Ross Talks

Thrill of The Chase: Four Canadian MilSubs

The existence of the Hybrid Tudor Sub first emerged with watches issued by the Canadian Navy. Today we open the lid on an incredible quartet of Hybrid MilSubs...

There is something about researching military of issued watches, especially when you begin to see patterns emerge. To some collectors, this aspect is more enjoyable than the actual acquiring of said timepieces. I have personally experienced this when undertaking my research into the watches issued by the South African Navy. Discovering serial number batches, looking into a watch’s back story and making contact with ex-navy divers is what drives the research. And when you can finally hear these guys recount stories of their adventures wearing the watches and help you confirm some of your theories; it’s what puts the ‘thrill’ in the chase!

MilSubs on Parade

Today we are talking to a Canadian watch collector, MD, who has dedicated the past decade to tracking down Tudor Submariners that were issued by the Canadian Navy. If you’re a Canada-based Tudor Collector, what better focus to have than Canadian MilSubs? And his criteria is simple – the watches must be acquired from serving or ex-serving Navy Divers who can provide high-quality provenance and confirm the origin of the watch. And if additional documentation and paraphernalia can also come as part of the package – all the better!

All About The Chase

So, how did MD became interested in these watches. “I have a number of friends who deal in antiques and occasionally watches. They all know what I love and if something comes along that they think might be of interest, they kindly put me in touch with the sellers. In almost all cases, this tends to the original owner or one of their family members – most often sons! I’m very lucky as my dealer friends have always done a fantastic job in pre-screening the watches and ensuring that they come with solid provenance. Once the handover takes place, I normally complete their research during the sale process.”

Checking the DNA of the watch...and the owner sometimes! Time for a bath...

So typically how does MD undertake his due-diligence and verification? ” Well, its generally lengthy exchanges with the sellers, preceding the final purchase stage. Verification of provenance is always paramount, and you know how that goes –  this process can take weeks!” And in a nutshell this is the Thrill of The Chase. MD continues, “The joy in building the puzzle piece by piece is what really drives me. Sometimes though it ends with disappointment – but not every story can have a happy ending.”

Digging Deeper

As a fastidious collector, for MD an engraving on the caseback or a serial range isn’t always enough to confirm the military character of his watches. He likes to go the extra mile: “I will always try to confirm independently the information that was shared with me by the owner or his family through literature research online, phone calls and emails to former colleagues or watchmakers. Overall, it is the total package of information and credibility of the story and sellers that determine if the purchase goes forward for me.”

Going deep to check the details...

For our collector, the real excitement kicks in when the watch is in his hand. He’s a cool customer…until the package arrives! “To be honest, I’m not normally overly excited when waiting for the watch to arrive. It really kicks in though when I receive them. I am even more excited now that I have been able to keep them for all these years!”

The Canadian Quartet

Today MD is sharing four watches from his collection. All of which have serious provenance.  “These Canadian military submariner watches all have a common theme. They have the typical plot and triangle markers dial but with snowflake hands. This is one of the most distinctive signatures of the Canadian Milsub.”

A 7016 small rose dial from 1968

Photo MD

A 94010 from 1976 with cool ghost bezel

Photo MD

A 94010 black bezel from 1977 with white tritium

Photo MD

A 94010 black bezel from 1977 with great patina

Photo MD

And the research uncovered some fascinating information. “I was able to talk directly to the original owners or their family members. Three watches were used by divers (2nd petty chief officer, clearance divers) and one came from an officer from the Royal Canadian Airforce. Apparently, these officers had the opportunity to chose between a single pusher chronograph, mostly Breitling, Rodania or Omega, and a Tudor Submariner.”

“All of my purchases were accompanied with letters of provenances, receipts of service (with the name of original owner or family member), testimonies from friends or colleagues in the military, and certificate of military exit.” And that’s what collectors love – all the goodies that go with a watch.

A selection of some of the documents that have accompanied MD's finds

The full arm load!

Collecting Cool

“What I really love about these watches is the uniqueness of the history behind each piece and the character that each of them possesses. None of them are perfect but they are all meaningful. Also, the configuration of the dial and hands is the ancestor of the current Black Bay.” The Hybrid Submariner is indeed the original DNA of the current Tudor Heritage watch, the Black Bay.

“These 4 watches are low-key watches perfect on a NATO or perlon stap. I never have to worry when I wear them. I guess you could call them the perfect daily beaters with character!”

The Hybrid Sub's DNA is alive in the Heritage Black Bay

Photo B Bulang

The 'ghost bezel' Canadian Hybrid MilSub

Photo MD

Shield dial Hybrids all issued to Canadian military personnel


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