When we think of military watches used in Vietnam, we think of the Seiko 6105-8110 Captain Willard, Bulova MIL-W-3818A or the Glycine Airman Special. But also Enicar watches found their way on the wrists of US soldiers through the PX stores (basically a shop for military personal only) and British forces.
During the last year I was messaged by three guys, all involved as soldiers in Asian conflicts of the 1960s/70s. What they had in common was their watch of choice: The Enicar Jet Graph in its earliest and rarest execution (MK1a).
The Jet Graph appeared on the market in 1963/64. The First execution MK1a was different to the later executions by the reference number (072/002) and the unique dials. All dials had an applied logo (later executions had a painted logo) and came in dark grey, metallic blue and white (never seen, but it was listed as available in the catalogs). The Jet Graph was the first GMT chronograph that used the Valjoux 724, years before the Heuer 2446 GMT for example.
Enicar ads tells us, that these watches were used by known airlines like SAS, Swissair and Japan Airlines.
But lets come back to the owners of these watches. First is CPT Kenneth G. , a pilot of all different kinds of American Helicopters. On his first one and a half year tour from 1969-1970 he flew the UH-1 “Huey” and the AH-1G “Cobra” attack helicopter. He was assigned in the extreme south end of Vietnam and basically worked south of the Mekong Delta. In Vinh Long and Can Tho he flew mostly at night along the Cambodian / Vietnam border.
His second tour was also 1 1/2 years in 1971 – 1972. That tour he was in extreme Northern Vietnam ( Da Nang). This time he flew the CH-47 “Chinook” and OH-58 “Kiowa”. He and his comrades carried troops and artillery pieces and set them on top of the mountains. They also supplied food, water, medical supplies and fuel for the generators. They would also pick up downed aircraft and return them to base for repairs and rebuild. On Tuesdays he flew a single pilot and photographer North from Da Nang to the DMZ taking pictures of all the bridges along the way. Those missions were probably the most tense in his second tour as you were out there alone and up to 150 miles away from friendly forces. Always worried about a mechanical failure or getting shot down by the Viet Cong. Kenneth told me they generally went straight to the Officers Club at the end of each of those missions for a couple of good stiff drinks 😉 .
Kenneth bought the watch in the late sixties and was wearing it at both tours. You may recognize the green dot in the middle of the crystal.
It goes back 50 years to his first tour in Vietnam. Army Aviation came up with a safety campaign and it all centered around “take a minute”. They published various aviation safety posters and they all had the image of a clock with a green dot in the middle of the face. The idea was when you see the green dot on your watch you should take a minute and think about being safe. It worked and he never pulled the sticker of his watch.
The story behind the next Jet Graph MK1a is not less interesting. The owner is Neville C., a former soldier of the British forces. He had to serve in Malaysia during the Malaya Emergency in 1969. In October ’69 he bought his Jet Graph, a very nice execution with a blue dial.
A few years ago I thought these were all hidden service dials, until I saw a page in Europa Star issue #28 of 1964 which proved they are correct (see above).
Neville not just was an soldier, but also an adventurer. Together with some comrades they planned to come back to the UK via car. They took their Army Land Rovers and drove all the way (11.000 km !) home. The stories of this journey are worth to told alone one day. The Jet Graph was on his wrist all the time and did a great job.
The last Jet Graph of this trio is a grey one again. Bought in September 1967 in Laos, this was the watch of an former Air America pilot. Air America wasn’t the usual airline you might expect. Air America was owned by the American CIA and used for covered operations in South-East Asia. They supported the local troops with food, weapons and took care of refugees.
It’s not suprising to see that the Jet Graph was used by pilots But its interesting to see that almost a handful of just a few known Jet Graph MK1a watches served in the military and where sold more or less at the battlefield.
If you also have an interesting story to tell, let me know.