Time Capsule: British Pilot Lt. George Hatch's WW1 Trench Watch

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Robert Stokes, Aug 3, 2020.

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  1. Robert Stokes

    Robert Stokes Registered User

    Mar 9, 2020
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    For the detailed story of Lt. George Hatch & his trench watch, please go to my website, www.TimeCapsule-Watch.com, and click on the <WW1> menu button.

    Lt. George J. Hatch's WW1 trench watch is probably the ultimate "Time Capsule" watch in my collection. It is 100% original including the strap; the case is inscribed with his name and military branch ("RFC"); his life (and tragic aerial death) are well-documented, including numerous photos and books about "Bloody April 1917". The box in which Lt. Hatch's watch was stored for 100 years contains the original handwritten "Killed In Action" note from the British authorities.

    If you saw the Oscar-winning movie "1917", you remember that it took place on Good Friday (April 6, 1917). Lt. George Hatch of the Royal Flying Corps was actually shot down and killed on this date by Germany's only WW1 Jewish war ace, Lt. Wilhelm Frankl.

    George Hatch acquired his trench watch shortly after his promotion to the RFC; it is engraved “Lt. G. J. Hatch / RFC”. He used it continuously; the silver case is corroded and the original leather strap is well-worn. It was found at an English flea market, stored in a small cardboard box, along with an original handwritten note, “Lt. George John Hatch R.F.C. ~~ K in A 6/4/17 ~~ 17th County of London Battalion ~~ The London Regiment Poplar and Stepney Rifles”

    Thank you -- I'd appreciate your feedback.

    Bob

    View attachment 603865 View attachment 603868 View attachment 603869 Hatch - KIA Message.jpg Hatch Watch in Case.jpg Hatch - Airplane.jpg Hatch - Blood April 2017.jpg George John Hatch - Portrait.png Russ Cook Hatch Watch in Box.jpg Hatch Inscription -2.jpg
     
  2. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    What a treasure, it never ceases to amaze me how watches with such provenance manage to wind up in the wild. Perhaps his remaining kin died out over time & in due course the watch was just disposed of like any personal effect found in an estate inventory.
     
  3. Hawk53

    Hawk53 Registered User

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    Another time capsule history marvel Bob. Excellent work!
     
  4. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    As you know we don't need too much coaxing to like these watches already but when you add in
    some historical context and a real person it adds another nice dimension too collecting.

    It's another nice find for you.


    Rob
     
  5. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Was he wearing it when he crashed? That's a remarkable bit of history.
     
  6. Robert Stokes

    Robert Stokes Registered User

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    Nick -- Thanks for looking at Lt. Hatch's story. I would like to think that he was wearing this watch when he crashed, and was returned by the Germans along with his other personal possessions. The watch is obviously well-worn, and it doesn't seem likely that he would have taken off on a routine reconnaissance mission without his timepiece. This watch is the "crown jewel" of my collection, with incredible history & complete provenance. Thank goodness that the English eBay seller, Russ Cook, found this watch & saved it from the trash heap.

    Bob
     
  7. Robert Stokes

    Robert Stokes Registered User

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    Rob -- Thank you for your kind words! Finding and researching the history of these is very enjoyable; returning them to the families of the original owner is the ultimate satisfaction. As noted on my website, I have returned four WW2 watches, and I am actively trying to return even more of them....

    Bob
     
  8. Robert Stokes

    Robert Stokes Registered User

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    Thank you for your kind words!

    Bob
     
  9. USCanuck

    USCanuck Registered User

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    Wow!! Unbelievable history. Russ Cook - great eye.
     
  10. Robert Stokes

    Robert Stokes Registered User

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    Thank you for your comment! Finding a watch like this (and purchasing a unique piece of history for $150.....) makes collecting these "Time Capsule" wristwatches so much fun.

    I will be adding two more stories to my website shortly. I recently returned a 1954 watch owned by 1st Lt Onore E. Case to his daughter. Lt. Case purchased this German-made Junghans watch in 1954, prior to his transfer back to the United States. The watch back features a custom engraving of the 2nd Armored Division insignia, and inscribed “1st Lt. Onore E. Case ~ Germany ~ 1951-1954”. The watch also has the original leather band.

    case - dial and inscription.jpg
     

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