Thanks for visiting my vintage Hamilton watch blog. I like to restore US-made Hamilton wrist watches back to their original glory and share my experiences with other enthusiasts. Use the "Search" space below if you know what model you're looking for. Feel free to leave polite comments or questions in the spaces provided. Also check out my "watches for sale" on my Etsy site - the link is on the right, just below.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1918 Aviators Watch / Trench Watch

It's common watch lore that wrist watches made the transition from pocket watches in the trenches of Europe during the First World War.  The logic being that it was easier to tell the time by looking at your wrist than to pull a watch out of your pocket.   Wrist watches also included metal screens over the top called "shrapnel guards" to protect the glass crystal from breakage.

In many cases, soldiers had jewelers fashion custom wrist watches from pocket versions but there are solid documentation examples of manufacturers getting directly involved with the trend.  Check out this Hamilton advertisement from 1918.

Hamilton's first wrist watches used their smallest hunter-style pocket watch movements at the time... the 0-size (zero size) ladies pocket watches in both 17 and 19 jewel grades like the 981, 983 and 985.  They make a nice sized watch, even by today's standards, but they were very large compared to what would be produced 10 years later.  Hamilton did make smaller ladies 6/0 sized watches (the 988 and 986) but those are open faced movements with the stem at 12.  A hunter-cased movement has the stem at 3.

Cases were sterling silver and predominantly made by Fahys.  The cases had fixed wire lugs that required a special strap designed for this specific attachment type.

The dials are porcelain with luminous figures and lume on the hands to match.

Here's a very nice example of the earliest of Hamilton's wrist watches.

In the shot below, you can see your typical 17 jewel Hamilton 983 movement.  If you look closely you can see that it says "Lady Hamilton" on the barrel bridge.  It's also missing it's micro-regulator, a little spring-lever attachment on the balance cock to precisely adjust the regulator arm.  You can see the two little holes where it would attach.  The spring portion probably broke at some point in this watch's past..

And here's a good shot of the case back, clearly showing the Fahys trademark.

Lastly, if WWI trench watches are your thing, check out this site... "LRF Antique Watches".  Stan does an incredible job with his restorations and many of his projects are for sale.