Z-Special Watch Cap
Recently I’ve been working with Bill Yao from the MKII watch company in the USA, because many of our ideas have an intersection of inspiration and we wanted to harness the opportunity to bring each other’s markets into alignment, great caps, awesome watches!
This winter’s collaboration is a faithful recreation of the knit-comforter cap used by Commonwealth special operations groups, the Australian Z-force, the British Commandos and oddly the US Army Rangers.
The US ‘Darby's Rangers’, were originally formed in the UK and trained by the British and hence employed a great deal of British gear at their inception. During their training a group of 50 Rangers were attached to the British No. 3 and No. 4 Commando and Canadian forces for Operation Jubilee, the fateful raid on Dieppe. The Rangers and their British compatriots of No. 4 Commando on beach Orange wore the cap comforter on their the successful raid on Varengeville.
Whilst the overall failure at Dieppe has become a tragic cautionary tale, the Commandos and U.S Army Rangers are widely regarded as having held their own against overwhelming odds and casualties.
Both Bill and I were completed intrigued by this cap so recently when some original pieces were made available we jumped on the opportunity to base ours on these period examples, and so the Papa Nui Z-Special cap is a faithful recreation of the World War II cap comforter in an olive drab pure wool, made exclusively for the Papa Nui Cap Company and MKII Watches in the best knitting facilities in Japan.
The cap-comforter is an ingenious and perplexing design to the uninitiated. It is essentially a tube of knitted wool that is sewn together at both ends. So when it is completely unfurled it is a short scarf. When one end is tucked into itself and worked through to the other end and folded over, it can be worn as a double layered knit cap. The WWII era ones were sometimes stamped with manufacturers and government property marks but all incorporated the Commonwealth Broad Arrow design as a mark of provenance as does ours.