Do you know the year or other story about that watch since @Russ1965
kicked off the Rolex Time Machine 😉
My OP is from 1955, one of the last of the bubble backs which were first launched over 20 yrs previous - I wanted an early movement and bubble back case to go in my 'technology corner', where I have various examples of the journey to the modern wristwatch starting with a Demier Fr. wristwatch with soldered lugs (Demier Freres registered the design for a watch worn on the wrist secured by a captive one-piece strap threaded each way through wire lugs in 1904 IIRC). The registered idea was basicaly to take a hunter movement and dial (crown at three), put it in a savonette case (which usually had the crown at 12) and solder on a pair of lugs - the watch strap was open both ends with a circular pad under the case back, and a ladder buckle retro-fitted to one end after fitting to the watch - I nearly bought an old watch just for the strap!
Here's my Demier Fr. from 1918.
You can see it had hinges - Rolex were early wrestlers with the problem of water ingress, and here is an improvement they had already manufactured (screw front and back) by 1914 - the knurling on the bezel has almost worn off, but you can still see the traces at 9.00:
Once Wilsdorf spotted a workable patent for a waterproof crown, the Oyster case was born - screw front and back and crown - this is late 20's early 30's, still with wire lugs:
It needed a tricky de-coupling of the winding stem so you didn't overwind the watch when screwing it in - it doesn't wobble like the Vostok crown because it has a spring to push the crown out (you have to exert the outward pressure yourself to wind a Vostok - everyone thinks they have bought a broken watch ha ha ha ha ha). Anyway, Harwood had the same problem preventing his automatic watch from overwinding once full, his first 'clutch' effort was his own, but later movements used a slip bridle that released the end of the mainspring from its pinion at a certain torque (allowing it to slip) - the samedesign was later put in manual watches as 'an unbreakable mainspring'. Anyway, here is my Harwood, still working, say 1929, first series production automatic wristwatch:
The marque on the dial was owned by Victor Gisiger (Selza SA) who Harwood stayed with in Switzerland - must be one of the earliest watches to say 'Automatic' on the dial (the Harwood branded versions etc. said 'self winding'). It has no crown and was supposed to be waterproof - he was trying to create a waterproof watch, ended up 'inventing' the automatic wristwatch, because he wanted to get rid of the hole in the case caused by the winding / setting stem. You set the hands by turning the bezel. No hand winding.
Nearly forgot my Services watch about 1925 - nothing special about the movement etc. but the case is very much purpose designed to be a wristwatch, with the integrated strap bars:
Meanwhile, here is another Harwood designed automatic, the Autorist - the movement of the lower strap bar as you wear the watch winds the main spring by a hinge, pawl, ratchet type thingummy.
Here is a very early example of a watch with a date wheel - the wheel was not concentric with the dial, its pinion is somewhere top right, but well before the Datejust.
Below, about 1937, the clamshell case was supposed to be a rival to the Oyster - it wasn't, although it survived longer as a solution for rectangular watches:
But most famously used in the 'Wandfluh' chronograph.
Movado from about 1940, Taubert's (who bought Borgel) waterproof case with special cork stem seal - mine was owned by an air gunner from New Zealand:
1941 - first watch with a time recording bezel, although in this instance the idea was to align the bezel 'zero' to the seconds hand, in conjunction with the radio time signal (because no hacking seconds)
and so I obviously needed a Rolex Perpetual - purportedly the first automatic watch to use a 360 degree rotor (as opposed to a bumper or hammer auto that rotated this way and that between stops). If you don't count this:
If you are interested, you can read more here:
I'd been researching John Harwood as he was also born in Bolton and is the inventor of the automatic wristwatch. Unfortunately he has never received the widespread recognition he deserved. Amongst his other inventions are an early impact screwdriver, an automatic pistol and a card table with a...
Hope you like my techno watches! This 1955 Rolex OP, now with a press fit bezel to the oyster case, isn't the end of the line to my collection ...
From 1964, I also have Japanese versions of the modern waterproof 'sports watch', one being a Mk 1 Seiko 5, with the Seiko 'magic lever', to wind it both ways, and a Citizen Jet Rotor automatic, that has a toothed circumferential weight, and was named after me.