Prince Harry has received a whirlwind of attention recently with the release of his memoir, Spare, and accompanying Netflix series, Harry & Meghan. While tabloid gossip and palace intrigue is far outside the scope of Watches of Espionage, there is an interesting military watch story here. Prince Harry has worn at least four watches with strong military ties: a Pulsar G10, Rolex Explorer II, custom Breitling Aerospace Avantage, and even a Casio G-Shock.
Regardless of your opinion about Prince Harry and the trending drama, the Duke of Sussex honorably served his country for a decade, including multiple deployments as an Apache helicopter aviator in Helmand, Afghanistan. Harry details his military experience in his memoir, claiming he killed 25 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and described them as “chess pieces taken off the board, bad guys eliminated before they kill good guys.”
Watch culture among the British military forces is strong, and during Harry’s training, deployments and civilian support for veterans group Invictus Games, he embraced the W.O.E. ethos; “use your tools.” More often than not, a timepiece was visible on his wrist. As a member of the Royal Family, Harry could likely afford, acquire, and wear just about any watch on the planet; however, he gravitated towards watches that had a military connection. Let's look at a few.
Rolex Explorer II - A Custom Unit Watch?
Prince Harry wore a Polar Dial Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 during military parades, training, and even on an operational deployment to Afghanistan. The brand often referred to as the “Crown” unsurprisingly has a longstanding relationship with the Royal Family, and the specific Explorer II reference is fitting for a self-described rebel.
While unconfirmed, it is possible the Explorer II is a "unit watch" special edition made for the British Military’s Attack Helicopter Regiment, in which he served. As with similar Rolex unit watches, the case back is numbered and shows an Apache AH1 helicopter over a Union Jack flag. The AH1 is the license-built version of the lauded Boeing Apache AH-64 for the British Army Air Corps. The words “UK ATTACK HELICOPTER FORCE” are also engraved.
(Photo Credit: Sotheby’s)
Of note, Harry wore the watch during his second deployment in Afghanistan in 2013; however, the only documented examples of the Attack Helicopter Regiment’s Explorer II are the 48 numbered white and black dial versions from 2014/2015. We cannot definitively conclude this was indeed a unit watch and it is possible that this is a standard Explorer II. Either way, it’s a prime pick for piloting the world’s most deadly helicopter.
Breitling Aerospace Avantage - Confirmed Unit Watch:
Another Unit watch, but this one confirmed not to be a standard production model. The Breitling Aerospace Avantage with a customized dial was available for purchase by Apache pilots with combat deployments. The dial includes the Army Air Corps Wings at 9 o'clock and a front profile view of the Apache helicopter at 3 o’clock.
A different reference but reportedly the same unit as Prince Harry’s Breitling Avantage. (Photo Credit: Andrew Michael’s Military)
Pulsar G10, aka the “Prince Harry”
A simple classic field watch, the Pulsar G10 was issued by the British Ministry of Defense. Pulsar is now a sub-Brand of Seiko, but it debuted as the world's first watch with a digital display in 1972. Prince Harry reportedly acquired this watch during his first tour in Afghanistan. According to our British friends, the G10 has become known in military circles as the “Prince Harry.” The relatively simple and understated watch starkly contrasts the Prince’s royal heritage.
Prince Harry in Afghanistan manning the 50 cal. Pulsar G10 on the wrist. (Photo Credit: John Stillwell)
Prince Harry 2008, Pulsar G10 (Photo Credit: Anwar Hussein)
As we have previously discussed, the G-Shock is the ultimate tool watch for soldiers in the post-9/11 environment. Shortly after graduating from Sandhurst Military Academy, a young Prince Harry was seen wearing a Casio G-Shock, a fitting watch for any junior military officer, coming from a Royal family or not.
Prince Harry and brother Prince William at Wembley Stadium in 2007. Harry with a G-Shock and Prince William wearing an Omega. (Photo: Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
The watches worn by Prince Harry tell his story of service, and the military-themed watches support his persona as a rebel in the Palace walls. Interestingly, during the recent press junket and promotion tour for the book and accompanying documentary, a watch is noticeably absent from his wrist. While we can only speculate if this is a conscious decision, one can likely assume his recent moves and public appearances are certainly calculated.
Watch noticeably absent during Oprah Interview. (Photo Credit: Oprah, 2022)
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