CWC Mellor-72 Mechanical Is A Treat For Military Watch Fans

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CWC Mellor-72 Mechanical Is A Treat For Military Watch Fans Right out the box, this baby made me sing by Rob NuddsFebruary 22, 2020 MIN READCWC Mellor-72 Mechanical Is A Treat For Military Watch Fans

I am an absolute sucker for military-inspired timepieces — I don’t know why. I care very little about tanks, guns, or trenches, but I love the watches that call that environment home. This CWC Mellor-72 has never seen a battlefield, but it spent a week on my wrist and certainly left it victorious.

Don’t get me wrong: This watch is not perfect. There are a few simple fixes that could make this, in my opinion, just about as flawless an effort as one could hope to find at under £500. I’m not going to ignore those flaws. I’m going to dissect every little detail. Why? Because when it comes to heritage-inspired pieces of this nature, details really matter.


A shade for all seasons

The nylon NATO strap on this watch should be unremarkable. It just should be. Given the retail cost and the fact there is a mechanical movement ticking away inside this thing, there isn’t much scope to get creative with the strap. And although CWC has not moved mountains with the design or hardware, the toughness, the quality, and, most crucially, the color of this material is really top drawer. It would be interesting to wear this watch for several months and see how it fared in all climates, but I must say it looks fantastic. The gray/green sheen of this strap is a shade for all seasons. It matches nothing and everything. It is comfortable and rugged, and long enough to fit an elephant.


In fact, as a pretty small wristed guy (16.5cm), this is a potential drawback. I don’t mind folding my NATOs over so it doesn’t bother me personally, but if I were planning on wearing this every day for the foreseeable future, I probably would look to sub it out for a shorter strap.

This watch wears small. Really small.

And while the length should maybe be presented as a plus point (as it means bigger wristed men or women can wear it straight out of the box too) it seems unlikely to me that we’re going to see that many 20cm+ wrist warriors rocking this teensy, weensy case (it measures around 35mm along its horizontal axis and about 33mm between the lugs). Because here’s the thing: This watch wears small. Really small.

That has a lot to do with the tiny dial aperture (30mm), but the shape of the case doesn’t inflate its visual presence at all. It’s not a criticism (I like it that way), but it is an observation of which potential buyers should take note. Oh, and also be aware of the fact the website lists the diameter as 38mm including the crown. That measurement is on the money but make sure you don’t ignore the, “including the crown,” bit… That’s kind of important.


A true delight

Talking about that dial… Millimeter for millimeter, this is one of the most striking dials I’ve seen. And it is so painfully simple it shouldn’t be allowed. CWC has just lifted a design right out of the history books and brought it to life with modern manufacturing standards. The result? A true delight. It is era-appropriate and reverentially restrained.

Now, as anyone — literally anyone as I don’t ever shut up about it — who knows me will know, I like “fauxtina” lume. That’s a slightly derogatory term for the color beige. It’s the color tritium lume turns over time after exposure to sunlight and God knows what else. I’ll defend the color beige and its right to be used on the dial of a new watch until my dying day.

But on the CWC Mellor-72, as I’m sure the “no-faux” crowd will be pleased to see, it has not been used. That, in my honest opinion, is the one drawback of this modern reinterpretation. And it is only a small, personal gripe that the brand can easily justify — the original watches used this greenish hue of lume, and so it makes sense the reissues do the same. It wouldn’t put me off buying one of these models, but it would encourage me to go on the hunt for an original as well…


The case back

Talking of the originals, it is nice to see their influence still being felt in often-neglected areas like the case back. The engraving here is, again, period-appropriate. On the back, you will find the NATO number, the classic British military broad arrow, and a serial number styled ###/20. What’s really cool about this unlimited edition, is that you can request your serial number. Just drop the people at Cabot Watch Company a line and see what they can do for you. It’s particularly cool if you’re buying this for a loved one’s birthday, or if you (or they) have a lucky number.


A surprisingly satisfying movement

Behind the closed case back is the hand-wound mechanical caliber SW210 by Sellita. It has a hacking function (which is very useful for military watches that need to be synchronized to the second) and a modern operating frequency of 28,800vph. The original version of this watch was powered by the Swiss ETA 2750, which had a slower, more typical-of-the-time 21,600vph. But I must say the increased frequency is something I’m happy about. I mean, why not? The power reserve is still over 40 hours, and I kind of like winding my watch daily.

One of the nicest, most satisfying winding actions I’ve experienced.

And with the SW210 that’s a real treat. I’m not sure how, after almost two decades in the industry, I’ve managed to come into contact with the SW210 just one or two times before, but I’ve never spent so much time with a watch driven by it on my wrist. I can say this: It has one of the nicest, most satisfying winding actions I’ve experienced. I hate weak, low-engagement, feathery winding works. Slimline movements normally annoy me for this reason. I prefer the ridiculously industrial clunkiness of an ETA 6497/8 over that kind of breezy nonsense, but even I have to admit that’s a little bit too far in the other direction. The SW210 is a great balance. You know you’re winding it, but it doesn’t ask too much of you. I would heartily recommend giving it a try.


A perfect homage

The domed hesalite crystal of the CWC Mellor-72 does not boast the scratch-resistant, anti-reflective properties of modern sapphire lenses. But who cares? This material casts a warm light on any dial it protects. Here, on the CWC Mellor-72, it is no different. I actually took pains to get a few reflections and distortions into the pictures in the gallery below so you can see the watch’s true character on the wrist. Does that high-sided dome make for the most legible watch in the world? Not from all angles, no. But the truth is none of that matters. You’re unlikely to charge into battle with this thing on your wrist in 2020, so it is a perfect homage to those who did all those decades ago.


Final thoughts

A sufficient 50-meter water-resistance should keep this one safe on your wrist while you go about daily tasks. But please try to chill out on the hot-tubbing if possible. The fixed strap bars of the CWC Mellor-72 make wearing this with anything but a NATO or a Zulu difficult. Luckily, there are loads of cool straps that would look great with such a neutral body and dial. Why not experiment?


Now, I promised I would be critical. There is one detail of this watch I do not like. If you look on the side of the lugs, the hole that has presumably been drilled from the outside to fit the fixed strap bar has been quite poorly filled-in. I know the CWC Mellor-72 is supposed to be a true recreation, but heck, wouldn’t it be easier (and a significant upgrade) to just drill those lugs through, leave the hole exposed, and fit these beauties with a standard spring bar? Maybe hop on board the current trend of quick-change spring bars to boot? If I had two minutes at the drawing board at CWC HQ that is first (and possibly only) thing I’d change. It’s a small detail like I said, but it’s one that, in my opinion, needs addressing.


The company was founded in 1972 to exclusively provide watches to the military. It draws on that impressive experience to offer a reassuring three-year warranty on all new watches. For a £449 retail price, that’s a lot of peace of mind. I think the pricing here is just about perfect, as it places it squarely in competition with the very-similar Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer from roughly the same time period, but noticeably undercuts it. It may be a simple affair, but what you get is well made. It is a faithful recreation and fitted with good quality components (especially the movement and the 18.5mm-wide NATO). Learn more about the company and its other products here.

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About the author

Rob Nudds

Rob’s first exposure to the watch industry was a part-time retail role for the Signet Group at the age of 17. An obsession with watches soon developed. Following an ill-advised BSc in Archaeological Science, he applied for sponsorship to undertake… read more

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