I bought this trench watch last week and it just arrived yesterday!
This is a sterling silver WWI Waltham Depollier "Khaki" BARREL design trench watch case.
I have NEVER seen one of these before ! ! !
Made several phone calls to antique watch dealer friends of mine and they have never seen one either.
Talked with several guys who's collections rival most museums and they had never seen one either.
Finding a new Depollier Khaki case design is absolutely crazy, things like this just don't happen every day, like never!
I have VERY extensive Depollier files, about every Depollier advert you could possibly think of and this case is NOT in any of them.
I checked ALL of my books and this case has not been documented in anybody's books that I have.
Adam has a pretty thick Depollier file as well and he could not find anything either!
The watch was in incredibly poor condition when it arrived, had been neglected for many years.
I immediately took it apart and studied the case, it's without a doubt a Deopllier, the case signature is spot on correct.
A couple of the case features help date the case like the "double clinched bezel" which Depollier came out with in September of 1917.
Same can be said about the sterling silver "KHAKI" stamped crown, first used in 1917.
In 1917 or 1918 Depollier came out with their "cushion" trench case design that uses the exact same lug design and configuration.
It might look like this case uses spring bar lugs but it does not, it uses a permanent lug pin so the lugs are fixed.
The movement was in pretty bad condition when I put it on the timegraph machine, it was reading +910 seconds per 24 hours, 158 amplitude and the beat error was 8.1
These are really bad numbers!
But, after a few hours of work in my shop the movement had new life, the timegraph reading is now +27 seconds per 24 hours, 290 amplitude and I got the beat error all the way down to 0.8!
Not too shabby for a 98 year old movement!
The dial was badly cracked in the center and a section was completely missing so I replaced it with another better dial of the exact same style that has less damage, the Shadow Box enamel military dial.
I replaced the crystal with glass and the time can now actually be read.
The case was in pretty bad condition, something happened over the years and the watch took a very violent hit in the upper right hand corner of the case.
There is a small hole and it goes through the bezel, this can be fixed but it is high risk vs. high reward.
I'm just going to leave this blemish alone, this is currently the only known example of this Depollier Barrel case so the risk is too high in my opinion to attempt a repair.
The crown also had a major issue, it kept popping out and changing the time when I had it on my wrist.
I went into my stem sleeve bin and search for a new one that will work, I literally tried 52 different sleeves until the 53rd sleeve had that "pop" that I was looking for, nice and tight now, just as it should be.
I cleaned up the case and removed some of the deeper gouges and dings that I could do and that I felt safe doing.
The case alone without the strap, crystal, movement, dial, hands, screws weighs in with 17.8 grams of sterling silver, nearly DOUBLE the sterling weigh when compared to a run of the mill case from this era.
Anyway, it's all put back together now and is actually wearable compared to broken and unwearable when it first arrived.
Enjoy the pics!
Now, at least one other American company made a "BARREL" trench watch case design during the Great War and that would be the Illinois Watch Case Company.
The IWCCo BARREL design first came out in late 1917, these cases are pretty hard to obtain themselves, you don't see them very often.
The Depollier "Kahki" BARREL design is FAR more rare when compared to the Illinois BARREL design!
Here is a shot of them side by side, maybe for the first time EVER!
If anybody has one of these WWI Waltham Depollier "Khaki" Barrel Trench Watches I'd love to see another one, or if you've seen one in a book plese let me know which one.
This Waltham Depollier is definitely going to be in my next book!