Leading into WWII the ATP watch was issued to soldiers and was supplied to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) by 17 Swiss suppliers, under brand names Buren, Cortebert, Cyma, Ebel, Enicar, Eterna, Font, Grana, Lemania, Leonidas, Moeris, Reconvillier, Record, Revue, Rotary, Timor, and Unitas. Ebel, Revue and Timor produced 2 types of watch, so about 20 watch types were in the ATP series. The catalogue number was VA/VC. 7471.
The Buren ATP is reasonably rare, being 7th in the list of 20 watches above, and maybe only 2,000 were issued. The watch serial number was engraved on the case (141xxx to 143xxx). The case number was 1021 and this was engraved between the lugs, easily seen as the watch had spring bars. The watch had pencil hands with syringe tips, and a stick sub seconds pointer. The sub seconds dial has 15, 30, 45, 60 placed radially. The case back was a 6 slot screw fitting.
The watch is the smallest ATP watch at 29 mm diameter, and the case is stainless steel numbered 8983-xxxx on a 4 notch case back. Serial numbers are 486xx to 513xx. The Cyma ATP is rarely seen, but not because it is small, possibly because only about 2700 watches fit the serial number range, being 3rd on the chart above.
The case back is stainless steel, scalloped, and marked either ENICAR STAINLESS STEEL with a serial number or BREVET+154571 with the initials JF (Jean Finger). The cases of the latter have drilled lugs.
The dial on the left is a MoD redial, with a sub-dial having a double railroad track, and marked radially 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 as can be seen in sterile redials on other manufacturers. The right hand sub-dial is marked with numbers parallel to the 9-3 axis of the watch.
A few Eterna ATP watches have been found with both black and white dials, mostly black and a central seconds sweep hand. Black dials and central seconds are inconsistent with the ATP characteristics, but enough Eterna ATP watches exist to conclude that about 600 may have been made, deduced from the known serial numbers in range 144xxx.
Below is one Eterna ATP case back, and a black dial Eterna, with a central sweep second hand. The movement is the 14 ligne Eterna 852S. 10.5 ligne Eterna 600S movements, and 11.5 ligne 1020S movements have been seen. Eterna have confirmed supplying the British Army in about 1940, but the variety of styles, and high serial numbers and movements used could indicate supply later in WW2, comprising the entire stock from a retailer.
The Grana ATP is the 4th most common ATP watch , unlike the successor, the Grana WWW, which is scarce. It has a 32mm brass chrome plated case and a six-notch stainless steel threaded case back stamped on the inside either Grana 1516 or the later issue 1735. This number is also engraved between the lugs.
The model 1735 dial has bold numerals at 3, 9 and 12, with only a lume lozenge at 3 and 9. The movement reference number is stamped at 4, but in reverse to the black dial WWW model. The Grana inside case back serial numbers are 46xxxx. The sub seconds pointer should be a stick pointer.
Black and white dial Grana watches have been produced with ATP and WWW engravings on the case back. Shown below is a Grana with a black dial with pheon, and ATP engraving. Serial numbers Mxxxx are often seen on these models. Serial numbers Mxxxx have also been seen on Moeris, Revue 59 and Rotary ATP watches.
The case back is easy to recognize, and identifies unsigned copies, with STAINLESS STEELBACK SWISS MADE, or STAINLESS STEEL BACK WATERPROOF in an outer circle and 6 notches. The serial numbers are Mxxx, Pxxxxx, 5xxx, 7xxx, 8xxx, 11xxx, 5xxxx and 6xxxx.
The Record ATP has a rare black dial as well as a white dial which can be signed or sterile. The unsigned watch can be distinguished easily as it features an open 4, flat topped 3, and the sub-seconds dial is an unnumbered rail track.
It is among the largest with its stainless steel case 33mm diameter, stainless steel case back with six notches and 63717 case number with serial numbers between 9xxxx and 10xxxx. Pencil hands with a very thin minute hand.
Schwöb Frères (Schwöb Brothers) was founded in 1862 in La Chaux-de-Fonds by Theodore Schwöb as an établisseur, an assembler of watches. They purchased ébauches (bare movements), cases, dials and hands and assembled these into watches. Schwöb Frères trademarked a number of brand names over the years and developed an extensive overseas distribution network to market and sell their watches. In 1874 Schwöb Frères established an American distributorship.
The Langbourne watch has a screw back and bezel case similar to the Submarine watch also made by Tavannes and described in the next section. The Langbourne case is not waterproof; it does not have the gland in the stem tube or recesses for gaskets in the screw back and bezel that the Submarine case watch has. Langbourne cases all carry a reference number 3305910, only three digits short of the reference number seen in all Submarine watch cases, 3305913. This suggests that these numbers are Tavannes case design reference numbers, and that the fully waterproof case of the Submarine watch was a development of the Langbourne case.
All the Submarine wristwatch cases that I have seen carry the same number 3305913 and a shorter three of four digit number. The number 3305913 appears to be a case design reference number, the shorter number seems to be a serial number for the specific watch. The case measures a shade under 35mm diameter, about 34.8mm. This is a typical case size for a Great War era wristwatch with a 13 ligne Swiss movement.
During the Great War, Tavannes supplied watches to Birch & Gaydon who were one of the premier jewellers in London at the time, later acquired by Asprey. The Langbourne has a screw back and bezel case similar to the Submarine watch. The Langbourne case is not waterproof; it does not have the gland in the stem tube or recesses for waxed cotton gasket in the screw back and bezel that the Submarine case watch has. Langbourne cases all carry a reference number 3305910, only three digits short of the reference number 3305913 seen in all Submarine watch cases. This suggests that these numbers are Tavannes case design reference numbers, and that the fully waterproof case of the Submarine watch was a development of the Langbourne case.
It is interesting to note that someone has thought carefully about making the numbers on this dial as visible as possible in low light conditions, . Watches with black dials either have the numerals outlined in skeleton form on an overall black dial, relying on infill paint to make them visible, or blocked out in white as this watch. Block white numerals such as this give the greatest contrast to the black of the dial and are clearly visible even when the paint is missing. The white background of the numbers ensured that light emitted backwards from the luminous material was reflected forward, maximising the luminous effect, rather than being absorbed in the dial as it would be with a black background. The hands are skeletonised to carry luminous paint, and unusually for a watch dial of this period, the seconds hand is also skeletonised and carries luminous paint, as described in the Horological Journal article. It is usually only the hour and minute hand that carry luminous paint and the seconds hand is a simple unadorned baton.
The cases of some Tavannes watches appear to have a consistent series of reference numbers. For example, see the case in the image here. It has two numbers, 3305900 and 17548. The longer number appears to be a case design reference number, because it fits into the series shown below.
I have seen the number 3305911 in a Cyma watch with a Borgel screw case. Its position in the list, between the screw back and bezel cases used for the Langbourne and Submarine wristwatches is interesting, suggesting that these three designs of wristwatch all originate from a similar period around the beginning of the Great War.
The Schwob brothers named the company cyma, a Latin word meaning \"sprout\", and the origin of the French \"cime\" or summit. In early years, the company had a staff of 40 people and 55 machines that together produced about 40 watches a day. However, it was not until 1892 in which the brothers partnered with Frédéric Henri Sandoz, the owner of the watch wholesale company, Henri Sandoz et Cie, that the business expanded. Under Sandoz's leadership, the company became the Cyma Watch Company and built the Cyma factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland in the Jura Mountains, near Le Locle. Both towns had been the center of the Swiss watchmaking industry during the 19th century. 153554b96e