Time for a War Story
A member of the War Office authorised “Dirty Dozen” group of watches in the Second World War, the newly re-born Vertex is hunting down stories of wartime daring do and timing using its watches. Action stations!
Column by Mr WatchMaster
Wristwatches have been synonymous with the military, since their introduction in the First World War (1914-18). The ‘Great War’ was the first time in British Army history that battles were conducted by generals in remote field headquarters where they could not see the front line. Army units deployed across the vast fields of battle had difficulty communicating with them, therefore, precision timing in the execution and coordination of manoeuvres and attacks became vital. These first watches became known simply as ‘Trench Watches’ and tended to be purchased by individual officers rather than the military per se.
“Then the time came. The watch hands pointed to the second which had been given for the assault to begin, and instantly, to the tick, the guns lifted and made a curtain of fire round the Chateau of Hooge, beyond the Menin road, six hundred yards away. “Time!” The company officers blew their whistles, and there was a sudden clatter from trench-spades slung to rifle-barrels, and from men girdled with hand-grenades, as the advancing companies deployed and made their first rush forward.” Philip Gibbs, War Correspondent (Battle around Hooge, Flanders, Belgium, August 1915)
The War Office did issue a small number of wristwatches towards the end of the war in 1917 – becoming a critical part of the officer’s kit, along with other essential items such as a revolver, map case and compass. This continued into the Second World War. The British Military selected 12 leading watchmakers to supply the army with a new watch built to an exacting bespoke design. The specifications were precisely what you would expect of a military watch – waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level and rugged. On top of that, the dial needed to be black with Arabic numerals to maximise legibility.
The War Office (the Ministry of Defence of today was created in the 1960s) set the specification standards which were referred to as ‘W.W.W’ which stood for ‘Watches.Wristlet.Waterproof’. These W.W.W watches were produced by Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.
This select group have become known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’
In 2017, Vertex, in partnership with Mr WatchMaster, are seeking stories about the use of Vertex Watches during World War 2 from owners of the watches. Any story about the use of the watches in key battles, missions or other personal stories will be considered. Entries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org , preferably as a PDF file. You can also enter via the Vertex Competition website page
Winners will be chosen by an independent adjudicator or panel of who will use their best efforts to check that entries are authentic representations of actual events. The prize for the best story will be a Vertex M100 Watch. The competition ends October 31st.
“As a child I was captivated by these watches. The way they were used to time truly decisive moments with the most profound implications fascinated me.” Don Cochrane
Full competition Terms and Conditions are available here