The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

It has been more than five years (Dec. 2009) since I first posted a story about the US Army Corps of Engineers Vacheron & Constantin watches, and I've been patiently collecting new snippets of information ever since.  Today seems like an auspicious occasion to update the saga of these tool watches, for it was exactly one hundred years ago today that a tragedy occurred which had direct influence on the subject at hand.  It was shortly after 2pm on the 7th of May, 1915, that the ocean liner RMS Lusitania, enroute from New York, was torpedoed and sunk as it appraoched Ireland, with the loss of almost 1,200 passengeres and crew, including 128 American citizens.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

With the outbreak of the Great War on the European continent in August of 1914, the United States was determined to stay neutral, however, Germany's campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare around the British Isles, followed by the discovery of secret negotiations between the German and Mexican governments (see intercepted telegram below) led Congress to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

By July of that year, American soldiers were marching in the streets of Paris and by October were fighting at the front.  These troops were organized as the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under General “Black Jack” Pershing. By 1918 the Americans had mustered 420,000 troops and by the time armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, the United States of America had almost 1.2 million soldiers in Europe and had suffered 117,000 casualties. Final peace came with the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919, at least for another twenty years.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The standard timepiece of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the start of the Great War were American-made Hamilton pocket watches with their evergreen caliber 992 movement. Having adopted the General Railroad Timepiece Standards of 1893, the Corps required that each watch incorporate several technical features to ensure easy winding, legibility and accuracy to within 30 seconds a week.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Upon arriving in Europe, in an effort to reduce their reliance on trans-Atlantic shipping of supplies, the American Expeditionary Force Quartermaster Corps decided to procure as much material as possible from Europe.  In fact, the growing deficit in the balance of trade between Europe and America exerted a significant influence on this policy.

Both the American Signal Corps and Army Corps of Engineers required an ongoing supply of high-quality timepieces and their allotment of 1,000 Hamilton three-hand time-only watches was quickly exhausted. Key Swiss manufacturers were contracted by the AEF; Zenith and Ulysse Nardin for time-only watches and Vacheron & Constantin for both chronograph and non-chronograph watches. These manufacturers, in turn, sub-contracted with others to meet their large orders. In total, contracts for over 10,000 pocket watches were tendered to Swiss factories. Similar activities occurred on the British side, with Rolex and Cortebert filling production contracts for pocket watches and wristlets. The Germans too had orders for Swiss watches of very similar specifications, the most significant difference being the German requirement for screw-down case backs.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

Vacheron & Constantin Maison on Quai de l'Ile, Geneva, 1914

 

The AEF order for Vacheron & Constantin was signed in May of 1918 for 5,000 pocket chronographs to be delivered at a rate of 200 per month.  The specifics were as follows:

High grade movements, 20-jewels, stop sweep second hand without minute counter, adjusted to positions and temperatures...

The cases to be of oxydized silver, open face, with the following engraving on the back: "Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. No.___ (Numbers to begin with 1).

The dials and hands shall be luminous, except the small second and the sweeping hand.  The dials are to be marked "Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. No.___" and "Vacheron & Constantin".

Price, SWISS francs, 280 each, f.o.b. Berne, Switzerland.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

At the exchange rate in effect in May of 1918, the value of each watch was about US $70, or $1,200 in today's dollars. Two weeks following this agreement, an urgent telegram was sent from Paris to Geneva, confirming the order and requesting "rush work".  Surely this signifies the importance of these timepieces to the Corps tasks at hand.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Although the order contained a cancellation clause in the event of peace, it was not activated. Deliveries continued until 1920, when a total of 3,289 Vacheron & Constantin single-button chronographs had been received by the Corps.  Another deviation involved the dials for, unlike their Hamilton predecessors, they were not numbered as specified in the purchase order.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The oxydization process was handled by V&C's assigned case maker Huguenin Freres and left the cases a dull grey color which, being non-reflective, was useful in combat situations.  An example can be seen in the 1917 Vacheron & Constantin archival photograph above. While it seems that virtually all remaining examples have been polished, remnants of the original finish are often present inside the back cover.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

There were four different configurations of V&C Corps of Engineers chronograph movements.  If one can rely on auction records and other unofficial sources, all appear to have been designated as Calibre R.A.19'''73 Chrono*. From top to bottom, the ebauche was provided by Matthey-Tissot, Reymond Freres, Moser, and P. Nardin (Ulysse Nardin).

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

While the others were pin-set, the Nardin was wound and set through the crown.  Note its "brevet + 54714" inscription, identifying a patented improvement to the chronograph mechanism.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The order for chronograph watches by the U.S. Corps of Engineers was followed in August of 1918 by an additional order for 2,000 "half-chronometer" pocket watches to be delivered at a rate of at least 100 pieces per month.  The specifications were:

...oxydized silver, half-chronometer, luminous dials and hands, as per sample No. 232608...

On the back of each watch will be engraved: "Property of Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. 10,351" up to 12,350.

Price: 96.- (Ninety six) Swiss francs each.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The cost was about US $24 for each watch.  The English term "half-chronometer" implied a quality lever escapement adjusted for positions and temperatures.  Although the order is somewhat sparse in details, apparently the sample with case nr.232608 met the Corps requirements.  Unlike the chronographs, these cases do not bear a maker's mark. The movement pictured below was designated as Calibre R.A.19'''194 ART (R.A. for "Remontoir Ancre" and ART for "Argent").

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Other suppliers to the Corps of Engineers for time-only watches included Zenith and Ulysse Nardin.  Nardin, in turn, subcontracted some production to IWC, Movado and Moser.

Finally, there were a number of second quality chronograph watches (perhaps 350 of the 3,289 total according to Thomas Koenig) supplied to V&C by outside manufactures, notably Moser (pictured, 18 rather than 20 jewels) with cases by Huguenin Freres.  They were inspected for quality control purposes and identified with the cuvette engraving; "Examined by Vacheron & Constantin".  In an act of scrupulousness, the name "Vacheron & Constantin" was omitted from the dial.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

Photo credit Bogoff

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Contrary to persistent rumors, V&C did not produce wrist watches for the American Expeditionary Forces, although some of these pocket watches were most certainly modified for wrist use with leather strap/holders.  It is equally likely that V&C ebauches may have been fitted, at customer request, with Borgel's "imperméable" screwed cases manufactured in Geneva.  Their hermetic wrist watch case was patented in 1912 and advertised as "specifically requested by motorists and members of the English and colonial army." 

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

V&C did manufacture gold-cased wrist watches with military-style dials.  Following the custom of the day, officers were responsible for providing their own accouterments and these timepieces were available for purchase by the well-heeled.  These images date from 1917.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

While on the subject of rumors, there have also appeared from time to time gold-cased V&C pocket chronographs with Corps of Engineer dials.  According to legend, these were given as presentation pieces to Allied generals. I can only state that two such watches I have investigated were found to have mismatched case and movement numbers.

*I have submitted queries to VC's Heritage Department regarding gaps and uncertainties in the information available on these timepieces and will update should they be kind enough reply.

With acknowledgements to:

  • Antiquorum website
  • The Hour Lounge; Vacheron Constantin discussion forum
  • The World of Vacheron Constantin Genève by Carole Lambelet & Lorette Coen
  • Curator, Office of History, US Army Corps of Engineers (thanks to Adam Harris)
  • US Army Corps of Engineers Historical Vignette: WWI Corps of Engineers Special Watch to Keep Accurate Time
  • Early Wristwatches and Coming of Age in World War I by Michael Friedberg
  • SIHH 2006 Exhibition Booklet: Fine Watches For Land, Air and Sea
  • Military Timepieces by Konrad Knirim
  • Die Uhren des Amerikanischen Corps of Engineers by Thomas Koenig, Klassik Uhren, May 2010 (republished in English, Mar/Apr 2014 Watch & Clock Bulletin, NAWCC)
  • Poster images courtesy Library of Congress, Center of Military History, and MaritimeQuest
  • Hamilton images courtesy NAWCC
  • Borgel history courtesy of David Boettcher
Examined By V&C; a problem with the numbers
05/07/2015 - 21:19

There must be a third order for V&C pocket chronographs somewhere out there.  You see, the numbers don't add up!  The initial order for 5,000 watches specified a numbering system of 1 to 5000.  Antiquorum shows one outlier of dozens listed, #9016, but I'm inclined to believe that was a typo.

The time-only half-chronometers in the second order were to be numbered within the range of 10,351 to 12,350 although I'm quite certain based on their infrequent appearance today that the production target of 2,000 wasn't met.

Thomas Koenig, in his 2010 article on the history of Corps watches, noted; "According to the V&C archives, V&C in total sold 3,289 chronographs to the CofE, 2,939 with 20 jewels and 350 with only 18 jewels."  He suggests the 350 Moser-movement watches were given inventory numbers 10,000 to 10,350 which agrees with the few I've observed that fall within the range of 10,098 to 10,287.  So these watches could not have been part of the initial chronograph order.  Ipso facto, there must be another order that  has yet to surface.

We are familiar with the 3,289 overall total but until now I had not appreciated that the real number is 2,939 silver-cased V&C pocket chronographs once one subtracts the Examined By pieces.  The latter, I feel, should not be included with the "genuine" V&C Corps watches but welcome any opinions to the contrary.

FWIW, it appears that the Ulysse Nardin half-chronometers take up numbering from 5,000 and the Zenith pieces continue from 12,350.  This may give some sense as to the sequence of the Corps orders with Swiss Manufactures.

An article like this can't be praised enough.
05/08/2015 - 07:44
A huge thanks from here, Dean. It is much appreciated that you have included your sources.There is a problem, though, and that is that only 5 photos appear. I have checked it on two computers with different operating systems. Could you do something, Alex? Keep up the good work and I hope that it is okay that I download your work to my own database. Cheers Kent 
I have asked the tech people to check this issue
05/08/2015 - 09:36

.

That's weird, my apologies!
05/08/2015 - 16:34

The images appear on my screen and iPad too blush.  It may be a problem with the hosting site so I'll repost with images uploaded here.  Please stand by...

Alex, can you please delete the original post once this is done?

Re: An article like this can't be praised enough.
05/09/2015 - 04:16

Of course Kent smiley

A titan's work and worth the read 1000 times! Thanks Dean
05/08/2015 - 09:36

.

A very interesting contribution...
05/08/2015 - 14:06

Dean, It has been worth waiting for! Your painstaking research has provided a great deal of information for which I am extremely grateful.

I, also, look forward to viewing the photographs which are not currently accessible.

We have much to thank you for!

Kind regards

Tony

Problem fixed Tony
05/09/2015 - 04:17

All photos are uploaded to THL instead of a hosting site.  Just need Alex to delete the original.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches
05/08/2015 - 18:11

 

It has been more than five years since I first posted a story about the US Army Corps of Engineers Vacheron & Constantin watches in December of 2009, and I've been patiently collecting new snippets of information ever since.  Today seems like an auspicious occasion to update the saga of these tool watches, for it was exactly one hundred years ago today that a tragedy occurred which had direct influence on the subject at hand.  It was shortly after 2pm on the 7th of May, 1915, that the ocean liner RMS Lusitania, enroute from New York, was torpedoed and sunk as it approached Ireland, with the loss of almost 1,200 passengers and crew, including 128 American citizens.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

With the outbreak of the Great War on the European continent in August of 1914, the United States was determined to stay neutral, however, Germany's campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare around the British Isles, followed by the discovery of secret negotiations between the German and Mexican governments (see intercepted telegram below) led Congress to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

By July of that year, American soldiers were marching in the streets of Paris and by October were fighting at the front.  These troops were organized as the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under General “Black Jack” Pershing. By 1918 the Americans had mustered 420,000 troops and by the time armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, the United States of America had almost 1.2 million soldiers in Europe and had suffered 117,000 casualties. Final peace came with the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919, at least for another twenty years.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The standard timepiece of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the start of the Great War were American-made Hamilton pocket watches with their evergreen caliber 992 movement. Having adopted the General Railroad Timepiece Standards of 1893, the Corps required that each watch incorporate several technical features to ensure easy winding, legibility and accuracy to within 30 seconds a week.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Upon arriving in Europe, in an effort to reduce their reliance on trans-Atlantic shipping of supplies, the American Expeditionary Force Quartermaster Corps decided to procure as much material as possible from Europe.  In fact, the growing deficit in the balance of trade between Europe and America exerted a significant influence on this policy.

Both the American Signal Corps and Army Corps of Engineers required an ongoing supply of high-quality timepieces and their allotment of 1,000 Hamilton three-hand time-only watches was quickly exhausted. Key Swiss manufacturers were contracted by the AEF; Zenith and Ulysse Nardin for time-only watches and Vacheron & Constantin for both chronograph and non-chronograph watches. These manufacturers, in turn, sub-contracted with others to meet their large orders. In total, contracts for over 10,000 pocket watches were tendered to Swiss factories. Similar activities occurred on the British side, with Rolex and Cortebert filling production contracts for pocket watches and wristlets. The Germans too had orders for Swiss watches of very similar specifications, the most significant difference being the German requirement for screw-down case backs.

 

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

V&C Maison on Quai de l'Ile, Geneva, 1914

 

The AEF order for Vacheron & Constantin was signed in May of 1918 for 5,000 pocket chronographs to be delivered at a rate of 200 per month.  The specifics were as follows:

High grade movements, 20-jewels, stop sweep second hand without minute counter, adjusted to positions and temperatures...

The cases to be of oxydized silver, open face, with the following engraving on the back: "Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. No.___ (Numbers to begin with 1).

The dials and hands shall be luminous, except the small second and the sweeping hand.  The dials are to be marked "Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. No.___" and "Vacheron & Constantin".

Price, SWISS francs, 280 each, f.o.b. Berne, Switzerland.

 

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

At the exchange rate in effect in May of 1918, the value of each watch was about US $70, or $1,200 in today's dollars. Two weeks following this agreement, an urgent telegram was sent from Paris to Geneva, confirming the order and requesting "rush work".  Surely this signifies the importance of these timepieces to the Corps tasks at hand.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Although the order contained a cancellation clause in the event of peace, it was not acted on. Deliveries continued until 1920, when a total of 3,289 Vacheron & Constantin single-button chronographs had been received by the Corps (see post on the “Examined By” chronographs for further discussion of this number).  Another deviation involved the dials for, unlike their Hamilton predecessors, they were not numbered as specified in the purchase order.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The oxydization process was handled by V&C's assigned case maker Huguenin Freres and left the cases a dull grey color which, being non-reflective, was useful in combat situations.  An example can be seen in the 1917 Vacheron & Constantin archival photograph above. While it seems that virtually all remaining examples have been polished, remnants of the original finish are often present inside the back cover.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

There were four different configurations of V&C Corps of Engineers chronograph movements.  If one can rely on auction records and other unofficial sources, all appear to have been designated as Calibre R.A.19'''73 Chrono*. From top to bottom, the ebauche was provided by Matthey-Tissot, Reymond Freres, Moser, and Paul Nardin (Ulysse Nardin).

Matthey-Tissot

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Reymond Freres

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

H. Moser

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

P. Nardin

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

While the others were pin-set, the Nardin was wound and set through the crown.  Note its "brevet + 54714" inscription, identifying a patented improvement to the chronograph mechanism.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The order for chronograph watches by the U.S. Corps of Engineers was followed in August of 1918 by an additional order for 2,000 "half-chronometer" pocket watches to be delivered at a rate of at least 100 pieces per month.  The specifications were:

...oxydized silver, half-chronometer, luminous dials and hands, as per sample No. 232608...

On the back of each watch will be engraved: "Property of Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. 10,351" up to 12,350.

Price: 96.- (Ninety six) Swiss francs each.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

The cost was about US $24 for each watch.  The English term "half-chronometer" implied a quality lever escapement adjusted for positions and temperatures.  Although the order is somewhat sparse in details, apparently the sample with case nr.232608 met the Corps requirements.  Unlike the chronographs, these cases do not bear a maker's mark. The movement pictured below was designated as Calibre R.A.19'''194 ART (R.A. for "Remontoir Ancre" and ART for "Argent").

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

Other suppliers to the Corps of Engineers for time-only watches included Zenith and Ulysse Nardin.  Nardin, in turn, subcontracted some production to IWC, Movado and Moser.

Finally, there were a number of second quality Corps watches (perhaps 350 of the 3,289 total according to Thomas Koenig) supplied to V&C by outside manufactures, notably Moser for chronographs (pictured, 18 rather than 20 jewels) with cases by Huguenin Freres.  They were inspected for quality control purposes and identified with the cuvette engraving; "Examined by Vacheron & Constantin".  In an act of scrupulousness, the name "Vacheron & Constantin" was omitted from the dial.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

Photo credit Bogoff

 

Contrary to persistent rumors, V&C did not produce wrist watches for the American Expeditionary Forces, although some of these pocket watches were most certainly modified for wrist use with leather strap/holders.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

It is equally likely that V&C ebauches may have been fitted, at customer request, with Borgel's "imperméable" screwed cases manufactured in Geneva.  Their hermetic wrist watch case was patented in 1912 and advertised as "specifically requested by motorists and members of the English and colonial army."

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

V&C did manufacture wrist watches with military-style dials.  Following the custom of the day, officers were responsible for providing their own accouterments and these gold-cased timepieces were available for purchase by the well-heeled.  These images date from 1917.

The Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C WatchesThe Watch That Went to War; An Update of the US Army Corps of Engineers V&C Watches

 

While on the subject of rumors, there also appears from time to time gold-cased V&C pocket chronographs with Corps of Engineer dials.  According to legend, these were given as presentation pieces to Allied generals. I can only state that two such watches I have investigated were found to have mismatched case and movement numbers.

*I have submitted queries to VC's Heritage Department regarding gaps and uncertainties in the information available on these timepieces and will update should they be kind enough reply.

 

With acknowledgements to:

  • Antiquorum website
  • The Hour Lounge; Vacheron Constantin discussion forum
  • The World of Vacheron Constantin Genève by Carole Lambelet & Lorette Coen
  • Curator, Office of History, US Army Corps of Engineers (thanks to Adam Harris)
  • US Army Corps of Engineers Historical Vignette: WWI Corps of Engineers Special Watch to Keep Accurate Time
  • Early Wristwatches and Coming of Age in World War I by Michael Friedberg
  • SIHH 2006 Exhibition Booklet: Fine Watches For Land, Air and Sea
  • Military Timepieces by Konrad Knirim
  • Die Uhren des Amerikanischen Corps of Engineers by Thomas Koenig, Klassik Uhren, May 2010 (republished in English, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, Mar/Apr 2014)
  • Poster images courtesy Library of Congress, Center of Military History, and MaritimeQuest
  • Hamilton images courtesy NAWCC
  • Borgel history courtesy of David Boettcher
Thank you, Dean...
05/09/2015 - 12:08

Delighted to confirm that everything has been received in first-class order yes...

I have now read the article four times. A masterpiece!

Thank you again...

Tony

Thank you, Dean!
05/11/2015 - 14:39

I am grateful for all of the research you have done on this subject.  It is delightful to read about the Corps of Engineers watches and to have such a resource to which we may refer. 

R

Par for you my friend, yet another amazingly researched and written article!
05/12/2015 - 03:18

Hi Dean,  at times you put so much into these beautiful articles that when I look at the length of it...I hold off reading until I have the time to go through all of it carefully. 

Thanks so much for this fascinating information.  I must admit, I'm more of a WW II buff than WW I...so all of this history and info is great to read and learn.

I've never seen an "Examined by Vacheron & Constantin" before, thanks!

BR, Dan

One more tidbit, gents
05/12/2015 - 04:28

 

One last piece of correspondence from the Corps of Engineers archives was a letter that didn't really fit the article but is worth sharing.  It is directed to the US Purchasing Agent in Switzerland, drawing Capt. Sim's attention to the superb results for V&C at Observatory Trials of 1918/19 (Observatoire de Geneve ran their tests from Nov to Jan each year).  His well-mannered reply offers an unsolicited endorsement of the Corps of Engineers watches already delivered.

One more tidbit, gents

 

I am unable to locate a copy of the Journal de Geneve, but those same results were also published in La Federation horlogere suisse from Neuchatel.  It shows that V&C achieved all four First Prize ratings as adjusted by Francois Modoux.  As the article mentions, a new record was set for a daily mean deviation (the difference in the rate obtained between one day and the next) of 0.06 seconds; an improvement from the past record of 0.07 seconds back in 1891.

One more tidbit, gents

 

Francois Modoux was one of the superstars of Swiss regleurs.  He was known primarily for his work on behalf of Patek, Philippe but as you can see, these technicians (or magicians, if you prefer) moved around as required.  We see that Batafolier, who gained his reputation with V&C, was adjusting for PP this year!

Thanks Dean...
05/13/2015 - 09:57

The additional piece of information duly noted and appreciated.

Regards

Tony