The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !
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Thread: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

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  1. #1
    Member Literustyfan's Avatar
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    The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    Hey guys!

    A couple of days ago I decided that I was going to attend the NAWCC Texas Lone Star Regional Watch Show that was being held in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite.

    So, yesterday at 5:30am I hopped in my car and drove from Houston to Dallas, a very pleasant 3 hour drive through the country.

    Attendance was higher this year I think, more tables and more people.

    I scored several good finds but one of them stands leaps and bounds above the rest.

    This is without a doubt the MOST incredible find of my career with a military provenance that is almost unbelievable.

    This trench watch originally belonged to First Lieutenant Paul Baer of the 103d Aero Squadron!

    Lieutenant Baer was the very first "FLYING ACE" in the history of American military aviation!

    A combat pilot has to have FIVE confirmed kills in order to get "ACE" status.

    He is credited with NINE confirmed aerial victories and SEVEN unconfirmed aerial victories.

    He also scored the very FIRST aerial combat victory for ANY American unit during the Great War.

    He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster by the United States Army.

    There is only ONE medal higher than the DSC and that is the Medal of Honor.

    The French government awarded Lt. Paul Baer the Legion d'Honneur (National Order of the Legion Honour) the "Order" is their highest military award possible.

    The French also awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

    Lt. Baer scored his very first aerial combat victory on March 11, 1918 near the town of Reims in France.

    This is the engagement that earned Lt. Baer the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Lt. Baer attacked SEVEN German bi-planes ALL BY HIMSELF ! ! ! !

    Now that's what I call "having some sand" ! ! ! ! !

    7 on 1, just think about that for a moment............................................ ....7 on 1 ! ! ! !

    The 98 year anniversary of this accomplishment is in 6 days (next Friday).

    On May 22, 1918 he shot down his 9th confirmed kill, but in this battle he was shot down himself and was captured by the Germans.

    He was a POW for about 6 months until the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

    Lt. Baer died on December 9, 1930 near Shanghai China.

    The float plane that he was flying hit the mast of a junk boat on the Yangtze River during takeoff and crashed.

    His body was returned to the United States and he was buried in his hometown of Fort Wayne Indiana, he was only 34 years old.

    Now, to the watch..................

    WWI Elgin Trench Watch, Philadelphia Silverode Case, original factory crown, original factory glass crystal, movement size 3/0, 7 jewels

    The Mealy Manufacturing "DUO" Crystal Guard was in fact on the watch when I bought it yesterday.

    Correct center reservoir military hands, enamel shadow box military dial.

    The Kitchener Strap is not original to the watch.

    But, it is from WWI and it was originally on an Elgin Trench Watch with the same overall lug tip to lug tip distance of 40mm.

    10mm lug diameter, 32.6mm case not including the original crown.

    I only did mechanical repairs to this watch, the movement has been serviced and is keeping near perfect timing.

    I did had to install a new inner sleeve on the crown tube, it was broken, it now has a nice firm "pop" just as it should.

    The case has NOT been touched, it will be kept in its current original condition.

    I want you guys to take a VERY close look at the engraving on the case back!

    I have sent pictures to several friends and they have studied the case back pictures checking for anything fishy.

    I personally have tried for several hours to intentionally find fault with the engraving on the case back.

    In my professional opinion it is original and was NOT added at a later date to give the watch false provenance.

    It's the REAL DEAL.

    But, I implore you to try and find fault with it, I will add several more pictures of the case back shortly so you can study them for yourselves.

    Here are a couple of links to Wiki pages about Lt. Paul Baer and to the historic 103d Aero Squadron, you'll get to see a picture of him.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Frank_Baer

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/103d_Aero_Squadron

    I have restored and worked on well over 1,000 WWI trench watches over the years and I have seen thousands more.

    This one is bay FAR the MOST important one that I have ever seen due to the military history that it holds, America's very first "ACE".

    I have NEVER seen another WWI trench watch who's original owner was more decorated than Lt. Paul Baer, a TRUE American war hero with nerves of steel!

    I feel absolutely honored being the one to work on his watch and to bring Lt. Paul Baer's story back to the forefront for all of us to enjoy!

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    Last edited by Literustyfan; March 5th, 2016 at 17:33.
    Author of "Elgin Trench Watches of the Great War" & "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War"

    www.lrfantiquewatches.com

    www.facebook.com/WWITrenchWatch

  2. #2
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    Last edited by Literustyfan; March 5th, 2016 at 16:23.
    Author of "Elgin Trench Watches of the Great War" & "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War"

    www.lrfantiquewatches.com

    www.facebook.com/WWITrenchWatch

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    Member Addictedtowatches's Avatar
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    Very nice! A historically significant find in very appropriate hands!
    Literustyfan likes this.
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  5. #4
    Member trim's Avatar
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    What an incredible find - is this a keeper, or off to a museum?

    Kudos to you for not polishing the case, and leaving the hands as they were!

  6. #5
    Member Literustyfan's Avatar
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    Thanks Trim!

    Some watches I fully restore but others like this one should be LEFT ALONE and only minimal work preformed.

    NOTHING cosmetic, only mechanical repairs were done.

    We are thinking about what to do with it right now.

    I've asked several friends, authors of watch books and experts their thoughts.

    A couple of museums know about the watch already too.

    I am weighing my options...............
    tinknocker and Wibbs like this.
    Author of "Elgin Trench Watches of the Great War" & "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War"

    www.lrfantiquewatches.com

    www.facebook.com/WWITrenchWatch

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    Member Literustyfan's Avatar
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    Lt. Paul Baer's story was featured in a book published back in 2001 that was written by Norman Franks, he lives in the UK.

    Mr. Franks writes a lot of books about WWI, over 40 titles I think.

    "American Aces of WWI" ISBN: 9781841763750
    Author of "Elgin Trench Watches of the Great War" & "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War"

    www.lrfantiquewatches.com

    www.facebook.com/WWITrenchWatch

  8. #7
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    You've done a great job of sharing in great detail with your fellow WIS what appears to be a piece of hierological and historical significants! It also appears you've done your homework in the accounting for its authenticity. Congrats on your acquisition and it's great to see that this magnificent piece of history has found itself into such appreciative and knowledgeable hands! BIG thanks for sharing! Now get that shipped out to the proper museum ASAP ;^)
    Last edited by watchobs; March 11th, 2016 at 17:30.
    Literustyfan likes this.

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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    What a neat story. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Literustyfan likes this.

  10. #9
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    A watch with such a history behind it... If it was up to me, I'd keep it. I mean, how often does one find a watch with a history that actually can be found out? And, on top of that, one hell of a part of history in general? Yeah, "presentation watches" aren't rare, just open up eBay and a ton of presentation watches will appear,either inscribed for a family member for being a family member, or an employee for spending a few decades behind a desk. But watches like the one you've found? Well, no. Finding such a watch is nothing short of a miracle. I mean, if it was me, first I'd empty a few beers in order to celebrate, then I'd get it serviced, and then I'd wear it and enjoy it. Which is what I'd wholeheartedly recommend in this case.
    anzac1957, busmatt, Wibbs and 1 others like this.
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  11. #10
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    Re: The WWI Trench Watch of Lieutenant Paul Baer, America's VERY FIRST Flying "ACE" ! ! !

    Hi Literrustyfan,

    What a great watch and if that engraving is correct then it is tied to a very important figure in U.S military
    history.

    The engraving looks to have been done on a pantograph engraving machine using a standard font stencil,
    it is not hand engraved.

    Have you tried to authenticate the engraving, by identifying the font used, to pin it down to contemporary style
    used during WW1, that might be the way to go give the watch further credence.

    The style looks like 'Helvetica Neue Light' although that would be too late for WW1.
    Literustyfan, busmatt and redcow like this.

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