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.
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!