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RFC Aircraft Watches - Mark V Letter Codes "Click" to Login or Register 
posted
Thanks, Oliver, for the information on your Mark IV A watch. It certainly is a new maker to add to our little list.

As for the AB after the number, all of the Mark IV A watches have either one or two letters after their numbers. I feel comfortable saying they are also for the makers with each maker being given their own letter codes, similar to the Mark V watches. In the case of the double letter Mark IV A watches we already have AC, AG, and AF so the AB marking seems to fit right in with these standard markings. I am not sure why some makers have one letter and others have double letters, though. My only guess is they ran out of single letters and started with double letters. This would mean that there would have to be more than 26 makers, which does not sound entirely plausible to me - unless they used manufacturer code letters for more than just watches.

As for the A and Broadarrow marking on the back of the case my first thought is that the case may be a replacement. Anything is possible and your hypothesis of it being some kind of a transition watch could be true, but I tend to start with Occam's Razor and go for the simpler explanation whenever starting with an hypothesis. These timepieces were cared for and used by the RAF for many years long after the war. I can imagine there would have been a certain amount of repairing and using replacement parts or parts from watches too far gone to keep others in good running condition. Or it could even be an even later watchmaker after the watch was in private hands and who was using parts watches to keep others in good condition. An additional reason I am tending to think the case may not be original is the Air Ministry was not created until 1916 which was the time that the Mark V watches were being made. I believe the Mark IV A watches were a bit earlier in the war. Are there any markings on the inside of the case as to its maker? Is it marked by Carley Clemence? If so I would certainly change my initial thinking.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
The specification for the Mk IVA watch states "The same letters are to be used for any contract and for any instrument supplied by the firm to whom they are allotted"

Latter dated general specifications which supersed the earlier RAF series of specifications all have similar statements when it comes to how a serial is to be allocated.

Here are the wording from several examples

Air Board specification G.26 dated July 1918. SPECIFICATION FOR AERO BEARING PLATE WITH GROUND SPEED SIGHTS, 6-INCH, MARK I.
"The number in each case is to be followed by a stroke and a letter or letters, which will he allotted by the Government Inspector on request, thus:- 101/L or 1004/ZX. The identification letters, so allotted to any firm are to appear on all instruments made by that firm under an Air Board Contract."


Air ministry specification G.39 dated September 1918. SPECIFICATION FOR SWIVELLING STATIC HEAD FOR AERO TURNING INDICATOR. MARK I.
"The number in each case is to be followed by a stroke and a letter or letters, which will be allotted by the Government Inspector on request, thus:— 101/L or 1004/ZX. The identification letters, so allotted to any firm are to appear on all instruments made by that firm under an Air Ministry Contract."

The Air Board and Air Ministry G specifications all call for the A over the arrow marking. The earlier RAF specifications were corrected with an errata dated 8/1917 which advises that the WD markings specified in those specifications were to be replaced with A over the arrow markings.

I have yet to locate a specification or errata where this marking is replaced by AM markings.

In short the serial numbers assigned to watches were in line with serial number required for all instruments supplied to the government at the time.

The allotment of serial numbers appears to have been changed in the G series specifications with the responsibility moving from the Superintendent of the then RAF to what I assume is an Air Ministry AID inspector.
 
Posts: 58 | Location: Auckland, New Zealand | Registered: February 28, 2005
posted
A few more MkV numbers to add to the master list... all from eBay sales...

BD2445 unknown maker, 30h NL
BE11069 Oliver Wulff collection!
BH135, 2403, 2420 all unknown maker, 30h NL
CB 3607 Zenith 30h NL

Of the above 6 watches, at least 4 are not working (BD2445, BH2403, BH2420, CB3607)
 
Posts: 21 | Location: Scotland in the United Kingdom | Registered: March 07, 2008
posted
I agree that this (the Sth.....) marking could not have been a standard procedure. To me it looks like a field job but done with the same tools. So my guess is that one or another squadron must have marked their watches hence the Sth.... but am unsure... will need to find out if thre were Sopwith planes with the 2 numbers given and if these were in the same squadron.... just don't know how to get this info?! also another one for the list BL 237 I just bought @113.11 GBP
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
The RFC aircraft with serial number 1754 was a B.E.2c model, assigned to 16 Squadron in 1915. The B.E. stands for Blériot Experimental built by the Royal Aircraft Factory. It was not a Sopwith and I think it would have been a bit too early for a Mark V cockpit watch.

This could be a post WW I marking, that could have been applied as late as WW II when many of these timepieces that were sitting in the RAF stocks were being quickly refurbished and recycled to meet the sudden need for timepieces during that war. Many WW II timepieces have supplementary markings of letters and symbols and such to designate them as being supplied to one part of the military or another, or as surplus to militaries in commonwealth countries for them to use. The marking on this watch is applied at right angles to the original Aviation markings which implies it is not related to them.

I am still at a loss as to what Sth stands for though. It could be almost anything
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
ok, just found a third one with the Sth marking. Believe that most recycled watches received the AM stamping as I also have a number of these. Also now have 2 watches with a circle around the A arrow.... interesting and then a number of watches that have been converted to luminous also quiet a bit of what apears to be post wwi labeling (gst type etc....) I will go through the whole lot (30+ now) and do a bit of a write up in the near future....
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Do these 'Sth' watches seem to come from any particular country or part of the world outside of the UK, or are you finding them in the UK? That may give a clue. Also, you might get lucky if you ask the people selling them if they know what it stands for - but of course if they say something you need to take it with a great many grains of salt because of course so many military watch stories are typically garbled or just plain incorrect.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
i have found 3 so far and think they all came from the UK Cheers Oliver
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Type Maker Number Movement Luminous Non Lum Markings Extra markings Engravings Other
MarkIVa Smith&Sons (MA) LTD London 3785 8day x none
MarkIVa S Smith& Sons London 9077F 8day x W↑D
MarkIVa S Alexander& Sons No1043Z 8day x none
MarkIVa Carley& Clemence No1303AB A↑ 8a MIVa, RAF Repair
MarkIVa H Williamson Ltd London No4060AL 8day x A↑
MarkIVa Grimshaw Baxter& J J Elliot Ltd No722R 8day W↑D
Mark V Omega BB 30hrs x A↑, A±M
Mark V Omega BB 4070 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Omega BB 5414 30hrs x A↑ No 15 DR, 17.11.27
Mark V Zenith BB 1568 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Zenith BB 3162 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Invicta BD 3388 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Invicta BD 653 30hrs x A↑, A±M GSTYPE
Mark V Doxa BE 11069 30hrs x A↑ Sth 1245 sideways
Mark V Doxa BE 179 30hrs x A↑, A±M
Mark V Doxa BE 2380 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Doxa BE 29941 30hrs x A↑, A±M GSTYPE 41 faded, A↑ in circle (high quality 3 bridge movement)
Mark V Doxa BE 4059 30hrs x A↑, RCAF 17 ED 620 HAD 10/35 6A/65 30 day non lum scratched phosphor dots added official conversion
Mark V Octava BG 1389 8day x A↑
Mark V Octava BG 170 8day x A↑
Mark V Unknown BH 1983 30hrs x A↑, A±M
Mark V Electa BK 1397 30hrs x A↑ Sth 1754
Mark V Electa BK 2841 30hrs x A↑, A±M GSTYPE
Mark V Electa BK 6268 30hrs x A↑ Sth 2801
Mark V Electa BK 828 30hrs x none
Mark V Unknown BL 237 30hrs x A↑ A↑ in circle
Mark V Zenith CB 213 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Zenith CB 3399 30hrs x A↑ GSTYPE No 18DK
Mark V Unknown CC 1515 30hrs x none
Mark V Unknown CC 3987 30hrs x A↑, A±M MUK non luminous blackened out phosphor dots added
Mark V Unknown CC 590 30hrs x A↑ IEDK, M R 6 38
Mark V Unknown CC 773 30hrs x A↑
Mark V Cortebert 30hrs x none (removed) 6A/164 Cal 526

new conclusions on some of the reused watches there are dates on the dial indicating use into the late 20's/30's and Cal 526 is a Cortebert movement
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
http://cgi.ebay.com/WW1-ROYAL-FLYING-CORPS-MARK-V-COCKP..._trksid=p3286.c0.m14

CB 5369 apparently with replaced rear cover but a nice rare lum version unfortunately slightly overpriced on the opening bid already....
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
I saw that one too, Oliver. I think, though, that the entire case is a replacement - not just the back cover. The back and the rest of the case seem all seems to be of about the same vintage and wear - and clearly it is not from a Mark V aircraft watch. I note that the seller does not disclose this problem with the watch in their elaborate sales pitch and that it does not have the military aviation markings that an a Mark V should have.

I agree that the starting price is quite a bit higher than what ones in original condition with all of the correct parts usually go for, but I've seen odder things on Ebay where the prices on these are all over the map - from very low to silly high prices.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Hello everybody! After having posted my Mark IV.A. in the german military watch forum some days ago I got a link to this very interesting thread and I thought you might be interested in this item. It's a Moise Dreyfuss Mark IV.A. with the No. 2591 A.G. Movement by Octava Watch Co. Switzerland, 15 jewels.

Regards
Gerd

[IMG]http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q156/nickknatterton/Moise%20Dreyfuss%20Mark%20IV%20A/P1020571.jpg[/IMG





 
Posts: 50 | Location: Vienna in Austria | Registered: December 17, 2008
posted
Sorry, next ry with the first picture...



Regards
Gerd
 
Posts: 50 | Location: Vienna in Austria | Registered: December 17, 2008
posted
very nice piece, congratulations, i have not come across any from this maker and have never seen a white dialed watch myself..... wD stamp makes it even more unusual..... superb piece
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Hi Gerd.

You have a very nice British War Department aircraft watch. This is the second example I have seen so far by this maker. The first is in our little list with War Department serial number 1447AG, and now yours is 2591AG. The AG refers to this maker, Moise Dreyfuss and the number is a sequential number where they most likely started at 101. Thatwould mean this maker provided at least 2,491 of these and likely more to the British War Department. Yours seems to be in excellent condition and it is good that no one has drilled a hole in the winding stem and attached a bow so that it could be carried like a pocket watch. Yours is in the original configuration without the bow in the winding stem.

The box is a very nice way to store it, but from what I can see it does not appear to be original to this watch.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Hi Oliver and Jim,

thank you for your comments. Original or not, I'm glad that this watch has been stored in this wooden box, it is really in excellent condition and it's still working fine. The sign on top of the box comprises the letters "TR", it seems to be a personal sign.

Best regards to all
Gerd
 
Posts: 50 | Location: Vienna in Austria | Registered: December 17, 2008
posted
If you take a look at page 2 of this discussion you will see some examples of the kind of holder into which this would have been mounted in an aircraft.

I agree that the case in which you have it has been doing a good job of protecting it. It is in very nice condition for being about 95 years old - I hope I am in that good condition when I am 95 years old Smile
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
Jim,

thank you for pointing at the holders, very interesting.

I agree with you, I think that's what we all want! Smile

Regards
Gerd
 
Posts: 50 | Location: Vienna in Austria | Registered: December 17, 2008
posted
http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAP...sacat%3D0%26_fvi%3D1 another Mark V but no sign of the credit crunch.... at these levels I am finished collecting and am enjoying what I have.... U N R E A L !!! .... Almost GBP 500!!!
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Konrad Knirims book is out!!!!British Military time pieces... a must have... for this thread it is important to note that BH stands for the Producer Record and CC stands for Moser....BL remains an elusive high grade movement....... Thank you Konrad
 
Posts: 132 | Location: London/London/England | Registered: December 13, 2004
posted
Some recent (last year or so) watches sold on eBay:

BB 30h NL: 2308, 2470, 5205, 6803, 7232
BD 30h NL: 1409, 3083, 4594
BE 30h NL: 2386, 4603, 5565, 29941
BG 8d NL: 722, 3028, 3710
BH 30h NL: 135, 2403, 2420
BK 30h NL: 3996, 5254, 6076, 6268
BL: 732
CB 30h NL: 3607
CC 30h NL: 1006, 3436, 3935

That brings my list of serial numbers / MkV watches to 217. My estimate of total number of watches manufactured / issued = 57,864. This assumes starting point for all series was 100 and highest serial number issued equal to the highest number found plus the 'frequency' of serial numbers found.

For example, BB found in range 650 to 7091 gives 6442 in the range. 39 watches are in this range so frequency is (6442/39) = 188. I therefore assume actual issued range was 100 to 7279 (7091+188) therefore total estimate of 7179 issued BB MkV watches.

Total MkV 'found' = 217 or 0.38% (217/57,864). Based on the above logic the following are the % found for each watch pre-fix:

(Prefix: Qty Found: Est Range: % Found)

BB: 39: 100-7279: 0.54%
BC: 01: not enough data
BD: 21: 100-5307: 0.40%
BE: 30: 100-13466: 0.22%
BG: 18: 100-4298: 0.43%
BH: 15: 100-5431: 0.28%
BK: 21: 100-7202: 0.30%
BL: 07: 100-3460: 0.21%
CB: 39: 100-7791: 0.51%
CC: 17: 100-4531: 0.38%
 
Posts: 21 | Location: Scotland in the United Kingdom | Registered: March 07, 2008
posted
Hi everyone,

Another one to add to the list:

BB 1752
Omega movement (no.4991xxx) and case (no.5915xxx), 30 hour, non-luminous.

Rear face of the piece marked with 'A' and arrow only.
Inside, in addition to the stamped case serial numbers (both sections of the case are marked with the serial number) there's a very faint hand scratched number (14-324), no idea what it's for though. Otherwise it's in great condition and keeps better time than most of my modern timepieces.

Cheers

Budge
 
Posts: 2 | Location: London in the United Kingdom | Registered: August 05, 2009
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