Three Letters Re: Self Winding Watches–Reviews and Sources:

Self-winding watches–I had one of the Russian self winders and it was built like a T-34 tank. You really can’t go wrong with one. Higher-end watches, like Seiko, etc. are available from places like Sportsman’s Guide,, and E-Bay. Regards, – “Doug Carlton”

Another reader, Jeff, writes:
These things are built like a tank. You can find models from $79 to about $250. Here is a typical model. Excellent in every way and new production. Something to consider. – Jeff

The blog is great! and your book was a valuable purchase many years ago. I am a watch collector and seller, for many years, and have owned & used …a BUNCH!
In evaluating a long-term need, and factoring in some use in rugged circumstances, I would highly recommend a better quality timepiece. The brands you mentioned, were made cheaply and sold cheaply. They have little water resistance, cheap plastic crystals, and mechanisms not made for sustained abuse – such as exposure to elements, or certainly not a combat environment. There are some excellent alternatives, at a reasonable cost. A Swiss made movement is highly recommended, in a stainless steel case, with a sapphire crystal, and screwdown crown. Examples of personal recommendation for a “best value” would be (see these current eBay auctions) :

I have bought items from Howard and he is a class act, though several other sources are available.

Tritium hands and markers, sapphire crystal and a robust waterproof case down to 330 feet or more, all for in the $300-400 range. Readers might also consider other excellent Swiss brands such as Sandoz, Eterna, Nivada, Aquastar, Enicar, Vulcain and more, are reasonable and have most of the characteristics available for long-term rugged use. I would recommend “diver” style cases, with superior water resistance and sapphire or mineral glass crystals and tritium or super luminova.

Don’t buy….repeat do NOT buy Quartz watches…most watches require specific tools to open properly and replace a battery…a quartz is not a serious survival watch, any where, any time. Don’t be tempted by the ridiculously over-priced “special forces, commando, seal etc” junk asian watches!

Also consider a manual wind watch with some/all of the characteristics – a la a bolt action versus automatic rifles, a manual wind watch has less to go wrong. Again, Swiss only. For those who can upgrade, an Omega is probably, dollar-for-dollar, a best buy. I have owned many Rolexes, and they are great, but aren’t any tougher, or work much better than a Ollech & Wajs (O&W), as above. Rolex movements are all “chronometers”, meaning they have to be tested to run +- 2 seconds a day. The others mentioned will run +-20 seconds a day, often better. Rolex and other upscale brands, have all their movements “super tuned” and the costs reflect that.

To service every few years, an O&W, Vulcain etc would be @ $50. A full Rolex service is @$200. I wouldn’t spend a penny on the cheap Russian watches. As important as time keeping & awareness is and certainly will be in bad times, this is not an area I would trust to a brass plated case with poor water resistance, and questionable time-keeping expectations.

My personal out-the-door-with-hellhounds-on-my-trail watch, is a Swiss manual wind dive alarm, good to 1000 feet water depth, sapphire crystal, and heavy steel band. The alarm can be a valuable feature when under stress, and able to only grab bits of sleep, and other circumstances. – “Wound up in Texas”