The Dirty Dozen & WWW

Now those of you who know me well know I’m an inveterate collector.  I have pretty much all Doctor Who DVDs stored downstairs in bookcases, arranged in broadcast order.  Do I watch them regularly, absolutely not, but they give a certain degree of satisfaction as I pass them and generate a self satisfied smirk of appreciation at the corners of my mouth.

Sadly this collecting habit doesn’t stop there, as evidenced by my Land Rover collections over the years, at least some of them are towed away and crushed to avoid clogging up the drive, well, both P38’s at any rate!

Now back to the puzzling title of this post.  First of all I’m not talking about the film of Lee Marvin fame called “The Dirty Dozen” as good as that is in my honest opinion.  No, what i’m talking about here is the series of 12 Swiss made military watches that were ordered by His Majesty’s British Government during World War 2 for army servicemen to wear on duty.

Stamped on the back of each of these watches is WWW.  I bet you thought that stood for World Wide Web?  Not in this case, no, for WWW stands for Watch, Wrist, Waterproof!

A few years ago now I was visiting my parents in Hornsea with Debbie when I passed a watch shop on the high street that specialised in older, antique versions of wrist watches, pocket watches and clocks.  As I perused the shop window a sudden jolt of excitement shot up my spine as I recognised a Vertex, pictured below, so on enquiring in the shop and looking at the markings on the back I sought permission from Mrs Shores to make an acquisition, I think it cost me around £150!

Vertex of
Vertex of “Dirty Dozen” fame
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Wrist Watch Waterproof and armed forces “Broad Arrow” kite mark plus civilian serial number A 8311 of the manufacturer & the military serial number 3521227 with 314 stamped bottom left lug
On returning back to Ashcourt Drive my mother “helpfully” pointed out that the strap was disintegrating and that the movement was gaining 5 minutes every hour.  On return to Thorpe I scanned eBay and bought a new period leather strap and very luckily Judi E one of my team told me she was married to David, a retired watchmaker, who would service it for me for a bottle of decent plonk (he didn’t ask for it – I insisted).  Service duly done it now periodically sports my wrist and keeps excellent time.

For those of you who haven’t yet “dozed” off (weak pun intended) the remaining watches that will be added to my collection over* time (*Debbie has just peered over my shoulder and added the words “considerable length of”) are as follows:

Brand/Maker/Estimate of No. Produced

  1. Buren Grand Prix
    Buren Watch Co.
    11,000
  2. Cyma
    Schwob Freres SA, 1949 renamed CYMA Watch Co
    20,000
  3. Eterna
    Eterna SA, formerly Schild Freres
    5,000
  4. Grana Watch
    Kurth Freres SA
    1,000
  5. Jaeger-LeCoultre
    Jaeger LeCoultre SA
    10,000
  6. IWC
    Uhrenfabrik Ernst Homberger-Rauschenbach vormals International Watch Co
    6,000
  7. Lemania
    Lugrin SA, Lemania
    8,000
  8. Longines
    Compagnie des Montres, Longines, Francillon SA
    5,000
  9. Omega
    SA Louis Brandt & Frere, 1947 renamed SA OMEGA Louis Brandt & Frere
    25,000
  10. Record
    Record Dreadnought SA, 1949 renamed Record Watch Co
    25,000
  11. Timor
    Timor Watch Co SA J. 
    Bernheim & Co
    13,000
  12. Vertex
    Thommen SA Fabrique 
    d’ Horloge
    15,000

In view of the high cost of acquiring more WWW watches I also started in parallel a collection of ATP watches or Army Trade Pattern which are of lower quality, more common and hence cheaper.

I only have 2, both Leonidas watches, the predecessor company to TAG Heuer!

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The Dirty Dozen & WWW

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