour watch. You don’t have to be someone in the aviation industry or the academe to be able to enjoy a 24 hour watch.
If you want to know more about Longines watches, check out this feature on the Longines Heritage collection.
Photo credits: Featured photo courtesy of Glycine