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I keep seeing Bulovas on Ebay with cases marked U.S. 1917-H. Some have WWII sub-seconds movements and dials, and some look quite a bit like a17a's or Mil-W-3818a's. What is the significance of the classification US 1917-H? Does a case so marked belong to the World War II era or is it 1950's?
I don't know. Could you please post a photo of one (front and back)?
Here are some pictures:
|IHC Life Member|
Should be a sub-seconds movement, field watch. I have examples from Hamilton, Waltham and Bulova. Might even be an Elgin out there as well. I've only seen light colored, cream or white dials. The case backs will screw down on other Star cased watches if the 1917-H was Star cased to begin with. I've only seen these in the steel cased, never chromed.
The watch you show has a MIL-W-3818A that has been given a 1917-H case back or a 1917-H case that has had a MIL-W-3818A movement with handset and dial, installed. I'll try and take some pictures of correct examples this evening and post.
I don't know the dates of manufacture but think they post date WWII but concurrent to the ORD CORPS field watches; which post date the ORD DEPT watches field watches.
Correction: On a whim I checked some one my NOS cases, marked ORD DEPT USA. These are the same passivated, Star made steel, waterproof cases as that used on the late WWII and post WWII field watches. These same cases were, for the most part, the same as that used on the Type A-17A and MIL-W-3818A watches. On the inside of these NOS cases is the model 1917 stamped under the Star name. I am wondering now if 1917 refers to that particular model/type/style of case. I have no clue what the H stands for. I have Bulova and Hamilton examples, no Waltham as I previously thought. I believe I have seen a Waltham marked as such though.
Whatever the case, that case does not go with that movement and dial. It is just wrong.
In trying to pin down a date of these watches (1917-H) I would have to say now that they are WWII era (ORD DEPT) and beyond (ORD CORPS), having probably been made at the tail end of the war and possibly after as well.
Thanks for the information. So basically the US 1917-H cases were the forerunners of the cases used on the A17A and the Mil-W-3818, but with very different movements? I eagerly await pictures!
|IHC Life Member|
Yes, that is my take on it anyway. The casebacks are interchangable between the two types of watches. This I did verify last night. Now that it is day, I'll take some pictures of the different watches in natural light and try to post before I leave work this evening.
Thanks for the pictures! You know, like all kinds of WWII stuff (notably automatic pistols) I wonder if a lot of watch parts of interchangeable type were simply scrambled after and during the war. The sub-seconds is probably technically correct but I have seen an awful lot of mixed up watches, not only with this particular case style, but with others as well. If the scrambling was truly done by US Ordnance during and after the war, it could open up a whole new "incorrect" military watch collecting category. Is there any documentation of parts being mixed from watches of different classification?
|IHC Life Member|
It is of course hard to determine without records. I can tell you that the above Bulova as well as similar watches from Hamilton and Waltham are good examples of the type. I have a few of each, have personally held and seen more and documented even many more, so I know they are not just "technically" correct, they ARE correct. I guess you have to have the experience to know what is or is not correct, and even then something new will pop up on the radar that makes you wonder. This happened to me when I found the Bulova prototype dive watch as shown in the thread below. At the time it was the only one known to exist but then another popped up on the radar and I found much documentation to back up it’s validity. Even later another example managed to find it's way to the surface. Sometimes it just takes time. I recently found a very unique Hamilton dive watch, unlike any I've seen before. The source that I got it from is as honest as the day is long and I have no doubt as to it's authenticity but it is the only one I have seen like it. It will stay under wraps until I either find another like it or the documentation to back up it's provenance.
Getting back to something you said above, yes, I agree with you, I have seen a lot of watches that utilize this particular style of case. Some have been completely made up but for the most part, the vast majority are correct. This style of case was very popular towards the end of WWII all the way up to the early 1960s, so will continue to see many watches out there in this case. Did you know that there are 9 versions of the Bulova Type A-17A/MIL-W-3818A? They all used the exact same case, which was also used by the Elgin and Hamilton DTU-2/P. Even the Elgin Type A-17A used a polished version of the same case.
You say, "Is there any documentation of parts being mixed from watches of different classification?" I would seriously doubt the military ever would document doing something the "wrong way". I am not saying it couldn't happen but it is just not my experience. The military has a habit of utilizing standardized processes and procedures to prevent this from happening and I can't see the benefit of them going outside of this and then documenting it to bat. With respect to collecting "incorrect" military watches, I want no part of that. I have enough work ahead collecting and documenting the real stuff.
Mr. Delgado, would you possibly have any updates to any opinions you expressed in this thread?
For instance, on other military watch collectors sites, it has been noted that the 1917-H could be a naval issued watch, and that it did actually run from the late 1940's-on. It has also been said that the 1917-H case was used in the same way as the ORD. CORPS. case, for recasing movements.
I ask your opinion as it is held in such high regard.
Thank you, Bob.
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