During the 2nd World War (1939-1945), the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) commissioned 12 companies from Switzerland (later nicknamed as “Dirty Dozen”), to design and manufacture watches which would meet the need of British soldiers. The Dirty Dozen companies comprised of: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, Vertex.
It was key that these watches were accurate, reliable and durable, waterproof and shockproof. Therefore, all the watches manufactured under the MOD guidelines had a black dial, scratchproof glass, luminous hands and hour marks and made in stainless steel.
It is estimated that Longines manufactured somewhere between 5000-8000 watches during this period, but it’s almost impossible to accurately tell how many are out there, which makes these military watches rare and highly collectable.
The name actually comes from a mistake in a military watch book. The writers originally thought that these Longines watches were worn by the soldiers on the British North Greenland Expedition and thus referred to it as the Greenlander, which caught on. In truth, this model was never issued for this expedition, but the name has stuck ever since.
Out of all the Dirty Dozen manufactures, the Longines models had the biggest case size, which is why this vintage timepiece still looks the part with its 38mm case.