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RFC Aircraft Watches - Mark V Letter Codes "Click" to Login or Register 
posted
Thanks, Martin! This is excellent information to have. My thought of this being a marriage of parts from sometime during the lifetime of this watch is correct then.

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

Sorry for the delay but have been away for a few days.
Thank you so much for your inputs, it is a real eye-opener and I feel very happy to have a watch which has clearly seen action even if that is in a number of guises.
It is on its way to my favourite watch repairer to bring it back to full life and I will wear it with pride.
 
Posts: 7 | Location: Ludlow, England | Registered: July 03, 2014
posted
Just for reference:

'Long Arrow' case back



Armstrong Bros Admiralty Mark II aviation watch (Octava 8 day movement as per the Moise Dreyfuss etc Mark IVAs):



This is in fact the 'second pattern' of dial design for the Admiralty Mark II - there is also a 'diamond and dot' chapter ring as used on the Mark I. The long arrow case back is associated only with the second pattern dial, from the evidence I have seen.

Regards,

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

Sorry have been working away for the past week and so did not reply.
Many thanks for the pics, yes the arrow is identical to my Mark IVa but as previous experts have noted these things have tended to get swopped around, both movements cases and case backs.
 
Posts: 7 | Location: Ludlow, England | Registered: July 03, 2014
posted
Hi all I have just found this site while looking for info about a pocket watch I was given some 25 years ago by my uncle, it was found some 30 years ago in a garden in Brisbane Queensland Australia, its a 30 hour non luminous mark v - BB 5836 with case number 6075109 and working number 5200923, its missing the second hand and has face damage on the edge near the number 4 and doesn't work . so you can ad info to your files. I was trying to find it owner but now know that's not going to work
 
Posts: 1 | Location: Jindera in Australia | Registered: November 06, 2014
posted
G'day Tony. Thanks for adding this one. As you say, finding its owner would be pretty much impossible as they were recycled many times in the RFC/RAF. Then after many decades when they were surplussed off they tend to have gone through anywhere from a few to many different owners. I am happy to hear that you have found and rescued one from an unhappy life in a garden and it is now in the hands of someone who can admire and care for it again.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Hello all,

I have a Mark V with a BL dial suffix, an unmarked movement and the case insignia in a roundel.
I'd really like to identify the movement please if possible.
Also, does the roundel signify anything ?
Here are pics of the subject plus one of the dial plate.
Many thanks !
Piers
[IMG]http://i1121.photobucket.com/albums/l507/tango2255/DSC_6186_zps8e273e6e.jpg"> [/IMG] [IMG]http://i1121.photobucket.com/albums/l507/tango2255/DSC_6190_zps99cc8cba.jpg"> [/IMG] [IMG]http://i1121.photobucket.com/albums/l507/tango2255/DSC_6193_zpsc9ea335c.jpg"> [/IMG] [IMG]http://i1121.photobucket.com/albums/l507/tango2255/DSC_6208_zps70cf1b73.jpg"> [/IMG]
 
Posts: 4 | Location: Staffordshire in the United Kingdom | Registered: October 27, 2014
posted
Whoops....these are low res images...how to I get them into the post ?
 
Posts: 4 | Location: Staffordshire in the United Kingdom | Registered: October 27, 2014
posted
You seem to have some extra code appended at the end of each of your URLs after the .jpg - you have two characters there "> that do not belong and are preventing your image URLs from working. Below I have copied your URLs and deleted the "> coding and they seem to work okay.







[IMG]http://i1121.photobucket.com/albums/l507/tango2255/DSC_6208_zps70cf1b73.jpg [/IMG]
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
To respond to your questions as best as I can:

Who made the movement? If you look on the front you will see the code B.L. in front of the serial number 916. This does not mean that this was the 916th watch made for the RFC/RAF, it simply means that it was the 816th watch (companies started with #101) provided under a contract from a company to which the RFC/RAF gave a contracting code of B.L. No one company was able to provide enough watches by itself since so many were needed, and it was also a politically adept step to give out contracts to many companies. Most of the company codes have been determined buy a few have not. Examples of ones that have been determined are mainly the bigger better known companies such as B.B. is Omega, B.E. is Doxa, C.B. is Zenith, C.C. is Moser and so on. If you read through this entire thread - I know it is long - you will see what they all are. There are some provider codes such as yours, B.L., that have not yet been identified. Likely these providers are smaller lesser known companies, or they could also be non-watchmaker companies who bought generic movements, cased them and supplied them to the RFC/RAF for a quick profit. Personally I think the latter may be more likely as most watchmakers of the day were proud of the work to the point of stamping their company name on the movement, but this is only a guess at this time.

The "roundel" on the back is not actually a roundel, it is just a circle around the A above a line above a broad arrow. Back then, a roundel was the term used for the concentric circle insignia used by the RFC/RAF and all of the other allies where each country had a different arrangement of three colors. Th UK had blue/white/red (going from the outside ring to the center). France had red/white/blue, the US had red/blue/white, and so on. The marking on the back of your watch is a commonly seen variation on the required marking of an A which stands for Aviation separated by a line from and arrowhead which is called a broad arrow. The broad arrow is the marking that the British government requires to be added to its equipment to show it belongs to them. They have used it for hundreds of years. The circle is just a circle that particular provider added to set off the marking.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Thanks Jim,

I have now trawled through most of the thread ...it's fascinating!
Your information was very helpful :-)
Shame that the BL identity has yet not been attributed.

Regards

Piers
 
Posts: 4 | Location: Staffordshire in the United Kingdom | Registered: October 27, 2014
posted
Could this be Electa or Gallet ?
 
Posts: 4 | Location: Staffordshire in the United Kingdom | Registered: October 27, 2014
posted
The supplier's letter code for Electa is B.K.. I have not heard of Gallet having a contract to supply these but that is a possibility since not all of the supplier's letter codes have been identified to specific companies.

There is also the possibility of it being a marriage. These watches were made during the Great War and were repaired over and over for several decades. Some were sold off after the war but many were still being repaired and reissued during the Second World War and not sold off as surplus until the late 1940s or early 1950s. And since the year that they were sold off one way or another, they have been used as pocket watches and likely had civilian repairs. During all of that time, there was little regard for today's collectors and all that was important was to repair the watch and make it work again. Movements and cases could have been switched or replaced entirely. I think that the majority are pretty much correct with regard to movement, dial and case with only some replaced/repaired bits, but there are more than a few marriages from so many decades of servicing to keep them working. Also, a very large number have had their stems drilled and bows installed to make them more functional in the role of a pocket watch. They were not originally made to be a pocket watch and are not supposed to have a bow since they are designed to be held in a mounting bracket on the instrument panel and a bow would prevent that.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Although the history is a bit murky, I believe that Electa was an operation owned and controlled by Gallet et Cie.

From galletwatch.com:

Gallet supplies hand held and cockpit mounted timers to the British Air Force during WW I. Movements are produced in Gallet’s Electa workshop and marked with the Electa name.

Regards,

Martin
 
Posts: 37 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: September 17, 2010
posted
Two more MkIV watches to add.
First a white faced one:
S Smith & Sons LTD London
8 Days
Mk IV






Inside the back cover:



Inside the interior dust cover:

 
Posts: 2 | Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the USA | Registered: January 21, 2015
posted
The second MkIV is a black face

S Smith & Sons(MA)LTD
London
8 Days
MkIVA






Inside back cover... evidence of a repair





 
Posts: 2 | Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the USA | Registered: January 21, 2015
IHC Member 1892
posted
I know this is a pretty old thread but i would like to share a recent Mark IVa that I acquired.This watch came from an estate in eastern Ontario., Canada. I know no other history as yet. When acquired it was missing crown and stem and non running. It had obviously been sitting for many years and was pretty badly frozen but no obvious H2O damage. After some time I was able to disassemble the watch to find a broken pivot on the escape wheel and a badly damaged clutch wheel (someone trying to turn hands when frozen). After cleaning and replacing the broken parts it is once again working well. I think the crystal to be original so have left in in, scratches and all. I will include a few picturs which will save me making this narrative any longer.

QUESTION I HAVE.

A)Is the Black second hand correct and if so why was it used?
B) Sth..is the theory re. the Southern RR marking them still valid or is there new information on this?
C)This watch has non-lume dial but hands have lume applied to them. Probably others like this but does it have any significance?

 
Posts: 322 | Location: Kincardine, Ontario in Canada | Registered: November 25, 2013
IHC Member 1892
posted
Dial says: Non-Luminous
S. Alexander & Son
8 Day
Mark IVA No.833 Z

The dial is non lume but hands have lume applied to them.
Pendant is not drilled for a bow.

Back has stamped A^S (letters are 3/8' high). as well as Sth and the no. 1574 stamped with the same stanp that appears to have a serrated edge. The S is made by using a "c" stamp and turning the lower part backwards. I think not unique.

Movement is OCTAVIA 8day, serial No. 69629

Any help or comments are welcome. Many thanks to Jim, Greg and the many other who have contributed to this over the years. The result of your hard work is amazing. Thank you all, John

 
Posts: 322 | Location: Kincardine, Ontario in Canada | Registered: November 25, 2013
IHC Member 1892
posted
pic of back

 
Posts: 322 | Location: Kincardine, Ontario in Canada | Registered: November 25, 2013
IHC Member 1892
posted
Thank you Debbie for the help with the pictures, John
 
Posts: 322 | Location: Kincardine, Ontario in Canada | Registered: November 25, 2013
posted
There is still much to be learned from these so my answers should be taken with a grain of salt, but I will respond with what I believe based on looking at a great many of these over the years.

(A)Is the Black second hand correct and if so why was it used? The second hand should be painted white. A black painted second hand against a black dial makes it almost useless, especially for a pilot who is trying to fly his machine while it is vibrating substantially from its relatively crude engine.

B) Sth..is the theory re. the Southern RR marking them still valid or is there new information on this? I have not been able to absolutely confirm or debunk this theory. These watches were well made and during the war and after the war more than a few received supplementary markings - either military markings such as timepieces that were sent to the armies of British commonwealth countries or ones that were sold off to the public as surplus where their owners applied their own markings sometimes. Being re-purposed by the Southern RR is a plausible story for Sth marked watches. The number 1574 that is engraved on the back of your watch is not a military serial number, that number is on the front. This 1574 is a number that whomever marked the Sth marking added.

C)This watch has non-lume dial but hands have lume applied to them. Probably others like this but does it have any significance? The correct hands should be painted with white paint, not lume. Someone at sometime decided to make this particular watch readable in the dark and painted lume on the hands. It could have been anyone at any time and it is not "correct" for this watch. If you go through this thread you will be able to see what the hands of a Non-Luminous dial are supposed to look like.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
Administrative Assistant
Picture of Dr. Debbie Irvine
posted

John,

You are welcome!

Jim,

Thank you for your response Smile

.
 
Posts: 4715 | Location: Northern Ohio in the U.S.A. | Registered: December 04, 2002
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