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Milus Heritage Snow Star “Life Barter Kit” Watch

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

First of all, who is that little character on the back of this watch? It looks like a disco dancing Roman whose head is the Milus logo. I like that little guy. Why haven’t I see it before? Oddly, it makes the watch suddenly a lot more charming. Actually, it is apparently the historic logo. Anyhow, I was waiting for Milus to release this watch after I heard the story behind its origin.

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

A few years ago Milus learned an extremely interesting and beneficial fact about their brand. Apparently, in WWII the US Navy put something called a “life barter kit” in navy planes. Especially those who saw duty during campaigns in the Pacific. The idea of the kit was to offer a few valuables that pilots could use to trade or sell if their plane got shot down and they needed help, information, or transportation. In the worst case scenario the kit could be used to barter for one’s life in enemy territory.

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

The life barter kit was different than a survival kit (which was usually first aid, rescue, and food items). Inside the life barter kit were two gold rings, a gold pendant and chain, as well as a Swiss wrist watch. That wrist watch was a Milus Snow Star – and Milus didn’t know about that in the modern era until a few years ago. So the idea that the US Navy decided a Milus watch was good enough to be exchanged for a human’s life was darn excellent news. I wonder if a life barter kit was ever actually used.

For 2011 Milus has a great opportunity to recreate the Snow Star watch and the life barter kit, especially as heritage watches are so in. So they created two limited edition Heritage Snow Star watch sets – one in 18k red gold and the other in steel. Each watch comes with a little kit. The kit includes a pair of cufflinks, and a nylon NATO strap. I love the idea of wearing a watch like this on a NATO strap – so deliciously “yesterday.”

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

The kit also include a pair of cuff links – which are different in the steel or gold models. The gold cufflinks are a bit more fancy. Actually, Milus usually offers neat cufflinks. If you recall I wrote about their Kama Sutra rotor cufflinks here. The gold cufflinks have one with a working compass, and one with a little storage box (you know for keeping a cyanide pill or some ecstasy). Each of them fold open with a motif of a plane and gold propeller on the outside. The slightly more simple steel cufflinks are a pair of compasses. Really nice little items.


The Heritage Snow Star watch is super retro with some interesting design element. Most of which are in the unique applied hour indicators. I just wanna see the watch on that NATO strap. The watch is 40mm wide with a sapphire crystal and a water resistance of 30 meters (so much for plane crashing in the water). Inside the watches are two movement options. The gold one has the more interesting movement being a NOS (new old stock) Swiss ETA 2408 manually wound movement with a power reserve of 36 hours. Milus sourced the older movements and totally restored them for use in these watches. The couldn’t get that many so only the red gold models which are limited to 99 pieces have the 2408 in them. Both models indicator “instant date,” which means that at midnight the date instantly changes versus slowly changing.

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

The Heritage Snow Star in steel a more modern Swiss ETA (not sure the reference, probably a Unitas or similar) hand-wound movement with 42 hours of power reserve). The steel mode is limited to 1,940 pieces. The gold model comes with a black alligator strap while the steel model comes with a black calfskin strap. The straps have quick release pins to make it easy to switch them out (I really appreciate that touch).

As heritage pieces these are fun and the story that goes along with them is priceless (especially for Milus). Not sure about prices but look for them to be available now or soon. I think all people need to call around life bartering kits by the way, what would be in yours?

See Milus watches on eBay here.Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

See Milus watches on Amazon here. Milus Heritage Snow Star "Life Barter Kit" Watch Watch Releases

[phpbay]milus, num, “14324”, “”[/phpbay]

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  • Eric

    A very cool story, Ariel. Thanks for sharing! Just goes to show there is more to wristwatches than meets the eye.

  • roger

    Very interesting. At first i thought, ‘weird name for a watch’ but now I really like it. Cool.

  • Greg

    What a wonderful story, it’s posts like that that make this blog such a joy to read, great stuff, Ariel. Hmmm, what would be in my life barter kit? My wife would probably say a pack of gum would suffice!

  • kris c

    “Wait, don’t kill me – I’ll give you this watch”.

    “Actually, I think I’d rather kill you , and then just take the watch”.


    Interesting story, that. I like the steel version best, but it would be nice if the date wheel was silvered.

  • Charles Boulakia

    My life barter kit would likely include a gold or two-tone Rolex. Like ’em or hate ’em, no other watch is as “liquid”, and no other watch is as universally tradable and recognizable as a Rolex.

  • Andri

    In my barter kit – fake Rolex for exchange. On wrist – Protrek or PAthfinder

  • That’s a nice new Milus… haven’t looked at this brand in a long time. Ariel, you mention the movement of the steel version could well be a Unitas or alike, however this ain’t possible. The Unitas 6497/6498 measures 36mm and has a de-central second hand and no date function.

    • kris c

      Unitas made more than the 649x movements.

  • Ahmed

    Beauty. And the cufflinks thing.. Fantastic. But the involvement of wars (killing innocent people) turns me off!

  • JohnVargas

    Here is
    the real history of the Pacific Theater of Operations Barter Kit.
    were two types, the Atlantic and Pacific Escape and Evasion Kits, as they were
    officially known to the U.S. Government.
    Star Kit”, which Milus created to honor the U.S. is actuality an insult to
    the U.S. Military as it contains a Dog Tag which is the almost the same as a
    NAZI Germany WWII Dog Tag and not an American Dog Tag.The U.S. had two types Dog Tags in WWII, the
    Army Type and the Navy Type and then there were variations of each.
    informed the Jacqueline Jud, the Marketing Director for Milus of this…over a
    year ago, in which she was supposed to work with me to change this.However, nothing happened and when I sent her
    the information, I was told “they are almost completely sold…so it is not
    important to change the name or the history.”
    I am the
    original owner the Pacific E&E Kits 043 and 044, which Milus purchased from
    me to make the copies and for their archives.

  • JohnVargas

    Here is the real history of the Pacific Theater of
    Operations Escape and Evasion Kits…how they were used and what they
    During World War Two (WWII), the United States Navy Created
    Kits called Escape and Evasion Kits that were issued to U.S. Pilots and U.S.
    Paratroopers to barter their way out of difficult situations if they were
    downed in unfriendly territory.
    The Escape and Evasion Kits (E&E Kits) we commonly were
    commonly referred to as “Barter Kits.”
    The Original Issue “Pacific Barter Kits” contained
    1.08 Troy Ounces of solid gold and one Milus Snow Star Watch, sealed in an easy
    to open plastic case.
    The original WWII “Pacific Barter Kits” consisted
    1 ea. – Gold Link Chain (four links) 1 ¾” (44.45MM)
    1 ea. – Gold Embossed Pendant
    2 ea. – Gold Rings
    1 ea. – 21-Jewel Swiss Calendar Watch with Cloth Band
    The Original Issue “Pacific Barter Kits”
    contained, notably, a Milus Snow Star reference number M.40.81 Wristwatch.

  • JohnVargas
  • JohnVargas Thanks for the additional information. Good to know.

  • fla

    i Don’t understand if the instant date is automatic or manual movement

  • fla

    one of the beautiful watch

  • Cesar San Millan

    There is a misunderstanding with this WWII Kits, the kits are 100% originals kits but somehow in the 60´s still under the military custody the kids were opened and the watch was included at that moment (upgraded), if you see the caliber and the design you can clearly identify the watch as a model produced at least 20 years after de WWII. There is a compete discussion about this topic in ( .

    I assume Milus didn’t opened the watches or is just a marketing strategy….

    Cesar San Millan

  • Morganne MacDonald

    Wonderful story. If they made this in a women’s version, I’d be more than interested. Lovely watch.