Again following on from here
NAWCC 2014, The New Task Ahead
Object type: wristwatch
Museum accession number: 2004.9
Location: Permanent wristwatch display
Brief description: Nickel-plated case, manual winding, detached lever wristwatch.
Round white enamel Arabic (12 in red) dial with luminous (radium) numerals and hands, sunk subseconds at 6 o’clock.
Crown at “3” winds and sets hands, fitted with a nickel-plated guard to protect the glass and dial.
Original brown leather strap.
Producer name: Unknown
Production date: Circa 1915
Made in: Europe, Switzerland
Dimensions: 32 millimeters (case)
Case (inside): as above
This World War I “trench” watch was so named because of their first use by mainly officers in the trenches during the war. This wristwatch actually has the provenance (see below) of being worn in the trenches during World War I.
This wristwatch is fitted with a shrapnel guard to protect the glass crystal from knocks and bangs it might have received during day-to-day living in the trenches. The guards came in different sizes and styles, were held in place by the leather strap, and were called by a variety of names: shrapnel guard, mesh guard, wristwatch or glass protector.
This style of guard is termed “detachable” versus the “fixed” type that is integrated with the watchcase (see NAWCC object ID: 82.99.43, 83.52.49). Many patents offer different styles, such as patent number 20,696 dated October 1914 (see NAWCC object ID: FIC90.11).
This watch is a typical early example of an early mass-produced Swiss wristwatch. The case has soldered fixed wire lugs to attach the strap versus spring bars fitted in later watches from the 1920s.
The movement is detached lever, jeweled, and runs at 18,000 beats per hour.
A Concise Guide to Military Timepieces 1880-1990 by Z. M. Wesolowski (1996) shows on page 59 very similar watches.
NAWCC accession folder (2004.9) contains birth certificate discharge certificate and death certificate of George Henry Beamish, who owned and wore this watch. There also are two pictures of Beamish in his uniform of the Canadian Expeditionary Force World War I.
Adam R. Harris
Guest Wristwatch Curator 2014
NOTE: Pictures are copyright of NAWCC and may not be used without permission.