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The Camel Trophy Adventure Watches


Always"watching"
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In this article, I propose to revive interest in a rather good group of quartz and mechanical watches that were produced in association with the international Camel Trophy, a vehicle-oriented competition held annually between 1980 and 2000 that comprised the use of 4X4 vehicles over challenging terrain. Apart from the first and very last of these competitions, Land Rover supplied the teams with their vehicles, and over the twenty years of Land Rover's involvement in the Camel Trophy, all the Land Rover vehicle range were used at one time or another, the teams for each year's event all being supplied with the same heavily modified (by Land Rover Special Vehicles) model.

Apart from support and specialist vehicles, the Land Rovers were only used for one event. Some competitors bought their vehicles, and many remained in the host countries. Those that returned to the UK were stripped of their equipment by Land Rover prior to being released for sale, leaving new owners the expensive task of restoring them to Camel Trophy specifications. The Camel Trophy was not exactly a race, nor a rally, and focused on being a global adventure by man and machine in harsh or difficult environments – thus there were awards for “Team Spirit” and “Special Tasks” as well as a “Land Rover Award.” The UK won the competition only once, in 1989, in a Land Rover Defender 110, when the event took place in the Amazon.

 

 

 

A Camel Trophy Adventure quartz chronograph wristwatch with 20th second chronograph function, 38mm stainless steel case and brass/bronze bezel. Water resistant is a stated 100 metres. Note the brass/bronze bezel on this model (see text below) (Pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

a8803f2e-833b-11e5-8153-46a9e2187c6f.jpg

bbcf8cd8-833b-11e5-8810-b43b3b25cc59.jpg

 

 

 

There was no event in 1999, and 2000 marks the last Camel Trophy competition, held in Tonga-Samoa using the Ribtec 655 vehicle. The end of the Camel Trophy did not mark the end of Land Rover's involvement in international vehicle adventure competition, however, with the “G4 Challenge” being the immediate successor to the Camel Trophy, starting in 2003.

Interest in the Camel Trophy, including the restoration of original team vehicles, has continued since the demise of the competition after 2000, and there is an online Camel Trophy Shop selling Camel Trophy merchandise as well as a Camel Trophy Owners Club, also online, where a comprehensive history and details of the Camel Trophy can be read. The typical “sandglow” colour used for the Land Rover vehicles in the Camel Trophy competition was a characteristic feature that was carried over into the dial colour of some Camel trophy watches.

 

 

 

Camel Trophy "world time" quartz wristwatch with (originally coated) brass/bronze alloy bezel, recycled metal case, and 50 metres water resistance (pics from i.ebayimg.com):

s-l1600.jpg

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 s-l1600.jpg

 

 

 

Before we come to looking at the watches branded, Camel Trophy, we need to just take a look at who produced these watches and who manufactured them. Firstly, the Camel cigarette brand under its owners, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (in the US) and Japan Tobacco (outside the US), sponsored the Camel trophy as part of their sponsorship of various motor sport events and competitions. However, the Camel Trophy Adventure watches, like much other Camel brand merchandise, was not directly linked to Camel cigarettes but was the product of an indirectly related separate company, “Worldwide Brands Incorporated.”

I am not going to discuss the complicated financial and legal complexities of the period 1985/6 to 1999 during which time Nabisco Brands and R. J. R. Tobacco Company functioned as a single entity, but it needs to be said that towards the end of this period, tobacco companies were increasingly concerned about tobacco-related lawsuits, and steps were taken to distance the Camel tobacco brand from the non-tobacco Camel branded accessories and merchandise. In connection with this, and including a mention of the Camel Trophy Adventure watches, I discovered a fascinating document – composed by Worldwide Brands Inc. and strangely still lurking on an Amazon website. I have decided to quote from the beginning of this document at some length, partly because it bears relationship to other watch brands that have also been the created as a result of brand diversification:

 

 

“Worldwide Brands incorporated

WORLDWIDE BRANDS INCORPORATED

 

TOBACCO PRODUCT CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL, 1998

his submission is made by Worldwide Brands Inc (“WBI”), which is incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware, USA with operational headquarters in Cologne, Germany and with offices throughout Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia and in South Africa. It is a subsidiary of R J R Nabisco and is legally and financially separate from any tobacco company. WBI is the owner of various international brand names, which it licences throughout the world. It has acquired registered trade mark rights in these brand names throughout the world. It has no interest in and does not trade in tobacco products.

 

Brand Diversification

WBI is exclusively involved in the field of brand diversification. Brand diversification involves the commercial exploitation of the unique goodwill and asset value of an established brand name for business diversification purposes. It takes a well-known brand name, uses the goodwill as a basis for creating trade in fields totally unrelated to that in which the brand name was originally used, (and, if successful, eventually is recognised and is familiar to consumers in a totally different product category).

 

The main reason for brand diversification is to use the goodwill in the original brand name as a stepping stone in the creation of a completely new market.

 

WBI started its brand diversification programme in good faith before there were discussions relating to or legislation restricting tobacco advertising. By way of example, one brand of primary importance to WBI is the CAMEL brand. This started out as a brand used in relation to tobacco products and, since becoming the subject of brand diversification 17 years ago, the mark CAMEL has formed the basis of a substantial and growing international trade in products completely unrelated to tobacco. WBI is the owner of the CAMEL trade mark in all product categories other than tobacco. There is no direct link between WBI and the tobacco producer.”

… ...

 

The “Camel Trophy Adventure Watches” are specifically mentioned in the document a few lines on from where my quotation ends, as part of the WBI break down of direct and indirect employment in South Africa in the production of and trade in non-tobacco CAMEL products. Apparently, 128 people were directly employed and about 920 indirectly employed, and of those, only 3 were directly employed and 10 indirectly employed dealing with the Camel Trophy watches.

 

 

 

A bit of a find from the Watch Discussion section on our own Watch Forum UK is this "rotating" picture showing a few Camel Trophy Adventure watches. Posted by SALVA on 5 March 2010 under the heading, "Camel trophy" (pic from i47.tinypic.com):

34esuo3.gif

 

 

 

A thread was posted in 2004 on our own Watch Forum UK concerning Camel Trophy watches and the tenor of that thread indicates that the watches were still current even though the Camel Trophy competition had been dropped after the 2000 event. Usefully, our own esteemed Forum leader, Roy, confirmed on the thread that the Camel Trophy watches were designed, made and distributed by Mondaine Watch Limited. Exactly when Camel Trophy watches were introduced is unclear, though it must be after WBI started diversification of the Camel brand name, and it is also unclear when it was that they were dropped from production. Looking at the watches themselves, I would estimate that there production run covers the 1990s up until some time after 2000 which in shorthand notation I designate as 2000+. Some, but not all, Camel Trophy Adventure watches have a stamped serial number on the caseback and future researchers might be able to find out more about these numbers.

Judging by my own example of a Camel Trophy watch – a three register quartz chronograph measuring down to a twentieth of a second and with 100 metre water resistance – and posts on forums about the watches, the Camel Trophy Adventure watches were well-made and built to last. I would suggest that these watches are worth collecting, and indeed, it would seem that there are Camel Trophy Adventure watch collectors out there already. One characteristic feature of all the Camel trophy watch models I have seen illustrated is the use of a brass/bronze bezel – my own watch exhibits this feature, and on my watch (and others I have seen), there does appear to have been a coating or plating over this alloy which has worn away over time, leaving the underlying brass/bronze exposed. This can lead either to a rather nice ageing effect or a rather patchy appearance depending on how the surface plating/coating has worn.

 

 

A Camel Trophy automatic dive watch water resistant to 20 ATM with 38mm stainless steel case and silvery-coated bronze/brass bezel. Powered by a Citizen 21J caliber 8215 automatic movement (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

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57aa5f15-9821-4df6-9bbf-a8bd4127bd9d.jpg

 

A similar automatic Camel trophy dive watch to that here above, but with a stainless steel bracelet (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

68a473ae-07ea-11e7-97e5-ec859bd943f9.jpg

                                     5ac6a054-07ea-11e7-9939-94cadfdc8789.jpg

My final illustration is this rather fine and interesting Camel Trophy Adventure chronograph featuring a 12J Miyota quartz movement that measures to a fiftieth of a second for twelve hours and has an alarm feature as well as a low battery warning. The watch itself has a unidirectional rotating bezel and screw-down crown with stated water resistance of 100 metres (Pic from h-spot.net):

camel_adventure_trophy.jpg

 

 

 

NOTE: As with the compilation of all all topics, full specifications of watches are not always provided with pictures when sourced, which explains why I can't always give detailed captions to illustrations.

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Thanks for the article about these often overlooked gems.  I'm happy to report that the last item you pictured is still alive and well, shown here on the original strap although I've just noticed I managed to set the date wrong for the photo.

Camel%20Trophy%2020181117.jpg

Another interesting thing about the movement in this watch is that the time is set electronically.  When you pull out the crown to the time-setting position the seconds hand will stop as expected but turning the crown will not move the minute/hour hands mechanically; rather this engages the minute/hour hand motor to advance or retard the minute/hour hands in 20 seconds increments.  If you spin the crown rapidly the minute/hour hands will then move continuously forwards or backwards until you stop them by briefly turning the crown once again.

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  • 4 months later...

Possibly this thread is a good time for my first post on this forum !

Im a burgeoning collector of Camel Tropht watches, stemming back from the original 1 that I purchased as a kid back in around 1995. That watch still runs today and is worn by my wife ! 

I currently have ..

2 x Topchronos 

2 x Professional Chronographs ( ltd edition ) 

the black one of these was found as new in a Portuguese jewellers around only 2 years ago 

1 x Professional Diver 

this was also found in a Jewellers in Palma, Mallorca, 2017, where it had been sitting in the window for most likely over 20 years ! 

Thats part of the fun, treasure hunting in jewellers whenever in relevant countries, because there are still some watches to be found. Really my interest is only contained by finances and I plan to continue my collection as quickly as possible. 

Masterpiece 

Professional Team 

Professional Chronograph 

Ana/Digi Team Professional 

Professional Diver 

being the main models I’m interested in collecting. 

 

AVqQHcT.jpg

 

ZxNVwkX.jpgoMNYMuz.jpgxr2gj24.jpg

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25 minutes ago, rhaythorne said:

Nice "herd?" of Camels you have there.  Welcome to the forum.

Thanks very much. If its of interest I'll try to update this thread whenever I make new purchases. It is a shame but the go to website for these watches, CT-watches.co.uk has gone down. It was a fantastic resource for information, however,  I  believe the owner decided to give up as it was time consuming for no reward. A guy called Johannes has a new one that is pretty decent..

 

https://www.camel-trophy.net/meine-ct-s/

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another fascinating niche illuminated @Always"watching" thanks :thumbsup: .... almost impossible to imagine a watch linked to cigarette advertising these days or anything else for that matter...gone are the days of "the embassy world snooker championships" and "malborough mclaren F1 racing cars".... i kinda miss ol' Alex Higgins taking a swig from his pint.... putting his fag in the ashtray.... and returning 20 mins later to find it burnt out... and 'ol dot cotton always looked slightly "naked" without a ciggie hanging out the corner of her mouth :biggrin:.... another area of collecting interest linked to cig advertising...dunhill lighters... some of their early models go for crazy sums now.... notably the "fish tank" lighter

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/11511/lot/252/

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 16/11/2018 at 18:48, Hussle said:

I still have mine from my 21st birthday, purchased in Feb 1994, sadly it no longer runs and the strap disintegrated many years ago but I still have the box and paperwork. I tried a new battery but nothing.

large.IMG_20170813_133438.jpg.b89b2da956f3ea40a4796eb263d982b0.jpglarge.IMG_20170813_133554.jpg.4598fb458b71284998081dc3b26e357c.jpglarge.IMG_20170813_133334.jpg.5dacdca66da57b62e226fd5b7642cada.jpglarge.IMG_20170813_133739.jpg.9283ba1689698b664e2bbbf8646560ad.jpglarge.IMG_20170813_133714.jpg.4587e6ed9c4b2f5060b2b4f7374c32d5.jpg 

Modern swiss eta quartz movements are interchangeable with the older ones. You can take it to a watchmaker and they'll simply swap the old movement with a new one. They're not pricey either.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 08/04/2019 at 15:19, gimli said:

Modern swiss eta quartz movements are interchangeable with the older ones. You can take it to a watchmaker and they'll simply swap the old movement with a new one. They're not pricey either.

It's the ETA 955-412 which can still be bought for about £25. I'll get one some time and fit it myself, I have all the tools so shouldn't be too hard.

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  • 5 months later...

Today was a landmark day for me. I finally attained a Camel Trophy Masterpiece - 27 jewel movement, sapphire glass, double gold bezel. One of only 2500 ever made, and of the four variations in model this one is 1 of the 2 rarer ones with the gold plated bezel. Number 960 in the series. She’s a beauty ! 6Q9a4CB.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

Hello All

I have a Camel Trophy Masterpiece bought new in 1995 from a Jewellers in NI. It now requires some TLC. The rotating bezels have seized. The gold has gone thin and the movement needs serviced. The original crocodile strap is long gone although I have the buckle. Can anyone out there recommend someone to carryout this work? Many thanks 

John Dalton 

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13 hours ago, John Dalton said:

Hello All

I have a Camel Trophy Masterpiece bought new in 1995 from a Jewellers in NI. It now requires some TLC. The rotating bezels have seized. The gold has gone thin and the movement needs serviced. The original crocodile strap is long gone although I have the buckle. Can anyone out there recommend someone to carryout this work? Many thanks 

John Dalton 

@simon2comes highly recommended, I know members of the forum have nothing but praise for the work he has carried out for them.

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  • 3 months later...

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