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Hi all, i actually posted this is the pilots and military watches forum but i only just noticed this forum so hope somebody here could help more.

I was given an old pocket watch from my grandfather a couple of years ago, it wasn't working at the time but i had it serviced and it's been keeping time ever since. Nobody knew anything about it and my grandfather just said it's been in the house for a long time but no real family connection etc..
I have tried finding out more about it before but with no luck until i decided to look on ebay for another opocket watch and stumbled across the same model. The seller on ebay reads it's a 1940 circa military watch possibly used by the RAF but that's about the most of what i can see.
Just wondered if anybody knew any history behind these watches and more so what the numbers and letters on the back means. I've had a search through the forum but haven't turned up anything.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
The photo i've posted is just the photo from ebay of the same model but not my exact one.
 

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About all I can say is that if your watch has a Jaeger-LeCoultre name on its dial it dates to later than 1936 because that is when the two companies merged.
As for the numbers and letters on the back we'd need to see photos.
I find it hard to imagine that any military man in 1940 would be using a pocket watch like this. Maybe he'd have a stopwatch with a center seconds dial or a wristwatch, but pocket watches were on their way out in the First World War as a military item. I am open to correction by the military experts however.
 

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I must say that it looks mildly strange to me. Jaeger & LeCoultre started formal associations in 1925 so that the name "Jaeger LeCoultre" on the dial rules out WWI. On the other hand, the looks alone show that that watch has WWI written all over it - pocket watches were getting a little archaic in WWII and were all right on the railroad but not too much use on a battlefield where you hat to get a fast estimate of the time and had your hands too full with weapons to pull the dratted thing out from your inner clothing!! Wristwatches were rather more en vogue among soldiers at that time.....

The fat, lumed hands do rather point to a military watch. Still, before I make a final judgement, I would rather like to see the movement. Any comments from anyone else more expert than me out there?!

Hartmut Richter
 

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Aha, the moderator gets in a quick post while I am still writing! My sources state that JLC fused rather earlier - certainly before the Reverso came out in 1931. Still, not early enough for WWI, we both agree!

Hartmut Richter
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the help so far, i've just watched two of these pocket watches on ebay go for well over £100, i copied this info from one of the sellers of the watch
"1943 Jaeger Le Coultre RAF issue navigator’s pocket watch. As background to this auction, it should be noted that a large number of pocket watches were ordered by the British Government for use by the various branches of the Allied armed forces. Obviously, depending on the manufacturer that supplied the watches, the quality, and indeed the price, varied enormously. The majority of military pocket watches manufactured during the war years are of no great horological importance. However, for applications where absolute accuracy and total reliability were paramount, a relatively small number of high grade watches were ordered from several of Switzerland’s finest makers.
This stunning, superb condition, Jaeger Le Coultre is the perfect example of this phenomenon. These watches were mainly used by bomb aimers and navigators on critical missions, where the calculations required to achieve perfect bomb grouping depended on split second accuracy. It is interesting to note that these Jaeger Le Coultre items were purchased by the Government at a cost of over 9 times the cost per unit of the “standard” unmarked military pocket watch. By the time that this watch had been produced, the British government were supplying wristwatches to their forces as standard, but RAF navigators generally actually preferred to use pocket watches, as these could be placed flat on the charts from which they were working and indeed, the very size of the watch itself meant that it could be easily consulted in a dimly lit bomber fuselage by comparison to a wrist worn watch. When used in this context, this must actually be one of the few applications in which the pocket watch was perceived as being superior to the wristwatch and its use as a navigator’s watch continued long after the wristwatch had generally taken over as the choice of other bomber crew personnel.
When the snap back case cover is removed ( case number 106549) the reasons for the additional cost of these watches when new become instantly apparent. My watchmaker viewed the watch when it was serviced roughly 6 months ago, and remarked that it was perhaps the finest military pocket watch movement that he had ever seen. The finish quality is simply astonishing. Of course, these 15 jewelled Calibre 467 movements were entirely produced “in house” by Jaeger Le Coultre with no outsourced components whatsoever and have since become acknowledged as one of the most accurate and reliable military watch movements ever made. Oddly, despite being fully signed “Jaeger Le Coultre”, there is no indication on the movement that it is chronometer rated. I suspect that in peace time, there is no doubt that this movement would have been given this accreditation, but given the pressures of war time production, such official certification and the long drawn out testing processes required to achieve it were deemed as unnecessary. I would be fascinated to hear the results of accuracy testing on this movement. I firmly believe that it would have effortlessly exceeded the minimum requirements of the Chronometer testing officials. The watch is of course working perfectly and, as one would expect, extremely reliable.
This particular watch is in superb, almost mint, condition, with only the slightest imperfections that are to be expected on any carefully looked after watch of this age. Unlike many cheaper military pocket watches that utilised cheap nickel or alloy cases, the large case on this watch ( the piece has a width of 51mm) is actually solid brass. It is well documented that Jaeger Le Coultre actually refused to build their timepieces to a compromised standard during the war years, perhaps realising than any such degradation of their products could potentially taint their market position and reputation after the conflict had ended in the civilian market. Additionally, these brass cased models had considerable antimagnetic properties, essential when being used in flight conditions. The case back outer is stamped with the British military broad arrow mark, together with the letters “G.S.T.P 228903 XX”.
I also saved the pics of his watch as they're very clear but i have to say that my watch isn't as clean as this one.

[
 

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OK well that certainly explains it then. Makes perfect sense for a particular application like aircraft navigation.
 

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Thanks for all the help so far, i've just watched two of these pocket watches on ebay go for well over £100, i copied this info from one of the sellers of the watch


[
I absolutely love those. Yours, by the way, probably wasn't issued to the RAF. The markings would be different. Most agree that the markings G.S.T.P. stands for General Services Trade Pattern, which indicates that the watch was purchased by the British government for the armed forces. These watches were issued for many specific applications also, as a rule, the British government hardly issued any wrist watches. GSTP watches, on the other hand, were pretty ubiquitous. The JLC is as far as I know, for obvious reasons, the most desirable of these.
Best,
rjb
 

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Discussion Starter #8
RJB, thanks as i've always kinda wondered what the GSTP meant, that's not actually my watch in those photos but it's exactly the same but the numbers on mine are different. It just feels like a really good quality watch when you hold it in your hand, really solid.
Can i ask why you think it might not have actually been issued to the RAF though? What marking would it have on it?

Cheers

Clarkie
 

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Hi,
RAF issued watches are normally stamped with the prefix "6B/" followed by a number. From my experience, army equipment re-issued to the RAF, a common practise during WW2 had their A.T.P. or GSTP marks crossed out and were re-engraved underneath with a 6B number.
After the war, many were even re-stamped with NATO denomination numbers, so starting with "6645-" for watches.
Although some argue that the letter or letters preceding the serial number indicated the make, you find many other brands stamped with the XX denomination. Was it related to a specific denomination?
Asside from navigation, these watches had a very broad range of application, from artillery, transmissions, basic field navigation, etc, etc, so you still had to be pretty special to have a watch issued to you....
Normally the British military didn't issue chronographs, but a watch and a stopwatch.
Overall, the British government issued very few wristwatches in comparison to pocketwatches thoughout the conflict and the GSTP was normally the watch of choice whenever and wherever a watch was needed. In fact, Silverman's still offers an original modern military issue pocketwatch of a similar type!
So, to sum it up, your watch is arguably the best and definitely the most collectible of the most typical British military watches of WW2. A superb find! Congratulations!

RJB, thanks as i've always kinda wondered what the GSTP meant, that's not actually my watch in those photos but it's exactly the same but the numbers on mine are different. It just feels like a really good quality watch when you hold it in your hand, really solid.
Can i ask why you think it might not have actually been issued to the RAF though? What marking would it have on it?

Cheers

Clarkie
 

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Hello,
Can anyone tell me if it is possible to trace back the historial trail of a GSTP military watch?
Here is why:
I'm in the Belgian army en very recently (in February I think), the main equipment depot find around 335 GSTP Swiss pocket watches in his old stock. They probably stayed 40 or 50 years in a box.
Knowing that the RAF almost "created" the modern Belgian Air Force, a lot of our stuff came from there.
The depot didn't know what to do with it and, finally, they decided to sell them (from May 05) to the personal in the several secondary equipment store, for the price of 25€ each.
There where several brand as: Cyma, Omega, Damas, Doxa, Helvetia, Jaeger-leCoultre, etc...
As a regular watcher of the BBC Antiques Roadshow, I remembered that the last cited, was a quite good one.
So, I purchase 2 Doxa's, one white, one black dial and 5 Jaeger leCoultre, 3 black and 2 white.

All those watches have the British arrow with GSTP and a number engraved on the back.
Here there are:
Doxa: 235977 and h.00322 --- Jaeger: PII274, P3278, 243884, T27974 and F004734.

They are all ticking well and in a fair good shape.

Is it possible to know if, in fact, there where really used in the airplanes?

Thanks for your help (and pardon me for my orthography)

Jean-Louis from Brussels (BAF)
 

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Thank you for a very interesting post! Although we don't do valuations here (see the 'stickies' -- posts stuck at the top of the frame) I think we can say it is quite likely you got a real bargain. :-!

What you describe sounds very much like genuine WWII vintage watches... but pictures would help a great deal. If you can get pictures of the insides (the movement) that would help in dating the watches.

Others with more knowledge will hopefully also comment... but the pics would help us a lot.
 

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Yes I agree with Eeeb that you likely got a great bargain.
Please get the watches serviced by a good watchmaker. It is certain they need lubrication after sitting around for over 40 years, even if they never ran much before. You don't want to ruin them by running them without proper oiling and cleaning.
 

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Came across this old thread and just thought I would add what little data i have to the 'lore' concerning these. I inherited one of these watches from my father, who was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. I suspect he was issued it for use in navigation, because he was a single-seater fighter pilot and not a bombardier. He was also issued an Omega wristwatch which i also have. Unfortunately the casing of it is a bit corroded and I doubt it is restore-able. Perhaps someone can let me know?

Regarding the JL - what material is the movement made from? When I opened it, it looked like new - as in the photo. Not the slightest sign of tarnishing, or discolouration and not really the right colour for brass. Is it gold plated?

There are some faint scrathes on the inside of the back cover that read:

JM 285
RM/1424
RM/703

253RWH

RM/382

Do these signify anything? Why does it appear the bottom part of a '6' was painted on the dial as if the top part had been covered by the second hand dial?

Jaeger Le Coultre.jpg

Omega WW2.jpg
 

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The scratches were made by watchmakers when they serviced the watch. They usually track the watch to a specific repair order, showing what the watchmaker did in case the watch is ever returned.
 
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