IDF-Issued 7928 Tudor Submariner
The military Tudor rabbit hole goes deeper than you think. You will be familiar with the snowflake-handed 9401/0 Marine Nationale which has recently seen new life via the FXD. But Tudor’s military history extends far beyond France. South Africa issued its Navy divers a small run of ref. 7016 subs. There are US Naval 7928s (be careful there, treacherous watch), Royal Canadian Navy 9401/0s, even Argentinean military 7928s. But this is one of the rarest, most interesting histories a Tudor Sub can have. It’s one of a small run issued by the Israeli Defense Force to a member of Shayetet 13, the country’s tier 1 counter-terrorism unit. I have only encountered a few of these in all my years watch hunting. The history is far from transparent, production is unknown, but we known this watch has lived a remarkably full experience in its six decades.
These all feature the IDF’s inventory numbering system, which is comprised of a capital M followed by three or four digits. Most of these also feature rough impressions cut in around the quarters of the caseback, which was work the Israeli military did to all the Submariners they received in order to be able to open them with conventional case back tools. This is a country that buys F-35s and then immediately replaces their avionics, it makes sense they wouldn’t use Rolex’s proprietary system. Most of these are also in a fairly rough state. The Middle East is not a temperate climate. Even aside from the harsh sun, it is thought that Shayetet 13 trained in the Kishon River, which is extremely polluted. The harsh wear in this case and dial, to my eye, makes this a more beautiful object.
Historically, the IDF only issued watches to aviators and members of special operations units. There is contention surrounding whether these were given, issued, or purchased by these operators, however, the standardly accepted parlance is that we call these issued as they genuine mil-watches. Most come to market from their original owners, as is the case with this one. There aren’t many of these out there: Watches of Knightsbridge auctioned one in 2020, Davidoff had one in years back. And that’s really all I’m aware of. They’re not common and they’re just cool by definition. Given the 1966 production of this example, it’s possible this watch could’ve been in the Six Day War, War of Attrition, one of the many Lebanon conflicts, or one of the many Palestinian conflicts. Unlike many Marine Nationale subs which went to a nation during peacetime, Israel has been entangled in conflict from the time this Sub was produced. It seems to wear that weight on its dial.
The case on this example is full too, likely not polished. Its bezel is faded to a 50% grey, the dial hard worn but arguably far more beautiful for it. The caseback engravings are deep despite the moderate to heavy surface wear visible everywhere on its exterior. It’s a neat bit of history for Israel and Tudor alike, don’t expect it hang around. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer.