Original Canadian WWI Sterling Silver Longines 13.33 Trench Watch Signed by Henry Birks

Regular price $395.00

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice genuine WWI era Canadian made trench watch with a much later nylon strap. This example has been fully cleaned, but doesn’t cycle time. The back cover has rub marks and minor scratches indicating it was heavily used. The porcelain watch face has a chip right above the number “1”. The glass watch face cover is in perfect condition, no scratches or cracks are present.
Marking on the inside case reads:
Sterling Silver
Back of watch reads:
Birks Kitchener
7 Jewels
13.33 (watch movement)
The watch measures 34mm in diameter with a 9” updated nylon strap.
During WWI, the impracticality of pocket watches during trench warfare ushered in a transitional watch that incorporated the features of both the wrist watch and pocket watch.

The very first watch that somebody adapted to wear on a wrist is unknown. The first series of purpose-made men’s wristwatches was produced by Girard-Perregaux in 1880 for the German Navy. During World War I numerous companies, including Omega, Longines, and others produced wristwatches for the military. These watches were of virtually identical style with an enamel dial, wide white or black numerals, and a luminescent radium hour hand. Often they did not bear the name of the manufacturer, though the movement, originally designed in the 1890s for ladies’ pendant watches, was marked "Swiss"
A wristwatch provides a convenient and practical way to check the time compared to a pocket watch. British military men on manoeuvres first used leather wristlets to wear small pocket watches on their wrists starting around 1885. Following on from this early experience, military men were the first large group or section of the male population to routinely wear commercially produced wristwatches. This practice continued unbroken from 1885. A wristwatch became an essential part of an officer's kit, and officers were expected to purchase one using the allowance that they were given to purchase their kit; uniform, sword, revolver, etc.

By the time of the Great War, wristwatches had evolved from the leather wristlets carrying a fob watch that were first worn by soldiers on the North West frontier in 1885 into commercially made wristwatches.
Even though civilian men didn't wear wristwatches before the Great War, some manufacturers realised that there was a demand from military men for wristwatches and created the first commercially built men's wristwatches with simple wire lugs to attach a leather wrist strap.

WWI was the first war where most countries, especially England, had fought battles that were conducted by unit leaders in remote field headquarters unable to see the frontlines.  Army units deployed across the vast fields of battle had difficulty communicating with headquarters. The execution of orders and coordination of maneuvers and attacks by timing was vital. Whereas in earlier conflicts a unit could time its movements visually by watching for signals or simply keeping watch on units on its flanks and advancing as they moved, in the Great War the front was too wide for these methods to be effective. Instead, timing was used, for example, “The attack will begin at seven thirty ack-emma”. The phrases “ack-emma” and “pip-emma” were used for am and pm before the adoption of 24 hour time.
Watches such as this Longines, which you are going to fall in love with, definitely helped Generals win their battles!
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