The design for Marathon's Steel Navigator can be traced all the way back to its initial release in 1986.
Designed by Jean Maurice Huguenin (current Chief Watchmaker at Marathon) and Leon Wein (father of current Marathon President, Mitchell Wein), the original issue of the Steel Navigator was built specifically for - and in partnership with - Kelly Air Force Base. The goal was to develop an electrically powered pilot’s wrist watch with quartz accuracy, which was new technology at the time. The watch also had to be capable of handling extreme changes in altitude. The Steel Navigator was unveiled, engineered to strict military specification and featuring a stainless steel case with standard type II dial.
Longtime enthusiasts of the Marathon brand are likely well-versed in the unique story of the ADANAC.
When Marathon began fulfilling government contracts for the Steel Navigator in the late 1980’s, a select few of these contracts included rigid restrictions that prevented the team from displaying any branding elements on the timepiece. The brand’s then-President Leon Wein decided that wearers still deserved to know that their trusted timepiece was designed with precision right here in the North. The choice was made to include the word "ADANAC" on the dial of each watch - CANADA spelled backwards. Models featuring this marking are rare, making it a true collectible.
In the 1990’s, the new mil-standard MIL-STD-46374F introduced the option of a composite case for the Navigator design. This change would act as the gateway to Marathon’s current Pilot’s Navigator lineup, including the composite 41mm Pilot’s Navigator used in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. This version of the Navigator features a durable fibreshell case that greatly reduces the overall weight of the timepiece, a benefit for infantry and logistics alike.
The original issue Steel Navigator was almost exclusively sold through military contract and never reached the retail market. Its unique history and genuine purpose-driven engineering has since made it extremely popular amongst military watch enthusiasts. The original design stopped circulation in the late 1990’s and requests to bring it back in its original steel form have been gaining momentum ever since then, from both public and government entities.
Answering the call, the re-engineered Steel Navigator Series is comprised of the 41mm Steel Navigator (SSNAV) and the 41mm Steel Navigator w/ Date (SSNAV-D) with all new NSN: 6645-01-698-4275. The new Steel Navigators are available under contract, as well as to the general public. The watches stay true to many aspects of their predecessor; each Swiss-made and Canadian designed to be a trusted and highly durable aviation tool-watch.