Stocker & Yale
U.S. Army-Issue Watch
Model SANDY 184A
Posted by Kent on June 03, 1998 at 11:10:24
I realize that a review of a watch of this caliber is somewhat out of place amongst the high-grade timepieces traditionally discussed here on TimeZone. However, I'm one of the folks who just purchased an Invicta Sub…so as you can imagine, I'm no watch snob. ;-)
I do, however, love mechanical watches, and when I set out to replace my aging L.L. Bean field watch (which had finally succumbed to moisture damage after many years of faithful service), I was determined to avoid the plethora of quartz military watch "pretenders" that you typically find for sale at the lower end of the price spectrum. While I acknowledge that there are many fine watches available with military styling (including the IWC MkXII, Orfina Military MkII, and even the Hamilton "Khaki" line), I wanted a "genuine" military-issue watch…but I didn't want to spend a lot of money. After all, this watch would be subjected to all the abuses one can imagine would take place while fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, etc., so I didn't want anything I would feel too badly about accidentally losing or demolishing. At any rate, the watches manufactured by Stocker & Yale and issued to the U.S. Army seemed to fit the bill. Although Stocker & Yale offers a variety of different models (quartz, mechanical, date, tritium vials, etc.), model 184A best fit my criteria: cheap and mechanical.
I ordered the watch via the Internet from U.S. Wings, Inc. in Stow, Ohio, where it is available for US$47.50 plus shipping. It was delivered promptly, and arrived in a dark green chipboard box with gold-foil lettering proclaiming: "Authentic U.S. Army Watch, Stocker & Yale, Inc., Salem, NH 03079 USA." It further noted that the watch "meets military specification MIL-W-46374F," whatever that means. It probably means that the
government is paying ten times what I did for the watch (just kidding!) ;-)
The packaging befits the watch's no-nonsense mission. Inside the box, it was
unceremoniously held to a yellow cardboard insert by an elastic band. A cardboard insert listed the features of the watch, including "shockproof and water-resistant to 100ft. "That's roughly 30 meters. Using the rule of thumb that a watch's "real" water-resistance is about 1/3 of its static rating, I'd estimate that you could probably safely rinse this watch off under the tap, and that it would probably survive rain, splashing, and the occasional
inadvertent dunk in a shallow stream. Beyond that, you're probably pushing it.
The watch itself is the epitome of utilitarianism; most people would even call it ugly. It looks like something Swatch would design if it had to convert its factories to war production. The case itself is made of olive-green plastic (although Stocker & Yale refers to it as a "nylon alloy"...that's marketing for ya!), and is apparently assembled in two pieces that are ultrasonically "welded" together. It's important to note that, like the Swatch, this is essentially a disposable watch. There's no way to open the case to service the movement. At this price point, I don't see that as a problem, as you could easily replace the watch for what it would cost to service it. The dial is black, with military-style numbers, including a 24-hour scale. There are small inward-facing arrows next to each hour marker that are dotted with a bit of tritium paint, as are the minute and hour hands. Interestingly, the second hand has no illumination whatsoever. The illumination afforded by the tritium paint, while quite adequate, is far less bright than that obtained with the tritium vials, which are available as an option for a bit more money. The dial is otherwise unadorned, except for "H3" (the elemental symbol for tritium) to the upper-left of center, and the propeller-like symbol for radioactivity to the upper-right of center. The winding crown is made of a nonreflective silver alloy, and is well-protected by two prominent "shoulders." It's actually a little TOO well-protected, IMHO, as it sometimes takes several tries for me to hook my fingernail underneath it to pull out the crown. It also winds somewhat stiffly. The bezel appears to be made of a nonreflective silver-colored plastic, and the flat crystal is made of acrylic. The
case back (also plastic...er, "nylon alloy") is stamped with the following text:
STOCKER AND YALE - 90640 CODE
MODEL SANDY 184A
DISPOSE RAD WASTE
Also on the back is a small silver metal disk measuring approximately 2mm across, located next to the winding crown. I have no idea what this is for.
As for the movement...what can I say? It's a manual-winding mechanical movement, with an apparent power reserve of somewhere around 24 hours (it's stopped on me before, so I wind it a couple of times a day when I'm using it). Stocker & Yales claims that it's Swiss-made, but I have no idea as to the maker or caliber. The "documentation" (a single slip of paper) included with the watch states that it should be "accurate to within plus or minus 60 seconds per day." Well, I should certainly hope so! I haven't conducted any tests to determine whether or not my watch is performing within those specifications. It keeps time well enough for me, and if it didn't...what could I do about it anyway? There's no way to view the movement, so all I can do is listen to it tick. It does make a rather pleasant, old-fashioned sound, however. ;-)
The band supplied with the watch is a well-made olive-drab nylon strap, 16mm wide, with an olive-drab painted stainless steel buckle. The lugs are of the push-through type, not spring-loaded, and are easily accessible from the back of the watch.
The watch comes with a one-year warranty.
If you want a quality timepiece that you'll be able to pass on to your grandchildren, look elsewhere. However, if you're just looking for a rugged, inexpensive "knockabout", and would prefer a mechanical alternative to the
ubiquitous Timex or Casio, the Stocker & Yale line merits consideration.