1916 RAF (RFC) WW1 Mark V Military B.K. Electa Pocket watch, 30 Hour Non-Luminous dial
Condition: PERFECT dial for the age. The sub-second hand is missing, but the pivot it sits on is intacted. The pocket watch is all original.
The movement keeps time to within 2 minutes a day.
Dimensions: 52mm x 52mm
The two most import catalysts for the development of aviation watches were early aviation record attempts and war. World War I finds watch development between the pocket watch and the new wristlets with the British issuing pilots pocket watches. British Mark IV.A and Mark V pocket watches are an example of WW1 military aviation.
When “balloon busting” or taking out observation balloons, British pilots flew with the pocket watch Mark IV.A (1914) and Mark V (1916).
Great Britain’s characteristic mark was the broad arrow. For the collector, case back markings are key identifiers and an added authenticity safeguard. These markings meant that the watches were official military equipment, procured through contracts and mass-produced for combat pilots.
On April 13, 1912, the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was formed to develop a military and naval wing. Just prior to the war, given the unique needs of the fleet, the naval wing severed with the RFC to form the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). In 1918, these two separate aviation branches merged again to form the Royal Air Force (RAF) who continued to use the Mark watches. The RFC aviation issue watches had an underscored capital A with a broad arrow pointing upward underneath it. Repairs to the watch meant an additional caseback stamp marking the repair status. One look at the caseback, and the markings tell you, British issue.
The RFC and RNAS had near identical watches, but the RNAS watches were predominately the eight-day variety and the RFC, the 30-hour. Once inside the aircraft, these watches became chronometric instruments, which the pilot fit into the instrument panel. As a result, the Mark IV.A and Mark V had long shank winding stems to extend beyond their instrument panel housing for mid-flight winding, earning the nickname, cockpit watch. German pilots, on the other hand, wore inverted watches suspended from a fob on their flight suits. Zeppelin pilots had rapid access to time, and the hanging, inverted dial was right side up when held. These adaptive measures were precursors to the pilot watch worn on the wrist.
The four known manufacturers of Mark V watches were Zenith, Omega, Doxa and Electa.
Electa produced a total 6,071.
Most WW1 biplanes only flew during daylight so would not have needed luminous hands/dials. The pilot had to sign for the watch, and if he didn't bring it back after a crash (I suppose on our side of the lines) that he would be charged for it. If he crashed on the German side he didn't have to worry...
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