Marathon aficionados will be singing the brand’s praises today at the launch of their all new 41mm Stainless Steel Navigator with Date. The watch, five years in development, has been a highly anticipated addition to the watchmaker’s lineup.
The SSNAV-D is a re-engineered version of a timepiece Marathon produced on contract for US Air Force pilots, originally at the request of Kelly Air Force Base in 1986. The last contract, however, was tendered in the early 90s during Operation Desert Storm. When the conflict ended, so did production of the watch.
While the brand reintroduced (and still sell) the popular design in a fibre shell format, enthusiasts have long been hunting down the originals—which were often produced exclusively in small batches for military personnel—and clamoring for a reboot.
Aesthetically, the new 41mm Stainless Steel Pilot’s Navigator is largely faithful to its progenitor. The watch, though designed in Canada, is Swiss-made in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and like its predecessors, has been built to the United States Military Standard MIL-W-46374. Updates include a more pronounced tapering of the lugs for added comfort on wrist. At the same time, the case maintains its lovely “bird-in-flight” profile that swoops in around the screw-down crown for protection. The underside of the mid-case is also gently beveled, and all surfaces are finished in a satin-brushed, parkerized sheen. In addition to the 41mm diameter, the watch measures 48mm lug to lug with a 20mm lug width. It is only 11mm thick and has the very practical inclusion of drilled lugs.
The bezel of the SSNAV-D has been enlarged for an easier grip this time around and the 12-hour scale has been inset with white paint to increase legibility. The bi-directional action is smooth and crisp. Aside from the block numerals, there is a graduated scale running from zero hour to four and a tritium pip. The new model comes equipped with a flat sapphire crystal (as opposed to curved acrylic), which increases the altitude rating—in addition to offering improved scratch resistance and clarity. Fans will be most happy to learn that the new Pilot Navigator is rated to 100m of water resistance.
The dial is archetypal Marathon with 3 scales, beginning with a minute/second track on the outer edge, a bold 12-hour Arabic index up next, and a smaller printed 24-hour spectrum on the inside. It is also outfitted with tritium gas tubes on the hours. The only significant difference from earlier stainless steel iterations is the orange-coloured tube in the 12 position which matches the arrow-tipped seconds. The handset is syringe-style and also fitted with tritium. The date window appears at 4:30 on the dial.
The SSNAV-D uses the ETA F06.412 HeavyDrive Quartz movement. This is a huge upgrade from the original stainless steel model. ETA’s HeavyDrive technology enables intelligent shock management using an integrated circuit which allows detection and management of unbalances in the hands. If a shock occurs, the integrated circuit will lock the second hand in place. This prevents the hand from jumping during impact and is deployed hundreds of times faster than an automobile airbag. Coupled with PreciDrive—which promises accuracy within 0.027 seconds a day—the SSNAV-D will offer robust precision under harsh conditions.
The 41mm Stainless Steel Navigator comes with a strap choice. Featured here is the nylon DEFSTAN NATO with matching brushed steel hardware. However, also available is the nylon ballistic strap.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
48mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Screw Down Crown
100m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Flat Sapphire Crystal|
Tritium Tube Markers & Hands
|Movement||ETA HeavyDrive FØ6.412|
94-Month Battery Life
Nylon DEFSTAN NATO
/w Stainless Steel Hardware
Nylon Ballistic Strap
Marathon Stainless Steel Navigator Pilot with Date
The Stainless Steel Navigator, for all its industrial, utilitarian appearance, has quite an organic profile that hugs the wrist–whether worn on the NATO or a strap. With its screw down crown, highly accurate movement, and laudable water resistance, it makes for a perfect GADA (go-anywhere-do anything) piece. I have the impression that this is the sort watch that will only improve with knocks and dings. The sort of timepiece that will integrate itself into the everyday workings of an active lifestyle–defining its wearer as much as it will also be defined by the sort of person who chooses to wear it. The kind of watch that will one day tell stories.
I haven’t had the opportunity to test out the ballistic strap, but the DEFSTAN NATO is fairly basic. However, at a 20mm lug width, the strap options here are endless. Nineteen-seventies waffle? Yes, please. Khaki green canvas? Please and thank you. Somebody stop me.
When a brand takes a good watch and perfects it, what do you say but thank you? There is so much military heritage behind this design, beginning in the 1970s with the Type 1 and the Vietnam War and then up through the late 80s and 90s with the Navigator Pilot. Bumps in water resistance, the addition of a screw down crown, and, of course, the reversion to stainless steel construction make the SSNAV-D an attractive proposition. The MIL-W-46374 standard calls for an “accurate, disposable watch.” But my guess is that the 41mm Stainless Steel Navigator with Date will be a daily beater you pass on to the next generation of enthusiast…and the one after that.
The SSNAV-D retails for $800-830USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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8 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Marathon 41mm Stainless Steel Navigator Pilot with Date”
Awesome upgrade. 10 seconds/year accuracy? Sold.
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Yeah…me, too. Cheers!
I like a lot this one ☝️
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It seems to be a hit. Cheers!
I’ve heard raving reviews on this Marathon. Cool design!
Haven’t had much interest in Marathon as their watches come off as quite bulky..
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This is a military watch if I’ve ever seen one. Hard to beat the history with Marathon and especially their history with the military. Great article once again
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