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George Favre Jacot Mark IV A W/\A
My name is Jeanne and I volunteer at my local hospice here on the Isle of Wight, UK. I research items that are donated to us to raise money to help run the hospice. We sell in our shops, on eBay and through auctions.
We have just received this watch as part of a house clearance. An internet search brought up your site and I was interested to read the thread on these watches, although there is little on this maker. As yet I have not ben able to take the back off, gong to get a professional to do to prevent damage. What I am looking for is any information to help the sale and soe idea of value here. That will help us to decide the best outlet for sale. The hands were put to the correct time and it worked, has been going for 36hrs and keeping excellent tome.
This is the reverse of the watch
As you have likely learned in reading the posts here on this type of watch - the "Mark IV A" - was made and used as a timepiece for the Royal Flying Corps in the first half of the Great War, likely around 1914 or 1915. It was not made to be a pocket watch, but rather to be used as an aircraft instrument. It would have been fitted into a rubber friction mounting or perhaps an aluminum frame mounted on the inside of the aircraft and was designed to be removed by the pilot from the aircraft after each flight, or after an aircraft was wrecked or shot down. During this war more aircraft were destroyed and more pilots were killed in accidents such as poor landings or silly things like running out of petrol than were shot down by enemy aircraft.
These watches were also regularly repaired and put back into service by the War Department to keep them running throughout the war and well after it before they were finally sold off as surplus. It was more cost effective to repair a watch than to scrap it and buy a new one. Also, more than a few were "liberated" by their pilots or ground crews or other soldiers immediately after the war.
The result of all of this is that unlike many other relics of the Great War, the large majority of these survived along with the "Mark V" watches that were procured by the War Department in the second half of the war. So, while they are not common, they are not rare either.
After making their way into the hands of civilians, either legally or by being nicked, their owners tended to use them as pocket watches as the average civilian did not have an aircraft that needed one of these. When they decided to use them as pocket watches they had a watchmaker drill a hole in the winding stem and add a round "bow" which is that metal wire loop around the winding knob and was used to attach the watch to a watch chain or watch fob. Yours has this often seen modification which is a kind of damage and detracts from the value, though it is not a major detraction since so many are found with it. Rather the ones without this modification have a premium since they are less commonly found.
Yours was made by the Swiss maker Georges-Favre Jacot and Cie in Le Locle. Le Locle is a district in Switzerland where many of the Swiss watch making factories were (still are) located. The Jacot company made watches under both its own and under the trade name of Zenith watches which may be a more familiar name to you as Zenith watches are still manufactured and sold today.
Mark IV A watches were made by a number of different companies, including Jacot. The British War Department needed more watches than a single factory could produce at that time, and they also wanted to gain the political benefits of giving War Department contracts and profits to many different companies. Each factory that wanted to participate was given a standard blueprint for the watch and their contract required them to produce them according to the standard design, but it did allow them to put their name on the dial and on the movement inside.
On the back of your watch there are the markings of a W, then an arrowhead, then a D. The WD stands for War Department. The arrowhead is called the broadhead and is the standing UK government marking. These markings were intended to discourage people from making off with these.
Your Mark IV A watch is marked "Non-Luminous". These were made in both Luminous and Non-Luminous varieties. The Luminous ones had the numbers and the tips of the hands painted with a mixture of radium salts and zinc sulfide. Zinc sulfide has the property that it will glow brightly in the dark when it is bombarded with radiation that comes from the radium salts. The Luminous variety was made for use in aircraft that were intended to be flown at night so the pilot could see the time from the glowing numbers and hands. Non-Luminous ones were intended to be used only in aircraft that were not going to be flown at night.
That is good to hear that your watch keeps time, but I urge you to let it run down and then not wind it again. The reason is that in all likelihood it has not been professionally cleaned and serviced in a very long time. Over the years, the watch oil that coats the parts inside gets dirt and dust particles embedded in it, and also the oil starts to congeal with age resulting in the oil and dirt mix becoming an abrasive paste. When the watch is wound and run this gunk puts a great deal of wear on the delicate parts and can quickly cause damage that will be costly to repair. For someone to use this watch and run it regularly it needs to be professionally cleaned by an expert. That does not mean taking it to a local clock shop that only has a jeweler and not an actual professional watchmaker and will simply dunk the entire movement in an ultra sound bath for a few minutes and then spray some oil on it and charge you 20 quid. A professional cleaning means that a highly qualified professional watchmaker will disassemble every part from the movement, clean and examine each individual part, replace any individual parts that are worn which may require him or her to actually make the new part as like-new original parts for these are not always easy to find, reassemble all of those parts back into a movement, oil it properly, and adjust the operation for it to tell proper time. This, as you can imagine, is going to cost you quite a bit as you are paying for a several hours or more of the time of a professional who has decades of experience in watchmaking. Just think of the hourly wage you pay a plumber or electrician and you will get an idea of the cost to properly clean and adjust an old watch.
As for the price these Mark IV A watches regularly sell for it is a range. It is also not something that will fund a retirement. If you look at Ebay sales in the UK and the US you will see examples that are so damaged they are only good to use as parts sources to repair less broken examples going in the range of 15 to 20 pounds. As for complete examples, there was one made by the Smith's factory in the UK that did not have the damage to the winding stem (no added bow to make it into a pocket watch) and it was the less commonly seen Luminous variety. On the down side it was not running. It sold on EBay's UK site for 123 pounds sterling which is about US$150. Ones such as yours in running condition, but not recently professionally serviced seem to go for a bit more as there is less uncertainty in the potential cost to replace a particular broken part or two in the movement. From what I have seen they might go in the range of 200 to 300 pounds but it could be more or less depending on who is bidding and whether or not they have a special want for the particular maker - Jacot in this case.
Since this came to you from an estate, it is possible that the estate could have been from an RFC/RFC pilot or other officer. If that is the case perhaps there might be some other RFC/RAF material from the Great War and if that is the case some of it might be more valuable than the watch.
Thanks for weighing in and providing sound advice on the COA (clean, oil, adjust) recommendation.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate the effort you have taken with this detailed and informative reply.
We are going to take the watch to a local watchmaker tomorrow (the real thing) to have the back removed and photograph the inside.
We think we will send all this information and the photographs to the major auction house that sells the more important items for us without a seller’s premium. They also have specialist militaria sales.
From there we will decide which will be the best route to selling it.
It came inside a box full of very cheap jewellery, mostly from the 1930s/40s and some other very poor quality watches. Unfortunately no more hidden ‘treasure’.
Thank you again and when it has been sold I will leave an update
Inside the watchmaker ought to find an Octava 8 day movement (although the early Jacot watches saw these same movements marked up as Billodes). Nice to hear that it's working but as advised a COA is necessary to prevent damage. Nice find and one of the rarer Mark IVAs. I would agree with the 200-300 pounds estimate given by Jim H and would set a reserve at 200 if you could. It's worth at least that if the correct movement can be confirmed. Good luck with the sale.
Martin makes an excellent point about confirming whether it has the correct movement. Ever since these were made around 1914 or 1915 they have been serviced first by the War Department and then once they found their way into private hands they were serviced by various private watchmakers to keep them running. Throughout most of this history there was little or no regard for keeping them "all original" such as the drilling of the winding stem and adding of the metal loop. It is possible that the movement inside may have been replaced entirely at some point in the past 100 years in which case it would be a marriage of different watch parts. Such marriages are seen by most collectors as not being as desirable as all original watches and hence fetch significantly lower prices on the market. Hopefully you will have the original movement inside with its original markings on it.
Have managed to get to jeweller to have the back taken off for a photo. There was a separate cover with the W/\D mark and a hinged back under that It is an Octava movement.It has now been running without loss of time for 8 days!
That is good news, the movement is correct for the case. It is either all original or a correct replacement movement was installed at some point. There is no way to tell for sure which but it does not really matter in commercial value terms or collectability terms.
That is also good news about it still running and keeping time for 8 days now. It should run down about now or very soon, but please do not wind it back up again until it gets professional clean, oil and adjust by a qualified watchmaker who will take it apart and reassemble it completely.
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