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At the start of the Second World War, the Royal Navy was the most powerful navy in the world. From the Age of Sail to World War II, the Royal Navy safeguarded the British Empire and solidified the United Kingdom’s supremacy as a world power—Britain truly “ruled the waves.” During the Cold War, the Royal Navy shifted its focus to defending the Empire from a new threat—Soviet submarines.
Additionally, economic strictures forced the Government to reduce the size of the Navy. From 1945-1958, pre-war ships were retired and sold for scrap, with only those in the best condition remaining in the service. However, new carriers and destroyers were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, with designs that were intended to maximize savings in weight and efficiency.
However, these improvements in the designs of the ships resulted in a somewhat ungainly appearance that certainly had its detractors, resulting in an amusing exchange in the House of Commons.
On April 2, 1952, the subject was raised in a debate on the overseas allowance “for officers of lieutenant commander’s rank and below.”
Dr. Reginald Bennett, a world-renowned yachtsman, asked "the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware of the increasing ugliness of naval ships… and if he will direct attention to the practicability of designing pleasant-looking ships without detracting from their fighting efficiency…”
To which Mr. Ian Mikardo piped up from the Backbenches, "Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that anybody at the receiving end of a naval shell is more reconciled to the effects of it if he knows it comes from a beautiful battleship?”
The 1960s also saw the introduction of the first guided missile destroyer, the HMS Devonshire, and the HMS Dreadnought, the Royal Navy’s first nuclear submarine.
Dating from this time period, this Lemania Monopusher was issued by Britain's Royal Navy in the 1950s. Immediately recognizable as a military spec timepiece with its simple Arabic dial, MOD "Broad Arrow" marking, and case back engravings (H.S. = Hydrographic Service = Navy, which has been scratched out and replaced with the later “0552/920-3305”), this model was manufactured under contract specifications by Lemania. Unlike other, more common executions of military chronographs, this Lemania model utilizes a Calibre 15 monopusher configuration with a central seconds chronograph hand and thirty-minute register, with start, stop and reset all operated via the single pusher at 2:00.
With a crisp silvery white dial, these Naval issue chronographs have a distinctive look unlike most military issued watches, and are highly sought after by collectors worldwide.
These watches 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 green patina.
Stainless steel case is approximately 38.5mm (excluding crown and pusher). Lemania Calibre 15 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear commensurate with age. Dial is in very good condition, showing signs of age and wear throughout, including some hand drag on the outer edges of the dial. Hour plots, numerals (12 and 6) and hands show signs of being relumed consistent with military regulations. Luminescent material has aged to a green patina. Unsigned crown. Case back has two sets of military engravings, denoting issue to the Royal Navy: "HS 9" which has been crossed out and replaced with a newer engraving "0552/920-3305." Case back shows some signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one vintage 20mm dark brown leather Bund strap. Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle