The History of the Pilot Watch Part III: Mark IV.A and Mark V
The two most import impetuses for the development of aviation watches were early aviation record endeavors and war. World War I discovers watch development between the pocket watch and the new wristlets with the British giving pilots pocket watches. English Mark IV.A and Mark V pocket watches are an illustration of WW1 military aviation.
World War I summons youth pictures of bi-planes fitted with an assault rifle to shoot through the propeller, the Red Baron’s plane arising victorious from a dogfight, and the unlimited lines of channels on the ground underneath. Add the sentimentalism of aviation to the sentimentalism of war, and you have a notorious, if erroneously romanticized, matching. War’s interest for exact navigation or composed assault implied that the world got a handle on the significance of horology. When “balloon busting” or taking out observation inflatables, British pilots flew with the pocket watch Mark IV.A (1914) and Mark V (1916).
Case back markings, interesting to country, part of service or planned use, are a distinctive attribute of vintage military watches. Extraordinary Britain’s trademark mark was the expansive bolt. For the authority, case back markings are key identifiers and an additional authenticity shield. These markings implied that the watches were official military hardware, obtained through agreements and mass-created for combat pilots.
On April 13, 1912, the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was shaped to develop a military and naval wing. Only before the war, given the interesting requirements of the armada, the naval wing severed with the RFC to shape the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). In 1918, these two separate aviation branches consolidated again to frame the Royal Air Force (RAF) who kept on utilizing the Mark watches. The RFC aviation issue watches had an underscored capital A with a wide bolt facing upward under it. Fixes to the watch implied an extra caseback stamp marking the maintenance status. One glance at the caseback, and the markings advise you, British issue.
Mark IV.A (1914) and Mark V (1916) pocket watches were standard issue. The RFC and RNAS had close to indistinguishable watches, however the RNAS watches were predominately the eight-day variety and the RFC, the 30-hour. Once inside the airplane, these watches became chronometric instruments, which the pilot fit into the instrument board. Thus, the Mark IV.A and Mark V had long shank twisting stems to reach out past their instrument board lodging for mid-flight winding, procuring the epithet, cockpit watch. German pilots, then again, wore inverted watches suspended from a dandy on their flight suits. Blimp pilots had fast admittance to time, and the hanging, inverted dial was straight up when held. These adaptive measures were forerunners to the pilot watch worn on the wrist.
￼Numerous producers provided Mark watches with unsigned movements; retailers like H. Williamson Ltd. Of London or Birch & Gaydon Ltd. of London circulated these mysterious watches. The Smith watch company was a main provider of Mark IV.A watches and boasted, “Because of its magnificent time keeping and unfailing exactness this instrument has acquired the standing of being the best watch yet intended for steady use on Aircraft“. The four known producers of Mark V watches were Zenith, Omega, Doxa and Electa.
￼Mark watches had various designs. Late evening flying required the issue of radiant releases so that pilots could screen fuel utilization and navigate in obscurity. The eight-day Mark V model was ideal for longer flights. The afflictions of flight requested thermal compensation, precision and stun obstruction. Structure follows work, and the aviator’s device was formed by its planned use, and no place was that utilization more urgent than in combat. Manufactured in the flames of fighting, the pilot watch’s usefulness extended and would proceed to expand.
￼War is not kidding business. Its reality is evidence of human disappointment, and war’s occasionally unavoidable need requires better compared to the most ideal exertion. The exigencies of war called the watchmaking business to react with their best exertion, making war an impetus for horological advance. WW1 was the start of an enthusiasm for the watch as fundamental military gear. However after the detestations of World War I ravaged Europe, Omega gave watches in France which were emblazoned with the dove of harmony. Without commending violence, we can praise the innovative accomplishments achieved in the midst of horrifying conditions. Mark IV.A and Mark V watches represent WWI horological achievement.
Resource: A Concise Guide to Military Timepieces: 1880-1990 by Z.M. Wesolowski
Check out History of the Pilot Watch Part I, II, IV and V by clicking on the pictures below.