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Mankind has an almost inexhaustible capacity for innovation, and perhaps nothing illustrates that ingenuity better than the tools and technologies developed during wartime. The Second World War birthed sonar, radar, programmable computers, nylon, jet engines, and even the Slinky. In the realm of horology, the military watches produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre during this war--purpose-built and meant to withstand the rigors of wartime--endure as testaments to the cleverness of the human spirit.
In the waning years of the Second World War, the British Ministry of Defense commissioned twelve major watch manufacturers to produce durable timepieces that could withstand the rigors of combat while keeping accurate time. The "Dirty Dozen," as these twelve manufacturers came to be called by collectors, produced the "Watch Wristlet Waterproof," which combined a spartan exterior with a robust, no-frills movement. Jaeger-LeCoultre answered that call and produced the Reference 6B/159, powered by the Caliber 479.
However, at the same time JLC manufactured the W.W.W., the brand developed another series of military watches that saw service from 1940 to 1946. The Mark VII and Mark VIIA were veritable tool watches that made their way onto the wrists of many British and Allied pilots and soldiers. These war-time pieces were driven by the Calibre 470, a sturdy and very accurate precursor to the movement used in the Mark XI (also produced by IWC) and the Geophysic.
These watches can be distinguished from their W.W.W. brethren by the absence of sub-seconds (found in the Caliber 469 and the 479). However, like their military counterparts, these watches bore bold, luminescent Arabic numerals. As legibility was a watch-word (particularly for a watch that might see service in a dimly-lit cockpit), the numerals and hands were liberally coated with Radium.
This example features a compact-yet-sturdy steel case that has weathered the years with grace. The radium on the numerals and hands is intact, the dial devoid of any noteworthy burns that so often mar radium dials of this period. The movement serial number is in the 300,000 series that puts the production year circa 1943, making it a true veteran and a faithful companion to the wearer in all life's battles.
Steel case is approximately 34mm (excluding crown). JLC Caliber 470 Manually-Wound Movement. Circa 1943.
Overall Condition: Steel case is in very good condition with sharp lugs and faint signs of wear. Dial is in very good condition with faint wear marks, particularly at 11 o'clock. Luminescent elements of the numerals and hands have darkened to a fine even patina over time. Unsigned crown. Case back has some tool marks but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 16mm nylon strap from Crown & Buckle