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Here at AnalogShift, we have a deep admiration for military watches, not least because of their looks and collectibility. To the soldiers who wore these watches, they were more than just time-keeping devices: they were among the most personal and intimate pieces of kit a soldier would have carried. Balancing reliability and precision, a military watch must also be easily readable, yet small enough to keep from being ungainly and cumbersome on the wrist. The combination of these factors tends to give vintage military watches a spartan, clean aesthetic, oft-imitated but never perfectly captured by watches with a civilian heritage.
During World War II, watch companies equipped timepieces to the Axis and Allied forces. The "Dirty Dozen," which were designed and supplied starting in 1945 to British troops according to Ministry of Defense specifications, have attained a kind of sacred status among military watch collectors. In the realm of aviation, collectors of World War II-era pilot's watches are familiar with the A-11 and its Axis counterpart, the B-Uhren. IWC and JLC's addition to the pilot watch pantheon, the Mark XI, has also become iconic. While Eterna's contribution to the Dirty Dozen is perhaps better-known (although relatively rare among the Dozen) than their other military offerings, they also contributed yet another watch to their military arsenal.
This watch, known as a Majetek, was used by mainly by the Czech Air Force during the late 1930s through the 1940s. Like the Dirty Dozen and the Mark XI, the Majatek was produced by several different brands: in this case, Longines, Lemania, and Eterna. While there are some differences particular to each brand's design (notably, Longines' Majetek featured a coin-edge bezel and Cathedral hands), the hallmark of the watch was its unique steel case with square bezel, round dial aperture and sloping straight lugs. Over the years, the Majetek was seen in two distinct layouts; one with a central sweeping seconds hand and one with a running seconds hand at 6:00.
With center sweeping seconds, it's very likely that this particular model was a later production watch, probably dating to the early 1940s. Its modular style case (a case back ring screws into the top case, sandwiching the movement 'dish' and crystal) is pleasingly simple. The top case shows signs of wear, but bears no suggestion of being polished previously - a major distinction for these watches which are all too commonly seen with over-polished cases. Another distinguishing feature of this piece is its gilt dial (with radium numerals) and handset - delightfully rare addition to the honest case condition. And, with genuine military markings on the case back, this watch has carries the provenance of having been part of a serviceman's kit.
All told, this is an incredible combination of factors that make this Majetek a little bit more special than the others out there and certainly makes it worthy of even the most sophisticated collection.
Stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Eterna cal. 852S manually-winding movement. Circa early 1940s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition overall, with sharp bevels on the lugs and no signs of over-polishing, and only light signs of wear and use in keeping with its age, including some light scratches on the lugs and sides of the case. Dial is in very good condition with fine even patina and no major blemishes or signs of discoloration. Unsigned crown; unsigned case back has some light scratches and one deep tool mark near the top.
Includes one 20mm leather strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle