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BASIC SERVICE WATCHES OF THE GERMAN ARMY IN WWII:
The basic, time-only, service watches used by the German Army in WWII are known by collectors as “DH” watches. The name is derived from the only military marking on these watches, which is the serial number flanked by the letters D and H. An example is D594450H found on the back of a Swiss RECTA brand wristwatch. Without a swastika or other recognizable military marking, DH watches often go unrecognized.
It is not entirely clear what D H stands for. Some writers suggest the D stands for Deutsches (Germany) and the H for Heer (Army). However, I prefer the interpretation given by Konrad Knirim, who has written that the D stands for Dienstuhr (Service Watch) and the H = Heer (Army). However, it is not entirely clear that DH watches were originally intended for the Army alone, given documented instances were the service record books of members of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) have been found with DH watch serial numbers written as issued to these troops.
In addition to watches marked with D....H, there are some identical watches with only the letter D in front of the serial number and no H after the number. Collectors speculate that these D only watches were for the Luftwaffe. Others speculate that these watches were used by para-military personnel such as those working in railroads. However, given that the WWII German records have been lost we really don’t know for sure how these watches were issued.
Now and then, some watches have come up with the letters D.U. on the back. This is thought to represent D for Dienst (service) and U for Uhr (watch). Watches with the DU marking are not seen as often as the DH or D watches. There is no more than speculation regarding the issue of DU watches.
An additional exception are the occasional watches found with individual military unit markings stamped into the case, such as to a specific artillery unit. It is probable that these watches were issued prior to 1939.
In addition to the DH watches, other German issued watches are found marked KM on a white dial, which stands for Kriegsmarine (Navy). Others are marked on the back of the case with the letters: R.L.M. which stands for Reich Luftfahrt Ministerium or (Govt. Air Ministry). This thread is mainly about DH watches.
D.H. WRISTWATCH CHARACTERISTICS:
With a few exceptions, the basic DH wristwatch has the following characteristics:
About 34mm outside case diameter. A smaller model has been noted for women.
Black dial w/luminous numbers and hands
Fixed strap lugs. Steel pins or cast as part of the case. A few exceptions with spring bars.
Threaded case back with 6 wrench slots
15 jewel movement with shock resistant balance jewels.
The cases are more often chrome plated brass, some are all stainless steel.
Most are Swiss made, however, now and then German made examples are seen.
Of the Various manufacturers, those who did not make there own movement most often used the A.S. 1130 movement produced by Anton Schild, of Grenchen. So widely used was this movement that some people call the A.S. 1130 the “Wehrmacht movement.”
D.H. POCKET WATCHES:
The usual DH pocket watch has the same characteristics as the wristwatch, except:
50mm outside case diameter
Threaded case back with 3 wrench slots
Most of them have an inner case back to protect the movement.
As with the wristwatches, the dials and movements of DH pocket watches have been noted with various Swiss names upon them.
Here we have a representative Swiss made DH wristwatch by RECTA. Most of the luminous material is missing. The strap lugs cast as part of the case.
The back of the above RECTA DH watch with German military issue No. D594450H. This number would be entered in the paybook of the German it was issued to. The men had the option of purchasing their watches, which would have also been noted in their paybooks.
An example of a DH pocketwatch by ARSA, one of several Swiss suppliers of service pocketwatches to the German military. The chain is believed to be original with the watch. However, it is unknown if it was issued or purchased by the German who used it.
The screw-back of the above ARSA DH pocket watch showing the issue number.
The concentric rings on the dial of this RECORD brand DH are uncommon. Most DH dials are more like the RECTA, wristwatch above. Unfortunately, I don’t have any original issue straps, however, the recently made strap is representative of the type used. Original straps have been seen with and without the back piece, in black, brown and gray leather.
Back of the above RECORD wristwatch. Fixed steel pins are in place for the strap. Note the six cuts in the back, which are the same on nearly all DH wristwatches. This permits the use of one case wrench for all DH wristwatches regardless of manufacturer.
A recently made strap showing the method of attachment to the fixed strap lugs of DH watches. The strap is bent over the strap lug. Then the tabs are inserted through the cuts in the end of the strap and then bent over to hold it in place. Original straps are usually unlined. The saddle or backing was sometimes used in WWII but not always. The above example is referred to by collectors as a Bund strap, given that it is the current issue of the German Govt. and has a Bund marking inside. Most Bund straps are black, this one is an aftermarket copy.
The above pictured RECTA and ARSA would be late WWII while the RECORD would be early WWII.
For more information I suggest the following link:
German Watch Link
i wouln't derail from the DH subject but would add also the DI markings, which are worth of interest too.
I think i have some original straps and if needed i will post,
Images of original straps and of D I watches would be of considerable interest.
here it is an original strap of a DH watch in good condition, there are no many around as this,
I also include a reproduction of a chrono for your perusal.
That has been all made by me on the original blueprint , same design, same stitches, same pattern ,same s/s buckle, everything the same also the copper rivets, which unfortunately i do not have handy but i include a pic of another strap installed with the rivets on.
In case you need i can send pics of the rivets and a pattern and blueprint of that strap,
Thank you for the images Enzo.
The reproduction is excellent. It even looks like old leather. Question, did the Germans use stainless or chrome plated brass for the buckles? Or did they use both?
Here is a picture of an original Hanhart strap in as new condition. Also interesting to note on this watch is that the red reset buton is not painted as generally always assumed.
As you can see on this generally sold repro strap and the original the fastenings are entirely different. I assume but do not know that this may have been the same for 'DH' watches but as yet I have not seen one of these with an original strap. Concerning the which watch D, DH, DU etc goes where one would have to study the military passes (Wehrpass/Soldbuch)as the watches where listed therin including the number and/or information if it had actually been bought by the bearer. The two movements on the left are in their original metal factory handling cases and came from a lot discovered at a watchmaker (14). 12 of which are now with the Hanhart company ;o)
a close up of the fasteners
Thank you for the comparative images of original and reproduction straps for Luft Hanhart choronographs. The original rivet appears to have a flat head, while the copy looks more rounded.
The return to zero pusher, while not painted red, appears to be a different color. Is this the result of different metal or of finishing?
Regarding the NOS movements, we must wonder what other treasures might be found in the drawers of old watchmaker's shops.
Thanks again for your unique images.
I started bird dogging these after the article on
them appeared in the Bulletin a few years ago. I
found a dozen or more in various condition; usually with the AS 1130 movement and usually in ratty shape. They are pretty easy to fix up though and were a nice, if temporary, boost to my
My helpful hint here is to suggest a use for x-tra long bands. These are often aquired in trades and are tough to put into use yet can easily be modified for use on solid lug and wire lug watches. If the backing leather is cut back 15mm from the band ends and removed there is enough top leather to fold over and glue. Original bands are scarcer than the watches so these back-up bands can be useful. I can recommend E6ooo glue for gluing leather straps. It's very tenacious but also flexible. Clothes pins make excellent clamps.
I AM GLAD TO HAVE SEEN A WATCH IN ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION ANS A VERY RARE ''MOVEMENT IN A TIN''
tHE BUCKLE OF THE CHRONO STRAP WAS IN STAINLESS STEEL, THE REST OF dH.... HAD BUCKLES MANLY IN NICKEL PLATED BRASS,
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