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RFC Aircraft Watches - Mark V Letter Codes "Click" to Login or Register 
posted
I've been finding some more examples of these Mark Vs - the updated list below includes the one Greg found a while back plus nine more that I have run across - a total of ten new entries including three Doxas, two Electas, two Octavas, two Zeniths and one unmarked which falls into the Doxa B.E. and is the second unmarked B.E. example. I think it is possible that either Doxa did not mark all of their movements or perhaps they may have purchased some movements to help them meet their delivery requirements to the Air Ministry.

Here is the updated list:


A.A. ? Smith and Son - maybe ?

B.A. -
B.B. - 3404 (30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega); 4070 30 hour, non-luminous; 4282 (30 hour and luminous dial in incorrect non-military case, movement)marked Omega; and ???? a 30 hour, luminous with the B.B. marking but no number after it and with the movement marked Omega.
B.C. -
B.D. - 3033; 3388; 3823; 3828 all marked Invicta; and 4436 marked Doxa
B.E. - 179 30 hour, non-luminous marked Doxa; 2729 marked Doxa; 4673 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6184 30 hour non-luminous unknown maker; 6423 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6540 unknown maker; and 10576 marked Doxa
B.F. -
B.G. - 953 8 day non-luminous marked Octava; 1122 on non luminous dial with 8 day movement marked Octavia in unmarked replacement case; 1389 non-luminous marked Octava; 1481 marked Octava; and 3553 8 day non-luminous marked Octava
B.H. - 403 (movement marked Record); and 823 (30 hour, non-luminous, movement unmarked)
B.I. -
B.J. -
B.K. - 793 30 hour non-luminous; 1397 30 hour, non-luminous; 1952; 6009; 6065 and 6864 all marked Electa
B.L. - 1097 unknown maker

C.A. -
C.B. - 1643; 2181; 2262; 3959; 4181; 5660; 6184; 7389 30 hour non-luminous; and 7xx9 (could not tell from the photo what the middle two numbers are) all marked Zenith
C.C. - 773 30 hour, non-luminous; and 798 unknown maker
 
Posts: 854 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
I have a question concerning two Mark IVa 8 day non luminous dial watches I recently bought. A S Smith and Sons London marked 9077F and another by Grisham Baxter and Elliot marked 722R. Both carry the WD with an arrow in the middle mark on the case. On the first the movement is unmarked the later has an Octavia.

Now here is the question when were the WD stamps used Is it first world war? The Smith came with a wrist altimeter to 16000ft also stamped wd and that height would clearly indicate early wwi. Can I safely assume these watches to be wwi?
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Oliver,

I know for certain that the WD mark was in use in the 1850s.

BTW, some historians claim that the broad arrow mark was first used in the 14th century.
 
Posts: 746 | Location: Tokyo, Japan | Registered: December 25, 2003
posted
Thanks Glyn, my worry is that these might be post wwi... Anyway, found another Omega Mark V for sale on Ebay BB 3162 movement number 5047587, which is quite interesting as it confirms my hunch that those Omegas marked BB without a number were late war productions possibly too late. (This observation stems from the movement numbering of the watches observed).
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Found another one Omega 30hrs non luminous BB1568 movement No 5914953 on Ebay. I will bid for it unless there is someone here that needs it ( I already have a couple of Omegas hence will be happy to concede to another interested forumite)

PS would still love to get an answer on the WD (plus arrow stamp) pertaining to Mark iva watches. Does this signify wwi usage?
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
Life Achievement
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Picture of Greg Crockett
posted
Oliver,

Good question about the old War Dept. "W/|\D" marking.

In THE BROAD ARROW by Ian Skennerton, the author states that this marking was used from about 1856 until 1895. Mr. Skennerton has a note regarding the official British List of Changes [of military equipment] Subparagrph 7815.

Although the "W/|\D" marking may have been discontinued upon most equipment such as rifles, bayonets, belts and such, this marking clearly continued in at least limited use into the first several years of WWI. At this moment, the only items I can recall seeing with this marking, from the 1914 - 1918 era, have been 8 day watches.

As an educated guess, any item with War Dept. broad arrow marking would at least pre-date 1918.

My observations are based upon collecting both weapons and watches for some years.

THE BROAD ARROW (140 pages) is mostly concerned with British and Empire factory, production, proof, inspection, armourers, unit & issue markings. An invaluable guide to the collector of militaria in general.

Best regards,

Greg
 
Posts: 1859 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
posted
Oliver,

Your e-mail address is returning mails: <olyy@lineone.net> Mailbox disk quota exceeded

Please let me know when I can reach you off the MB. Thanks.
 
Posts: 746 | Location: Tokyo, Japan | Registered: December 25, 2003
posted
sorry.... too much spam wulffo1@hotmail.com is much better
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Here is another one:

Electa Mark V 30hrs nl BK 828

Also an idea, about expanding this post to Mark iva's. Here are the first three:

Mark IVa 722R 4A Grimson, Baxter, Elliot
Mark IVa 9077F 4A S Smith
Mark IVA S.Alexander & son 8 DAY No. 1043Z
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
Life Achievement
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posted
Oliver, I like the idea of starting a list of the MK IVa. I'll add another:

Mark IVa 8020F 8Days, S. Smith W/|\D on back.
 
Posts: 1859 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
posted
I am adding 5 more Mark V cockpit watches to the list, and per Oliver's excellent recommendation, I am adding a section on the Mark IV A cockpit watches following the Mark V section.

Here is the updated list:


MARK V Cockpit Watches

A.A. ? Smith and Son - maybe ?

B.A. -
B.B. - 1266(30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega); 1568(30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega); 3162 (movement marked Omega); 3404 (30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega); 4070 (30 hour, non-luminous); 4282 (30 hour and luminous dial in incorrect non-military case, movement marked Omega); and ???? a 30 hour, luminous with the B.B. marking but no number after it and with the movement marked Omega.
B.C. -
B.D. - 3033; 3388; 3823; 3828 all marked Invicta; and 4436 marked Doxa
B.E. - 179 30 hour, non-luminous marked Doxa; 2729 marked Doxa; 4673 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6184 30 hour non-luminous unknown maker; 6423 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6540 unknown maker; and 10576 marked Doxa
B.F. -
B.G. - 953 8 day non-luminous marked Octava; 1122 on non luminous dial with 8 day movement marked Octavia in unmarked replacement case; 1389 non-luminous marked Octava; 1481 marked Octava; and 3553 8 day non-luminous marked Octava
B.H. - 172 (unmarked movement, 30 hour non-luminous); 403 (movement marked Record); and 823 (30 hour, non-luminous, movement unmarked)
B.I. -
B.J. -
B.K. - 793 30 hour non-luminous; 828 30 hour non-luminous; 1397 30 hour, non-luminous; 1952; 6009; 6065 and 6864 all marked Electa
B.L. - 1097 unknown maker

C.A. -
C.B. - 1643; 2181; 2262; 3959; 4181; 5447; 5660; 6184; 7389 30 hour non-luminous; and 7xx9 (could not tell from the photo what the middle two numbers are) all marked Zenith
C.C. - 773 30 hour, non-luminous; and 798 unknown maker

MARK IV A Cockpit Watches

1877AC H. Williamson Ltd., 8 days, white dial, WD on back

8020F 8Days, S. Smith W/|\D on back
9077F S Smith

722R Grimson, Baxter, Elliot

1043Z S.Alexander & Son, 8 DAY, Octava marked movement
 
Posts: 854 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Doxa Mark V 30hrs nl BE 6184
Zenith Mark V 30hrs nl CB 6184

Hey here is a first finding: the numbers were obviously by maker. It could have been that the numbers of the watches would have been consecutive regardless of manufacturer but given the above duplication it can be assumed that the numbering was done per company which would also indicate that the cases were probably produced at least to some extend by the different companies. Also the total number of Mark V's, if they started at 1 for each manufacturer should be graeter than 45275.
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
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posted
Duplicate numbers with different prefixes represent an important finding. Thank you Oliver.

Best regards,
Greg
 
Posts: 1859 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
posted
I am adding another seven Mark V cockpit watches plus one Mark IV A to the list which is at the end of this long posting. They all fit the patterns of the makers and letter codes we are seeing, but several of these extend the serial number ranges either upwards or downwards.

We now have a second example (in addition to the one Oliver pointed out) of two different makers using the same number but with their different letter code prefixes to differentiate them. This second example is the new find of a Zenith made Mark V, 30 hr., non-luminous with the serial number of C.B.1389 compared to the Octava made Mark V, 30 hr., non-luminous with serial number B.G.1389. This adds great weight to Oliver's hypothesis that the company prefixes were used on sequentially numbered watches, rather than each company's watches being given unique ranges of numbers with one set of master numbers. One significance of this is that in theory one could take the lowest and highest found serial numbers by each maker and leap to the dangerous assumption that there were a minimum of that number made, then add up the totals for each maker to get a ballpark estimate of the total number of these watches purchased by the Ministry. Of course this total will rise each time a lower or higher serial number is discovered for a given maker.

So, using this hypothesis and making an unsupported assumption that there are no breaks in serial number ranges within each maker, I will brashly say that the current serial number ranges suggest that there could have been at least 33,557 Mark V watches made. This would be a low estimate since we still have a very limited number of examples and the serial number ranges will very likely expand over time.

Here is the current breakout by maker of low/high serial numbers and total watches using the above assumption of no missing numbers:

B.B. Omega 1266/6385 total 5119
B.D. Invicta 3033/4436 total 1,403
B.E. Doxa 179/10,576 total 10,397
B.G. Octava 953/3,553 total 2,600
B.H. unknown 172/823 total 651
B.K. Electa 793/6,864 total 6,071
B.L. unknown 173/1,097 total 924
C.B. Zenith 1,022/7,389 total 6,367
C.C. unknown 773/798 total 25

From this list the most common maker currently shows as having been Doxa with Zenith, Electa and Omega also being large producers. The least commonly found ones are those by the unknown makers B.H., B.L. and C.C. It is possible that B.H. was Record, but so far only one example so marked has been found while two others show no maker. Until we find more marked Record, I am not comfortable saying B.H. was Record since movements and dials are replaceable and one can not always be sure that a dial or movement was not replaced at some point in the the past 85 to 90 years since these watches were made.

One other observation in this process so far is that I am surprised that we have not found any watches with makers of A.A. or other A.?. series, and I am even more surprised we have not yet found any from makers with B.A., B.C., B.F, B.I., B.J., or C.A. It is possible that the Ministry contracts for these prefixes were planned but not let for some reason, or they just might be even more rare than the unknown maker prefixes and we have not found them yet.

Enough of my ramblings, here is the updated list:

MARK V Cockpit Watches

A.A. ? Smith and Son - maybe ?

B.A. -
B.B. - 1266 30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 1568 30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 3162 movement marked Omega; 3404 30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 4070 30 hour, non-luminous; 4282 30 hour and luminous dial in incorrect non-military case, movement marked Omega; 6124 30 hour non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 6385 30 hour non-luminous, movement marked Omega; and ???? a 30 hour, luminous with the B.B. marking but no number after it and with the movement marked Omega.
B.C. -
B.D. - 3033; 3388; 3823; 3828 all marked Invicta; and 4436 marked Doxa
B.E. - 179 30 hour, non-luminous marked Doxa; 2729 marked Doxa; 4673 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6184 30 hour non-luminous unknown maker; 6303 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6423 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6540 unknown maker; and 10576 marked Doxa
B.F. -
B.G. - 953 8 day non-luminous marked Octava; 1122 on non luminous dial with 8 day movement marked Octavia in unmarked replacement case; 1389 non-luminous marked Octava; 1481 marked Octava; and 3553 8 day non-luminous marked Octava
B.H. - 172 (unmarked movement, 30 hour non-luminous); 403 (movement marked Record); and 823 (30 hour, non-luminous, movement unmarked)
B.I. -
B.J. -
B.K. - 793 30 hour non-luminous; 828 30 hour non-luminous; 1397 30 hour, non-luminous; 1952; 6009; 6065; 6073 30 hr. non-luminous; and 6864 all marked Electa
B.L. - 173; 1097 unknown maker

C.A. -
C.B. - 1022; 1389; 1643; 2181; 2262; 3959; 4181; 5447; 5660; 6184; 7389 30 hour non-luminous; and 7xx9 (could not tell from the photo what the middle two numbers are) all marked Zenith
C.C. - 773 30 hour, non-luminous; and 798 unknown makers

MARK IV A Cockpit Watches

1877AC H. Williamson Ltd., 8 days, white dial, WD on back

8020F 8Days, S. Smith W↑D on back
9077F S Smith

722R Grimson, Baxter, Elliot

1043Z S.Alexander & Son, 8 DAY, Octava marked movement
2539Z S.Alexander & Son, 8 DAY, Octava marked movement, luminous dial, "A↑S" marking on the back of the case.
 
Posts: 854 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Zenith Mark V 30hrs nl CB 6257 2320341 A Arrow marked plus inscribed: HENRY SHAW 54 Sq  RFC,AMIENS 1916 to add and I believe that we assume the numberings to start at 1 we would be looking at something between 40000 and 50000 Mark V's produced
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Omega Mark V 30hrs lum BB 5186080movement 5936048case A arrow and crownAM marked err forgot this one also BB marked without a number.... obviously with a long service history from RFC through to RAF and post war use....
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Thanks Oliver. Starting at number 1 seems to be a likely hypothesis and while I favor it, I did not include it in my ramblings since it could be possible that the Ministry might have started with a number such as 100 as some manufacturers do. I would really like to see one of these watches with an Ministry serial number lower than 100. Of course, either way (starting at 1 or 100 or some other number) the net difference in total production would not be a large percentage in the total number of watches.

The British built 58,144 aircraft during WW I, and lost 35,973 of them. Watches were not standard equipment and they were removable - in fact, a pilot was required to salvage the watch if possible if he were ever to crash his machine. This suggests that these watches were in shorter supply than the number of aircraft (there were shortages of everything during the war of course) and were recycled into newly arriving aircraft. But, if we were to posit that there was one watch built for each aircraft built, then any number of up to 58,000 would not be out of line with the number produced. Under ideal circumstances I would think that it would be more likely that there would have been more watches than aircraft since such things as instruments would be a semi-expendable item and spares would be desireable. However, with wartime shortages it is also possible that there could have been fewer watches than aircraft.

Then there is the question as to exactly when production of these watches stopped. Wesolowski is unclear in his book and only mentions a date of circa 1916 for the non-luminous ones and a date of October, 1917 for a batch of luminous dialed Omegas. Whitney doesn't seem to get into these in his book. Given that the war went on until November, 1918 and aircraft production was increasing throughout the war, why would they have stopped ordering these watches as early as 1916, or even 1917 in the case of the luminous dialed ones? Why would they have stopped on the last day of the war even, as opposed to continuing making them years afterwards until they moved to the next generation of aircraft clocks? There are so many questions.

Your un-numbered Omega example is interesting. I can think of several possible explanations, but this is another open question. One thought is that the watch could be a sample or pre-production item that was never accepted by the Ministry and thus not given a Ministry number. A second possibility is that the dial could be from a batch of replacement parts that were ordered with the watches - with the expectation that the number would be written in by hand at the RFC or later RAF repair facility so that they could maintain the same number as the watch originally had. A third possibility is the dial was never purchased by the government and at some point after the government stopped ordering/buying these watches from Omega, Omega sold off their remainders of spare parts, and perhaps some unsold complete watches as well to the public. There could be other possibilities I haven't thought of yet.

Switching the subject somewhat, I was thinking the other day about the current market for these. They seem to be fairly common in the market place and their relatively modest prices reflect this. On the other hand, within the different makers there is appearing to be the beginings of a sense that some are relatively rare compared to others and the selling prices are not reflecting this. In fact, the prices seem to be the opposite of what a rarity factor would suggest with the relatively common Omegas going for the highest prices and also common Zeniths and Doxas not that far behind. It appears that at this point in time people are paying more for the better known but relatively common makers rather than the lesser known or especially unknown rarer ones. I guess that this is likely a factor of there being more collectors of well known brands who are looking to add these to their collections rather than aircraft timepiece collectors competeing to have examples of each type made.
 
Posts: 854 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
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posted
Is there any evidence of continued issue of the MK V in WWII? I did see a soft rubber cockpit watch holder with Crown A.M. markings which could have been used to hold a MK V.

Though a long shot, how about use of the MK V in wrist holders?

Best regards,

Greg
 
Posts: 1859 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
posted
I think you are right that there is a bias towards brand collecting . This can also be seen at extremes in the wwii german pilot watches 55mm here the relatively common lange and soehne fetch far greater prices than stowas and thommen/wempes with the lacos going cheapest and the iwc's at exorbitant prices (rare 1000 made plus branded). The Omega without the number has the A and arrow marking hence government acceptance but if I recall correctly some of the Omegas seem to have handwritten numbers anyway. Concerning the continued use, some planes such as the Bristol two seater scout, Sopwith Dolphins and Snipes were used (the Bristols into the 30s) and I am sure that this explains the AM markings.
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
I am adding five new ones today, plus inserting the two Oliver reported. The new ones are two Zeniths - both C.B. and fitting the pattern. Both are lower serial numbers than our previous lowest. Our new lowest Zenith is C.B. 211. There are also two new Invictas, again fitting the pattern with the B.D. code and both of these also set new low end serial numbers. The new lowest Invicta is not B.D. 1022. The fifth new one I am adding is a Doxa which fits the B.E. pattern and falls in the current range with a serial number of B.E. 5429.

MARK V Cockpit Watches

A.A. ? Smith and Son - maybe - no example yet ?

B.A. -
B.B. - 1266 30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 1568 30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 3162 movement marked Omega; 3404 30 hour, non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 4070 30 hour, non-luminous; 4282 30 hour and luminous dial in incorrect non-military case, movement marked Omega; 6124 30 hour non-luminous, movement marked Omega; 6385 30 hour non-luminous, movement marked Omega; and ???? a 30 hour, luminous with the B.B. marking but no number after it and with the movement marked Omega.
B.C. -
B.D. - 1022; 1746; 3033; 3388; 3823; 3828 all 30 hour non-luminous marked Invicta; and 4436 marked Doxa (this Doxa may be a switched movement/dial situation)
B.E. - 179 30 hour, non-luminous marked Doxa; 2729 marked Doxa; 4673 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 5429 30 hr non-luminous; 6184 30 hour non-luminous unknown maker; 6303 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6423 30 hour non-luminous marked Doxa; 6540 unknown maker; and 10576 marked Doxa
B.F. -
B.G. - 953 8 day non-luminous marked Octava; 1122 on non luminous dial with 8 day movement marked Octavia in unmarked replacement case; 1389 non-luminous marked Octava; 1481 marked Octava; and 3553 8 day non-luminous marked Octava
B.H. - 172 (unmarked movement, 30 hour non-luminous); 403 (movement marked Record); and 823 (30 hour, non-luminous, movement unmarked)
B.I. -
B.J. -
B.K. - 793 30 hour non-luminous; 828 30 hour non-luminous; 1397 30 hour, non-luminous; 1952; 6009; 6065; 6073 30 hr. non-luminous; and 6864 all marked Electa
B.L. - 173; 1097 unknown maker

C.A. -
C.B. - 211; 894; 1022; 1389; 1643; 2181; 2262; 3959; 4181; 5447; 5660; 6184; 6257; 7389 30 hour non-luminous; and 7xx9 (could not tell from the photo what the middle two numbers are) all marked Zenith
C.C. - 773 30 hour, non-luminous; and 798 unknown makers

MARK IV A Cockpit Watches

1877AC H. Williamson Ltd., 8 days, white dial, WD on back

8020F 8Days, S. Smith W↑D on back
9077F S Smith

722R Grimson, Baxter, Elliot

1043Z S.Alexander & Son, 8 DAY, Octava marked movement
2539Z S.Alexander & Son, 8 DAY, Octava marked movement, luminous dial, "A↑S" marking on the back of the case.


B.B. Omega 1266/6385 total 5119
B.D. Invicta 1022/4436 total 2690
B.E. Doxa 179/10,576 total 10,397
B.G. Octava 953/3,553 total 2,600
B.H. unknown 172/823 total 651
B.K. Electa 793/6,864 total 6,071
B.L. unknown 173/1,097 total 924
C.B. Zenith 211/7,389 total 7178
C.C. unknown 773/798 total 25
 
Posts: 854 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Hallo Evrbdy,

can anyone tell me who is the movemment mfg of;

30 Hours
Non Luminous
Mark V
CC1439

tnks rgds
enzo
 
Posts: 285 | Location: Rome, Italy | Registered: May 19, 2005
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