An Unusual Marathon Navigator's Wristwatch
May 1997 Contract. Day/date window at 3! Small quartz movement.
This is the same day/date Marathon Navigator watch as is featured on 'Ned' Fredericks'
The previous owner said "The provenance to the best of my knowledge, as I recall from 7-8 years ago: I got it on Ebay from a Korean guy who claimed he got it from a US airman stationed at a US airbase in Korea who claimed he could get more like this one."
Apart from the day/date window, it looks like a normal production watch that has seen some use. Was this watch modified by Marathon before delivery to the USAF?
Markings are per the requirements of MIL–W–46374F. The contract number appears normal with no additional digits to imply a special order.
A scribbled date inside is written in the format yy-mm-dd. The signature looks more Asian than Western.
A 6-3/4x8 ligne Miyota movement is held in place with plastic movement ring which has been cut manually to fit both the case and the movement. Not clearly visible but the back of the dial has been abraded, perhaps to facilitate the use of adhesive to hold the dial onto the movement (dial to movement fixing method has not yet been verified).
The stem is blued, indicating the use of a grinding tool with excessive pressure, when shortening the stem.
The horizontal cuts are straight, indicating the use of a guide. Not so the verticals, which are clearly cut by hand and badly done at that. Shavings are visible, left in place on the bottom horizontal. The border looks hand-painted, judging by the uneven width and thickness of the lines. There is a distinct difference in color and texture between the horizontal and vertical border lines' paint.
The border was applied after the dials' screen print. The left border line has been partially removed by the left cut.
The right border is slightly curved, which is a further indication of hand-painting. The tritium vial carrier appears to sit over the border line. It is difficult to guess why that should be and hard to imagine that someone might have removed the carrier just to paint the line.
This angled view confirms that the line runs under the vial carrier. Inside the circle, it seems that the right border line might have been in the form of a right square bracket. If so, why?
Look again at the first picture and notice that the case is symmetrical, unlike the standard shape. Here's where you can see the file marks where material was removed from the crown side of the standard case to make it symmetrical.
At some point, the tritium vial was lost from the rotating bezel. It has been replaced with some Luminova-type paint, quite poorly applied. This repair must have been done after the watch was issued and the quality of the work does appear consistent with that of the foregoing modifications.
There is very little evidence above to support the possibility that the work was done at Marathon's works. Rather, the quality of the work suggests otherwise. My conclusion is that Marathon or their assigns did not do the work. It was most likely done by a person or persons unknown, on- or off-base in Korea, after having been issued to a U.S. Air Force Serviceman.
Thanks for looking,