An interesting V&C watch

This deck watch recently sold online and was interesting for the unusual caseback engraving.

An interesting V&C watch

As you see, it was originally purchased by the Royal Navy and rated by the Hydrographic Service as an H.S.2 navigation chronometer.  The movement serial number (4)54884 is also marked on the case back, which places it in the 1940s.

Most interesting is that H.S.2 was struck off and new Ministry of Defense (MoD) number W10/VC 7230 added.  Those who collect military watches will recognize the W10 classifciation used by the Army from 1950 onwards for general purpose watches (actually; "magnetic compasses, drawing and optical instruments, watches, survey equipment, etc.").  Try as I might, however, I cannot locate the specifications for VC 7230 sub-classification, although the VC is a bit obvious.  Just to add to my confusion, current MoD 7230 refers to "draperies, awnings & shades"!

The watch was accompanied by a Dennison brass and wood naval transit case with later brass labels, perhaps added by a collector.  I wonder what the story of this watch is...did it see service with the RN as a navigation watch, to be transferred to the Army post-1950?  If so, I wonder what purpose the Army had for it.  A story remains to be told...

An interesting V&C watch


"A story remains to be told..." Dean if there is anyone who can tell
04/14/2014 - 12:36
that story it is definitely you cool
I saw that watch too Dean
04/14/2014 - 15:30
I'm looking for an original Deck Watch box with brass holder from Dennison, so I definitely noticed this watch. The plaque looked unusual to me as well as the markings, so I decided to not consider this one.  I do know there were "surplus" military items that ended up being used for other functions, so I guess this could be one of them. Many Hamilton Ship Chronometers and Deck Watches from WW II were sold off as excess surplus as well.  Though those timekeepers were made in MUCH higher quantities. Looking forward to what you can find.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. BR, Dan
My friend at Greenwich
04/15/2014 - 00:36
unfortunately could not locate a ledger card for this watch so it's service history may remain unknown.  He did note there was a large group of cards that were lost or destroyed during a move.  He also confirms seeing similar deck watches re-assigned to the Royal Artillery, as the RN had a surplus at war's-end. Dan, good to know you are looking for a transit case - I'll keep "watch" for one yes.
also, did you notice
04/15/2014 - 01:55
there is another RN deck watch 369818 on fleabay in Dennison box, with an later brass plate announcing a date of 1915!  Understandable mistake if the seller only googled the movement number.  The interesting aspect of this watch, besides having a CR dial, is that the usual elegant silver case has been replaced by a utilitarian brass holder.  Konrad Knirim, in his excellent reference book, "British Military Timepieces", tells how he visited VC for research and learned the watches were shipped from the factory in these brass holders, likely due to wartime shortages. His very similar example dates from 1940, also Chronometre Royal dial and movement, and as the excerpt shows, "verre laiton" for brass/glass.
Yes, I saw this one too.
04/15/2014 - 06:36
It did look interesting, with the CR dial and movement.  Must have been adjusted/regulated and then tested well enough to be certified as a Deck Watch. I found it interesting/confusing that it did not have a case, thanks for providing the additional detail.  Lack of precious metals would certainly make sense during the war! BR, Dan
Thanks Dean
04/15/2014 - 06:34
What your friend at Greenwich makes sense (about being re-assigned to different military units). Sorry to hear that some records got lost at the Observatory. BR, Dan
An update from Greenwich
04/25/2014 - 22:54
My friend, who is a part-time volunteer curator, was obviously intrigued as well for he kept checking and found the records for this watch when it was put up for disposal as part of an MoD auction.  Surprisingly, this was in March of 1982!  At that time it was described as, "Watch chronometer (Navigation)" which was still the Navy lingo.  Need to find out what the heck the Army was doing with these watches indecision.
Would it be possible for you, Dean
04/15/2014 - 14:13
to make a list of books you would recommend regarding "Military Timepieces"?   Cheers Kent
Re: Would it be possible for you, Dean
04/15/2014 - 18:20
Dr. Konrad Knirim Vol I: German Military Timepieces Vol II: British Military Timepieces   Z.M. Wesolowski Concise Guide to Military Timepieces 1880-1990   Marvin E. Whitney Military Timepieces   Journals British Horological Institute National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors
Much appreciated, Dean, thanks. (nt)
04/15/2014 - 18:38
smiley
my pleasure
04/16/2014 - 02:06
these have been recommended to me by "real" military watch collectors so it's my pleasure to pass the info along.
Because I'm quite a narrow minded collector,
04/16/2014 - 15:05
I need to ask this question: In what book of the ones you recommend will I find most about Vacheron & Constantin?   If you are a busy these days then just ignore the question you have already been more than helpfull.    Cheers, Kent.
Not an easy request
04/16/2014 - 19:00
V&C were greatly outnumbered in the area of military watches so their mention is generally brief.  If you are solely interested in the V&C military timepieces, then Antiquorum's Quarter Millennium catalog is quite helpful with many examples. Recently, Joseph alerted me to a newly published monograph on the Corps of Engineers watches, available through the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors (NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, March/April 2014).  Naturally, there is significant representation of V&C, along with the other Swiss watches supplied to the U.S. Army circa WWI.
for the military historian...
04/17/2014 - 01:43
I never got over playing with toys, they just became more involved and expensive enlightened.  This vignette tells a unique Canadian story from the weeks following the Normandy landings (recall this previous post: June 6, 1944 for some V&C content).  The Firefly was an up-gunned Sherman developed by the British as a stop-gap answer to the deadly German Tiger and Panther tanks they were up against.  The Sherbrooke Fusiliers armoured regiment of Montreal participated in heavy fighting and current theory credits this Firefly of A Squadron with destroying the Tiger of ace Michael Wittmann on Aug. 8, 1944.  Here they are preparing for their forward push on the morning of that fateful day, during Operation Totalize.
Have you build/collected and painted that by yourself?
04/18/2014 - 23:26
That model is really detailed as far as I can see. Impressive.   Cheers, Kent    
Commission-built, Kent
04/19/2014 - 20:30
Three very talented people had a hand in creating this scene.
May I also recommend "The Ship's Chronometer"?
04/16/2014 - 10:06
Also written by Marvin E. Whitney. BR, Dan
You certainly may.
04/16/2014 - 14:50
Thanks Dan, it's nice to have several books to choose from.   All the best, Kent
good point, Dan
04/16/2014 - 18:40
I entered then deleted references on marine chronometers in my reply to Kent, as they blur the line between military and civilian use, however they do deserve mention yes.    Could be an entire area of study themselves!   I also greatly enjoyed reading "Time Restored" by Jonathan Betts, about the re-discovery and restoration of Harrison's revolutionary chronometers by a most fascinating character, Rupert Gould.  Mr. Gould was also author of the most difinitive work: "The Marine Chronometer, Its History and Development".  If you only want one text on the subject; this is it. Still, if I could make a gift of a book to all my horology friends, it would be "All In Good Time, Reflections of a Watchmaker", the autobiography of George Daniels heart.  Far more personal than technical, but rich with insights by and of this deeply proud, deeply private, self-made genius.