Sponsored post presented on aBlogtoWatch for advertiser

Since 1941, family-owned Marathon has been manufacturing timing instruments for the Allied Forces, creating iconic mil-spec watches along the way that have become extremely popular among military watch enthusiasts. Such a staple for the Canadian watchmaker is the SSNAV-D watch (the name stands for Marathon Steel Navigator 41mm w/ Date) that looks back at an extensive history of evolution and continuous development — a history that we are here to discover.

Advertising Message

It all began in 1986 when the first Steel Navigator watches were delivered to the Kelly Air Force Base. It was designed by Jean Maurice Huguenin (current Chief Watchmaker at Marathon) and Leon Wein (father of current Marathon President, Mitchell Wein) as an electrically powered pilot’s wristwatch harnessing the latest technology at the time: Quartz timekeeping. At the request of the military, Marathon developed the Steel Navigator to meet strict military specifications including an uncompromised resistance to extreme changes in altitude. The 1986 Steel Navigator, as one would expect, featured a stainless steel case with standard type II dial with more evolutions to follow shortly after.

The mil-spec ADANAC version already carried the iconic case and dial design of the Marathon Navigator.

When Marathon began fulfilling government contracts for the Steel Navigator in the late 1980s, a select few of these contracts included rigid restrictions that prevented the team from displaying any branding elements on the timepiece. The brand’s then-President Leon Wein decided that wearers still deserved to know that their trusted timepiece was designed with precision, as Marathon says: “Right here in the North.” The choice was made to include the word “ADANAC” on the dial of each watch — CANADA spelled backward. Models featuring this marking are rare, making them a true collectible. In the 1990s, the new mil-standard MIL-STD-46374F introduced the option of a composite case for the Navigator design. This change would act as the gateway to Marathon’s current Pilot’s Navigator lineup, including the composite 41mm Pilot’s Navigator used in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.

The original issue Marathon Steel Navigator was almost exclusively sold through military contracts and never reached the retail market. Its unique history and genuine purpose-driven engineering have since made it a hit among military watch enthusiasts. The original design stopped circulation in the late 1990s and requests to bring it back in its original steel form have been gaining momentum ever since then, from both public and government entities. Answering the call, the re-engineered Marathon Steel Navigator 41mm w/ Date (SSNAV-D) is available under contract, as well as to the general public. It stays true to many aspects of its predecessor as a Swiss-made and Canadian-designed tool watch to be trusted and highly durable on the ground and far above the clouds.

Advertising Message

A direct descendant of Marathon’s original Steel Navigator developed in the 1980s, the 41mm Steel Navigator w/ Date (SSNAV-D) includes many upgrades inside and out. This redesign has been a central focus of Marathon President Mitchell Wien for over five years, working in tandem with Marathon’s talented team of watchmakers based in La Chaux-de-Fond, Switzerland, and manufacturing in accordance with government requirement NSN: 6645-01-698-4275. Perhaps the most noticeable update is the addition of a date complication — never-before-seen on any Steel Navigator. The date feature was introduced to provide additional functionality to pilots on extended deployments. This, combined with the 12HR GMT bezel, allows for easy simultaneous timekeeping for two time zones. For more information on how to use a 12HR bezel, check out Marathon’s cool instruction video below.

The steel bi-directional bezel has also seen an increase in thickness, creating a larger surface to grip while wearing flight gloves. Inset-painted indices have also been added to the bezel, enhancing the legibility and durability of the markings. Furthermore, the Marathon Steel Navigator w/ Date SSNAV-D now includes an impact-resistant synthetic sapphire crystal, representing an upgrade from the original model’s hardened plexiglass crystal. This, coupled with the brand’s improved crystal-retention system, allows the watch to withstand extreme changes in air pressure, an absolute necessity when Marathon’s watches are used by combat pilots at high altitudes. This crystal also provides exceptional clarity and an increased viewing angle. 

The SSNAV-D is built from solid 316L surgical-grade stainless steel and features a screw-down crown, making it operational even when submerged to 10ATM (equivalent to approximately 100m/300ft). This increased water resistance was implemented due to the requirement for modern pilots and paratroopers to be capable of using their watches in any environment. The re-engineered case stays true to the iconic asymmetrical design of the original Marathon Navigator, but now with enhanced tapering of the lugs. This more curved shape provides a yet more comfortable fit and makes the Steel Navigator w/ Date ideal for all-day wear. The lugs are also fully drilled, as befits a mil-spec tool watch, simplifying quick strap changes and allowing the users the choice of many different accessory styles.

Self-contained tritium gas tubes are included on every hour marker, and, naturally, the minute/hour hands, ensuring constant visibility in low-light environments. Tritium tubes are self-illuminating, containing an isotope of hydrogen that, unlike standard photoluminescent paint, need not be charged by an external light source meaning the watch will remain fully legible at all hours.

On the caseback is a critical element, Marathon’s signature easy-access battery hatch that ensures easy battery changes for the end user. As with any quartz Marathon wristwatch, the Marathon Steel Navigator w/ Date includes an EOL (End-of-Life) indicator which will display when your power supply is running low so the watch won’t stop on you without a warning in due time. With the F06.412 generating a longer battery life — approximately 86 to 94 months — the SSNAV-D poses benefits to the environment and consumers alike. Fewer batteries mean less waste, plus reduced hassle for users with fewer battery replacements over the watch’s lifetime. A coin or a Swiss army knife is all it takes to twist the hatch open, replace the 371-type battery, and screw the hatch back down. An improved water-tight gasket on the hatch has been implemented in the design to enforce the 100m water resistance rating and to ensure absolute peace of mind, keeping dust and moisture away from affecting the movement once the hatch has been fully re-secured

As befits a proper military-spec watch the caseback of the SSNAV-D exhibits brand-new markings, displaying the required spec and model information plus a nod to the North with the inclusion of the Canadian Maple Leaf. Safeguarded by the solid caseback is a new quartz movement: The 3 Jewel ETA F06.412 with “HeavyDrive / PreciDrive.” Now the most precise watch in the Marathon electric watch lineup, the Steel Navigator w/ Date features an accuracy of ± 10s/year, operating at 32’768 Hz. This is made possible by the combination of ETA’s venerable quartz technology, as well as customizations specifically for Marathon. 

Marathon has improved the shock protection of the Steel Navigator by improving both the movement as well as the protective cage surrounding it. Housed within this particular movement is ETA’s HeavyDrive technology, offering shock detection and management by way of an integrated circuit. When a shock is detected, the motor applies a counter force to prevent the hand from skipping and affecting the accuracy of the movement. Further stabilizing the movement is Marathon’s fully revised movement mounting system using a ring to secure the F06.412 in place with three screws. This is engineered to protect the movement against unwelcome forces such as torque, vibration, and impact.

The Marathon Steel Navigator w/ Date SSNAV-D also features ETA’s PreciDrive technology. This technology consists of a thermo-compensation unit sealed in a vacuum-insulated, brass-plated housing to monitor and react to changes in temperature. These features, in combination with Marathon’s addition of a screw-down crown and improved water-tight gasket system, allow the movement to be unaffected by humidity. 

Historically produced solely for government contracts and only with a no-date dial, the Marathon Steel Navigator 41mm w/ Date was introduced due to the popularity of the current composite 41mm Pilot’s Navigator with Date, as well as the understanding that modern pilots require a date display especially when preparing reports in the field. A robust, long-lasting, highly legible, and fun-to-use watch with true mil-spec history, the Marathon Steel Navigator SSNAV-D 41mm watch is priced at $830 USD. You can learn more about its features and history at the brand’s official website.

Sponsored Posts are a form of advertising that allows sponsors to share useful news, messages, and offers to aBlogtoWatch readers in a way traditional display advertising is often not best suited to. All Sponsored Posts are subject to editorial guidelines with the intent that they offer readers useful news, promotions, or stories. The viewpoints and opinions expressed in Sponsored Posts are those of the advertiser and not necessarily those of aBlogtoWatch or its writers.

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter