Discovering the 'Lost Marathon', A Rare Canadian Issue Military Watch

Acquiring a rare Marathon military-issued watch from the original owner

Today is a guest post from Wesley Wynne, one-half of Collectors Corner NY, a dealer of contemporary and vintage watches in New York City. Here, he tells the story of finding an elusive military watch, known as The “Lost Marathon”, from its original owner. Enjoy. -Tony

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By: Wesley Wynne

The “Lost Marathon” refers to an elusive military watch, of which little is known other than a few details which we’ve recorded from the previous owner and other horological resources. It wasn’t until recently that we became aware of this rare watch and had the opportunity to acquire it from a collection of other military watches with great provenance.

This particular piece came from the private collection of a United States military veteran of over 30 years who was deployed in Iraq, stationed at the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. He wears the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge amongst others. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and a Purple Heart. His military career took him around the globe, all the while he collected watches and took great care to keep them in perfect condition.

The previous owner was able to share exactly how he came across this watch while rehashing his career:

“... Fast forward to the mid 1990s when I was on loan to the UN to take part in the weapons of mass destruction inspection teams verifying Saddam's compliance with UN resolutions. I had the opportunity to work with military from several countries and one of the Canadians noted my interest in military watches and gave me the “Lost Marathon” that he was issued during Desert Storm.”

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A wrist shot of the MIL-W-46374D, Type 2; a Canadian issue military piece manufactured by Marathon/Gallet. The caseback shows an issue date of June of 1990.

The only known documentation of the watch in an official capacity is from Imai's Military Watch Encyclopedia (image below). The book itself is tough to find as well and I’d like to thank my friend Ed Roke (Owner of The Hack Watch) for gifting me this encyclopedia, which makes a perfect companion to the timepiece.

The “Lost Marathon”, like many military watches, was designed to be a disposable timepiece. That said, a general rule of thumb is that if the movement hacks (meaning the second hand stops when the crown is pulled to allow for more accurate timekeeping), then it is more serviceable and therefore more usable long term. The “Lost Marathon” is a Type 2 and is non-hacking. However, it shares some similarities with The Type 1 which is probably the most widely known and coveted version of the U.S. issue military watches Hamilton produced. My friend Ed provides more clarity:

“The MIL-W-46374D specification came out October 1986 and was a comprehensive specification for military wrist watches performing a variety of functions. There were 5 Types — Type 1 to Type 5. The most famous version of the D spec came from Hamilton and it was a Type 1 — a maintainable watch like the GG-W-113 with 17 jewels and accurate to within 30 seconds a day. The Hamilton MIL-W-46374D is a collectible watch today, dated June 1988.

But there is an even rarer MIL-W-46374D watch, a Type 2 and made by Marathon. Some collectors call this watch the "Lost Marathon" and it was pictured in Imai's Military Watch Encyclopedia. Little is know about the watch other than it was issued to Canadian forces in 1990. Marathon called it the model 348 and it had a non-hacking mechanical movement as per the Type 2 specification, unusual hands, and very legible dial design.”

From left to right; a new old stock MIL-W-46374B from 1983, A MIL-W-46374D, Type 1 from 1988 which was just sold on our site and from this collection and The “Lost Marathon.”
From left to right; a new old stock MIL-W-46374B from 1983, A MIL-W-46374D, Type 1 from 1988 which was just sold on our site and from this collection and The “Lost Marathon.”

Collectors Corner NY is a growing online watch boutique run by cool guys Wes and Steve. They focus on collector-grade vintage and contemporary watches. Check out their website and follow them on IG. Although the "Lost Marathon" is not for sale, they have several pieces from this veteran’s private collection in their inventory at the time of publication.

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Rescapement is a weekly newsletter about watches, mostly vintage. Subscribe now to get it delivered to your inbox every Sunday. Follow us on IG too.