Top Dispatch Articles of 2023 - Watches of Espionage
As 2023 comes to a close, we take a look at the top Dispatch articles from the year. Thank you for all of your support, we look forward to a great year in 2024.
10. Hollywood Watches of Espionage
Mercenaries, Arms Dealers, CIA Contractors, and Navy SEALs – a timepiece can complement a fictional character.
Watches play a significant role in film. An accurate depiction of a character often includes a watch they might actually wear, and this is especially true in the military, intelligence and espionage genre. When this happens, it lends a sense of credibility to the work. This is likely a mixture of art imitating life and vice versa. Believe it or not, we know plenty of real “spies” and “operators” whose watch choices were influenced by movies. The Bond Omega and Bond Rolex are obvious ones. But other watches are also featured on the silver screen, and we’ll explore them here.
9. Trading a Rolex to Get out of a Sticky Situation - Myth or Reality?
The "Escape and Evasion" Rolex
The final requirement to be certified as a CIA Case Officer (C/O) is to pass the certification course at a classified government training center commonly referred to as “the Farm.” Students learn the tradecraft to clandestinely recruit and handle assets. The entire learning process is a surreal experience, and the atmosphere at “the Farm” is somewhere between a college campus with a constant stream of students riding by on cruiser bikes (IYKYK), a covert paramilitary base with state-of-the-art tactical facilities, and Hogwarts, a place where you learn the dark arts they don’t teach in regular school.
8. Bond: A Case for Omega
Here, we will first share the full story of Omega’s origins with James Bond, followed by a detailed analysis of the history of product placement in Bond, and the critical role it plays in keeping the franchise alive. While this piece does not serve as a direct response to the first Dispatch, it aims to present a more thorough history of Bond, offer a better understanding of why adjustments have been made, and propose a case for why we can celebrate Omega’s inclusion in 007’s history
7. Remembering the Legacy of Billy Waugh Through His Watches
Former CIA Paramilitary Officer Billy Waugh passed away at the age of 93 exactly one week ago; but we don’t mourn his death–instead we celebrate his incredible life of service in the best way we know how–through his timepieces.
William “Billy” Waugh is the Forest Gump of CIA and Special Forces with a larger than life personality and an uncanny knack for adventure. At the conclusion of WWII he attempted to enlist in the United States Marine Corps at age 15. His age got in the way, but three years later, in ‘48, he successfully enlisted in the United States Army, launching a career that would become nothing short of legendary in the Special Operations community.
6. Advice for Buying a Watch
The Watches of Espionage community can be broken down into two segments: professional watch nerds tired of the traditional watch media; and complete newbies, those initially attracted by Military and Intelligence content but with little interest in watches. Over time, the latter group usually develops an interest in watches and regularly asks where to begin.
This Dispatch is for you, newbies. It’s a cheat sheet for breaking into the world of watches. Our goal is simple: to cultivate and preserve watch culture in the NatSec community. We have no commercial relationships with any of the brands mentioned, and we’re brand-agnostic.
5. The History Of Casio G-Shocks And The US Military
The History Of G-Shocks And The US Military - Benjamin Lowry
Forty years have passed since the introduction of the Casio G-Shock in 1983. And while the basic formula behind the world’s most durable watch has remained largely unchanged since the legendary DW-5000C first hit store shelves, the world of warfare and the United States Military in particular have made significant strides in both equipment and tactical doctrine. Conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, and Bosnia/Herzegovina were waged in a bygone analog era, influenced by lessons learned in the Vietnam War. But the terrorist attacks of September 11th changed all of that, embroiling the United States in a new type of war based on counter-insurgency in the digitally-augmented age.
4. CIA Officers and Apple Watches
Counterintelligence Risks of Smart Watches
“Apple watches are for nerds.”
Though we don’t actually think this, it’s easy to understand how one could come to that conclusion. The Apple Watch of today could be seen as the “calculator watch” of the ‘90s–in other words, a product with a nerdy association. One thing we can say is that smart watches are NOT/NOT for intelligence officers. Smart watches, like the Apple Watch, offer significant lifestyle benefits: fitness tracking, optimizing communication, and sleep monitoring. However, for CIA Human Intelligence (HUMINT) collectors who rely on anonymity to securely conduct clandestine operations, the networked device is a counterintelligence (CI) vulnerability and potential opportunity for exploitation. For every benefit the Apple Watch provides, it also comes with a threat.
3. CIA Case Officer’s Everyday Carry - EDC
A Real “Spy’s” Every Day Carry (EDC)
We get a lot of questions about “everyday carry,” commonly known as “EDC.” So in light of these requests, we want to provide some insight into our typical EDC and what I carried as a CIA Case Officer (C/O) in Africa and the Middle East.
2. Tudors of Espionage (T.O.E.s)
The Shield Protects the Crown:
W.O.E. is a watch snob–or at least I was. For years, I looked down on Tudor as an inferior tool watch existing in the shadow of its big brother Rolex. I never understood why someone with a Rolex would purchase a Tudor. After all, Tudor is a poor man's Rolex, or so I thought.
Most haters are motivated by insecurity, but my views were simply shaped by ignorance. I didn’t know much about Tudor and was unaware of Tudor’s long standing relationship with the Intelligence and Special Operations communities, a personally relevant intersection.
1. Casio F-91W, the Preferred Watch of Terrorists
The Terrorist Timepiece - Casio F-91W
The Casio F-91W’s reputation looms large in both horology and national security circles, and for good reason. The simple, cheap and effective plastic watch is likely one of the most ubiquitous timepieces on the planet, with an estimated three million produced each year since sometime in the early 1990s. However, the watch that is coveted by hipsters and former presidents alike has a more sinister utility: it has been used to deadly effect as a timer for explosive charges and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and worn regularly by members of al-Qaeda, ISIS and other transnational militant groups.