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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A friend of mine had a 44mm PVD luminor case from Getat that had a problem with the crown lever - it wouldn't reach the crown. He said he was going to toss the case so I asked him to give it to me. I put a larger crown on it, modded the lever, and canibalized the dial, hands, and movement from a homage U-boat "Thousands of Feet" with 6497. The Thousands of Feet is 50mm so the dial required extensive modification to fit into the 44mm Luminor case. Then I removed the bezel, stripped PVD from bezel and crown guard, distressed the PVD on the case, banged everything up, then polished and polished and polished. Then lumed dial and hands. Here is the result:

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The "Dien Bien Phu" (DBP) Combat Luminor was produced for the French Army from 1949 to 1954. It was issued to commanders of the armored units of the Groupements Mobiles serving in South-East Asia at the time.

The watch receives it's nickname from the role it played during the battle of Dien Bien Phu in March of 1953, where it was famously worn by Squadron Commander Capitaine Yves Hervouet. The Escadron de Marche du 1er RCC was comprised of three platoons of three tanks each, and one headquarters tank commanded by Hervouet himself.

Capitan Hervouet was photographed during a late engagement of the battle wearing the Panerai issued to him two years earlier in Tongkin. During the battle the squadron of tanks was subject to intense artillery fire from the Viet Minh. In the photograph (location unknown) he is said to appear in his Amercian M24 Chaffee tank with both arms in plaster casts after having been wounded, still wearing his Army issue Combat Luminor.

The pictures below are of the only DBP Combat Luminor still known to exist, currently undergoing light restoration. Though provenance has not been conclusively established, based on engravings on the case back (not pictured) it is possible that this is the very watch worn by Hervouet during his service in the The First Indochina War.

Capitan Yves Hervouet, Escadron de Marche du 1er RCC:



DBP Combat Luminor


























As the restoration project progresses, more photographs will be made available.





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Very cool watch, but I'm a little confused...

Is this a custom project? Modeled after a historical watch? Or have you created a fictional story to go with the watch you created?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Very cool watch, but I'm a little confused...

Is this a custom project? Modeled after a historical watch? Or have you created a fictional story to go with the watch you created?
Yves Hervouet and the battle of Diem Bien Phu are real but Panerai never produced watches for the French Army - but as this project evolved, it kind of looked like the kind of watch that might have been worn by a French tank commander in South-East Asia in the early fifties... :-!
 

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Certainly hope the DMP Watch holds up better than the French Army did there. Well, you could always call it the Khe Sanh Watch...:oops:, no, that won't work either.

Based on military experience and the need for precision timing depending on type of mission, I cannot envision any "military" dial that doe not include minute markers...and, as a former tank commander, I like the watch, but it wouldn't fit the bill in the military I was in.
 

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Certainly hope the DMP Watch holds up better than the French Army did there. Well, you could always call it the Khe Sanh Watch...:oops:, no, that won't work either.

Based on military experience and the need for precision timing depending on type of mission, I cannot envision any "military" dial that doe not include minute markers...and, as a former tank commander, I like the watch, but it wouldn't fit the bill in the military I was in.
well, it wouldn't fit the bill for a successful military, but it's still an awesome and unique piece. Great Job:-!!
 

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Nice job!

I really really like the strap. Where did you get that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@KenC - I agree about the minute markers, the dial originally had them but when I filed it to fit they were lost. However I thought, "well it is just as precise as the original Pams worn by the Italian frogmen and the German "Kampfschwimmer" of the second world war - so if it was good enough for them it is not outrageous to think it would be good enough for the French in Vietnam. You know in Europe it is chic to be a little late... :-! b-)

Seriously, I would have liked it to have minute markers but to do that I would have to go with a totally custom dial - made from scratch. Someday I will get a desktop CNC machine to make dials and some parts, and then I will have more flexibility. Now I am limited to making already existing dials fit...

Glad you like it anyway though, I tried hard to make it look like a plausible piece of military hardware from the early 50's....

@RaoulDuke and Clucania, the strap came from a seller on another forum who was selling it used - I have no idea of it's original origin, I saw it and BAM, I bought it, coolest thing I had seen in a long time - knew it would be perfect for something, someday, and here it is! :-d
 

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Just some more information about the ten M24 Chaffees at Dien Bien Phu:

...the French possessed no aircraft capable of transporting an M24, [in 1953 very few Air Forces did]. So, each tank was dismantled into 180 assemblies in Hanoi and the pieces flown into the Dien Bien Phu valley. The shipment of each tank required six C-47 Dakotas, and two Bristol Freighters with forntal clamshell doors to accommodate the tank hull and turret. Even when stripped of every nut and bolt, the hull weighed 176 lbs more than the Bristol's maximum capacity of [8220 lbs], and to enable it to gain sufficent altitude over the mountains of Tonkin, many components had to be removed from the aircraft to reduce weight.... [quoted from "Vietnam Tracks: Armour in Battle 1945-1975, by Simon Dunstan]

The first two tanks were assembled in six days, the first platoon of three was operational in seven.

Of the ten tanks shipped into the valley, six were still operational on the last day of the battle, even though all of them had been hit at least once by a bazooka , 57 mm Recoilless, or 105mm shell, all were destroyed by their crews before the surrender. This says quite a bit about the men of the 2nd Platoon/5th Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company (2/5 CRMLE), who both assembled the tanks and repaired the battle damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just some more information about the ten M24 Chaffees at Dien Bien Phu:

...the French possessed no aircraft capable of transporting an M24, [in 1953 very few Air Forces did]. So, each tank was dismantled into 180 assemblies in Hanoi and the pieces flown into the Dien Bien Phu valley. The shipment of each tank required six C-47 Dakotas, and two Bristol Freighters with forntal clamshell doors to accommodate the tank hull and turret. Even when stripped of every nut and bolt, the hull weighed 176 lbs more than the Bristol's maximum capacity of [8220 lbs], and to enable it to gain sufficent altitude over the mountains of Tonkin, many components had to be removed from the aircraft to reduce weight.... [quoted from "Vietnam Tracks: Armour in Battle 1945-1975, by Simon Dunstan]

The first two tanks were assembled in six days, the first platoon of three was operational in seven.

Of the ten tanks shipped into the valley, six were still operational on the last day of the battle, even though all of them had been hit at least once by a bazooka , 57 mm Recoilless, or 105mm shell, all were destroyed by their crews before the surrender. This says quite a bit about the men of the 2nd Platoon/5th Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company (2/5 CRMLE), who both assembled the tanks and repaired the battle damage.
Yes, I had read that too, when researching the battle, same book! It says a lot about the repair crews, the tank crews, the men who resupplied the tanks in battle under fire, and the tanks themselves... The French may not have been well prepared for the .... blitzkrieg but when well equipped it is clear they are a first rate fighting force. Amazing.
 

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Wow, you guys are talking about the history of my country :D. The name of the place from the topic just hit my eyes and I opened it immediately! Anyway, that's a gorgeous watch!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow, you guys are talking about the history of my country :D. The name of the place from the topic just hit my eyes and I opened it immediately! Anyway, that's a gorgeous watch!
Thank you! I think so too, and giving this "vintage" watch some history makes it all the more interesting. I am glad you approve! :-!
 

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I want me a de-PVD'd watch.
That strap!! Supah kool. Which makes me wonder: WHY do strap makers not make more straps like THAT?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I want me a de-PVD'd watch.
That strap!! Supah kool. Which makes me wonder: WHY do strap makers not make more straps like THAT?
I know! I wouldn't think it would be that hard - they already source lots of vintage leather - but it is always make into basically the same strap.... I am going to have to learn to make staps myself (after Christmas, that is the plan) so that I can make another like it... :-!
 
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