Hands-On: The Timor Heritage Field ATP — A One-And-Done Watch With Military Ties
The history of the sports watch is closely connected to the development of the military wristwatch. Prior to World War I, women wore wristwatches, or “wristlets,” and men used pocket watches. In the midst of battle, however, a watch in your pocket was not very practical. In order to create durable watches for officers and soldiers to wear on the wrist, one of the solutions was to make extra-sturdy cases for existing pocket watch movements. The new Timor Heritage Field ATP is a watch that is linked to those early beginnings of military wristwatches — watches that are still very relevant today.
World War I was the first modern war. The telephone and Signal Service were used to communicate. In order to coordinate attacks, men in the field had to know what time it was, and quickly. That made the wearing of watches by soldiers obligatory. No longer hidden in the pocket, but worn on the wrist, these watches instantly displayed the time. They kept a soldier’s hands free to operate his rifle, fix his bayonet, and climb out of the trench. The watches had to deal with the very hostile environments of these muddy, wet trenches. Shocks due to knocks against obstacles in the trenches and underground living quarters were the least of their problems. The recoil of rifles and the threats of the battlefield were exponentially greater threats to both the watch’s and its wearer’s well-being.
Timor Heritage Field ATP — from the field to the court
To withstand the apocalyptic circumstances in the fields of war, many of the hastily developed field or trench watches were outfitted with leather straps, silver or brass cases, and unbreakable crystals. Luminous material on the dial and hands allowed soldiers to read the time in the dark or when covered in smoke. After WWI, the battle-proven wristwatch was seen (and marketed) as the epitome of masculinity. There was nothing more macho than wearing a wristwatch. The war saw many manufacturers building field watches, and after peace was restored, there were still plenty of them to go around. That is when brands started marketing rugged field watches as ideal watches for sport. From the fields of France to the courts of Wimbledon, so to speak.
The original Army Trade Pattern watches
Another important moment in the development of military watches came after WWI when the British War Office decided to develop the first general-purpose wristwatch for the Army. These standardized watches would replace the various pocket watches and different trench watches that most soldiers used. The new Timor Heritage Field ATP is based on the original Army Trade Pattern watches that were first issued to soldiers in 1938.
The first ATP watches were issued in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II.
Since timekeeping proved of vital importance during wartime maneuvers, the British War Office commissioned the best watch companies of the day to manufacture these sturdy watches under the Army Trade Pattern. The first ATP watches were issued in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II. Only six years later, ATP watches were replaced by “Wrist, Watch, Waterproof” timepieces. These now-famous “W.W.W.” watches are also known as the “Dirty Dozen.”
The rebirth of the Timor Watch Company and the ATP
The “Dirty Dozen” — which now has an almost mythical ring to it — took over, but the ATP wasn’t discarded instantly. On the contrary, the ATP, of which a total of just over 133,000 watches were produced by 16 different Swiss watch manufacturers, remained in service until 1957. The Timor Watch Company was one of the companies that built both the ATP and the “W.W.W.” watches. Last year, we covered the rebirth of Timor and the launch of its Heritage Field, a modern interpretation of a “Dirty Dozen” watch. And now it’s time for a contemporary take on the ATP in the shape of the Heritage Field ATP. This year’s batch is available in two versions. There’s a convenient automatic version and a hand-wound version for the purists among us. Both are limited to just 50 pieces, and the watch that made its way to Fratello HQ was the purists’ hand-winder.
36.5mm doesn’t need to be “too small” at all
The first thing I noticed when putting the Timor Heritage Field ATP on the wrist was the size. It’s way bigger than the original 30-32mm ATPs, of course. But while you would think the new watch measures 38mm, you’re in for a surprise. The 2021 Heritage Field ATP measures “just” 36.5mm. That’s a size that sounds too small for most, but it isn’t. That’s because of the combination of a lug-to-lug length of 45.5mm, a height of 11mm, and the fact that the 18mm strap — in top-grain leather with a lovely shade of light brown — is mounted very low between the lugs. Because of that low position, you see a lot of the case, which gives it more wrist presence. In other words, the Heritage Field ATP wears very comfortably like a 38mm watch. If you know that size is not right for you, you can stop reading here.
A cautious design experiment
For those who are still with me, it might be good to know that the finishing of the finely brushed steel case is sublime. And so is the creamy white dial. I’m not a fan of fauxtina at all, but the beige dots and hands work well here; any other color Super-LumiNova would even look misplaced. Both the minute track with luminous dots and the word “waterproof” above the small seconds register are elements taken from the original.
Don’t expect wild design experiments — you didn’t, right? The bigger size is the most adventurous aspect, and even that experiment is done with great caution. It’s like an old ATP right out of the box, just one that is slightly bigger than its siblings. And with a weight of 94g, it’s a bit heavier too.
Inside the finely brushed, 316L stainless steel, 50m water-resistant case beats either an automatic Sellita SW260 movement or the hand-wound caliber SW216. They’re nothing special, but they’re reliable and competent, and sometimes that’s all you need. Especially in a no-nonsense field watch. As you would expect, there’s no open case back to admire the movement because there’s nothing to admire — and because it would not be historically correct, of course.
Timor Heritage Field ATP: the watch, the box, and a coin
It’s time to reveal the price of the Timor Heritage Field ATP. The watch is on the brand’s website for €1,112.95 for both versions. That price doesn’t include local taxes or duties. For The Netherlands, the final price will be something a little over €1,300. It’s a price that includes a box, a certificate of authenticity, plus a documentation booklet, and a commemorative coin. Is that enough to justify the price? I don’t know because I didn’t see any of these items. But that doesn’t really matter, if you ask me, because you don’t wear the box and papers when you’re out and about. You can put the coin in your pocket, but why you would want to is not really clear to me.
The Heritage Field ATP sits somewhere in between
For me, it’s all about the watch. Of course, I would have loved to see the price stay below the €1K mark for psychological reasons. But keep in mind that comparable (but by all means, not exactly the same) kinds of watches in the Longines Heritage Military collection are priced at least €500 higher. A Hamilton military-style watch like the charismatic Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze, on the other hand, has a very attractive price of €745.
If you’re a one-watch guy or girl without a watch, this could be the one watch for you.
The Timor Heritage Field ATP sits somewhere in between. And when you take the watch’s quality, finishing, and careful design into consideration, it makes sense. Also, the fact that the Timor Watch Company was one of 16 original ATP producers is worth something. Maybe that something is a bit intangible, but having the name “Timor” on the dial of an ATP watch also counts for something. And if that doesn’t resonate with you, this soft-spoken little critter is a do-it-all type of watch. If you’re a one-watch guy or girl without a watch, this could be the one watch for you.
If this article sparked your interest in a Timor Heritage Field ATP, check it out on the Timor Watch Company website.
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