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Jaeger-LeCoultre pocket watch with military stamp

Harris_M

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Jan 12, 2021
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Hello,

Firstly, I found this watch in my late Fathers 'lucky box' years ago but only recently starting examining it. I've searched for the service number on the reverse but it's an RAF (Air Force) number, signed up in 1918. Now some more reading has me thinking this watch was not produced until around 1940 so either the owner stayed in service for a long time and got issued this at a later date or something else. Can anyone expand on my limited search results so far?

Also, I have no clue how to take the back off to see the numbers within and am a little wary of forcing it in case I damage it, as it still works? Again, can anyone tell me if it's a screw off or pry? As you can tell, I have no clue about watches apart from their ability to tell the time!

Any information would be greatly appreciated, and also so I can determine whether it needs to be added to my house insurance as well.

Many thanks in advance,

Harris

watch_face.jpg Watch_Reverse.jpg
 

milou

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Jan 11, 2021
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Hello Harris

If you really plan to open your watch, you may want to have it tested with a Geiger Counter in the first place.
I have a watch that is similar to yours (not a JLC though) and it is quite radioactive because the face and the hands were treated with radium.
The guy who did the testing for me, told me that it is not a problem as long as you don't ingest the dust when you open it. So if you intend to do it, make sure you have the proper protection equipment (mask and disposable gloves).
By the way, my watch has 2 screw off covers (face and back).

milou
 

captainscarlet

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Oct 15, 2013
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Hi Harris, your watch is an Army issue pocket watch from WW2. G.S.T.P. (General service trade pattern) The case should be a ‘snap on case and you should find small nail slots on the case circumference for the front and back. A thin blade is all you should require to open it up. On opening it you should find a very nice gilt JLC cal 467/1 or 467/2 movement. These are commonly thought of as the best GSTP watches.
 

gmorse

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Hi Harris, and welcome to the forum,

I've searched for the service number on the reverse but it's an RAF (Air Force) number, signed up in 1918
The initials 'G.S.T.P.' stand for General Service Trade Pattern, and the following numbers don't refer to an individual user of the watch, but to a maker's batch reference as I understand it. Jaeger LeCoultre was, and still is, a producer of high quality movements, and this may have been issued for an army purpose requiring high levels of accuracy. It probably dates from the WW2 period, and although the case shows signs of a hard life, I expect the movement inside it is in much better shape.

You should certainly be careful with the luminous compound on the dial and hands, because although the luminous component, (usually zinc sulphide), has long ago been consumed, the radium which activated it is still producing radioactivity and small amounts of radon gas, and will continue to do so; its half life is around 1600 years. However, as milou has advised, with sensible handling it should be fine. Many people have the compound safely removed, then it's a matter of taste whether you leave it alone or have a modern, non-radioactive luminous compound put on.

Regards,

Graham
 
Last edited:

agemo

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Apr 5, 2011
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Hi,
I have this document on military watches, but I don't know much about it.
Here it is:

GSTP.jpeg military_timepiece_markings.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Harris - these watches have been discussed on the forum previously.

You may find this thread useful.

It includes this link which you will find helpful.

John
 
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Harris_M

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Jan 12, 2021
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Hi Harris, and welcome to the forum,



The initials 'G.S.T.P.' stand for General Service Trade Pattern, and the following numbers don't refer to an individual user of the watch, but to a maker's batch reference as I understand it. Jaeger LeCoultre was, and still is, a producer of high quality movements, and this may have been issued for an army purpose requiring high levels of accuracy. It probably dates from the WW2 period, and although the case shows signs of a hard life, I expect the movement inside it is in much better shape.

You should certainly be careful with the luminous compound on the dial and hands, because although the luminous component, (usually zinc sulphide), has long ago been consumed, the radium which activated it is still producing radioactivity and small amounts of radon gas, and will continue to do so; its half life is around 1600 years. However, as milou has advised, with sensible handling it should be fine. Many people have the compound safely removed, then it's a matter of taste whether you leave it alone or have a modern, non-radioactive luminous compound put on.

Regards,

Graham
Thanks Graham, as with everything there are multiple answers, G.S.T.P. appearing to have 3 different definitions (!!), but again your info is of great help. Further reading from yours and other replies has me agreeing that those numbers on the back are the seller or issuers reference and the fact it matched a service number was complete coincidence; Although the number matched an RAF service number from 1918, who came from very near to where I live here in Edinburgh. And the 'XX' at the bottom of my watch may refer to it being decommissioned so the owner could take it home upon de-mobbing.

Yes, will take Milou's advice on board and watch out for the gamma radiation from the dials. 40 years in science has given me a healthy respect for such things.

Many thanks,

Harris
 

Harris_M

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Jan 12, 2021
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Hi Harris, your watch is an Army issue pocket watch from WW2. G.S.T.P. (General service trade pattern) The case should be a ‘snap on case and you should find small nail slots on the case circumference for the front and back. A thin blade is all you should require to open it up. On opening it you should find a very nice gilt JLC cal 467/1 or 467/2 movement. These are commonly thought of as the best GSTP watches.
Cheers Captain, useful info and may have a wee search for the slot though I can't see it just now. From one of the other replies, some do appear to have been threaded so will investigate further. No thoughts on selling this watch but nice to know it's a good one.

And this is not the voice of the Mysterons. :) (Yes, I loved watching that as well and good handle you've got there)

Cheers,

Harris
 

Harris_M

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Jan 12, 2021
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Hello Harris

If you really plan to open your watch, you may want to have it tested with a Geiger Counter in the first place.
I have a watch that is similar to yours (not a JLC though) and it is quite radioactive because the face and the hands were treated with radium.
The guy who did the testing for me, told me that it is not a problem as long as you don't ingest the dust when you open it. So if you intend to do it, make sure you have the proper protection equipment (mask and disposable gloves).
By the way, my watch has 2 screw off covers (face and back).

milou
Thanks Milou, sage advice though Geiger counters aren't the best at detecting the dangerous Gamma radiation (I worked in a lab for 40 years) though they can but inefficiently. Either way, I will take care if I do decide to open it up and have a wee look at the innards, but only on the movement side.

From the info you've given and from others, will look for the notch - which I don't think is there - and then try unscrewing it. I assume it's easier if I say squeeze some bluetac onto the surface and then try to turn to give me some purchase? Or is there another trick which doesn't involve a hammer and bolster? :)

Thanks,

Harris
 

gmorse

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Hi Harris,

Or is there another trick which doesn't involve a hammer and bolster? :)
A squash ball or a fairly thick 'O' ring can provide a better grip if it is a screw back. Blutack is probably too soft.

Regards,

Graham
 

milou

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Jan 11, 2021
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To use a squash ball is a good idea. Before you use the ball you could warm up the back of the watch (with a hairdryer) that helps sometimes...if it is really a screw back. I had some trouble to open mine especially because I first tried to open it with a blade. This was my first screw back.
 

Dr. Jon

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The radium will not be a problem unless you remove the movement from its case or take off the crystal.

The major prpblem with radium, is that very small amounts are detectable and raise alarms far beyond the danger they pose. So long as the dial is covered there is no issue. Radium in addition to being very radioactive was very expensive so they did not use much on dials.
 

roughbarked

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Well, my personal icon picture is a Jaeger LeCoultre 467/2. I have two of them and I have serviced both every few years over the time between 1971 and today. They are great watches.
I've probably picked my nose after working on them for all I know but no doctor has suggested that I have radium poisoning.
I often sit and ponder how many of these are on the bottom of the English Channel.