W.O.E. Releases MACV-SOG Watch Print – Original Art by Watches of Espionage
This week on the W.O.E. Dispatch, we examine the inspiration behind the new W.O.E. artwork and the link between comic book-style art and our community.
MACV-SOG Watch Print #1: The first print is an artistic rendition of what an internal Counter Insurgency Support Office (CISO) advertisement for the MACV-SOG Seiko would have looked like in 1967. The art depicts the Seiko 5 Sportsmatic reference 6619-8060, the first of the three widely accepted Seiko references carried by SOG personnel during the Secret War in Southeast Asia.
The art is an homage to both vintage watch advertisements and historic artwork commemorating CIA operations. W.O.E. designed the piece to honor our community and the tools used by those who came before us. It focuses on the watch, but more importantly it tells the story of the people who used it to accomplish their mission-critical tasks.
The 11x17 inch matte poster is designed to be displayed in an office, nursery, man cave or gym. The art will look great whether it’s pinned up in your team room or framed in a boardroom. You don’t have to own these Seikos to respect the role they played in horological –and military– history.
W.O.E.s personal Seiko 5 Sportsmatic reference 6619-8060, Photo Credit: James Rupley
For the first piece, we honor the Vietnam Era Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG or just SOG) Recon Elements and the issued Seiko watches that adorned their wrists in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
While the piece depicts authentic equipment carried by MACV-SOG, it takes some artistic liberties. The most interesting element of the art is that it contains easter eggs: little details not immediately recognizable but known to a few. See if you can find them.
For additional information on MACV-SOG Seikos, see Dispatch #3: MACV-SOG Recon Elements Required a Tough Tool To Support Operations, So They Turned To Seiko
Photo Credit: James Rupley
Origin: This series of artwork builds on two of our passions: comic book-style art and vintage watch advertisements.
Art plays a significant role in the National Security community. This juxtaposition may seem surprising: a serious trade with real world consequences depicted in comic book form stands in stark contrast to the harsh reality of the business. But there is a long history of the intersection of artwork and Military, Intelligence and Special Operations. Instagram account @artofespionage focuses on this exact niche.
The CIA Museum produces limited edition posters to commemorate historic moments, generally only available to employees and VIP guests. If you are fortunate enough to visit CIA Headquarters, you will notice this artwork displayed in the museum and in the hallways.
Mi-17 JAWBREAKER: The CIA Museum produced the following poster to commemorate the initial Northern Alliance Liaison Team –codenamed JAWBREAKER– who entered into Afghanistan in late 2001. The posters were provided to CIA employees, VIPs and select members of the public during a June 2019 ceremony at CIA Headquarters.
W.O.E.’s personal collection
A-12 Oxcart: Produced by the CIA Museum to Commemorate the CIA’s Development of the A-12 OXCART as the U-2 spy plane’s successor, which became operational in November 1965.
Cole Pennington’s personal collection
DOD Comic Books: Further, the Department of Defense/Military has also used comic book-style artwork in training manuals, including the “M-16A1 Rifle: Operation and Preventative Maintenance Comic Book for Soldiers in Vietnam” by Will Eisner.
CIA Recruitment Poster: According to spy historian Keith Melton, this poster was produced as a recruiting tool post-9/11. This is an International Spy Museum Reproduction. “THE C.I.A. WANTS YOU / HELP US WIN THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM”
W.O.E. Personal Collection
At W.O.E., we’re fascinated with vintage watch advertisements and we have several of them hanging on the walls in our homes. Advertisements are a snapshot of how a company viewed its target market, end user, and image for their watches in a given period. You most likely know the famous Rolex series, “If you were . . . you’d wear a Rolex”. This slogan is one of the most iconic of the bunch, but each brand has put significant thought into advertising communications and many of them are now collectable items.
After all, Rolex recruited top talent from the Intelligence Community to shape their communications and advertising campaigns, as outlined in the book Selling the Crown: The Secret History of Marketing Rolex by Brendan Cunningham.
W.O.E. personal collection
Friend of W.O.E., @adpatina, has developed expertise in vintage horological ads, and developed a robust business around seeking out old vintage advertisements and masterfully framing them for the world’s leading collectors.
James Bond Omega Advertisement, Framed by Ad Patina
(Photo Courtesy of Ad Patina)
Photo Credit: Michael Shaffer / @capitolsunset
Use of “Watches of Espionage” on associated artwork is trademarked.