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WW2 German Airforce (Luftwaffe) Vintage Military Observer Watches

While the Pilots of the Luftwaffe were equipped with a highly regarded chronograph wristwatch, the aircraft Observers utilised an extremely large dia 55mm circular watch for navigation purposes. This was different from the British RAF idea of equipping observers with pocket watches or standard size white dialled wristwatches.

The Companies of IWC, Wempe, A. Lange & Sohne, Stowa and Laco-Durowe all received contracts to supply this style of watch; production was started in approximately 1941 and stopped in 1944.
While all these watches used different high quality pocket watch movements, they all displayed the following characteristics:

• Cases 55 mm in diameter, marked “FL 23883”
• Centre seconds
• Large Leather strap to fit over flying suit
• Hacking mechanism
• Breguet balance springs
• Large crowns for use with gloves
• Black Dials

Due to the quantity demanded from the manufacturers, very often the final assembling and regulation itself was undertaken by other firms.
As these observer watches were precision instruments, they had to be precision tested at a specialist testing site, and the stringent tests were conducted at different temperatures; and different physical positions.

Wartime difficulties in materials as well as issues of expediency did have an impact on the initial quality of the materials used in the making and appearance of the mechanical movements. However this had no real affect on the accuracy of the timepieces.

From 1942 a change was required to the dials of the watches, the reason behind this was to allow the wearer to make quicker and more accurate course adjustments, within the dark confines of an aircraft.
These watches were provided to the aircrew user prior to each mission, and they would then be returned after the mission.

These watches can be found in a range of conditions ranging from virtually untouched in original boxes to those that require a great deal of expensive repair work.

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