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Lemania, established in 1884 by Alfred Lugrin, is perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the history of wrist chronographs. At Jaeger-LeCoultre and at his own manufacture, which he ran under his own name, Lugrin gained a reputation for expertise and the soundness of his èbauches, particularly chronographs. After his death, it was under his son-in-law Maurice Meylan's leadership that the manufacture was renamed Lemania and moved to L'Orient. In 1932, Lemania joined Omega and Tissot to form SSIH (Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogére SA). It was this relationship--particularly with Omega--that would result in the creation of some of the most iconic calibers in horological history, like the Lemania 1873 (or Omega Caliber .861) found in the legendary Omega Speedmaster.
Like many manufactures, Lemania also equipped watches to the world's militaries, including those of Sweden, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. For many collectors, they encapsulate the essence of "tool watch" in their most elemental form--if for no other reason than that they were built to be issued to sailors, soldiers, and airmen and brought into some of the harshest environments possible. Their stark, no-frills designs were universally practical and rugged, intended for maximum utility.
Within the range of military-issued timepieces, aviator's chronographs are among the most desirable, with some--like the Zenith A. Cairelli--becoming nothing short of legendary. Starting in the 1950s, Lemania issued a monopusher chronograph to the armed forces of the United Kingdom. These watches were initially issued to navigators in the Royal Air Force and later to sailors and submariners in the Royal Navy.
Those issued to the Royal Navy were stamped "0552/920-3305" and were issued between 1945 and 1976. These watches are powered by robust 17 jewel Lemania èbauches and originally had radium dials, which were swapped out for tritium dials in the 1960s when the Ministry of Defense deemed the former to be too hazardous. Ours dates from this period, as it has the tell-tale T in a circle that denotes that dial has been exchanged for Tritium. Some of these contract re-dials were done rather poorly; however, ours doesn't suffer that fate, and retains its crisp printing, with the tritium aging to a handsome patina.
Stainless steel case is approximately 38.5mm (excluding crown and pusher). Lemania Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall Condition: Steel case is in very good condition with sharp lugs and only minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing, no major blemishes, and fine even patina to the luminescent elements. Hands are in similar good condition with matching patina. Unsigned crown. Case back bears some slight scratches with deep military engravings.
Includes one 20mm tan leather strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle