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I have a collection of RAF Aircraft Timepieces. The collection includes all the timepieces used by the RAF from WWI to the end of WWII. There are three Watches and 12 clocks in the collection. The only timepiece I have so far been unable to obtain is the large RAF Mark 1 clock, which was provided for use in Flying Boats. It is a very rare animal, was made by T&F Mercer, St Albans (UK) during the 1930's, and a very limited number were made.
Unlike most U. S military aircraft, the majority of RAF planes were not provided with cockpit clocks of any sort. They mainly utilized special aviation watches which were mounted in holders on the pilots instrument panel.
I am attaching some pictures of the collection which may be of interest. All the watches and clocks are in running order, except for the large Mark 1 which unfortunately must remain a picture in the collection until I am lucky enough to find one.
I have researched the subject fairly widely, but the major task has been to find which specific clocks were used in which aircraft.
I hope this is of interest as one aspect of military use timepieces
Very interesting collection of aircraft clocks, only this week I called to see an old work colleague ,now 82 yrs old and when I asked about a pic' of a 'plane on his wall he told me he did 52missions during WW2 and was awarded the DFC. A really private man and a privelege have known him.Regards, Ged.
More Pictures: The first section of the show case contains the three watches plus a picture of the Mark 1 which I need to complete the collection.
More pictures: The middle section contains six aircraft clocks made by Smiths of London (UK) RAF Marks 2, 2A, 2B, 2C (two), and 2D.
More pictures: The last section contains two very nice Time of Flight and Stop Watches with Chronographic action made by JeagerLeCoutre. RAF Mark 3A and 3B
The lower three clocks were made in the USA and supplied to Britain under Lease-Lend.
They are designated RAF Mark 4, 4B and Mark5 ACA.
Great to see you back Ben and posting, I have missed you.
I really like your collection and maybe some day i could see it in person.
I really like the aircraft clocks, there are many different kinds Perhaps some day I will collect some.
Thanks Kevin. Glad to be back again.
I hope my posting creates some interest and perhaps discussion.
Posting the pictures entailed a lot of help from Chapter 185 President Lindell V. Riddle. (- Thanks a lot Lindell - good to talk with you - you are doing a great job.)
I am planning to give a presentation about the collection at our Chapter 111 meeting in November Kevin, so you should be able to see it in person then. Meanwhile see you at our next meeting on Sept 26
Great collection! The watches and clocks used by the military of the U.K. have always held my interest.
I would like to learn more about RAF/RFC clocks. What resources have you used FOR research?
Also, what are the markings on the two pocket watches in the lower left? One of them looks like a MK V of the Royal Flying Corps.
Re the 'Cockpit Watches" in my collection.
The first one - top left is a Mark IVA Watch originally issued to the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal naval Air Service around 1914. It is an 8 Day watch, made by G Davenport & Co. Ltd. The dial has the makers name together with WD and the broad arrow. What makes it even more interesting, and also makes it eligible for my collection is that, printed on the dial is "RAF Repair" which means it was transferred over to the RAF when it was formed in 1918. I have it mounted in a metal instrument panel Watch Holder which was appropriate for the era. You are correct about the second watch at the bottom. It is an RAF Mark V Watch. It is in pristine condition, and oddly enough I found it in the U.S. after a fruitless search in the UK. I have it mounted in a plexiglass holder for display purposes. On the dial is printed "30 hour, non-luminous, Mark V, CC 798". It has a long stem and no bow. The maker of this watch is not identified, although they were made by a variety of quality watch manufacturers such as Zenith, Omega etc. The back of the case is stamped with A (For Air Ministry) above a broad arrow. This was the standard RAF Cockpit Watch, and remained so right through WWII. (Clocks did not appear in RAF aircraft much before 1937). However, because of the demands of WWII many more cockpit watches were required (Most of the RAF heavy bombers such as the Lancaster and Halifax used them). Watches of a more familiar appearance (Short neck and with a bow) were commissioned and brought into use. The one in my collection (First watch bottom row) has no dial markings except "Swiss Made", but the case back is engraved "AM, E/3.40, 50, 11471/41. This indicates it was issued in March 1940, and reissued in 1941. It was made by the Goldsmith and Silversmith Co.Ltd of London,, and I have it mounted in a thermoplastic Watch Holder which was provide on many RAF aircraft instrument panels at that period.
As for my research sources, they have come mainly off the Internet, with backup from the excellent Air Museum we have here in Ottawa. Attempts to get any information from the RAF Museums in the UK have not been very successful.
I could supply you with some Web sources if you are interested. Perhaps a personal email would be best, as I feel I am taking up far too much of this message space already.
Thanks Ben for sharing your knowledge in this area. So far, there is no one source for information regarding the tiempieces of the RAF, nor the Royal Flying Corps (RAC) as it was known prior to 1918.
For fun, here is a closeup of another MK V. The Mark V came in Luminous for night flying (to shoot down the Zeppalins sent to bomb London), as well as Non-Luminous. The MK V was also issued in an 8-day model as well as the 30 hour. One could assemble a large collection trying to get all of the makes, models and manufacturers of the MK V alone.
Here we have the movement of the above pictured MK V.
I've always wondered about the letters/numbers markings on the dials of these. For example, on yours you mention it is "CC 798" and in the one pictured it looks something like "BK 6065" and on the one I keep on my desk it is "BL 1097". Have you run across any references that indicate the meaning of these letter/number combinations all of these seem to have? I had one person tell me they were aircraft numbers that were put on to be sure the watch stayed with the specific aircraft to which it was issued, but I'm not convinced of that explanation yet. Another idea I've heard is that the letters are codes for the watchmaking companies that made them and the numbers are the serial numbers for the watches made by that particular company. I know this letter code system for manufacturers is what is used on later British military watches, but it seems to me that there are too many letter combinations on these Mark V watches compared to the number of makers.
Another question I've always had is the period of use and the period of manufacture. Your point that they were in use up to about WW II makes sense to me, but were they in production up to that time also? If so, is there anyway to tell the WW I era RFC ones apart from later RAF ones? Do all of the RAF ones have AM (Air Ministry) markings as opposed to the A stroke broad arrow marking?
Thanks for any information you can share!
Good questions regarding the MK V. I have also heard that the two letters on the dial are codes for the watchmaking companies that made them. An advanced collector in England made note of this, however, I have done no research to confirm it.
While the MK V was issued post-WWI, I have never heard of them being made after WWI. The post war issue is clear from examples with RAF repair markings on the dial. An A. M. marking would appear to indicate re-issue, maybe as late as WWII.
The only MK V manufacturer with researchable serial numbers was Zenith. If anyone has a MK V Zenith with a serial number in the post 1918 range then we would have some evidence of post war orders of the MK V by the RAF.
I too would like to find out about the Letter/number code on the front of the MKV, but have never been able to get any specific answers. I agree strongly that the letters are most likely a code for the manufacturers. I don't think the aircraft number theory is correct, as I do know that they did not always stay with a specific aircraft - most certainly in the later RAF years anyway.
Some of the MKV's do have the manufacturers name inside, where others (like mine) do not. I would very much like to find out.
By the way, Z.M Wesolowski in his book Military Timepieces lists the makers of the MKV as: Electa, Doxa, Omega and Zenith, but I suspect there were several more.
As I mentioned to Greg in an eMail, I also have an earlier MK IVA (1914)in my collection which was the RFC issue prior to the MKV (1916) and it has the manufacturers name right on the front of the dial ie. G.Davenport & Co Ltd.
I have also not been able to establish if the MKV was made after WWI, but I do know that they were still in use in the RAF during WWII. My MKV has the A above a line and an arrow on the rear of the case, whereas the MKIV has W D with an arrow between. But then again, the actual Air Ministry (AM) was not established at the time of the formation of the RAF in 1918, it only came into being some time later.
It would be good to hear from anyone who has any ideas or info on this.
So far, I have noted the following names on MK V R.F.C. watches:
Carley & Clemence, Electra, Doxa, Zenith, Octava, Octiva, Invicta, Williamson and Elienne. The name Moise Dreyfuss has been observed on a MK IV.A. and they may have also supplied the MK V.
Not all of these suppliers manufactured their own movements. Thus, if the two letter code indicates maker, we may find that it reffers to the movement maker or the name of the supplier(?). Octava, Octiva, Doxa and Williamson appear to have made most of the named 8-day movements so far observed.
Unfortunately, I did not record the dial codes as I compiled the above names.
I am restoring to flying condition a 1941 DH82a Tiger Moth built by Morris Motors in Cowley, Oxford, England.
Does anyone know which cockpit clock would have been used for this aircraft at the time?
I would be interested to source such a clock in good condition and working order.
Cockpit clocks were generally one size fits most, with a few exceptions. What you would want is a Smith's aircraft clock with a 2 inch dial and a manufacture year of 1940 or 1941. They are offered regularly on Ebay - both the US and the UK sites, perhaps more often on the UK Ebay website. Keep in mind that more than a few sellers are somewhat delusional as to the values of these so be sure to spend a bit of time watching ones that actually sold. Also, more than a few sellers are mistakenly advertising theirs as being from Spitfires. Sure some were used in Spitfires but a much much greater number were used in much more mundane aircraft and there is no way to tell one from another. And finally, keep in mind that these were regularly removed for servicing and often were not returned to the same aircraft from which they were taken after they were repaired.
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