The Dirty Dozen WWW watches on A.F.0210. straps.

INTRODUCTION

There are thought to be a handful of collections of the complete set of “The Dirty Dozen” W.W.W .watches, which is not surprising since the current cost of putting together a collection of these watches is likely to exceed $40,000.

Seeing one of the Dirty Dozen W.W.W. watches on an A.F.0210. strap is also rare, as there are only a couple of hands full of the original A.F.0210. straps available.

Below is an example of an IWC W.W.W. watch on an A.F.0210. strap.

IWC W.W.W. on AF0210: Dirty Dozen watches

IWC W.W.W. on an AF0210 strap.

AF 0210 strap dated 1945: Dirty Dozen watches

This AF0210 strap appears to be dated 1945.  Images courtesy MWR forum user: baldhead

The strap is self-sealing, and the positioning holes rarely can be seen after use, as can be seen above.

To see all 12 Dirty Dozen WWW watches on A.F.0210. straps are unheard of.

We have now been able to do this for the reader to visualise what a particular W.W.W. watch might look like on an A.F.0210.® strap.      We have used 12 A.F.0210.® straps.

The dirty dozen A.f.0210. straps

The feature image and images used below are attributed to eBay seller: stanley2012.  He has granted permission for his original image to be the basis of the W.W.W. watch images in this article.

THE W.W.W. WATCH

(SPEC. WATCHES, WRISTLET, WATERPROOF)

From 1945 the British War Office Specification No. R.S./Prov/4373A “Watches, Wristlet, Waterproof” (W.W.W.) for Service wristwatches, replaced the Army Trade Pattern (ATP) specification wristwatch.  These remained on issue until about 1985.

Dirty Dozen W.W.W. watches have been covered in this article in theSpringbar, and most comprehensively in Reference 1.

This was the first watch specification designed for military use, rather than the military using watches being adapted from an available civilian design.  The W.W.W. watch had a black dial, subsidiary seconds and luminous paint for the numerals and hands.  It also had fixed bars, mostly with 18mm lug width.  It was not shockproof.

The NATO strap is a consequence of this fixed bar military standard, a product of the evolution of the pass-through strap.  These watches were originally issued with either pigskin or A.F.0210. canvas webbing straps.

In 1945, during World War II, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) needed watches to issue to army personnel, and Britain did not have the capacity to manufacture them.  They invited any Swiss manufacturer who could build a watch to the specified standard, to do so.

Due to the demands of military service, very strict specifications were set, for Watches, Wristlet, Waterproof, or what was shortened to W.W.W. watches.

The dial needed to be black, with Arabic numerals and sub-seconds in order to maximise legibility. The watches had to have 15-jewel movements and also had to have luminous hour and minute hands, luminous hour markers, a railroad minute track, a shatterproof crystal, and a stainless-steel case, and fixed bars between lugs.

The case-back had to include the W.W.W designation and a pheon marking, with the dial also displaying the pheon.  Two serial numbers were required, one being the manufacturer’s number, and the other (with the letter) being the military store number.

Twelve companies were commissioned and produced watches in various quantities:  Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex.  Enicar was a thirteenth but did not produce watches.  Each manufacturer was assigned a specific store number with Enicar designated VB 10025, yet there are no known examples.

The full list of W.W.W. suppliers is provided below.

Image courtesy: Konrad Krinim

For some watches which were kept in service for a long period of time, a (retrospective) NATO Stock Number (NSN) was allocated, as listed above.

For example, the NATO dialled IWC watch on an A.F.0210. strap is shown below.

IWC WWW
Omega 1953 watch left, on a canvas NATO strap.  Right, an IWC WWW watch,
with NATO dial, in a canvas AF0210 strap.  Image MWR forum user: T.O.W.S. UK.
The IWC watch and some other Dirty Dozen W.W.W. watches were kept in production until well after WWII.  The later NATO version of the IWC watch is shown above on the right.   After NATO was formed, the designation of several of the continuing W.W.W watches was specified in DEF STAN 66-4 (PART4).   The IWC watch by then was given an interim Nato Stock Number, NSN W10/VB10028-9999-99-445-5890.   These first and last numerals W10/445-5890 can be seen on the dial on the right above, beneath the pheon and tritium markings.   The final NSN for all the W.W.W. specification watches as a category was NSN 6645-99-523-8390.

Each manufacturer delivered as many watches as their production capabilities would allow. Only IWC, JLC, and Omega kept a strict record of their order: respectively 6,000, 10,000,  and 25,000.  It is thought approximately 150,000 Dirty Dozen W.W.W. watches were produced.

W.W.W. production

Image courtesy: Konrad Krinim

These were generally all delivered in 1945 and accompanied by a pigskin or canvas strap.  As the Dirty Dozen W.W.W. watches arrived in MoD stores towards the end of the war, they were mostly “decommissioned” and sold to the public.

BÜREN

buren: Dirty Dozen watches
Büren’s W.W.W. used a 36.5mm chrome plated case with their in-house calibre 462 movement.  Some people do not like the Grand Prix signature below the  Bürensignature as it detracts from the military feel to the watch.   The hands were the common sword or gladium type.
Dirty Dozen watches

Büren watches are hard to find in good condition, in particular, the condition of the hands, but the hands do complement the watch.   Later MoD replacement hands were pencil hands, and dials were relumed with promethium 147 and marked with P in a circle.

Buren www Promethium 147 marked dial: Dirty Dozen watches

Production was about 11,000 watches.

ETERNA

Eterna W.W.W. on A.F.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watches

Eterna’s case is beautifully finished with a concave bezel, and measures 36mm across  The movement is the in-house Calibre 520 H movement, which carried on for many years as the 520 S with centre-seconds hand. The watch has syringe hands which somehow look much better on a Breguet.

Dirty Dozen watches

The Eterna W.W.W.s have never been inexpensive, and not just because they carry the Eterna name and movement: their production numbers are among the lowest for the Dirty Dozen, at around 5,000.

Eterna promethium 147 redialled watches also exist, as for the Buren above.

RECORD

Record W.W.W. on A.F.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watchesAbout 25,000 Record W.W.W.’s were constructed. They were a bit bigger than some of the Dozen at 36.5 mm instead of 35mm.  The Record had a screw case back and a chrome top construction in its case.  The 15 jewel Calibre 022-K movement used a Breguet-curved hairspring, a screwed alloy balance (rather than steel), and the bridge supporting the wheel train was split into three elegant cogs, making this the most elaborate and probably the finest movement Record ever manufactured.

Dirty Dozen watches
The open 9 looks good on the dial, as does the polished dial.
Due to the large number made, there are numerous variants to keep collectors on their toes. The hands were sword-type on early models before they were later swapped for non-radium luminous pencil hands. Records have been seen with sterile dials, different shaped pheons, and three types of sub-dial, rail-track chapter ring, single ring or just 5 second indices, and with (VB) 10034 dials and NATO dials, as well as dials bearing a “T” in a circle (representing the tritium that created the dial’s luminescence).    The 10034 dial reflects the Stores Number for the Record WWW, and this model has been seen with pencil hands.
A number of the dial variations can be seen below.
Record WWW dial variations: Dirty Dozen watches
Image courtesy MWR forum user: obsoletewatchparts

TIMOR

Timor W.W.W. on A.F.0210. Strap: Dirty Dozen watches

Timor is number eight in the WWW manufacturing league table by output. The brand produced approximately 13,000 units.
It has a nice brushed stainless steel case shape at 36.5mm.   The movement is the Calibre 6060 movement, which was based on a highly modified A. Schild 1203 movement.
The hands were pencil shaped, with a lume filled triangular tip, and the 4 is unique amongst all WWW watches.

VERTEX

Vertex w.W.W. on an A.F.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watches

 

Close to the Timor in numbers, Vertex produced around 15,000 W.W.W.s. Its Calibre 59 movement was made for the company by Thommen, before being encased in a 35mm steel case. The Vertex features pencil hands, and the seconds sub-dial uses a non-railtrack chapter ring with full 60-second gradation, rather than the minimalist style on the Vertex NATO re-dials.

Dirty Dozen watches

 

The Vertex has been seen “downgraded” to an ATP watch.

Dirty Dozen watches

OMEGA

Omega w.W.w. on a.f.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watches
The Omega W.W.W. is clearly one of the best of the Dozen thanks to the Calibre 30T movement, the sword hands and the prestige of the brand.  Prices remain relatively low because 25,000 were produced. It has a rugged 35mm stainless-steel case, and very few dial variants.
Dirty Dozen watches
Below is a MoD 10033 dial.
Dirty Dozen watches
Ck2444 with 30T2RS cal.
Dirty Dozen watches
Caliber 30T2RS .  RS for ” Réglage Spécial ” or regulated to chronometer specifications (though not submitted for final official certification for reasons of cost and wartime expediency).

LEMANIA

Lemania w.W.w. on A.F.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watches

A number of dial variants exist, the name is generally printed with the bulging midsection, but some feature the crown logo above the name. The hands on extant models are either pencil-straight or sword-like as with the Omega.   The sub-dial has been found with or without the railtrack chapter ring, and it may
or may not feature the letter “P” in a circle in the sub-dial, like the Grana.

Common to all is the 36.5mm diameter case with a coin edge bezel and stepped case housing the Tissot-sourced Calibre 27A gilt movement.

Dirty Dozen watches

GRANA

Grana W.W.W. on A.F.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watchesNone of the Dozen is more desirable than the Grana, simply because it is by far the most difficult to find. According to Konrad Knirim’s book British Military Timepieces, less than 5,000, and perhaps even only 1,000, were made for the MoD, making it the rarest of the lot.

Since the Grana is rare, and the A.F.0210. strap is even rarer, the photo below of a Grana W.W.W. on an A.F.0210. strap is unique.
Grana W.W.W. on an A.F.0210. strap rare
Aside from the exceptional rarity, one should note that the pedigree of the movement and its superior finishing ensure that the Grana is actually very desirable.   Its stainless-steel case measures 35mm, while the movement is the Calibre KF320. Some Grana W.W.W.s have been found with the letter “P” in a circle in the sub-dial; this is believed to stand for “Phosphorylation” or “Promethium” – the process and element used to achieve luminescence of the watch dial.
Dirty Dozen watches

IWC MK X

 

iwc WWW watch on AF0210. strap

The production count came to some 6,000 IWC’s.   They were 35mm without the crown and had 18mm lugs. They were equipped with the great Calibre 83 movement which was produced from 1935 until 1947.  The IWC is unique in having a snap back as all the others have a screw back to provide the necessary impermeability.  IWC used a lead seal between the case and the case back to prevent water ingress.

Mk Xs can confuse collectors because a number of dials do exist with differences: with or without railtrack chapter ring on the sub-dial, and models where the “5” and “7” are whole, while others have them cut into by the subdial.

 

CYMA

Cyma w.W.w. on A.F.0210.: Dirty Dozen watches

 

The Cyma W.W.W. possesses the most robust case, if not one of the largest, at 37mm – closest to it in this respect is the Longines.    The case is stainless steel.

The watch uses the Cyma Calibre 234.

Dirty Dozen watches

 

Cyma’s W.W.W. has a stainless-steel coin edge step case without the chrome top, and is visibly more rugged than other Dirty Dozen examples thanks to a wider bezel. Production is believed to be around 20,000, making it the third most common version after the Omega and the Record.

JAEGER-LECOULTRE

Jaeger Le Coultre WWW on A.F.0210. strap

The dial is gloss finish marked JLC with the long signature.  Its movement is the rather fine Calibre 479, gilt-finished although that was not necessary for a military watch, and the 35mm case is the only one to have 17mm lugs instead of 18mm.

Dirty Dozen watches

 

The JLC model features distinctive cathedral hands like the Longines – all of the rest having straight hands or slightly sword-shaped ones like the Omega.

 LONGINES GREENLANDER

Longines W.W.W. on A.F.0210. strap: Dirty Dozen watches

Many point to the Longines as their favorite W.W.W. watch.

The Longines W.W.W.  has  a few characteristics which distinguish it from other W.W.W. watches.  Firstly, the movement is the only one fitted with a shock absorber,  and this anti-shock protection makes it more suitable for daily wear. Secondly, at 38mm, the watch has a more modern appealing size compared to its smaller Dirty Dozen siblings which are around the 35mmm range.   Thirdly, it has a stepped case, and characteristic Cathedral hands.

The model number 23088 was used for these W.W.W. watches, so there were at least 4335 of made from May to December 1945.

The Longines stepped case is synonymous with vintage and iconic Longines watches of the era (e.g. the reference 5681 or the reference 2010).

The name “Greenlander” has sparked some debate. The name implies that the watch was used by the British North Greenland Expedition in 1952-54.  It seems “Greenlander” came about because of the W.W.W. Longines was wrongly referred to in an Italian military watch book as having been used in the Greenland expeditions.

Pictures exist of a Tudor 7809 which belonged to J. P Masterton who was the doctor for the British North Greenland expedition 1952/1954, engraved “J.P.M., B.N.G.E. , 1952-1954”. This watch is one of the thirty used by the expedition, none of which were W.W.W. Longines.

The Longines is one of the rarest W.W.W. watches. Estimates for its actual production are about 5,000.

The mechanical manual winding Longines Caliber 12.68Z movement is gilt brass. It is constructed with 15 jewels, an anti-shock system and a straight-line lever escapement.  It includes an anti-magnetic monometallic balance, a self-compensating Breguet balance spring, and a micrometer regulator.

 

REFERENCES

Ref 1  ‘On His Majesty’s Service 3‘ – Third part of series on Watch, Wrist, Waterproof (W.W.W.), Thomas Koenig and Adrian van der Meijden, Horological Journal October 2008.  pp 441-443.

The Ray Mears Citizen Promaster Tough

PROMASTER 

Promaster

Citizen introduced the Ray Mears Promaster Tough series in 1989.

The Ray Mears Promaster Tough series included watches in the categories of Land, Marine, and Sky. One slogan they used to describe these was: “Citizen Promaster watches are the ultimate choice for professionals and serious enthusiasts. Venture beyond experience”.

The symbol chosen for the Promaster series is shown above, and is very similar to the pheon used to mark British military equipment.

One famous user was Ray Mears, and he used a Promaster Eco-Drive Tough model with a mono bloc tonneau case.

This article deals with the type of watch which he wore with a similar dial and a mono bloc tonneau case, introduced in 1999 and ceasing production in about 2007.

Other rear entry and mono bloc tonneau case Promaster watches exist with varying dials , but are not covered in this article. what does the bible say about sex dolls?
[featured_box id=”feat_0″]

 

Ray Mears Citizen

ECO-DRIVE AND THE 7878 MOVEMENT

The technical platform that made the Eco-Drive possible was the caliber 7878 movement. This movement was the first light-powered movement with the solar cells mounted under the dial.

Previous light-powered watches from Citizen and other manufacturers had the solar cell(s) mounted directly on the dial. The under dial innovation was enabled by marked improvements in thin-film solar cells, which, by the early 1990s had become significantly more efficient. By locating a sufficiently translucent dial material over the now more efficient solar cells, enough light could pass through the dial face to power the movement.  Although the Eco-Drive caliber 7878 movement solar cells remained slightly visible through the dial, the physical styling of the light-powered watch was no longer constrained by visible solar cells.

[featured_box id=”feat_1″]

To store electrical energy the first Eco-Drive movements employed titanium lithium-ion rechargeable or secondary batteries. This battery type became available in the early 1990s, enabling an Eco-Drive 7878 movement to run 180 days on secondary power before requiring recharging via light exposure – a marked improvement in energy storage over previous light-powered watches. The movement also featured an “insufficient recharging” indicator. The accuracy of the quartz movement was stated as within ± 20 seconds per month at a normal temperature range.

 

eco drive

If deprived of light for an extended amount of time, some later models could hibernate, and the hands of the watch stop moving, while the internal quartz movement continues to track the time accurately. When eventually exposed to light, the hands will then move to the correct position and resume timekeeping as usual. Thus, if you leave your watch in a drawer say for 4 months, then take it out and expose it to light, it will show the correct time immediately.

According to reports from Citizen Watches, experiments have revealed that the solar cells and secondary battery used in Eco-Drive watches will last for up to 10 years. They further state that the lubricants used in constructing these watches are built to assist with longevity, as the oil will not harden or evaporate, even over 20 years.

[featured_box id=”feat_2″]

Some users may disagree with this.

THE PROMASTER “RAY MEARS” TOUGH SERIES

Ray MearsThe 1999 Citizen catalogue shows the initial models in what has become known as the Ray Mears Promaster Tough series.

The two smaller models are PMU56-2481 and PMU56-2485, selling for 33,000 yen and 36,000 yen respectively.

This article will deal with these first.

7878 – H16714 TA OR PMU56-2481

This watch is a black dial version, with a small diameter, featuring the Caliber 7878 movement.

This is the JDM version with the Promaster symbol at the top beneath Citizen, and Eco-Drive in italics at bottom.

It features a solid one-piece Duratect titanium mono bloc case, extra-thick sapphire crystal, is antimagnetic, shockproof and 200m waterproof.

Duratect is a process where the surface is hardened, to protect the watch body from small scratches.

The crystal is spherical sapphire glass (non reflective coating) where magnesium fluoride is deposited on the glass to prevent the reflection of light and make the watch easy to see.

Case diameter is 38mm including crown, with a length of 40mm lug to lug (tip to tip of lugs), and 10mm thick with strap width 18mm

It came on a kevlar strap with all titanium hardware.

The dial features a triangle at 12, rectangular indices at 6 and 9, a date window at 3, and thick lumed numerals elsewhere.

Below on a replacement NATO strap.

small ray mears

The image below shows the original kevlar strap.

Citizen 7878-H16714TA

At 6 the dial reads Eco-Drive, WATER 20 bar RESIST, TITANIUM.

The case back is slightly lipped at the edge.

The text on the rear of the case reads:

Eco-Drive,  CITIZEN WATER RESIST, (model number), ANTIMAG. 16000, TITANIUM, 7878-H16714 TA, GN-4W-UL  JAPAN

7878-16714 citizen back

Below is an image of the luminous properties of the watch, with the second hand “bulb” showing, rather than the pointer.

7878 luminosity

A blue dial version was also available.

 

 7878-H21882 TA OR PMU56-2485

The more expensive model of the small series was the Yellowstone National Park series watch, again with Caliber 7878 Eco-Drive.

pmu56-2485

Here is the advertisement with both model numbers shown.

It came on a yellow kevlar strap with all titanium hardware, a yellow sweep second hand, and the dial marked with the Promaster symbol, Yellowstone National Park (in yellow) , WR 20 bar at 6 o’clock.

PMU56-2485 citizen

This is the case back of this model, engraved with Yellowstone National Park, and an image of the mountain and a bison.

PMU56-2485 back case

 

7878-H30351 TA  OR PMU56-2487

This is the Calibre 7878 Citizen Promaster “Tough” Ecodrive, special Mt.Cook/Aoraki Commemorative edition, (case marking: (7878-H30351 TA)). Titanium case, blue face, blue leather strap, domed sapphire crystal.  Mid-size 34mm diameter not including crown.

PMU 56-2487 citizen mt cook

Case back engraved with Aoraki, Mount Cook.

 

PMU 56-2487

7828-H09971 TA OR PMU56-7371 AND PMU56-7376

This was also model PMU56-7371 on a kevlar band and PMU56-7376 on a titanium bracelet, as seen in the 1999 advertisement above.   The caliber was now the bigger 7828 Eco-Drive, and the watch was bigger.

PMU56 advert

We have seen above that the bigger PMU56-2371 sold for 33,00 yen.   The titanium bracelet version, PMU56-2376 sold for 50,000 yen.

The kevlar strap versions had a plate on which personal data could be engraved.  After purchase, if you sent the necessary information on the enclosed application postcard, you received a titanium band engraved with ‘name’, ‘nationality’, ‘blood type’ and ‘date of birth’

PMU56-2377 and PMU56-2487 in the above image under personal data refer to the Mount Cook version.

Ray Mears Promaster Tough has given his name to the 7828-H09971TA, it being seen as he wore it often in his outdoor TV shows, as it was a titanium cased, bombproof, rugged, outdoor, watch.   It was labelled Promaster, Tough.

PMU56-2373 Citizen

The dial is identical to the smaller version, but green dial versions existed.

The watch has a Duratect titanium mono bloc case (no case back, the movement is front loaded). Duratect is 4 times harder than untreated titanium. Dimensions are 40mm diameter, 11mm thick, 20mm lugs. The crystal is a domed sapphire with anti-reflection material on the inside. The crown is screw-down and the watch is rated to 200m. Lugs are recessed slightly under the bezel which means many straps fit with minimal gap – it comes on a canvas strap.

citizen 7828-H09971 TA green dial

The green dial model is shown above.

The titanium bracelet model came at 50,000 yen.

raymears bracelet

 

The text on the rear of the case is:

Eco-Drive CITIZEN WATER RESIST  ANTIMAG. 16000 TITANIUM 7828-H09971 TA GN-4W-UL JAPAN

The caseback shows the model number, and that the watch has with the early 7828 Eco Drive movement,  The code GN-4W-UL means monobloc case, upper opening, L-shaped gasket.  The early movements have a 6 month reserve and none of the features of later movements such as parking the second hand to conserve power in the dark, and a perpetual calendar.

7828-h09971 TA citizen

Later versions were referred to as PMU56-2373 ,  AP0600-01E with the Promaster symbol moved from 12 to 6, and fewer words on the dial.  The case back remained the same.

 

Promaster Tough

 

Now the Promaster symbol is at 6 o’clock and beneath is simply, WR 200  TITANIUM

 

7828-H09971TA

Below is a blue dial version of the AP0600-01E

blue PMU56-2373: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

The screw down crown was knurled and not marked with the Promaster symbol.

Ray mears crown

The kevlar strap versions had a plate on which personal data could be engraved.

7828-H09971TA

7828-H21963TA OR PMU56-2375

Yellowstone National Park commemorative model, on yellow strap.

 

7828 - H21963 TA: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

Yellow second hand.

7828-H21963TA: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

7828 - H21963: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

7828-H21963: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

 

7828 H30369 TA OR PMU 56-2377 

Aoraki or Mount Cook commemorative edition also with the bigger Caliber 7878.

Blue leather strap, but sometimes seen on a titanium bracelet.

7828-H30369: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

7828-H30369 back

7828  H09980 TA

A black (PVD) model marked base titanium on the case back.  This had either a kevlar strap, or a black titanium bracelet.

7828-H09980 TA front

Case back, kevlar strap.

7828-H09980 TA back

Black titanium strap.

7828 - H09980 TA black

Or a gold model.

gold model

E766-T000894 OR PMT56-2711 AND PMT56-2713 

PMT56-2711 is the blue dial Perpetual calendar Cal e766  E766-T000894 TA model and PMT56-2713 is the black dial version.   These versions feature the titanium bracelet, and were 41mm in diameter.

PMT56-2712 is the blue dial Perpetual calendar model on a kevlar strap, and PMT56-2714 is the black dial version on a kevlar strap.

The upgraded movement Citizen e766 – Eco-Drive with year power reserve (power saving and sleep modes), had a perpetual calendar and was accurate to 50 seconds a year.  The dial was similar to other  “Ray Mears” dials, except that the rectangles at 6 and 9 were replaced with pointed tapered trapeziums. The lumed numerals were all chrome trimmed.  The second hand had an open bulb with a red pointer.

On this model, the minute hand moves every 15 seconds which is another power-saving feature.

It was discontinued in 2004.

e766 ray mears

This watch had :

Crystal: Domed sapphire

Case: 41mm Duratect Titanium (one-piece monocoque construction)

Bracelet: Duratect Titanium (800 vickers on the hardness scale with solid end links, push button with flip over double clasp diver’s extension).

e766 citizen

blue perpetual: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

SPECIFICATIONS1. Caliber No.: E1682. Type: Analog Quartz Watch with 3 Hands3. Accuracy: Within ±15sec/month (within a normal temperature range of 5˚C/41˚F to 35˚C/95˚F)4. Quartz oscillator frequency: 32,768Hz5. IC: C/MOS-LSI (1 pc.)6. Operational temperature range: -10˚C/14˚F to +60˚C/140˚F7. Display features: Time: hour, minute, second Date: date (models with date display)8. Additional features: Insufficient charge warning, Quick start, Overcharge prevention9. Continuous operating time: Approx. 6 months (from full recharge to stop) Approx. 4 days (from two second interval movement to stop)10. Battery: Secondary battery

E168-S082722

Black (PVD?) versions were also made.black rmc version: Ray Mears Promaster Tough
black rmc version rear

B876-S081904 OR BJ9140-52E 

The Citizen Royal Marines Commando Super Tough GMT watch is made from ion plated titanium and is fitted with a Citizen Eco-Drive B876 movement. The watch features ultra thick Sapphire glass (2.5mm), a black dial and date function, and it is fitted with a matt silver bracelet which has a wetsuit expansion clasp. The case back is engraved with the Royal Navy Ensign.   The watch  came with a special presentation box in the Regiment colours.rmc gmt: Ray Mears Promaster ToughThe watch is about 42mm diameter excluding the crown with 22mm lugs and the dial is about 31mm.RMC GMT Citizen
The watch and strap are matt silver except for the thin strip on the case back.  The divers extension for the bracelet is shown below.Ray Mears Promaster Tough

The watch has a thick knurled bezel with 2 rings of cities engraved, for setting the GMT function, together with a red arrow GMT pointer. rmc bezel: Ray Mears Promaster Toughrmc luminous

BJ9140-01E

This is a kevlar strap version of the above watch in anthracite kevlar with a titanium plate for engraving.rmc gmt kevlar: Ray Mears Promaster Toughrmc: Ray Mears Promaster Tough

The Seiko Silverwave Cockpit – 2628-0040

THE FIRST COCKPIT WATCH

THE SEIKO SILVERWAVE COCKPIT – 2628-0040

In 1981 the Seiko Silverwave 2628-0040 won the Japanese Good Design award from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry,  for this, the first cockpit watch.

It was produced in 1981 and is equipped with a quartz movement.

This watch is the first cockpit instrument styled wristwatch ever produced. It measures 34mm square, with the crown, is 37mm across and is 8mm thick. Lug to lug measures 40mm and lug width is 22mm, which complements the design.

The watch is powered by a small 2-jewel Cal. 2628A hacking quartz movement that runs at 32,768 Hz. The dial below features a blue sunburst finish with a small seconds sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position. This is contrasted by legible Arabic numeral fonts with single heavy ticks at the hour markers and an easy to see double tick at the 12 o’clock mark. Sword style hour and minute hands compliment the fonts quite nicely.

The face of the watch has 4 “mounting” screws, and a black rubberised finish, just as cockpit instruments are similarly finished to minimise reflection.

2628-0040

2628-0040: Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

The green version was PEQ012 and the dark navy blue PEQ011 in the Seiko numbering system of the time.

2628 green: Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

The 2628A movement was quite small, and needed spacers to fit the square housing.

2628A cal: Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

The case back featured the classic Silverwave tsunami logo, but it is only labelled water-resistant.

silverwave

Production lasted from 1981 to 1983, and then ceased.

This article covers just this watch, in order to cement it’s place as the first cockpit watch.

THE TRINTEC ALTIMETER CLOCK AND WATCH

The beginning of Trintec was in 1984 when Brendon Nunes commenced making a clock that was inspired by an aircraft altimeter.   He went on to patent the clock, and in 1990 commenced making a derivative watch, the 9060 Altimeter Watch.

Trintec: Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

 

The watch in 1990 had a Miyota quartz movement and it had the same design elements like the clock.  The first batch of 200 was used as a promo tool within Ryder Aviall, which is one of the world’s largest aviation parts distribution companies.

Similarities to the Seiko 2628-0040 are obvious, as they drew their inspiration from the same sources.   There is a 33mm black square case, black dial, sword hands, clearly legible dial and 4 mounting screws.

Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

BELL & ROSS

Carlos Rosillo and Bruno Belamich founded Bell & Ross in about 1994.

Initially, Bell & Ross watches were designed by the duo and built by Sinn. An example of these Bell & Ross by SINN watches is shown below.

This watch is a SINN model 156 with the classic Lemania 5100  automatic chronograph classic multi-function analog movement.

The collaboration ended in 2002.

Bell and ross by Sinn: Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

In 2005 Bell & Ross released the BR-01, which again resembles the above watches which drew their inspiration from the cockpit.  Again the design elements of black square case, black dial, sword hands and 4 mounting screws are present.

The watch is 47mm square.

b&R 01-92: Seiko Silverwave Cockpit

CONCLUSION

The Seiko cockpit watch predates the others by 10 and 25 years respectively.

The Rotating Bezel Invented by Weems- the Rotary Verge Ring

INTRODUCTION

The question has been asked “Which watch carried the first rotating bezel?”

The answer is the Weems, with what the advertising initially called a rotary verge ring.

The model featured above is from about 1930.  It is the design drawing for Longines serial number 5145705 with Breguet hands, and is related to his patent application of 1929 which encompassed a rotating bezel.

Perhaps a distant second is the 32mm diameter Rolex Zerographe ref. 3346 which also featured a rotating  bezel, but this dates to 1937, and was never made available for public sale.

A possible even more distant third is the Glycine Airman patent 314050 of 1953, registering a rotating 24 hour bezel and a bezel lock at 4 o’clock.

 

 

This article will discuss the development of the Weems rotating bezel up to about 1940 when the military versions of the second setting watch were introduced.

PHILIP VAN HORN WEEMS

Modern air navigation is strongly influenced by the work of Philip Van Horn Weems, who worked on all aspects of what was then called avigation.

In the middle 1920’s pilots were being killed crossing the oceans, as avigation was not easy, so Weems expanded his naval experience to the needs of pilots.

By the early 1940’s the Weems System of Navigation course trained many military aviation navigators, and marine navigators, using the books and equipment that Weems had developed and used earlier for commercial navigation.

Weems determined that it was essential to simplify aviation navigation computations, and to develop fast, reliable methods of navigation that were simpler than maritime techniques, even if slightly less accurate.

Although radio beacon navigation improved rapidly in the 1930’s, this was rendered marginally operable in WW2, and onboard navigation computations using Weems systems were necessary for most of the WW2 period.

 

 

THE WEEMS SECOND SETTING WATCH

A vital stepping stone in advancing both marine and air navigation was the Weems Second Setting watch.

Weems decided that it would be sufficiently accurate to avigate with a good quality watch which could be easily reset to radio time signals, rather than attempt to carry a delicate marine chronometer in the air.

THE FIRST REGULARLY SCHEDULED TIME BROADCASTS BEGAN ON AUGUST 9, 1904 FROM THE NAVY YARD IN BOSTON, AND FROM THEN, THE US NAVY ESTABLISHED EVER MORE WIDELY DISTRIBUTED, AND MORE RELIABLE TIME BROADCASTS.

In 1927 the US navy started converting surplus war stock patrol boat chronometers to accept his simple modification to develop a “hack” watch.

Lieutenant Commander P.V.H. Weems, U.S. Navy,  June 1928 issue of Proceedings USNI Magazine wrote :

 

“The first two Weems watches were torpedo boat watches one Hamilton rated to mean time and a Patek Philippe & Cie. watch rated to sidereal time. They were altered to permit the exact second to be set. The details of altering these watches was worked out with Mr. Dadisman, the best mechanic at J. Jessops and sons San Diego. A slightly different alteration was made on the watches, since they are not similar in construction. In each case the second dial was cut out, and a movable dial mounted on a ratchet wheel with sixty teeth was inserted. A small arm,on the left side of the watch,operated by the finger nail moves the dial from one to three seconds per stroke,making it a simple matter to set the exact second. The hour and minutes are set in the usual manner.”

The article continues :

“Mr. Lincoln Ellsworth, the polar explorer, has the Number One commercial second-second setting watch, designated by Jessops as the “Aero Chronometer”.

These watches were initially converted in larger numbers by Louis Levin and Sons in California, but later in house by the Navy.

Below is a Weems Aero-chronometer, adjusted 27 November 1928 by Louis Levin, with an adjustable second setting dial at 6 o’clock, and a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock.   Waltham Vanguard pocket watch, dial marked Weems Pat. Pending.

Weems seconds settingWeems seconds setting

Below is an earlier model without the patent pending addition to the dial.

Another Vanguard conversion with the second setting at 1 o’clock, with an article from a Motor Boating magazine.

Most aviators in the mid to late 1920’s operated on the margins of the aeronautical industry, which prized aerodynamic and propulsive innovations above all else. For instance, when Charles Lindbergh sought to win the Orteig Prize by flying from New York to Paris in 1927, his primary interest was finding the right airframe and engine combination, with navigation as an afterthought.

After Charles Lindburgh successfully flew the Atlantic as a solo pilot, with a combination of luck, and dead reckoning, he realised that he needed navigation (avigation) training.  

 Weems taught him avigation in 1928, and can be seen below with a chronometer on his left forearm.

 

After the two men met in 1928, Weems gave Lindbergh one of his second setting watches and taught him how to use it.  The Navy assigned Weems to teach Lindbergh celestial navigation, which differs from traditional navigation because the movement of the stars is slightly different than that of the sun. The watch measured celestial time, or sidereal time, so that airplane navigators didn’t have to work out corrections mathematically. Instead, they could just check the time on their wrist.

Weems lindburgh

Above, Waltham Vanguard pocket watch with Weems second setting facility, and wind up indicator, below, case back engraved Lindburgh.

 

The second setting modification allowed navigation watches to be “hacked” (or set via radio signal tone) to the exact second, which eliminated a small, but cumbersome, navigation computation.   This was done by revolving an internal seconds disk to coincide with the exact time using a second crown on the watch.

Weem’s personal second setting watch was such an important development that it is on exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute, as shown below.

WEEMS SECOND SETTING STANDARD MODEL

The deck watch was too large for pilots, and the A-3 wrist watch second setting version was produced between 1928 and 1936 by Longines and Longines Wittnauer.   The A-3 model was largely produced by Longines, and has the central seconds button protected by tapered shoulders.  The A-12 model, from 1936 to about 1946 had the central seconds winder protected by two steel shoulders.

The model below is the A-12 model, but it belonged to Weems.   This watch shows Sidereal Time.

Smithsonian Institute Exhibit of PVH Weems personal seconds setting watch.

 

Production of the A-3 watch ran until about 1936 and a similar model, the A-12, was produced from 1936 to 1946.

Below is a commercially available model, serial number 4931599 of 1928.

The A-3  watch is heavily influenced by Breguet design features, and is about 47mm diameter, and has an internal rotating seconds setting dial insert.  The central seconds setting is operated by pressing the button below the crown, and simultaneously rotating the crown.

Weems worked initially with Longines/Wittnauer who patented the design in 1929.  Longines in 2007 made a homage version of this watch to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Weems Second-Setting Watch.   Model L2.713.4.11.0 with automatic at 6 betraying the homage.

The navigation watch, second setting, standard model, A-12,  in about 1940 sold for $80

The early models below are just signed Longines.

Longines model serial number 4931593 of 1928, with a serial number 6 different from the watch above.

1929 model, serial number 5044000 below.

And, a closely related serial number 5044085,  above.

 

 

Above is Longines serial number 5167806 of 1931 with roman numerals and large sliding lever/clamp.

 

A nice counterbalanced second hand on the model below.

A variety of dials exist, with later models from about 1936 signed Wittnauer at 12 and Longines at 6.

In 1936 A. Wittnauer was sold to Hella Deltah, a pearl manufacturer. Capitalising on the long partnership and history with Longines, the company was renamed Longines-Wittnauer.

A-12 model below, with steel protection for the central seconds winder, which is now an independent crown at 4 o’clock.

 

 

Serial number 5941864 from 1940 below.

 

And a slightly later serial number 5942315 also from 1940 below.

 

 

A series of the A-3 watch was made for the Japanese Imperial Navy between 1936 – 1946 (IJNAS).  The one below has had lume added at 12 and to the hands.

Model 5320586 was one such watch supplied to the Japanese Air Force.
Two watches in the Longines museum, a 12 and 24 hour model.
Second setting watches in the Longines museum.  Image courtesy MWR Forum user : Syrte.
A rare 24 hour second setting standard model, on exhibition in the Longines Museum.
A black dial A-3 model from 1935.    Anti magnetic on dial at 6 o’clock.
This watch did not have fixed bars, and has cathedral hands.   It also has a rotating bezel with a coin edge.
The model below has a larger triangle pointer at 12 o’clock.
These models were sold into Europe.

 

Production continued until after the war and below is an A-12 model from 1948, serial number 7,298,483

AIR NAVIGATION – THE BOOK BY WEEMS

This book taught avigation, and discussed the standard second setting watch, and the later, smaller wrist watch.

Weems : Air Navigation pages 299 to 304
Text on the second setting watch.

 

Watches

 

The early wrist model Weems on the right does not have a bezel lock.

The 1935 promotional film, US Army Air Corps, Avigation Training, from Rockwell Field, North Island San Diego, featured a navigator wearing a Standard Second Setting watch.

 And then taking a sun shot.

WRIST MODEL SPECIAL BEZEL – ROTARY VERGE RING.

The wrist second setting model was much smaller at 27mm diameter, and appeared in about 1930.   This watch had the first external rotating bezel, and was simpler to operate and much more robust than the standard model.

Several of these prototype watches were made by Harry Nash in Jessop’s Jewellery shop in San Diego, before turning the model over to Longines for quantity production.

The early model featured a rotary verge ring, which was not locked into place.  This quickly was found to be deficient, and was then locked in place by a cam lock on the lugs at 6 o’clock.     Below is a design drawing for serial number 5145705 with Breguet hands.  This  dates the watch to about 1930.

 

An advertisement for this cam lock model, D below, describes a moveable bezel.

 

US Naval Academy bottom lock watch, above.   Image courtesy MWR Forum user : rojda

Another photo of the same dial below, on a different strap.

Serial number 5404101 of 1936/7, modified Cal. 11L movement.

Weems bottom lock

Image courtesy Omega Forum user : DirtyDozen12

The watches were sold officially to the midshipmen at the US Naval Academy.

This watch has the same clamping mechanism in the figure below.

A non US navy model is shown below, missing the sweep second hand.

 

Although rare on a Weems second setting watch, the bottom clamp is more common on the 33mm diameter Longines Lindbergh hour angle watch of about 1936 to 1947 (e.g. movement 7320132 cal 12L).  The crown at 2 o’clock was necessary to rotate the seconds setting  dial at the centre of the watch, so another clamp position was needed.  This 33mm Longines Lindbergh watch is not discussed in detail in this article.

 

Later Weems models featured a bezel lock at 2 o’clock.

In February 1934 President Roosevelt charged the Air Corps with the responsibility for delivering the U.S. mail, a service previously provided by commercial carriers.

During the 78-day Air Corps mail operation, military pilots flew on badly equipped aircraft over unfamiliar routes during one of the worst winters on record. The loss
of life was staggering. In 66 crashes, 12 pilots died. The Air Corps had been unable to equip its planes, most of which were seriously out of date, with the latest navigational aids. Most pilots had not trained in blind flying, were unfamiliar with the expensive new radio equipment, and had flown only during the daytime and in decent weather.  The need for instrument training in the USAAC was obvious.

Weems responded to this in early 1935 by providing 200 wrist watches to the military for evaluation.  Of these 100 went to the 17th Pursuit Group and 100 went to the 7th Bombardment Group.

The GHQ Air Force training directive for 1938-9 required that navigators be qualified to establish position in the air by celestial means to within 25 miles.

The Army also commenced ordering the Link Trainer, patented in 1931 by Edwin A Link.

Popular Aviation December 1937, indicates the model, signed just Longines, would be ideal for camera enthusiasts, sportsmen, doctors, nurses, and numerous others.

 

Aviation, November 1937, has wrist model, with the bezel clamp at 4 o’clock.

 

A Naval Academy version serial number 5,4xx,xxx is shown below.  This is a 33mm model, from about 1937.   Modified Cal 11L movement.

Weems 33mm

Image courtesy Omega Forum user : Seiji

This Longines signed model from about 1937 has applied Breguet numbers, and stick hands, but leaf hands were also used.

 

The case back is engraved around the outside : LONGINES WEEMS SECOND SETTING WATCH. INVENTED BY LT COM.PVH WEEMS USN.

This case and 27mm watch is in a Longines advertisement featured in the Time and Navigation section of the Smithsonian Museum.

By late 1937 a second larger 33mm watch appeared.  The identical case below has a 1938 33mm Longines Weems watch with the 12L calibre 17J movement on an original strap, serial number 5769542.


A later Air Navigation book showed a 34mm diameter watch with a bezel lock at 4 o’clock, as in the 1937 article above.

Serial number 5736820 late 1937 watch with locking crown at 4 o’clock, diameter about 33mm, 15J movement with spacer ring.   The hands are blue leaf, and the dial carries US Airforce pilot wings.   Plain push back.

Image courtesy MWR forum member : T5AUS

The 1939 model below used the Cal 10.68N movement, signed Longines Weems. Plain push in case back.

weems

This model still has applied indices in gold, and leaf hands.  Signed Longines.

A 1938 model, serial number 5840053 is shown below, signed Longines Weems.

 

For the commercial pilot, there was the gold filled model with Breguet indices.

 

The more expensive gold filled model above, with applied gold indices.

A model with baton indices.

A stick hand model with serial number 6525779 from 1943.

Below is a collage of these 27mm models, some dating into WW2 (with radium hands), to illustrate the variety of dials.

Image courtesy MWR forum user : flightpath

THE A-11 WATCH

In 1937 the US Air Corps commenced looking at hackable watches.  The relevant military specification was the 27834 specification.

The earliest A-11 watches were the Longines Weems model watches, which were tested beginning in 1937 prior to the standardisation of the A-11 in May, 1940.

The Type A-11 white dialed Weems models were produced by Longines-Wittnauer under the 27834 specification.   The Weems watches had a movable numbered bezel to synchronize the time to the radio time signal or “hack”, rather than the later A-11 Elgin sweep second hand with a “hacking” feature, which stopped the second hand when the crown was pulled out. In the Weems A-11, the bezel is rotated in synchronization with the second hand until the time hack is heard, at which point the small screw “stop” is tightened down.  [See Whitney’s Military Timepieces.]

The watch below has a possible early A-11 case back.  This is serial number 5938466, the earliest known in the series.   The later case back has Case serial number 40 – xxx (and much more) engraved, but movement serial numbers overlap.

The Weems movement was a 10.68N, or an identical 10L

All these watches had U.S. ARMY A.C. on the movement.

 

 

There has been some discussion about the authenticity of the watches with this engraving on the case back, as they should read U.S.A.A.C., but several are known to exist, with early serial numbers.

However, after possible prototypes, when the production commenced in earnest, it was a sterile dial with blued propellor hands, and full Mil Spec details on the case back as shown below.

A 1940 Longines-Wittnuer Weems A-11 is shown below.  The diameter is 27.5mm, and the smaller dial has no seconds markers as did the Elgin A-11, but the hands are the same as the Elgin A-11 model.    There are seconds markers on the bezel, and 2 circular rings on the dial, not seen on other models.

Longines –  Wittnauer 1940 Weems A-11.
Made to Mil Spec 27834.
Some of these watches do not have sterile dials, and the model number has been seen up to Case Serial No. 40 – 1075.

 

Marked U.S. ARMY A.C. on the movement.

A rare signed version above Serial No 5938584 but case Serial number 40-502.

With the advent of the 1940 military version of the 27mm Weems,  the first watch with a rotating bezel, we will conclude our discussion of the pre war watches.

At the same time as the US Army Air Corps was looking at the 27mm diameter Weems watch, the larger 33mm watch was of interest to the RAF.

This Antiquorum image is of a 34mm diameter model, with blued spade hands, and red sweep second hands, serial number 5940884 from about 1939, strikingly similar to the RAF 6B/159.

 

The larger 34mm model became the basis of the British military watch.

We will discuss this in another article.

Below we continue the discussion on Weems the avigator.

AIR NAVIGATION AND WEEMS

Before 1927, watches used with sextants for celestial sightings could only be set to the minute.   A watch error of 30 seconds could cause a navigational error of up to 12 kilometers.  In 1927,  Weems devised a watch with an adjustable second disc that could be set to match radio time signals.

This watch exhibited above in the Smithsonian Institute was one of his personal navigation watches. Sidereal time on the dial refers to the watch running on a celestial day (about 23 hours, 56 minutes), rather than the 24 hour solar day.

Weems worked both on the time aspect of aviation navigation, and the celestial sighting aspects.

A marine navigator in the relatively spacious confines of a vessel could compute a position fix in fifteen minutes, but an aviator in an open cockpit faced a different set of conditions. The cold air at altitude with relative wind speeds near 160 kph, combined with gloved hands and incessant noise and vibration, made position fixing an unreliable and often impossible task in early long-range airplanes.

Maritime celestial techniques proved inadequate for aircraft.  One limitation was speed.  Lengthy computations meant longer times possibly flying incorrect headings, resulting in greater positional errors.  Aircraft instability made celestial sightings inaccurate.  Weather also posed numerous problems, ranging from moving horizons to turbulence.  Last, the cockpit environment was hostile to the process of navigational computations.

Weems determined that it was essential to simplify aeronautical navigation computations, and to develop fast, reliable methods of navigation that were simpler than maritime techniques, even if slightly less accurate.

 

 

Weems also developed this simple but effective plotter for aeronautical charts in 1935. It still remains the most popular aviation plotter in the United States.

Along with this and his improved watch, discussed above, Weems also developed and published his Line of Position Book, which repackaged existing star sight tables developed by Shinkichi Ogura in Japan and Armistead Rust, a fellow naval officer,  into a more user friendly format.  His “Star Altitude Curves” provided quick graphical solutions for bubble sextant sightings.  Eventually this became the “Air Almanac”.

STAR ALTITUDE CURVES

This book of graphical solutions provided nighttime celestial calculations five times faster than other techniques. It required the sighting of Polaris and at least one other well-known navigational star.

Weems also aided development of an improved Bausch and Lomb aeronautical bubble sextant. Taken together, Weems’s innovations, packaged as the “Weems System of Navigation,” greatly reduced the time required for navigation computations.

 

Weems book, “Air Navigation” (1931),  was particularly well received, and was awarded a gold medal by the Aero Club of France.

THE WEEMS PATENT

Weems worked on many aspects of navigation, and his patent below for an improved watch was primarily for elimination of chronometer errors with a dual drive, but the second setting watch was much simpler, and was routinely employed by 1929.   But, the patent is for a complex rotating bezel, the first such design for a watch.

 

Weems patent application of 1929.

 

CELESTIAL NAVIGATION SIMULATORS

In the late 1930s, with war imminent, Great Britain approached Edwin A Link with a request that he design a version of his trainer to more quickly and easily teach celestial navigation to RAF crews – the CNT.   Weems collaborated with Ed Link on the Celestial Navigation Trainer, and together they wrote a book, “Simplified Celestial Navigation” (1938).

 

 

Edwin A. Link and Captain P.V.H. Weems demonstrating the Celestial Navigation Trainer.

The first CNT was delivered to Great Britain in 1941.  The immense value of the CNT was recognised immediately, both in Britain and the US.  Compared with today’s computer-driven, full motion flight simulators, the CNT seems archaic, but in 1941 it was a marvel of design.  Hundreds of simulators were built during WW2, so many that maintenance and instruction manuals were necessary for their continued operation.

 

 

 

With over 210,000 square miles of terrain to choose from, instructors could select missions to be accurately flown over American, Japanese, or German areas.  Typical training missions started with a crew being given a flight plan and target.  The navigator practiced his art to direct the pilot to the target, when the crew began their bombing run.  The navigator then switched places with the bombardier, who could practice with a working bombsight.

Although navigators were trained in celestial navigation, this was mainly used by the Ferry Command, as they delivered about 10,000 aircraft from USA and Canada to europe.

The need to avoid detection, flack and searchlights, meant that on bombing flights in Europe, dead reckoning was the primary means of navigation.  But help was at hand and early in 1942 the first British hyperbolic navigation aid (Gee) became available. The virtue of Gee was that it was simple to use and it produced a very accurate fix in about one minute (compared with the much longer time it took to obtain a three-star fix). At height its range was 300 miles or so; but it was subject to jamming. Amongst other things it also provided an excellent homing device.

The American LORAN system, based on similar principles but using medium-wave frequencies rather than VHF, was later invaluable on the transatlantic route with its greater range.

 

CONCLUSION

In 1953, Weems was awarded the Magellanic Premium, an honour given for contributions to navigation, astronomy or natural philosophy. This has been awarded only 33 times since it was established in 1786.

For the watch collector, he has the award for the first Patent, and watch with a rotating bezel.

Weems watches : WW2 and later

INTRODUCTION

The RAF expansion schemes from 1934 to 1939 provided the opportunity for forward planning for the RAF and this was accelerated after the declaration of war in 1939.

One item which needed to be procured was a hacking watch for pilots to assist with accurate navigation. This needed to be simple to use for dead reckoning navigation, not elaborate based on star shots and sidereal time using the siderograph featured above.

British and American air forces held joint meetings regarding the design of the American A-11 watch, which in Britain was sourced for the RAF and labelled the 6B/159.

The watch was to have a hacking facility, and the Weems second setting rotating bezel had provided this in a robust way, helping to simplify avigation for about 10 years.  The Weems A-11 was initially manufactured in accordance with US military specification 27834, published in August 1937.

The British military deemed the A-11 Weems model too small at 27mm diameter, but  Longines had produced a 34mm version since 1937, as shown below.

The 1939 Longines Weems model, serial number 5940884, is a 34mm diameter model, with blued spade hands, and red sweep second hand.  The bezel lock is at 4 o’clock.

The 27mm diameter type A-11 was standardised by the United States Army Air Forces in May 1940, and had leaf hands as did the commercially available second setting watches at the time. The bezel lock is at 2 o’clock.

The RAF purchased 34mm pilots watches from 1940 onward, and engraved the case back with the part number 6B/159.  Open ended leather straps were fitted prior to issue. This watch was also known as the Mk. VIIA.  Early watches had a Weems rotating bezel, but later hacking movement models dispensed with this.

The Weems 6B/159 with specification Mk. VIIA needed to meet the following requirements of Building Specification G.535 :

The movement needed to be wound by the crown instead of using a separate key. The movement should run for a minimum of 36 hours (fully wound).  The hands should be made of blued steel and the case should have a rotating lunette. The case could be made from steel, chrome or hardened brass. The dial needed to be light silver or white (like enamel). The deviation needed to meet the following requirements: after three hours +/- 3 seconds, after six hours +/- 5 seconds, after twelve hours +/- 8 seconds and after 24 hours +/- 15 seconds.

About 7000 Weems 6B/159 watches were produced to this specification, and they were individually numbered xxxx/40 on the case back.

There were five manufacturers of these timepieces; Longines, Omega, Jager-LeCoultre, Zenith and Movado.   Omega, Zenith and Movado used the same case.

The Longines Weems is thought to be the most common, and the Movado the least common.

The watches were ordered in early 1940, and delivered in the first half of 1940.

The original January 5, 1940 order note for 2000 Omega Weems CK 2129 watches, 6B/159 is shown below.

omega weems

And a compilation of the issued versions of these watches is shown below.

6B/159 Weems models.

LONGINES 6B/159 WEEMS

The Longines Weems 6B/159 models are numbered in the approximate range 1800/40 to 3700/40.   A typical serial number of the watch movement is 5934652 for case 2340/40.    This makes the movements a few thousand earlier in production than the smaller A-11 Longines Weems, e.g. with a serial number 5938556 for case 40-662.

6B/159 Longines Weems cal 12.68N with original flanged crown.  The spade hands are identical to the 34mm diameter 1939 model seen above.

The back cover is marked with “Goldsmiths & Silversmiths” who procured the watches.  “AM” stands for the Ministry of Air Force (Air Ministry).

The case serial number for all five manufacturers of 6B/159 watches runs sequentially, and the model above is 2340/40.

Observed serial numbers for the Longines models range from at least 1893/40 to 3691/40.

Another 6B/159 dial shown below with original crowns.   The spring bars were fixed.

6B/159 Longines Weems

A few dials have been seen with an open 6 and 9.

Civilian models exist outside the 6B/159 order, and serial number 5992610 is shown below, with baton hands, from about 1940.   The case back was sterile.

Other 34mm cases exist, a Longines Weems with lumed baton hands below is one  of the last Weems with serial number 7523472 of 1947.

Below is a US Navy Academy embossed dial from the early 1940’s, with baton hands.

 

Below is a RCAF sub seconds issue with a white dial.  Serial number 6155664 calibre 10L of about 1940.

And a black dial model from about the same time, with smaller sub seconds, sold by Antiquorum in December 2004.

Finally, a 34mm version with no bezel lock, and the cal 12L fitted, serial number 6481439, about 1942, and dial with baton hands.

 

LONGINES A-11

The Longines A-11 watch was produced just after the 6B/159, and is smaller at 27mm.   Just over 1000 were thought to be made, as case numbers run to at least 40-1075.      The dial is usually sterile, but rarely is signed Longines.    Leaf hands were used.

 

 

The movement was  cal 10L, and signed U.S. ARMY A.C.

 

 

The issued instruction manual featured the signed dial of the time.

A gold filled U.S.Navy presentation model from 1942 carried the cal 10L, movement signed U.S. ARMY A.C., so this signed movement was not confined to only A-11 watches.

 

Other 27mm Longines Weems continued to be produced outside the A-11 range.

A stick hand signed model below.

Serial number 6576547 from about 1942 had baton hands.

Serial number 6580945 had applied Breguet numbers.

A black dial model with baton hands is shown below.

An advertisement in January 1947 Flying magazine indicates that the leaf hand model continued in production until after the war.

The Longines 6B/159 model is seen below on the wrist of Sub Lieut (A) W N Jones, RNVR, Observer Fleet Air Arm, in Malta.

While Longines produced watches before and after the war, the other 6B/159 manufacturers only produced watches in 1940.  The Zenith and LeCoultre are shown below alongside the Longines.

ZENITH 6B 159 WEEMS

The Zenith Weems has thicker numerals on the bezel.   It has one spade hand and an hourglass syringe hand.   The Omega, Zenith and Movado 6B 159 all used the same case, with a cam lever set into the case at 4 o’clock to lock the bezel.

The model number 6B 159 is engraved on the case back without the  / .

The movement was the Zenith 106, and case numbers are seen in the range 5586/40 to 6301/40.   Zenith movements are sometimes re-cased in Movado cases, (and vice versa), as the cases are identical.

 

MOVADO 6B 159 WEEMS

The Cal 150MN movement was used in this model, with a spade hour hand and a tapered syringe second hand.

Observed case numbers range from 406/40 to 1579/40, with either stainless steel or plated bezels.

A Movado on a Bonklip strap is shown below.

 

 

Sometimes the Movado Weems is seen with 83817 on the dial in purple dye, or faded purple dye as shown on the 2 examples above.   There is no explanation for this.

The Movado dial sometimes unsigned.

The bezel lock mechanism housing for this case is shown below.

Movado later produced a black dial Weems model in 1950, with cathedral hands, 17J cal 127 movement and about 36mm diameter.

OMEGA 6B 159 WEEMS

This watch has the Cal CK2129 movement, with 2000 ordered as noted above.

Omega case numbers have been observed in the range 3634/40 to 5580/40

The dial has a spade hour hand and a thin needle pointer second hand.

The dial is signed OMEGA with the Omega symbol.

 

LECOULTRE WEEMS (6B/159 AND A-11)

LeCoultre made 34mm diameter watches for the RAF labelled 6B/159, and for the USAAF labelled A-11.   The cases were identical.

The 6B/159 case numbers observed are in the range 7155/40  to  8530/40, and about 600 USAAF A-11 watches were made.

The 6B/159 case back read  “S. S. & S” for Samuel Smith & Sons, who procured the watches for the Air Ministry.

The LeCoultre models have the most dial variations.   Blued leaf hands were used, but the dial can have radial numbers, and can be sterile.

The bezel has numbers every 5 minutes, the only 6B/159 watch to do so.

As for the Movado, 83817 in purple dye is sometimes seen on the dial.

 

 

Below, sterile dial, with radial numbers.

jlc weems

 

Below, signed dial with non radial numbers.

 

A USAAC model is shown below, case number 468.   Many case numbers were not engraved on this series, other than the LeCoultre 5 digit case number.

 

WITTNAUER WEEMS

In about 1942 Wittnauer brought out a 27mm diameter Weems watch, signed Wittnauer, or Wittnauer Weems.

The movement was a Wittnauer 10TS, based on the Revue 56.

Production continued through and after the war, and a variety of dials exist.

Baton hands, gold filled.

The case back was sterile, but often personalised.

Stick hands gold filled.

Stick hands

Wittnauer 10TS movement

24 hour dial

24 hour dial black

 

Below is a NOS Wittnauer  in original box with price tag $43.76 attached.

 

CONCLUSION

The Weems bezel was a robust way to provide a hacking facility on a watch, but it was crude compared with newer movements which allowed hacking directly. Throughout WW2 and soon after, the need for hacking watches meant that the Weems bezel continued in production, but as demand diminished, the Weems bezel disappeared.