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Old 28-05-24, 01:24
Chris Suslowicz Chris Suslowicz is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
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Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post

The standard GSTP Pocket Watch used by the Canadian and British Armies during the war had specifications that all the watch makers complied with to the best of their ability during the war. Just like other war production, however, what was available to wartime watch makers varied enough that the size standards in particular were often not met exactly. Adding to the problem, for security reasons, all G.S.T.P. pocket watches bore no maker names on the watch face, and to really mix things up, it was very common practice for the watch parts makers to be supplying more than one watch manufacturer. You cannot rely on the look of the face, hands, crystal or other bits to accurately identify what company made the completed watch. All that information is stamped in code on the chassis of the movement inside the back cover of the pocket watch. That coded information will tell you who made the movement, who made the watch, the model number of the watch, the serial number of the watch and often the month/year, or year, of manufacture.
Not strictly true: a lot of the British watches have a maker's name on the face, and a serial number on the back. (Of course, it's now difficult to trust watches being sold on eBay (etc.) because there's a big incentive for the unscrupulous (nay, crooked) seller to erase or add markings, or change the dial for one marked Rolex or Omega, in order to inflate the price.)

I have four, all British and all different makers. All have the standard Ball winder on the top of the stem, and a ring fitted to the stem for adding a watch chain or lanyard. All are stamped on the back of the case G.S.T.P. with a serial number and broad Arrow. Interestingly, only one fits like a glove in any of my pocket watch holders and it is also the only one fully working still. It is currently mounted on the front of the RCA Speaker Assembly on my AR88LF. Another watch is mounted on my 19-Set Mk III and fits nicely (ever so slightly loose). A third one is quite loose and is mounted on my 19-Set Mk II. If the set was in a moving vehicle, it would rattle around a bit in the holder.
GSTP = General Service Trade Pattern (or possibly "Temporary Pattern") and were standard (-ish) pocket watches for the period.

There was (briefly) a "Watch W/T Non-Magnetic" which was actually _cheaper_ than the GSTP watches, having a chrome-plated iron case to screen the movement from the magnetic fields of generators and rotary converters in the wireless sets. They were later found to be unnecessary (and also less accurate, being cheap).

The last Pocket Watch I have has an original leather lanyard and sits on my radio bench. If I try and insert it in any of my Pocket Watch Holders, the ring is positioned slightly lower on the stem than the other three watches so it prevents the watch from dropping low enough into the holder for the bottom part of the watch to be secured. The crystal would probably get broken on this watch if it was in a holder on a wireless set that was in a wireless vehicle going across country. Or the Bakelite holder would get shattered.
The GSTP was a standard issue pocket watch, and not intended for fitting to equipment or use in watch holders. The massive expansion of radio usage meant that the original nickel-plated brass watch holder (on the No.1 and 11 sets) couldn't be produced quickly enough and it was replaced by the Bakelite version we (mostly) see today. The watches for those are mostly the 'B' series, produced without bows (the ring for a lanyard or chain on the winder stem), and usually with a short stem (probably specified for the WS19 Mk.1 which caused trouble with some watches being unable to fit the WS19 Mk.III because the power supply connector was a larger diameter and too close to the watch holder as a result). Earlier sets had the watch holder at the top of the front panel with nothing above them, but the WS19 was designed to fit a restricted space in an AFV.

When a watch is mounted in a holder on a 19-Set, or the AR88 Series of receivers, the operator has full access to the winding ball on top of the stem, even with the guards in place on the 19-Sets. It gets very interesting, very quickly, however, if you install one of these round ball GSTP Pocket Watches in the holders on the 52-Set Receivers.
Try a 'B' series watch with no bow, it is more likely to fit. (Note: a lot of surplus watches will have been retrofitted (frequently rather badly) with bows for subsequent sale.)

When I first saw the illustration of the pocket watch Canadian Marconi was using with the 52-Set, I thought it odd the watch used the flat style of winder on top of the stem, and that there was no ring. None of this made sense to me until I tried fitting the standard GSTP Pocket Watch into the two holders on my 52-Set and could not get any of mine to fit properly or be accessible to wind and change time. It was then that I realized how smart the designers and engineers were at CMC. They anticipated the problem and solved it with a custom pocket watch for the 52-Set. The flat top winder is only half as high as the ball winder and without the ring, the operator can easily wind and change the time on either pocket watch when it is in place.

Another feature utilized by CMC was to ensure the pocket watch they needed for the 52-Set was none magnetic. This additional step would ensure these watches would keep running accurately for wireless use in such close quarters to high RF voltages. There was no risk of the movement parts all becoming mini-magnets attracting and repelling each other to a complete halt.
Not RF, it's the magnetic field from the rotary transformers (Dynamotors, "Anode Converter", etc.) that they were worried about - and probably more about eddy currents induced in the balance wheel slowing it down, which would vary according to the amount of time the set was in use and so couldn't be easily "adjusted out" by the radio operator.

The "Signals Office" used a GSTP watch but didn't adjust the time very often - they kept a record of the "error" relative to the 21:00 time broadcast from HQ and (presumably) adjusted the watch when the difference became too great. (Saves wear and tear on the watch, and they'd just add/subtract corrections in the paperwork, as required.)

I have a few "B" watches, some GSTP ones, an Australian W/T watch in a brass case (that some idiot removed all the black paint from and _polished_), and a Watch W/T Non Magnetic (with Roman numerals on the dial). I've also got my father's watch (which I must get restored) that _was_ used with his WS19 (because the issue watch was unreliable), and that was a present from his uncle (who was a Major in the army and ended up in Katyn).

There's an overview of military watches here:

Best regards,
Chris (G8KGS)
Junior Password Gnome
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Old 28-05-24, 18:13
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Winnipeg, MB
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Yikes, Chris!

First of all, thanks for taking the time to post all that information. The ‘humble’ GSTP pocket watch is a far more complex topic than I ever imagined.

When I was trying to find appropriate watches to mount on my wireless sets a few years ago, I did run across a number of such watches with names on their faces, but confusion set in quickly with many comments being found on this that these were maker names and other comments they were just the names of ‘bespoke’ military tailors where officers would go to get kitted out for custom uniforms. Out of that confusion I assumed makers were unlikely in wartime to advertise themselves, so all those names were more likely just tailors who did not think the officers would be dumb enough to get captured. Beyond that, most of my research information focused on a handful of North American watch makers, as the most likely candidates to have produced the Canadian Army pocket watches.

Interestingly, the steel cases came up in the NA readings I found regarding none magnetic watches with comments they were not that good. Three or four very odd alloys were discussed that had been developed in the years prior to WW2 for making the watch main springs and other movement parts that seemed to be quite effective. These alloys had very odd names that made me wonder if they had not been discovered while excavations were underway in the Mile Forts along Hadrians Wall.

Sorry to hear about the polished brass watch holder. I have also seen that done to wartime military compasses, sniper scopes and binoculars ‘to restore their true value’.

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Old 29-05-24, 00:57
Chris Suslowicz Chris Suslowicz is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: England
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I think Waltham and Elgin were the major American suppliers of watches (certainly to the British under Lend -Lease), and they were just their standard watch. My suspicion is that the Canadian WS19 Supply Unit No.2 had the watch holder moved to the front of it (instead of being on the set) was to solve the problem of tall winding stems.

The Australian watch (not a watch holder) should be finished in black "opticians enamel", I think, but mine has been "got at" by the Mad Brass Polisher[TM].

There's worse: I've seen optical instruments polished and CHROME-PLATED at some events! (Theodolites, heliographs, Instruments Flash-Spotting, and so on - they would never have been accepted for service with that finish.)

On the subject of Westclox (Western Clock Co.) - they also made daylight signalling lamps as well as morse keys for the WS19.

Best regards,
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