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ALLION à VERSAILLES ww1 airplane clock "Click" to Login or Register 
posted
Can you assist me with information on the clock and is it worth collecting in other words is it rare.

I have scene chronogrphe on the site but not clocks
size is 65mm diameter

I do not own it as it is for sale so im cannot give any more information on numbers etc

maybe some wording faded under the makers name???
any assistance

dave

airplane clock
 
Posts: 1 | Location: Didan in France | Registered: March 31, 2010
posted
Take a look at these threads on WW I French aircraft timepieces to see what it these are supposed to look like if it were all there and without the damaged dial. The model you are looking at is the one in the first discussion. The only thing incorrect about the one in the first discussion is the bow on the winding knob stem is a later addition. Original ones should not have the bow.

Besides not having the winding knob and having the incorrect hands, the one in the photo you show has some serious damage to the dial. That fuzzy area looks like someone scratched off the wording "PROPRIETE DE L'AVIATION MILITAIRE" which is the most important part of the watch because it showed it was issued and owned by the French air force. Sometimes you see these dials with this defacing - I think in most cases is was done when the watch was stolen from the military and the owner wanted to destroy the evidence of the theft. The watch in the photo seems to be good for a parts watch since parts for these are pretty impossible to find. You would have to see the movement inside to know how much of that is still there. It is possible this one has already been used as a donor watch to fix up a nicer condition one since the winding knob and correct hands are missing.

French aircraft watch discussion

French WW I Aircraft Clock Discussion
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
posted
To answer your question as to whether these are rare, that is a very difficult term to define and everyone has a different definition. These are not found on every street corner, but on the other hand they are not so unique that they are all that difficult to find. From what I have also seen, this model and the chronograph version of it were not only bought by the French air force during WW 1, but they also seem to have been bought after the war so it is difficult to say whether a particular one is actually WW 1 or post WW 1. This model of French cockpit watch comes up for sale on Ebay several times a year - maybe every couple of months or so especially when you do world-wide Ebay searches and not just US Ebay searches. Some sellers think they are worth thousands of dollars, but when they are sold in unreserved auctions without shill bidders decent condition ones typically go for hundreds of dollars. I would not think one with all of the damage and missing parts that is shown in the image would be worth as much as that, though.

As for how many were made, I have never seen any specific numbers and I am always hoping someone might actually turn up some records from the Allion a Versailles company. Coming at it from another direction, during WW 1 alone, France built 67,987 aircraft. They also built more after WW 1. Something as useful as a cockpit watch or clock is not something that would have been considered expendable. My guess is that a great many of these were preserved.

When you think about what these actually are and their historical significance the going price of a few hundred dollars is fairly low but prices on things like all types of timepieces are at best only partly related to historical significance or rarity. I think that the biggest factors in selling prices are the number of people who are competing for something combined with their perception (based on reality or illusion) of value. I think the illusion of value is being adjusted downward these days for all kinds of timepieces as well as other collectibles by the internet as timepieces and other collectibles that used to be though of as very rare and valuable keep coming out of people's closets on onto the market.

By the way Allion a Versailles did not actually make the watch - they were a French company that obtained contracts to supply timepieces to the French air force at the time. They bought and imported Swiss movements (mostly from Le Phare as far as I have been able to find out) and had dials made up with the Allion a Versailles name and the 'Property of the Air Force' (in French) on them and assembled them in to timepieces. I think the nicest aircraft timepieces that were made are the ones in the instrument panel casings that you see in the second discussion thread, especially the shock/spring mounted cases.
 
Posts: 858 | Location: Baltimore, Maryland USA | Registered: September 20, 2004
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