Kiger, a watch micro model made by Mark Kiger is the David in a David vs Goliath battle with one of many greatest Swiss watch manufacturers you realize: Rolex.
Why would Rolex choose on a small-time watch man with only one watch mannequin on the market? Because they need his trademark.
Kiger has made only one watch mannequin, with a number of completely different variations in case and dial. All have carried a reputation that Kiger trademarked years in the past, in 2013: Milsub.
‘Waitaminute,’ you say, ‘how may that be?’
That’s since you -think- you realize the place the phrase ‘milsub’ comes from.
First, let’s go on a ridiculously lengthy diversion on the historical past of wristwatches and the army branches.
1938 and Officine Panerai
In 1935, Panerai was awarded the contract to make dive watches for the Italian Navy. They partnered with Rolex to provide the watches. Movements, circumstances, and crowns have been all made by Rolex for Panerai, for the Italian Navy. This continued, and whereas Panerai started utilizing inexpensive Angelus actions, Rolex continued to offer the case and crown till the Fifties.
This watch was made for the Italian Navy, is a army submersible, however not known as a ‘milsub’.
1957 and the A/6538
Post-war is the place issues get attention-grabbing. In England, Rolex made a number of watches for the Ministry of Defense, referred to as A/6538. These are a variant of the submariner, however have been made in low numbers, about 21-40 items, and have only a few examples that survive right now.
The A/6538 had a tall bezel that tapered dramatically to the case in an effort to clear its massive crown. The dial known as a prototype dial, and has the 3-6-9 dial generally related to an Explorer. The spring bars are fastened within the case, not detachable. It was made in 1957.
The A/6538 just isn’t colloquially referred to as a “milsub”. Sometimes, it will get referred to as the ‘milsub earlier than the milsub’.
USA 1959, 1961
The US Navy issued a specification referred to as MIL-22176A (SHIPS) MILITARY SPECIFICATION: WATCH, WRIST, SUBMERSIBLE (400-FOOT), NON-MAGNETIC (24 MAR 1961).
The specification was first issued in 1959, though I’m solely capable of find the 1961 revision. It’s from this doc title that the title “Milsub” could have originated: Military Specification, watch, wrist, submersible. Mil…sub.
The specification was given to the US watch corporations, Elgin, Hamilton and Waltham. The Navy RFQ specified 1000 watches, and the businesses didn’t suppose they might make a revenue on such a small amount.
Allen Tornek was the importer for Swiss watch firm Rayville. Rayville made watches with the Blancplain title.
For Tornek, 1000 watches was a big quantity. Rayville already made the Blancplain Fifty Fathoms.
The Navy examined Enicar, Rolex, and Blancplain. Project NS 186-200 Subtask 4, Test 43, 15 July, 1958 is the report of the take a look at outcomes. Only Blancplain handed all necessities.
The massive concept was to make use of Blancplain till an American-made Bulova may very well be prepared. Bulova bought so far as making prototypes for the Navy, however they failed to fulfill the spec. Two of the Bulova watches examined had bezels fell off, and a 3rd watch stopped working.
From the take a look at report, “The Rolex watch is discovered to be not sufficiently waterproof, bearing out stories from the sphere and is really useful for deletion from the Navy’s accepted listing.”
In the report, the crystal fogged over nearly instantly, the coarse coin-edge bezel was discovered to be tough to show with moist palms or gloves, and the bezel jammed with mud or silt, and was unable to be turned.
By Allen Tornek convincing Rayville to place Tornek-Rayville on the dial, and promoting by means of Tornek, the Navy was capable of buy watches from an American firm, and fulfill the Military Submersible necessities with a Swiss-powered watch.
The Navy SEALs have been issued Tornek-Rayville Fifty-Fathoms in 1962, at a price of $55 USD per watch. (The Rolex was $95, and never American.) Less than 30 examples survive right now.
Rayville doubtless had hoped to maintain orders going, however because the Vietnam struggle was starting to ramp up, by 1968, no extra orders have been positioned.
The Tornek-Rayville may be thought-about to be the primary “milsub”.
Over within the UK, the Ministry of Defense issued MOD DEF STAN 66-4 Part 1, Issue 2 in 1971, which outmoded 66-4 Part 1, Issue 1 made in August 1968.
The specification, in broad strokes, makes an attempt to do related issues because the US spec: make necessities about water-tightness, hacking seconds, dial colours, hand shapes, and so forth.
This is the specification that lays out that watches shall have sword palms and stuck spring bars.
The MoD had two suppliers right now; Omega, and Rolex. Like the US specification, an entire elapsed time scale (all of the minute marks) was required for the bezel.
The MoD ordered its first batch of those watches from Omega in 1967. They have been engraved “0552” on the case backs to designate them as property of the Royal Navy. These watches have been delivered till 1971.
These Omega watches are generally referred to as “milsub” by folks.
In the Nineteen Seventies, the MoD positioned orders from Rolex. The Rolex was required to make use of the identical elapsed time bezel, similar sword palms, and stuck bars, according to the specification. This gave the Rolex an analogous look to the Omega that preceded them.
The Rolex 5513 was delivered to the Royal Navy with fastened bars, full elapsed time scale, sword palms, and the requisite circle-T dial for tritium lume. This was a modified model of the patron 5513, for army use.
In 1977, Rolex delivered their first watch that was made completely for the army, the 5517. Instead of constructing all new casebacks for the 5517, Rolex used 5513-marked casebacks for among the 5517 manufacturing. There have been solely about 1200 items produced, and maybe 180 survive.
These watches are the Rolex ones which might be colloquially referred to as ‘milsub’ watches.
The Quartz Years
The 5517 orders should have been short-lived. In 1980, MoD issued 66-4 half 4 subject 4, which outmoded the earlier variations, and referred to as for a quartz dive watch. Those orders have been fulfilled by CWC, Precista, and Pulsar, with CWC for divers, and Pulsar utilized by the RAF.
The CWC watches are additionally generally referred to as ‘milsub’ watches.
In 2010, Mark Kiger began, like many micro manufacturers, fascinated by making a wristwatch. Kiger’s factor has been to make dive watches with a memento mori, the reminder of the finality of life. This is becoming for a dive watch, the place diving just isn’t with out threat.
In 2010, Kiger searched the trademark database on the US Patent and Trademark Office, and located that the time period ‘Milsub’ was not registered.
Branding and logos are one of many challenges of constructing a model. In 2011, he designed the Kiger emblem.
Kiger utilized for the “Milsub” trademark on May 8, 2014, and was granted it on May 12, 2015.
He revealed an image of the watch with that time period on its dial on October 3, 2013, on the favored watch discussion board, watchuseek.com. This was a prototype model, made in a Kemner case. We’ll name this mk1 for the needs of this text.
That prototype would prove to take a very long time to make it to manufacturing. In order to hurry up manufacturing, Kiger partnered with one other provider. We’ll name this mk2.
To give a way of the timeline, the dial for that provider was designed in December 2013, watches have been acquired May 1, 2014, and revealed May 4, 2014. The first publication of the Kiger Milsub fb web page was May 10, 2014. Watches shipped to clients November 1, 2014.
To be actually clear: the Mk2 design shipped to clients earlier than the Mk1 model. Remember, it was revealed October 3, 2013. Watches have been acquired July 2015, and shipped to clients beginning August 2015.
The watch has been accessible in a single kind or one other, repeatedly since that point.
The newest launch was a collaboration with one other micro model we’ve written about earlier than, Chris Vail’s NTH. NTH labored with Kiger to make use of NTH’s 11.5mm skinny dive watch case with a KIGER MILSUB dial, signed crown and caseback. Per regular NTH, the signed crown is lumed.
The NTH collaboration started October 2018. They have been manufactured between February and March 2019. NTH delivered them June 17, 2019, and so they have been introduced and shipped to clients December 12, 2019.
What is all this about? What is Rolex doing?
What’s attention-grabbing, and I instructed you about at first of this text is, Rolex desires Kiger’s “Milsub” trademark.
On April 30, 2019, Rolex utilized to the USPTO for the “Milsub” trademark; the trademark that Kiger already owns.
When viewing Kiger’s trademark, the standing says, “Status: Live/Registered, A cancellation continuing is pending on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.”
Rolex is making an attempt to cancel Kiger’s mark. He was granted that mark honest and sq.. Rolex has by no means marketed a watch as a Milsub in its historical past.
Rolex contends that the time period solely applies to their watches, and is an amalgamation of “Military Submariner”. This often is the colloquial use right now amongst Rolex followers. That doesn’t make it the one use, or make it sufficient for Rolex to take the time period.
Another perspective is, the time period stems from the US Military watch, wrist submersible doc, and is an amalgamation of “army submersible” from that doc.
The US Navy additionally refers to a “Submersible Wrist Watch” of their US Navy Diving Manual, SS521-AG-PRO-010 Revision 7 as part of pre-dive procedures.
Rolex contends Kiger hasn’t been utilizing the mark. The timeline exhibits that he has. One of the issues about trademark regulation is that it’s worthwhile to use it for it to stay intact: Kiger’s been utilizing it repeatedly since he was granted the mark.
When do logos expire? Couldn’t Rolex look ahead to Kiger’s mark to run out? No. Trademark registrations are legitimate for 10 years, and may be renewed each 10 years for so long as the mark is in use.
That’s two necessary particulars: it hasn’t been 10 years, and Kiger’s nonetheless utilizing the mark. The mark doesn’t resemble any of Rolex’s marks, and isn’t buying and selling on Rolex’s marks – the ‘milsub’ textual content appears nothing like a typeface Rolex has used.
A 3rd necessary element about logos is ‘genericide’, the place a mark turns into so widespread as to check with any product (for instance, each tissue turns into a ‘Kleenex’, each soda, a ‘Coke’), in order that the time period is not capable of be trademarked, and open for all to make use of. That’s a chance right here.
- Rolex hasn’t ever used the ‘Milsub’ time period themselves.
- Rolex hasn’t made a look ahead to the army because the late Nineteen Seventies.
- Rolex by no means even bought the watches to the general public they declare ‘milsub’ refers to.
- If that they had any curiosity within the trademark, why didn’t they register it again within the late 70s once they have been making the watch they declare the time period is called for?
- Why did Rolex wait till 5 years after Kiger had registered the mark and been delivery watches to clients?
- If something, why isn’t it Rolex who got here late, whose use will trigger confusion for the client?
Why does Rolex wish to take the mark away from Kiger? I don’t know for certain, however I strongly suspect that Rolex want to make a Tudor watch with sword palms and an entire elapsed time scale. Maybe they’d even use fastened strap bars.
I think that Rolex solely tried to register the mark in 2019 after that they had already made plans to make such a Tudor Heritage mannequin, and realized the mark wasn’t accessible for his or her use.
Interestingly, Rolex have made no such makes an attempt to register the mark in different nations around the globe, solely the US the place Kiger owns the mark.
Rolex doesn’t make vintage-inspired watches, however they do go away that to their sister model Tudor, and name them Heritage watches. I think Rolex desires to assert that solely the 5513/5517 is a “Milsub” and that Kiger was granted the mark erroneously.
What is a milsub?
Rolex can be incorrect. A ‘milsub’ is a watch that was designed for army spec as a submersible watch, or appears like one which meets the specification.
The Tornek-Rayville was a ‘milsub’, as was the Omega utilized by the British a army submersible watch. Rolex needed to modify their watch to seem like an Omega, their competitors, in an effort to adjust to the British MoD necessities to be milsub dive watch. After the 5517 was not bought by the UK MoD, the CWC has additionally been referred to as a ‘milsub’ watch. The time period has grow to be genericized to check with a watch that complies with army requirements for a dive watch.
Rolex followers have blessed and/or cursed Rolex watches with various colloquial nicknames. Green Submariners are referred to as the “Hulk”, or “Kermit”. The BLNR GMT Master II will get referred to as the “Batman” and “Batgirl” relying on whether or not it’s on an oyster or jubilee bracelet, silly gendering of the bracelets however. The GMT Master has been referred to as ‘Pepsi’ and ‘Coke’, relying on whether or not it’s outfitted with the blue-red or black-red bezel insert. Should Rolex personal these nicknames, too? No, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Disney (Marvel, the Muppets), and Warner Bros. (DC) would all have respectable arguments opposing. They personal and use their respective marks, simply as Kiger owns and makes use of ‘milsub’.