BCM Mk15: a half-pound thermonuclear wristwatch.
Bravo Company Manufacturing is the real deal. It was founded in 2005 by guys who have been there, done that. BCM, to quote their website, "Builds weapon systems that are manufactured, reinforced, and tested to meet the unforgiving needs of law enforcement, military, security, and peace-keeping professionals in some of the most high stress environments and situations in the world." That's a pretty easy thing to write. Dig a little deeper and you can appreciate the true passion behind those words.
BCM was indirectly born of the white-hot rage that immediately followed 9/11. More than 3,000 innocent Americans were brutally murdered in a single day and we as a nation then enjoyed the leadership and national will to respond appropriately to this outrage. As a result of the subsequent Global War on Terror the most powerful, technologically advanced nation on earth learned a great deal about the art of close combat. Those hard learned, real world lessons flow in and through everything BCM does and is.
Rifles, carbines, pistols, and associated accessories built BCM's reputation as a designer and supplier of some of the finest gunfighting tools on the planet. Bravo's customer base is, in a phrase, everybody who goes downrange for real. Every major military and law enforcement organization in the country has used BCM gear at some level. The same cutting edge technology that equips American warfighters in the ongoing kinetic festivities overseas is available to security-minded civilian users as well. Now hold that thought.
Back when I was an Army Aviator we lived and died by the clock. That mantra drilled so deeply into my psyche when I was young and impressionable that I am compulsively early for everything I do even today--nearly two decades after I last donned the uniform. Among a few other glaring personality defects, this makes me nigh impossible to live with. My long-suffering bride of 28 years can reliably attest to that fact.
Hit the Landing Zone early and you fly into your own artillery. Hit it late and the bad guys will be recovered and waiting. Waypoints are plus or minus thirty seconds or somebody could die. An effective tactical wristwatch should be heavy, reliable, and fully night capable. It also rides on the inside of your wrist so the glowing bits face you instead of the bad guys. An aviator instantly judges others at a glance by the nature of their timepieces. Anybody who claims to be a Navy SEAL and doesn't sport some ludicrously capable dive watch is likely an imposter.
Now that BCM has pretty much conquered the market on tactical firearms and accessories, they thought it high time to branch out into wristwatches. Not surprisingly, they do this wide open as well. The BCM Gunfighter Mkl 5 Everyday Carry (EDC) watch is the most kick-butt timepiece I have ever seen.
Gorgeous, capable, and tough, imagine what would happen if an Abrams tank and the American flag had a baby. The BCM Mk15 EDC watch is robust tactical tool and high-end fashion statement in comparable measure. The case is 316L Stainless Steel finished in a PVD brushed black environmentally resistant finish. The Mk15 is water resistant to 200 meters or 20 atmospheres and sports a 13-jewel, gold-plated Swiss movement. The face of the watch is framed with a ratcheting unidirectional bezel and the red anodized crown screws in for water resistance and security.
The minute, hour, and second hands are all tritium illuminated and the dial is carbon fiber. The sapphire scratch-resistant crystal sports two layers of glare-resistant coating on its inside. When mounted on its monstrous PVD brushed stainless steel band the Mk15 weighs a whopping 232 grams. That's more than half a pound of pure unfiltered awesome. When alternately equipped with the included rubber dive band the Mk15 tips the scales at about half that.
The Nuclear Bits
A watch that doesn't glow is little more than ballast after dark. The accepted solution to this quandary is to strap a bit of genuine radioactive material to your arm. Never ones to do things halfway, BCM equipped the Mk15 with a whopping fifteen different tritium vials. The tube at the 12 o'clock position is orange while all the others are green.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons and it is produced within nuclear reactors by the neutron activation of lithium-6. It is also an uncommon byproduct of the nuclear fission of uranium-235 and plutonium-239 though it is obviously a bit tougher to harvest in the aftermath of a true nuclear detonation. Tritium is also used in atomic bomb design to increase the efficiency and yield of nuclear weapons. However, in its native state tritium is a low-energy beta emitter and, as beta particles do not penetrate human skin, is typically harmless to humans. You wouldn't want to eat it but carrying it around on your wrist won't make you sterile, cause your hair to fall out, or give you glowing devil eyes.
The most common use for tritium is self-powered lighting such as watch faces and weapon sights. In these applications the tritium is enclosed within a glass vial lined with a phosphorescent coating. Worldwide commercial demand for tritium is on the order of 400 grams per year and usable tritium costs about $30,000 per gram. That's about 375 times more than the street price of refined cocaine.
Tritium is an unstable isotope with a half-life of 12.32 years. This means that tritium inserts deteriorate predictably and lose their practical brightness over time. The T25 tritium vials built into the BCM Mk15 are guaranteed for a decade.
New tritium vials can be extraordinarily bright and I regularly used my aviator's watch as a flashlight in concert with night vision goggles back when I was a soldier. Within the resolution capabilities of the night vision system, a tritium-illuminated watch is adequate to manage fine motor work even in hard dark. So long as you are comfortable with having a legitimate radioactive isotope strapped to your arm, tritium illumination is the state of the art.
I know what you're thinking. What if you order a high-end tactical watch only to have the local post office suffer a nuclear attack while your spanking new watch is languishing in transit? It turns out BCM planned for that eventuality as well. The very box this thing comes in is frankly unbelievable.
The indestructible polymer vault that conveys the BCM Mk15 to its new owner resembles the hard cases in which we toted our night vision goggles back in the day only tougher. The case is airtight and includes a pressure release valve should you end up needing your watch while deployed to the International Space Station. Standard accessories include a matching two-ended jeweler's screwdriver, spare spring-loaded band mounting rods, and the aforementioned rubberized dive band all secured within custom foam cutouts.
Limitations of the language preclude my adequately describing how hardcore this case is. If someone really did nuke your local post office the government guys in rubber suits would find your BCM Mk15 tactical timepiece scorched but unhurt pleasantly ticking away among the radioactive rubble. Just like everything else BCM does, it appears anything worth doing is worth doing unto excess.
BCM is only making 2,500 of these watches. Not unlike your favorite black rifle, each timepiece is laser etched on its reverse with its own unique serial number. Everything about the Mk15 is meticulously reasoned and built like an Armored Fighting Vehicle. If James Bond were a real guy, this is the wristwatch that would carry him through a well-deserved retirement.
So why would anybody drop the equivalent of a new Glock pistol on a tactical timepiece? Any box store Timex will reliably keep track of the time and I have myself sported such a watch in the past. So does the teenager who builds my Big Macs. The BCM Mk15 EDC tactical timepiece is for the guy who demands an utterly reliable wristwatch that is both indestructible and elegant. Whether you are making a HALO jump into the Hindu Kush, protecting your local mean streets from behind the wheel of your patrol car, saving the world one customer at a time so you will have your weekends free to relax turning ammo into noise, or just being prompt while taking your gorgeous bride out for dinner and a movie, the BCM Mk15 helps you accomplish each of these missions with comparable aplomb.
Pleasantly massive and comparably effective day or night anywhere from the ocean floor to outer space, the BCM Mk15 is what lesser watches aspire to be. You can spend lots more on a watch. You could just put your money in a tidy pile and set fire to it, too. The BCM Mk15 is just crazy cool without being ludicrously expensive. It is the half-pound thermonuclear timepiece.
Editor's note: When I assigned this piece to Will, the limited edition Mk15 was still available on Bravo's website. However, as of this writing (22 August) the watch is being reported as sold out. Only 2,500 watches were made--and obviously they were quite popular--but keep your eyes peeled on eBay for one of these units. I apologize for any inconvenience.
By Will Dabbs, MD Photos by Sarah Dabbs
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|Date:||Aug 10, 2016|
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