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RFC Aircraft Watches - Mark V Letter Codes "Click" to Login or Register 
posted
Close up of rear hinge:
Martin, see end of page 9 for the first posting by me today with another photo.

 
Posts: 478 | Location: Southcoast Massachusetts | Registered: May 13, 2010
posted
Michael,
Your watch seems to match mine, allowing for the much thicker, protective crystal in your example.

These photos below are of a Williamson I found recently which is exactly the same type as the Mark IVA but which has no military markings and only a plain black dial. (The dimensions of this watch all match my issued examples allowing for slight wear to the bezel rim and hinge). Note the shallow case back, which seems to be a trait of this watch rather than a design feature intended for a cockpit watch as such.



The hinge is worn but also matches yours - (one of my issued examples has a broken hinge by the way so maybe it's an inherent fault):




I posted this one because I thought it interesting that the Williamson probably had an earlier civilian provenance (like the other two Mark IVA types). The movement number for this watch is 2014124 and the case back 1926942 (ie both numbers preceding the known Mark IVAs by a comfortable margin). The bezel has a 'I' and 'IIII' incised on it and it seems to me that there is no pattern to the bezel markings on these Williamson watches.

Hope that this helps and that you find the images useful.

Regards,

Martin
 
Posts: 37 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: September 17, 2010
posted
Martin,

So both our examples seem to compare quite easily. Your hypoth seems to be an accurate one. Maybe we can find more examples to compare in the future. I do know Konrad posted one (an H. Williamson) in an earlier post in this thread and I wonder if it has the same A over Broad arrow as ours. Does your A over broad arrow mark match mine as I am curious they are the same due to manufacturer?
 
Posts: 478 | Location: Southcoast Massachusetts | Registered: May 13, 2010
posted
I have no information one way or the other about the crystals on these, but my hypothesis is that the orginal crystals would have been the thicker beveled glass ones rather than the thinner glass ones. These watches were purchased by the military for use in aircraft that were open to the weather and shook constantly like a wet dog from the vibrations of the motor. A thin crystal does not make much sense to me as it would be more likely to crack or break under those conditions, so in my thinking thin crystals are more likely to be later replacements. I have also seen plastic crystals on some of these watches and I am thinking that those are even more likely to be replacements rather than original crystals. Does anyone have some solid proof one way or another as to what the original crystals on these should be?
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Well Jim, not that I am any authority on this subject but I have owned two RFC Mark watches, a Record Mark V and this H. Williamson Mark IV A. Both had the thick beveled glass crystal which were about 3.5mm - 4mm thick above the bezel.The Records' crystal was flat but the H. Williamson's is very slightly domed.
 
Posts: 478 | Location: Southcoast Massachusetts | Registered: May 13, 2010
posted
Michael:
The 'A'-arrow on my black-dialled Williamson Mark IVA matches exactly the published specs reproduced below. The significant thing about this is that the black-dialled Williamson Mark IVA is the only watch whose markings match this published spec. The spec seems to date from 1917 and the 'A'-arrow markings seen on Mark Vs obviously conform to a different (and, I think, later) spec.
Here's the pic:

(This spec is taken from p 395 of Konrad Knirim's British Military Timepieces. I shall of course remove the pic if copyright is infringed but for the time being I am assuming fair use).

Jim H:
Apologies if my lax wording has set a hare running but like you I assume that any thin or flat crystals on Mark IVA and Mark V watches are replacements and that the originals would have been as Michael describes. This feature is not limited to aviator's watches - I have seen WWI British Army watches supplied by Elgin, H Williamson and H White all with thick c. 4mm crystals.

Regards,

Martin
 
Posts: 37 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: September 17, 2010
posted
have enjoyed watching the tally of Mk V watches grow. attached is photo of BL-1384 purchased in 2007 from a seller in Bulgaria. unmarked movement runs well, was cleaned and oiled and the hands repainted. please add this to the list. thanks

Mark V BL-1384
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
Mk V BL-1384 case photo

Mk V BL-1384 case
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
Mk V BL-1384 movement photo

Mk V BL-1384 mvmt
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
It is very interesting John that the rear case markings are encircled. I have never seen a mark quite like that before. Nice example!

Jim or anyone....does that encircled mark date this example to any particular time frame like wartime or post? Happy Memorial Day all!
 
Posts: 478 | Location: Southcoast Massachusetts | Registered: May 13, 2010
posted
Michael a good point I did not consider. I left out the case #74057 but no ID is shown. Movement has no serial number that was noted when the watch was cleaned and none shows anywhere. Is this usual on these unmarked movements?
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
John, having unmarked movements is not uncommon and for what I can quickly glance through is that "BL" is still an unknown maker for the Mk V. Most of the time we can tell the maker by the letter codes on the dial. We are lucky enough sometimes to have marked movements and letter codes on the dial that conform to what we have learned in this thread. Some manufactures made the watches with "blank" movements. The only odd think I saw was the military markings (A over Broad Arrow) within a circle on the rear case. I have never personally seen an example like this, but my expierience is pitiful within this crowd. Maybe another member can produce an answer for the odd markings. Sorry of I was unable to answer your question fully.
 
Posts: 478 | Location: Southcoast Massachusetts | Registered: May 13, 2010
posted
photos of recent find Octava BG no.802 are attached. The dial and movement are fine and the case good, may have been chrome plated at some time as evidenced by light peeling on the dust cover and pitting on one side. The original crown and stem are missing, pendant not drilled for a bow. Serial #68808, case #none. Pls add to list. thx

Mk V no. BG-802
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
BG-802 case

Mk V no. BG-802 case
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
BG-802 movement

Mk V no. BG-802 mvmt
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
Hi John. Thanks for adding these great photos and the additional numbers to the collection on this thread.

The R.A.E.Repair marking on the dial is seen on a fair number of these watches. I don't know the actual percentage but a really rough wild guess is something on the order of 10% to maybe 20%. The R.A.E. was the Royal Aircraft Establishment and the marking indicates simply that at some point in the watch's life it wound up at the R.A.E. to be repaired and after they fixed whatever was wrong they painted this marking on the dial to document their repair. Since the R.A.E. was created in 1918 and was merged out of its stand alone existance in 1993, it is pretty hard to guess when it was repaired by the marking alone. My guess is these markings are more likely to be from the 1920s and 1930s, or perhaps even into the 1940s to bring it up to snuff for use during that war. I understand that these watches were surplussed off in large numbers after the second world war so I would not imagine that the R.A.E. would have bothered repairing them after that general timeframe.

As for the A underline broadarrow marking with the circle around it, I have seen several examples of Mark Vs with this. I did not record which maker they were, unfortunately, but my guess is they are likely all the same maker. These markings seem to have been applied by the makers rather than the Ministry as there are small differences among them. It seems at least one maker decided a circle around the marking was a pleasing touch.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Hello Jim, thx your comments. I was going to contact you to ask if you add the letter codes that show up on ebay into the lists. Have you seen the "Elliot Brothers - London" Mk IV-A currently offered. Looks like the code either faded or was never used. there was another Mk V just last week but i neglected to get the code no. 3 months ago i bought a Mk V case with a beat up Zenith mvmt but missing the dial. Mvmt #2265931 case #4874143 involved. 10 days ago a 30hr non-lum Mk V dial #CB2969 was on ebay, not much attention so was happy bidder. I'll get a photo set to you next few days and will put it all together for display when i find an hour wheel and paint up some hands. It will be ok for display but i didnt know whether of interest to you. Regards
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
Elliott Brothers London

A quick note re Elliott Brothers: This well-known firm of instrument makers supplied only one issued aviation watch that I know of: an Admiralty Mark I watch with the usual Octava 8 day movement. I have seen only two genuine examples: one with a black dial; the other white.



Over time, I have seen a few white dialled Mark IVA movements (usually minus cases) marked 'Elliott Brothers London' which have appeared on ebay. These may have been genuinely made up by Elliott Brothers but I doubt personally whether they were ever supplied or issued. None had issue numbers painted on them (despite the 'No' on the dial) and no letter code assigned.

Hope this is useful.

regards,

Martin
 
Posts: 37 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: September 17, 2010
posted
Martin thx your comment. the Mk IV-A you showed is a beaut, the one on ebay with a W/|\D case and early Octava ser.#54715 (last digit is hard to read) seem legit but the dial is as you noted, no number after the "No", is white, does not mention "non.luminous" and has a chip at the 53 minute mark over a dial foot i would guess. I'll keep what you say in mind in future. regards
 
Posts: 13 | Location: Grottoes, Virginia in the USA | Registered: April 15, 2011
posted
John,

It's an Admiralty Mark I actually. (I haven't seen an Elliott Brothers Mark IVA yet with evidence that it has been issued). The numbers on the Mark I have been relumed in a not very elegant way but I can live with that until it is restored.

Here's a close up of the distinctive nomenclature:



By the way, Admiralty Mark IIs were supplied by Thomas Armstrong (an important Manchester firm of scientific instrument makers who, like Elliott Brothers, supplied the Admiralty with much and varied equipment) and S Smith & Son. The latter used gilt movements whereas the former used the ubiquitous Octava movement (and had a unique case back mark).

regards,

Martin
 
Posts: 37 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: September 17, 2010
posted
Hi John.

I try to collect the numbers off the ones I see on Ebay, but I think I miss more than a few since there seem to be quite a number that come along there.

Mark IVA dials with no serial numbers are a bit of a mystery and I am not entirely sure of what they represent. My two hypotheses are that either they were manufactured to fill a contract with the War Department but then they were either never sold to the WD, or the WD did buy them bu never issued them so they did not need to acquire such a control number; or my second hypothesis is that the dials are replacements of ones that did have serial numbers. Most of these watches seem to have been repaired often both by the military and then by private watchmakers after they found their way into private hands - either legally through surplussing or illegally through theft. A watch without a Ministry serial number would be less likely to be tracked down - though I am in no way at all implying that all watches without serial numbers are of this ilk. These are just my hypotheses. I would welcome people suggesting others, but what I am really hoping to see some day are some records from the period that will clear everything up and say exactly what is going on with them.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Hi Martin.

Do you think it is possible that is a Mark IVA with the V and A rubbed off from wear and tear? I notice that part of the I is rubbed off.

Jim
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
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