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For sale we have a beautiful and practical mid-sized 30mm wristwatch dating to the 1940s by West End Watch Co. It has a clear and well laid out dial, designed for legibility with lumed Arabic numerals and 1/5 second graduations, with sweep central seconds. The hands have the original radium lume and are beautifully thermally blued. It is a watch with military use in mind and encapsulated within its DNA.

The model is the ‘Sowar’ Prima, which has a Freres Borgel, Tauberts & Fils full Stainless-Steel case. They were one of Genevas finest case makers, designing quality dirt and moisture resistant cases. The inner movement cover has the C.S.(I) engraving, which means this watch was issued to the British Civil Service in India. Inside is a quality FHF calibre with central second hand and Incabloc shockproofing.


West End Watch Company were based in Geneve and St Imier in Switzerland. The company had a major presence in Bombay and Calcutta in India. The watches were designed to suit and aimed at British colonial officials and troops. In WW1 a large contingent of British and Indian soldiers were sent from Bombay to the Persian Gulf, to reach Mesopotamia, and this force received some West End Watch Co watches.


By 1914 West End was manufacturing watches marked C.S. for the Civil Service in India and Indian Military that were under British control. These watches were also produced in the 1940s by other brands, including; Omega, Tissot, Londines, Leonidas and Favre-Leuba.


In Bombay, West End were agents for Longines watches, meaning that West End watches can sometimes be found with Longines movements.


The Sowar model name was registered in 1938. It translates to ‘The Cavalry man’ and was registered in honour of Sir Thomas Edward Lawrence (of Arabic), who apparently, along with his men, wore West End Watches.


In 1934, Societe des Montres West End SA was attributed with the first use of Incabloc shock protection, which was accompanied with the use of the word ‘Prima’ on the dials.


The renown military watch expert Konrad Knirim doesn’t have any further information as to who these watches were issued to specifically, but nonetheless, the civil service element is an interesting quirk of its time. It once again reminds us of the importance of accurate time keeping in reporting and coordinating across a global empire.


Overall, this is a fascinating little watch with interesting British Civil Service India history, with a military design with legibility, dependability and water resistance as key elements.


Please see the images as these compliment and aid the description provided below.

A further condition report is below.



The dial is original and is in decent condition. It has a silver satin powder which has speckled ageing around the centre, running up towards 10-12 O’clock. The red signing has some slight wear. The Arabic numerals are original and clear with original lume, with clear seconds track.



The hands are of luminous cathedral style and are original. They are in good condition with original lume in-fill and bright thermally blued finish.



The acrylic crystal is a replacement which is in good condition with no marking.



The Steel crown is stainless steel and is originally.



The case is Stainless Steel and is in decent condition. The case has polished finishing to the top which has light surface scratching. The sides of the case have the original brushed finish.



The screw on case back is in good condition for the age. It has the brushed finish which has naturally worn with age. To the centre is the West End logo which has some wear, but is still visible. The case reference engraving is clear. There is light surface scratching associated with age.



The watch comes on a new NATO style strap in an olive tone.



The movement is an FHF calibre with a jewel count of 15. It has a frequency of 18,000 BPH and has a sweep second hand, with Incabloc shock protection.


The movement service history is unknown, but the movement is in good condition, cosmetically and functionally. It’s keeping time to within +/- 20 seconds a day, with an amplitude of 260 degrees and a beat error of 1.3m/s.


Case dimensions:

Case width: 29.5mm

Case width with crown: 31.5mm

Case length: 28.75mm

Case length lug to lug: 35mm

Case Depth: 10.5mm

Lug width: 16mm

1940s West End Watch Co Sowar Prima Civil Service India, sweep seconds, incabloc

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