Custom G-Shock, Omega, & Tudor - Watches Fit To Guard A King

Custom G-Shock, Omega, & Tudor - Watches Fit To Guard A King

Unit Watches Of The UK’s Royalty and Specialist Protection

Despite the rise of inexpensive Digital Tool Watches and feature-rich connected smartwatches, there is an ever-growing subset of the military, intelligence, and law enforcement communities with a passion for mechanical or otherwise more interesting timepieces. We’ve discussed so-called “unit watches” in detail many times. However, in this Dispatch, we’ll take a closer look at unit watches from the world of law enforcement, specifically the UK’s Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP), an intriguing unit from within the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Operations directorate. To date, there are three known unit watches from RaSP, a Casio G-Shock from the attainable tier as well as a Tudor and Omega from the world of Swiss luxury, all of which see active service as tools in the performance of the unit’s unique role.

Protecting Royals, Politicians, & A Castle Or Two

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Officers stand guard outside Windsor Castle. (Photo Credit: Maureen McLean)

Similar to the role played by the US Secret Service, who are also no strangers to unit watches, RaSP provides close protection services to the UK royal family including the king, the prime minister, various other politicians, ambassadors, and visiting heads of state. In addition, the unit also serves as specially trained armed security for royal residences including palaces in London, Windsor Castle, and other sites in Scotland.

Unlike the United States, which has not been ruled by anyone wearing a crown since a kerfuffle ending in 1783, the average police officer in Great Britain doesn’t carry a firearm, making the armed and highly trained RaSP a higher level of protection and response in the event of terrorist attacks or assassination attempts on the Royal Family. Hired from the ranks of experienced frontline police officers as opposed to “off the street”, RaSP officers have been called into action on several prominent occasions.

prince charles assassination attempt sydney australia royalty protection
Royal Protection Officers tackle an attacker after an assassination attempt on then-Prince Charles (standing far right) in Sydney in 1994. (Photo Credit: Express UK)

Far from idle threats, Royalty Protection Officers engaged in a dramatic shootout during an attempted kidnapping of Princess Anne in 1974 as well as when then-Prince Charles was attacked during a speech in 1994. In recent years, the Duke of Sussex (Netflix calls him Prince Harry) made headlines when he fought to continue his RaSP protection detail even after leaving his royal role and moving to California in 2020. In close protection scenarios, RaSP officers typically wear a suit with a concealed firearm, radio, and less-than-lethal weapons in certain instances. In contrast, officers don a more traditional uniform when providing overt armed protective security at royal residences. This operational duality is reflected in the unit’s choices for customized timepieces.

A Custom Full-Metal G-Shock For Royalty Protection Officers

custom royalty protection rasp watch g-shock casioak military
The RaSP’s customized GM-B2100BD-1A. (Photo Credit: G-Central)

The impetus for this article stems from G-Central, a leader in G-Shock news and information. A few weeks back, we noticed a post covering a unit-specific version of the GM-B2100BD-1A, a full-metal variant of the so-called “CasiOak” that debuted back in 2019. With an analog-digital display and an IP-coated black stainless steel case and bracelet, the RaSP unit variant was spotted on uniformed officers outside Windsor Castle and included a custom United Kingdom flag integrating a Thin Blue Line motif on the clasp as well as a special XIV engraving on the bracelet. The XIV references the SO14, the former name of the Royalty Protection Department that merged with SO1 or Specialist Protection to become the modern RaSP in 2015.

uk royalty protection custom g-shock 2100 casioak full-metal

On the case back, the watch offered an engraved image of Windsor Castle. Judging by the wear across the case and bracelet on the watches spotted by G-Central, the Royalty Protection Officers use these tools in performing their duties, with the G-Shock serving as an excellent pairing with the more utilitarian uniform worn by the unit in this instance. While we always hear about G-Shock in military and law enforcement scenarios, customized unit versions are rare and in this case, pretty cool.

uk royalty protection g-shock casioak full-metal 2100
A custom caseback and clasp engraving for the RaSP G-Shock. (Photo Credit: G-Central)

Rather than an officially sanctioned unit watch, these G-Shock models appear to have been a smaller unofficial unit purchase only for members of Windsor Castle’s protective detail. With that in mind, the G-Shocks do not expressly display “RaSP”, instead using XIV as a reference to the unit’s history. For more refined scenarios including providing close protection for royals during public events, RaSP also has a couple of interesting official watches from more luxurious brands in its stable.

Omega Planet Ocean For Royalty Protection Officers

rasp royalty protection omega planet ocean

Known for recently providing customized versions of the Seamaster Diver 300 to US Navy SEALs, Danish Frogmen, and the US Secret Service, Omega also produced a very rare unit version of its Seamaster Planet Ocean for RaSP, designing the piece with input from the unit in 2018 with delivery of approximately 60 units taking place in 2020. From the front, the watch looks identical to civilian market versions. On the case sides, the watches are engraved with the officer’s initials, warrant number, and watch issue number, marking the only time we’ve seen engravings on the case side of a unit-customized Omega. In addition, the sapphire exhibition case back is emblazoned with a two-part emblem consisting of a crown representing the royalty side of the branch as well as a portcullis signifying the specialist side tasked with protecting government ministers and other dignitaries. In addition, the caseback's outer perimeter references the previous unit designations used by those departments that merged to eventually become RaSP. SO14 and SO1 we've already touched on, which were in existence until 2015, however SO12(A) was an earlier forerunner on the ministerial side.

The Shield Protects The Crown

tudor black bay 41 royalty protection rasp uk queen
(Photo Credit: Bob’s Watches)

The phenomenon of Tudors of Espionage (T.O.E.) is nothing new, with the shield having provided special unit versions of many of its core models to various military and governmental organizations. Around 2017 or 2018, the unit commissioned 75 Tudor Black Bay Blue for current and former members of the unit through Watches of Switzerland. A Tudor rose with a crown on top is on the dial, representing an intriguing mashup between Tudor the watch brand’s rose logo—seen on the crown on this reference—and the traditional heraldic rose that often serves as an emblem of England. The case back is engraved with “ROYALTY & SPECIALIST PROTECTION”, an individual's identification number, and serialized one through 75.

uk royalty protection tudor black bay 41 rasp
Photo Credit: Bob’s Watches (Left) & Ross Povey (Right)

Like other special watches commissioned for military or government units, several of these RaSP Tudor Black Bay have made their way into private civilian hands by way of prominent auction houses and aftermarket resellers asking for prices as high as $30,000. One special example produced for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 hammered for a staggering CHF 81,900, about $91k in today’s US dollars.

These very public sales—one of which occurred around the time of The Queen's funeral—resulted in a change of policy from the department's senior leadership sometime in 2023, and there have been no newly developed official RaSP unit watches since. That’s why the above-mentioned G-Shock was produced on a smaller team-specific scale without RaSP markings.

While we are not here to condemn unit members looking to turn a profit on personalized watches they likely never imagined would attain such value, we prefer to see these in the hands of the operators themselves, carrying forward the Use Your Tools ethos.

Dual Purpose Tools

royalty protection officers rasp custom g-shock windsor castle

While we typically concentrate on unit watches related to the military and intelligence community, there is clearly a significant community of watch enthusiasts in law enforcement and first responders. Unit watches like those produced for the UK’s Royalty Protection Officers serve a dual purpose role, acting as tools in the performance of their daily missions while also serving as keepsakes honoring their service both during and after the fact. Seeing such a wide swath of watchmaking within the Royalty Protection community, from a $500 G-Shock to luxury models from Omega and Tudor, further solidifies that our community is oriented around the capabilities and intrigue of the tool rather than flex culture. If you have other interesting unit watches to share, you know where to find us.

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5 comments

I’ve been a fan of GShocks for 10+ years… never ever heard of this one. Thank you for sharing, Dispatch. Awesome edition and yes, uncommon to chose a relatively unexpensive watch to custom for a unit – as hoc for the environment in which these guys operate. Omega Seamaster? cliché…

Kato

Coincidentally, right after I read this article I stumbled across one of these Tudors that is set for auction on July 18th. It will be interesting to see what it goes for – very cool watch: https://auctions.bamfords-auctions.co.uk/catalogue/lot/bab2e0cdd48a051ec451b45b2538a5df/e4ebea155a08e205e5ea6a89010099d0/the-bakewell-watch-auction-including-rolex-tudor-ome-lot-1051/

Two Wheels

Really cool pieces. Hate that guys would have to part with such cool watches for cash. Talk about heirlooms

KarmicAv8r

Never heard of these guys. Interesting unit and great article. I really want that G Shock.

Greg L

Fascinating article about a unit I had never heard of! Keep it up WoE.

Jake L

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