WWII watch cases in US

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Greg L, Sep 19, 2001.

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  1. Greg L

    Greg L Guest

    Like many other, I find military watches very attractive. I have a bunch of WWII US watches, and am really interested in the casing of these watches.

    It seems that there were a wide variety of goverment issued cases, in a variety of materials. For those with government marking on the reverse, did those come with a specific MFG movement, or were they mixed and matched?

    Were movements available for individuals or jewelry stores to fit into a case? I have one Hamilton 987-F with the interior dust cover that is cased in a gold [filled?] case with stainless screw back. I love the watch, but I am very curious how it came to be. If interested, here is a picture of the watch as I got it, and a NOS dial I had. I like both versions:
    http://www.antiquevintagewatches.com/graphics/hybrid.jpg
    1.jpg

    I know most of the US cases are plated base metal, but I just got one that is stainless steel with knurled bezel, and knurled screw back. The case is definitely a step up. Why were these made in different materials, and who would have gotten this one?

    Anyway, I have a bunch of questions, and maybe the knowledgeable people here can shed some light.

    Thanks
    Greg Leveto

    [This message has been edited by Greg L (edited 09-19-2001).]
     
  2. Greg L

    Greg L Guest

    Like many other, I find military watches very attractive. I have a bunch of WWII US watches, and am really interested in the casing of these watches.

    It seems that there were a wide variety of goverment issued cases, in a variety of materials. For those with government marking on the reverse, did those come with a specific MFG movement, or were they mixed and matched?

    Were movements available for individuals or jewelry stores to fit into a case? I have one Hamilton 987-F with the interior dust cover that is cased in a gold [filled?] case with stainless screw back. I love the watch, but I am very curious how it came to be. If interested, here is a picture of the watch as I got it, and a NOS dial I had. I like both versions:
    https://mb.nawcc.org/
    1.jpg

    I know most of the US cases are plated base metal, but I just got one that is stainless steel with knurled bezel, and knurled screw back. The case is definitely a step up. Why were these made in different materials, and who would have gotten this one?

    Anyway, I have a bunch of questions, and maybe the knowledgeable people here can shed some light.

    Thanks
    Greg Leveto

    [This message has been edited by Greg L (edited 09-19-2001).]
     
  3. Dave Haynes

    Dave Haynes Registered User

    Sep 12, 2000
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    Greg: Many of the true WWII made watches
    were recased after the war because a lot
    the crummy base metal plated cases just gave out. Additionally there were probably many
    extra movements left after the war that were
    cased in more durable attractive cases. Bulova WWII cases were some of the worst and their later 10BNCH Korean vintages are the best military cases. Waltham and Elgin cases were pretty good as were Hamiltons.Some of these are what you are describing as screw-on front and back stainless. But most are plated base metal with s.s. front and backs, not stainless.Don't forget that the makers also offered military style watches using the same movements but cased in gold or stainless cases for sale on the civilian market. A lot of guys went to war with their own watch. There were 8 million men at arms in WWII and that's a lot of watches to make and sell.
    My wife's uncle was on an atoll in the South Pacific and he told me that his whole squad
    had one Ingersoll wristwatch which they each used when they went on duty. Finally, his wife bought a nice S.S. cased screwdown crown
    watch made by Rolex and sold as "Turtle" by a Portland, Or. jewelry store, and sent it to him. I've cleaned it and he still has it.

    An old B-24 pilot showed me his issue USAAF watch that he used for his whole tour of duty. It was a cheap looking "Timor?" jewelled Swiss watch with nary a military mark on it.

    Fun huh?
    Hope this helps a little.
     
  4. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2000
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    Indiana PA
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    WW-II watches are definitely an interesting study. My experience has shown that there were two types issued, one being a garrison watch and the other being a tactical watch. The garrison watch was utilized by support troops and generally had a white dial. These were not hack set. The tactical watches had a black dial and were hack set to enable synchronization of watchs in a tactical situation. I have a Hamilton grade 987F with a dial the same as yours. It belonged to my uncle, who worked in a rear area in supply in Europe. He gave it to my Dad who wore it as a machinist for 15 years. Needless to say, when it was given to me, the original case was totally shot and unwearable. I found a NOS ww-II case and recased it. I wear it occasionally as a dress watch. For originality, I would not have swapped the dial. But that is only my opinion. It looked great with either dial.
    I believe that the existing case is a civilian recase done after the war. This was done with many ww's and pocket watches, so the user could continue to use his favorite watch. Tom
     

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