Introduced in 1932 the Omega Marine was one of the earliest waterproof wristwatches and it was the first wristwatch to be officially tested and certified for diving. In 1936 the Omega Marine was tested by immersion in Lake Geneva to a depth of 73 metres and, in 1937, the model was tested to withstand pressure of 13.5 atmospheres. Made in two halves, the inner case which houses the dial and movement is glazed to the front and slides into the outer case.
The two halves are then clamped together by means of a substantial clip mounted to the outer case back. The outer case is fitted with a sapphire crystal to the front – this was one of the first applications of this type of glazing in a wristwatch and at the time was advertised as being 9 times as strong as glass. Omega’s ‘Marine’ holds a fascinating and important place in the development of the wristwatch in the 20th century. Further details on the model can be found in my book “The Watch: A Twentieth-Century Style History” pp. 114-115.
In the Horological Journal of December 1966 it was announced that Smiths Industries in “competition with several other well known makers of watches” had been awarded a contract to supply watches to the British Government. The article noted that the contract “which was placed by the Ministry of Defence, is for General Service watches for H.M. Armed Forces. Users of the watches will be forces personnel including helicopter pilots, paratroopers and tank crews” [Horological Journal, Dec. 1966, p.14]. The movement used for the model was based on the Smiths Astral movement but with exacting specifications and the addition of a hack feature to allow synchronisation of the seconds hand. Rigorous testing was carried out at laboratories of the Chronometer branch of the Hydrographer of the Navy at Herstmonceux. Field tests of the model were also carried out in the tropics and the arctic. Aesthetically, the styling of the Smiths W10 followed the design precedents established by the WWW watches made by Omega and others (the so-called dirty dozen) that were supplied to the British Military towards the end of the Second World War. The Smiths watch also has a similar design aesthetic to the IWC Mark XI, the latter also features a centre seconds with hack feature (unlike the ‘dirty dozen’ with their subsidiary seconds dials). Like its predecessors, the Smiths watch had a substantial and robust case with screw-down back and a black dial with white Arabic numerals and luminescent accents and hands.
This example of the popular Chronostop model retains its original flexible steel Milanese bracelet. The chronograph movement allows the centre seconds hand to be used either as a constant seconds hand or to time events up to one minute in duration. The pusher for the chronograph will start the seconds hand running when pressed for the first time, pressing a second time will automatically zero the seconds hand to the 12 o’clock position. This function can also be used to synchronise the watch to a time signal if the seconds hand is kept in its running position.
This version of the Ref.2846 features the very attractive and rarely seen ‘big logo’ case back, with its distinctive embossed seahorse emblem which is significantly larger than the standard Seamaster logos of the period. The dial has a smart cream coloured finish with applied faceted baton indexes. Automatically wound, the watch is powered by Omega’s 20 jewel calibre 501.
A very handsome model from Omega’s Constellation line, this wristwatch has a bright satin finished dial with a chamfered outer edge which gives the dial a two-tone effect. The long aperture allows a large and clear display for the day and date indication. Housed in a classic circular case, the satin finished bezel, like the dial, has a chamfered edge; the chamfer to the bezel is polished, providing contrast as light carries across the surface. The outside case back is centred with the ‘Constellation’ emblem.
This Omega Dynamic model has a rich and deep black dial that is in excellent condition. The unusual elliptical shape of the case and orange centre seconds hand enhance the model’s sporty design. The watch is fitted with its original Omega Dynamic steel link bracelet with adjustable folding clasp.
Omega produced the Ref. 166.041 with a range of different dial options, the present watch features one of the more unusual variations with broad raised indexes which have blackened surfaces with blue centres. The Omega signature and dial texts, together with the outer track for minutes/seconds and frame for the date aperture are all calibrated in blue – this is all in contrast to the standard 166.041 dials which feature black ink for the calibrations and dial texts.
The smallest of Movado’s purse watch range, the Ermeto ‘Baby’ was originally made as a model to integrate into ladies’ handbags but was quickly added to the general Ermeto range. The present example is one of the earliest made by Movado and is in very attractive condition with a silver and leather covered case. The silvered dial has a frosted matte finish, raised Arabic numerals and outer minute track and blued steel ‘Cathedral’ hands. A very similar example, also dating to 1929, is illustrated in my book “The Watch: A Twentieth-Century Style History” p.76 – the latter watch is all but identical to the present watch save for the fact it has black lacquered rather than leather covers.
Vintage watches by Record are popular for their classic designs and good quality movements. Founded in Tramelan, Switzerland, in 1903, The Record Watch Company moved its headquarters to Geneva in 1924. In 1961, a majority interest in the Record Watch Company was purchased by Longines. Great looking and in lovely original condition, this watch appears to have been only lightly used and is is fitted to what is almost certainly the original stitched leather strap with a broad, gilded pin buckle. The silvered dial retains an excellent lustre and is handsomely arranged with raised, gilded, Arabic numerals.
Although branded by J. W. Benson, this watch was made for Benson by Smiths. This model, with the same dial configuration and case design was listed in a contemporaneous Smiths catalogue as a Ref. A.503. The watch is powered by the calibre 400 which was manufactured in England by Smiths at their Cheltenham factory. The 9ct yellow gold case was also made in England by the specialist case makers Dennison and although this is also signed by J. W. Benson, it is again identical to that used by Smiths for their ‘in-house’ Ref. A503.