World War Watches | Two Legendary Watch Designs2:23 pm
In the course of world history some watch designs have risen above their original purpose to become timeless classics. One of the finest examples of such designs are those of the iconic World War watches, the B-Uhr and the A-11. The B-Uhr was the creation of German and Swiss watchmakers and was commissioned for the infamous missions of the Luftwaffe – the German Airforce. The A-11 was a production standard used by watch makers who provided timepieces to the allied forces who eventually won the war.
The design aspects on both these iconic World War watches had many striking similarities. The Black dial had white hands for superior legibility in shaky and low-light flight conditions, a hand wound movement with a central seconds hand that could be hacked for time correction, hour markers 1 to 12 in Arabic numerals, a second scale with smaller minute/second numbers in increments of 10 on the outside of the dial and similar minute and hour hands. To ensure precision and accuracy in the flight, the watches were exceptionally resistant to shock and changes in temperature.
The B-Uhr design had a large 55mm case to accommodate a large hand-wound movement similar to pocket watches, though it was always to be worn on the wrist. To make the watch anti-magnetic the movement was surrounded by an iron core – a must for aviation. To correct the time errors, the movement was capable of stopping the central seconds hand by pulling the large crown, also known as hacking. A beep over the wireless system from the German Airbase was used to make such corrections. The over sized diamond shaped crown was easy to use with gloves on. A durable double-riveted and extra long leather strap was used, that could easily go over the leather flight jacket and still be secure. The B-Uhr had a novel design that made it one of the most collected world war watches.
When we compare world war watches, the A-11 which was a much smaller mass-produced American watch, made a crucial contribution to the allied victory in the world war. The United States Army Air Forces, the Navy and Marine Corps flying, Britain’s Royal Air Force, even the Soviet Air Force used this iconic timepiece.
Inspired by the design of two of the most legendary world war watches, we feature two iconic timepieces that draw inspiration from the B-Uhr and the A-11, the watches that have attained a cult status.
Bell & Ross WW1-92 Heritage Ref BRWW192-HER/SCA
A classic and timeless design from Bell & Ross the brand that prides its pilot and aviation styles. The WW1-92 Heritage model has a distinctively vintage look with its grey PVD case, black and tan dial with matching brown leather strap. Made to resemble a pocket watch, the large 45mm glass bead blasted stainless steel case is coated with grey PVD and protects the highly legible galvanized black dial with minutes in sand-coloured luminous Arabic numerals. The hours are displayed in the center of the dial by the luminous hour markers and hands. The strap is natural calfskin leather and adds to the classic look of the timepiece.
The Bell and Ross WW1-92 Heritage watch design is reminiscent of the world war watches designed for Pilots. With its large and legible double dial design that gives the hour hand its own track, domed sapphire crystal, lugs welded on the sides of the watch, a thin but extremely strong and elegant leather strap it reminds us of successful air missions during the world war years.
IWC Pilot’s Big Pilot’s – IW500901
Inspired by the design of World War watches, the legendary IWC Big Pilots watch is ready for action in the skies. The massive IWC timepiece resembles a pocket watch with its 46mm brushed stainless steel case and oversized diamond crown. The matte black dial with a recessed power reserve sub-dial, features a white painted minute track and bold Arabic numeral hour markers. To make the watch more legible in the dark the luminous black hands and quarter-hour markers have been added to the dial design. An inner soft iron case protects the IWC Caliber 51111 movement from magnetic fields – a necessary feature for an Aviation watch.
Inspired by the instruments in an airplane cockpit the design is extremely easy to read. The IWC Caliber 51111 features the Pellaton system which allows transfer of energy from the rotor when it moves in both directions a superior winding system. The watch has an impressive power reserve of 7 days or 168 hours for long flight missions. To maintain the torque level of the mainspring as it winds down, the movement is designed to mechanically stop before all the tension in the spring is exhausted. A black pilot style riveted crocodile strap adds to the iconic beauty of the timepiece.
By Pranav Karol
Features Writer, The Watch Guide
A watch enthusiast who is very passionate about performance watches. A keen observer of the horological world and its latest developments.