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Why We Love It
Watches are enchanting not purely because of their mechanical merits, but often the stories that they tell.
There are few stories more harrowing and inspiring than those of bravery under fire. The second world war was the source of both the darkest depths of human cruelty and the greatest heights of bravery and compassion. The memorabilia from this period in history reminds us of the lessons learned through that struggle - how far we've come, and yet how far we still have to go.
Vertex was one of 12 companies who produced watches for the war effort (more on that later). Known as the “Dirty Dozen” by collectors, these watches have become desirable—because of who wore them, what they represent, and for being, quite simply, completely badass.
This particular piece is an incredible glimpse into the past. The radium lume remains thick and puffy on the dial, deeply aged and patinated from the decades. The case shows only the smallest hints of brass beneath its chrome plated - easily the cleanest example we've ever seen.
In many ways, this watch represents the reason that many collectors became interested in watches in the first place. Its truly special.
In 1912, Claude Octavius Lyons set up a watch company which he named Dreadnought after the famous battleship. Shortly thereafter, under the name Vertex, the company had facilities in Switzerland and made watches in conjunction with Swiss companies like Movado and Revue Tommen. In 1915 Vertex secured a contract to supply watches to the British army.
In the latter part of the war, the British Ministry of Defense contracted twelve manufactures to create watches for members of special units, mainly artillery and radio. These watches were classed under the designation W.W.W., for Watch, Wristlet, Waterproof. With sturdy water-tight cases and stark black dials, they were indispensable to the men who wore them, vital for keeping pace with the intricate and fast-paced movements of the war machine.
The twelve manufacturers were IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Omega, Grana, Cyma, Buren, Lemania, Eterna, Timor, Vertex, and Record. Each manufacturer delivered as many as was possible for it to make, with the larger manufacturers—such as Omega and Lemania—producing the most, approximately 25,000 and 10,000 respectively. As such, these are among the easiest to find.
In 1943 the company received specifications for navigation watches, which would become the W.W.W. supplied under the Ministry of Defense’s specifications. Over 15,000 of these watches were produced in all, proving that Vertex had the chops to do their part for the war effort.
Chrome plated brass case is approximately 35mm (excluding the crown). Calibre 59 Manual Winding Movement. Circa 1945.
Overall Condition: The case is in great condition overall showing normal wear consistent with age and use. Radium luminous matte black dial is in fantastic condition with richly patinated luminous plots and matching handset. Unsigned crown.
Includes leather nato style strap with steel pin buckle.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options