The first six digits of the NSN have specific meanings that define what the item is and where it was registered.

This means that items of the same type will share many of the same digits, despite where and when they are coded.

For military watches, that’s “6645 – Time Measuring Instruments.” The next two digits are the Country Code (CC) and they signify just what you would expect–the country that initially contracted and coded the item.

The first battery-operated wristwatches were sold in 1957.

Wristwatches are listed here by manufacturer or as advertising or character watches. ff3=4&toolid=10044&campid=5336649018&customid=wristwatch&lgeo=1&mpre=

Interpreting those meanings can sometimes be like solving a puzzle, with long strings of numbers telling you important information about the watch, like where it’s from, how it was designed to be used, when it was made, and a lot more.

Today, we’ll share a quick guide for deciphering a majority of military and government issue watch markings.

The serial number is unique to each individual watch and allows it to be traced in the stocking and maintenance systems.

Serial numbers are almost always stamped or engraved on the case back, and depending on how the watch was procured by the issuing agency, multiple serial numbers may exist.

In this case, watches may have been produced on that contract for a number of years following the initial contract date, but would display that original contract date on their cases.

Finally, some date marks represent the year that the watch was manufactured.

For a full list of Country Codes, see the NATO website here.