West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch
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  1. #1
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    West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Hi,
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    This watch was acquired by my late father when he was in the Royal Artillery in India during WW2, specifically 1944 to '46. The story he told was that he won it in a poker game.
    He gave it to me when I was 21 in 1980 and I used it for a few years until it seemed to stop, whereupon it was put away in a drawer. My Dad wore it all the time until he gave it to me.
    I've obviously done some web research and have discovered that these watches were sold in India at the time.

    What I'd like to know is:
    1. What do the numbers mean?
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    It has 6501 and 1054 on the back with the 1054 repeated on the side near the strap fitting

    2. What does the little arrow on the back mean?
    It is quite faint

    3. The strap in Bonklip type but the imprint says "Fabrique en Suisse" and initials GF and a logo. As far as I know its always had this strap.
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    4. The hands don't seem to be the same as on other examples of similar watches but I don't think they've been changed in my lifetime.

    I wound the watch up for the first time since the 1980s last night, set the time according to my clock radio which receives the Rugby time signal and was amazed to find it still keeps very good time. The second hand doesn't go round and the luminous paint has come off the hour hand but apart form that it looks like it just needs a clean.

    I intend to get it serviced by a local watch repairer (Watch Doctors in Tring) and wear it. I rather like mechanical things and if it keeps good time why not? It is smaller than my usual Pulsar Quartz and many modern men's watches seem massive which I don't really like.

    I'd be most grateful for any information that those with expertise in this area can provide.

    Many Thanks
    OldGreyBeard
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  2. #2
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    That's a nice watch in excellent condition - probably the only thing wrong is the loss of lume on the hour hand. Unfortunately, since it will be Radium, one has to be very careful when opening the watch up so that one doesn't inhale the Radium dust (rather dangerous - I presume your watchmaker will know about that). The bracelet is by Gay Freres, another notable and esteemed maker of bracelets. If you manage to get a picture of the movement, we will be able to identify it for you.

    Hartmut Richter

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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Hi Harmut,
    Thanks for the info. The second hand doesn't go round but I've been wearing the watch all day and it does keep excellent time. I think the strap is original and rather grubby. The links seem to exude a black paste which I assume is decades of dirt but can be cleaned.

    I will ask the repairer for a photo of the movement.

    As for the radium I assume that the glass and the metal provide sufficient protection from it as long as it's not opened. It certainly didn't do my late Dad any harm as he died at 89 and not from radiation poisoning.

    OldGreyBeard
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    Member Charon's Avatar
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Very nice watch , I like it a lot.
    Quote Originally Posted by OldGreyBeard View Post
    I think the strap is original and rather grubby. The links seem to exude a black paste which I assume is decades of dirt but can be cleaned.
    I've always referred to the black paste as person. I had a Seiko bracelet recently that wa almost rigid. I took most of a (lazy)day to get it properly cleaned.

  6. #5
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    That's a sweet watch. I had a sojourner when I first started getting into watches. I picked it up in china during college. Anyways, there's not a lot of info out there about the company but when I researched it I found that west end watches was a British based watchmaker that mainly sold to British soldiers going to India. By WWI they were the most popular brand in Asia. I don't know/remember what happened to them but i remember finding one new model with there name so it still exists in some capacity. Anyways, it's a cool little watch.
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    Member Sparcster's Avatar
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Hi there,

    Its a nice watch and a great gift from your father. I would certainly get it serviced/repaired and back up and running. I would guess that there is a FHF (30) based movement inside which should be repairable by most watchmakers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Semdot14 View Post
    Anyways, there's not a lot of info out there about the company but when I researched it I found that west end watches was a British based watchmaker that mainly sold to British soldiers going to India.
    Im not sure about that... I dont think they ever been a British based watchmaker!?? and would guess the dial says swiss made at the bottom of this one! There is some great history into the brand here:

    West End Watch Co.

    your watch as explained on the above link uses a Taubert diagonal case used for its waterproof qualities.... which was very useful in humid climates like India!

    You will also find info on the Taubert history and this style of case here:

    The Taubert family - watch case makers of Geneva, Switzerland

    I have contact the modern day West End Watch company when researching an early watch of theirs. They were very helpful and worth a consideration when researching your watch. I know they lost many records in a fire, but they may be able to help.

    As for the numbers on the back... I think these are just a serial numbers... you may find that the 1054 number is also stamped between the lugs... to show that the case and back match!

    The strap is nice... 16mm? bonklip. I think these were used by Pilots, as the longer strap could go around their flight jackets... you did not want to pull you sleeve up to tell the time in the freezing cold at XXXX feet up!

    Nice watch with a great history, worth some TLC in my opinion....
    Last edited by Sparcster; August 30th, 2015 at 23:09.
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  8. #7
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparcster View Post
    Hi there,

    Its a nice watch and a great gift from your father. I would certainly get it serviced/repaired and back up and running. I would guess that there is a FHF (30) based movement inside which should be repairable by most watchmakers.




    Im not sure about that... I dont think they ever been a British based watchmaker!?? and would guess the dial says swiss made at the bottom of this one! There is some great history into the brand here:

    West End Watch Co.

    your watch as explained on the above link uses a Taubert diagonal case used for its waterproof qualities.... which was very useful in humid climates like India!

    You will also find info on the Taubert history and this style of case here:

    The Taubert family - watch case makers of Geneva, Switzerland

    I have contact the modern day West End Watch company when researching an early watch of theirs. They were very helpful and worth a consideration when researching your watch. I know they lost many records in a fire, but they may be able to help.

    As for the numbers on the back... I think these are just a serial numbers... you may find that the 1054 number is also stamped between the lugs... to show that the case and back match!

    The strap is nice... 16mm? bonklip. I think these were used by Pilots, as the longer strap could go around their flight jackets... you did not want to pull you sleeve up to tell the time in the freezing cold at XXXX feet up!

    Nice watch with a great history, worth some TLC in my opinion....
    Wow! I just read your link. Sorry for the misinformation. I could of swore I read it was founded in England. I stand corrected.
    Last edited by Semdot14; August 30th, 2015 at 23:32.
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Very nice piece and all intact
    2. What does the little arrow on the back mean?
    It is quite faint
    That interests me too - I do not think a 'pheon' - so what
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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HOROLOGIST007 View Post
    Very nice piece and all intact
    2. What does the little arrow on the back mean?
    It is quite faint
    That interests me too - I do not think a 'pheon' - so what
    Indeed... Sellers are happy to say this arrow has a military connection, but I have owned non military versions with this mark.

    The OP's watch may be marked CS(i) inside for civil service india. But you would need to open it to check. I could guess at a few uses for the arrow... But they would be a guess!

  11. #10
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    Re: West End Watch Sowar Prima 1940s - I'd like some more info about this watch

    Thank you for the info. I certainly intend to get the watch serviced an cleaned up.
    It does say "SWISS MADE" on the dial.
    The 1054 is repeated between the lugs at the "6" end of the case.
    The luminous dial is no longer luminous but I understand this is because the fluorescent material has been damaged by the Radium rather than the decay of the Radium.

    I wondered if the little arrow was for lining up the tool to remove the back.

    I have to say that the watch is remarkably quiet. Much quieter than my bog standard Pulsar Quartz, but then I suppose quietness was quite useful for a military watch.

    I'd been wondering where I'd put this watch as my Pulsar quartz case is showing signs of corrosion and I rather like having a watch that doesn't need regular battery changes. When I was sorting out a wardrobe yesterday I found it and I'm ridiculously pleased about this! I will certainly get it serviced and I will certainly wear it.
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