Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wristwatches of War - Trench Grilles and Hunter Guards

Pocket watches were a pain in the ass to fumble around for during battle, something needed to be done to keep soldiers hands on their guns as well as synchronize combat.

"When German Emperor Wilhelm I visited the Berlin Trade Fair and saw some experimental wristwatches made by Girard-Perregaux of La Chaux de Fonds in Switzerland. He gave an order for 1,000 of these for the German Imperial Navy, and as many as 2,000 such wristwatches were delivered in 1880. This began to change in the nineteenth century when watches were first used to coordinate military operations. Pocket watches were awkward to use in combat situations; under a great-coat, on horseback, or under fire, and so military men began fitting pocket watches into cups on specially made leather straps or asking manufacturers to fit them with chains or straps so that they could be worn on the wrist."

Many military watches had a special feature for those "in the shit". A Trench Guard, grid or grille covered and protected the dial with medieval-style armor. Those not intended for war were classified as Hunter cased, often more decorative than protective.

1880 Girard Perregaux for German Imperial Navy

1930 Elgin w/ Trench Guard & Enamel Dial

Eberhard & Co. 14k Hunter w/ porcelain dial

Waltham Trench

Cimier Grille

Movado 18k Decorative Trench

WWI British Air Force Military

Related posts;
Vacheron & Constantin Shutter Watches --> Link
Automobile Radiator Grille Watches --> Link