It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself to gush over a CWC watch. Lately, this got me thinking about a piece that came into (and left) my collection more than once. It’s the CWC Mellor 72—one of the brand’s purest iterations of a straightforward mil-spec watch. I’ve had experience with many of their divers in the past. But for some reason, every time this one leaves the collection, I’ve found myself feeling the need to hunt it back down again. What’s so special about it? It’s just a boring three-hander, right?
As someone who has typically always focused on chunky divers and chronographs, I’m often saddened to realize I’ve never really nailed down the perfect “smaller watch.” That goes for what we call field watches or even a more basic pilot’s watch like this CWC Mellor 72. Well, I guess the proper name for it is a “General Service” watch, since original examples that inspired CWC to release this model were stamped W10 (British Army), 6BB (Royal Air Force), and 0552 (Royal Navy). Like other CWC watches the model followed strict military specifications and as usual, CWC Addict goes deep into some of the history here.
I’ll spare you the rest of the history lesson, since I’d consider CWC Addict to be the authority in that space. But getting this Mellor 72 in as my fourth CWC, the first thing I noticed is how balanced the watch is from a sizing standpoint. I think many would immediately question the 35mm case size. In reality, it looks more like a 38mm watch with the crown. The lug to lug length is 42mm and the watch is just 11mm thick even if you include the crystal and the slightly protruding caseback. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of a handwound movement. Overall though, this didn’t feel like a watch that was too small. Maybe it has something to do with the visual heft of a tonneau-shaped shaped case, or the fact that I worse it on a NATO-style strap. Whatever it is, don’t knock it until you try it.
Simplicity is really the core feature of this watch and this goes for the case finishing as well. It really is just a chunk of brushed stainless steel, water-resistant to 50m, and with fixed spring bars at the 18.5mm lugs. While that may be a deal-breaker for some, I almost enjoy the limitation and added durability. No detachable springbars means that you won’t have to worry about one popping off. And again, CWC is really following specifications the same way they did in the early-70s … just like Hamilton did before them, and Smiths before them. The crown here is also the push-pull kind but I still think the water resistance is ample for this kind of watch.
Aside from something like the limited edition 1980 Royal Navy Diver reissue, this may be my favorite dial on any CWC watch. The Arabic numerals are large and high-contrast against the deep-black dial finish. On top of that, the hands are just the perfect length all around with the minute hand extending deep into the railroad seconds track along the edges. CWC also went with their old-school font up top at 12 o’clock with the broad arrow a 6 o’clock. A treat for the vintage fans is the coveted circle-T indication just below the brand name. Just know that this is merely a visual callback to the originals that used luminous tritium on the dials. This reissued CWC Mellor 72 uses modern Super–LumiNova for its lume. As if this watch wasn’t vintage-y enough, the crystal is also Hesalite—so keep that Polywatch handy.
Behind the stark case back is a Sellita SW210 hand-wound movement. During my time with the watch, the movement was reliable and easy-running—no gritty hand-winding or anything. I think it’s a fine choice for the movement considering the originals were powered by a similar ETA movement. Power reserve is supposed to be around 40 hours and this is definitely the kind of watch you’d want to wind every day. Just thinking of it as a nice tradition between you and the watch. Because of the snap-down case back, servicing should be way easier compared to the originals, which had a solid one-piece case that allowed you to access the movement only from the top of the watch.
CWC Mellor 72 Specs
- Case Diameter: 35mm
- Case Thickness: 11mm
- Lug-to-Lug: 42mm
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Water Resistance: 50m
- Movement: Sellita SW210 hand-wound movement
- Crystal: Hesalite
- Strap: 18mm CWC issue grey military strap
- Lug Width: 18.5mm
- Price: £457.50
I have to admit that I’ve always enjoyed CWC’s vintage-correct reissues. Like a lot of the Doxas I love, the brand seems to know what they have and are careful to respect the original designs that were dictated by military specifications. To me, this little CWC Mellor 72 is one-to-one recreation, something that I think even the most hardcore vintage military watch collectors can enjoy. I find it to have a little more personality than something like the Hamilton Khaki Field at a price that’s not too far off.
Speaking of price, conversion would put this watch at just under $600 USD today. I’ve complained about some of CWC’s pricing on their quartz divers in the past but this is honestly not bad if you ask me. All said, it’s an easy way to take the plunge into a cool British military brand with a piece that has vintage-correct looks and none of the hassle you’d run into with originals. You can learn more about this CWC Mellor 72 on the brand’s official site.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.