Presentation watches, Great War 1914-1918

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Cuddles, Jun 1, 2010.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. A friend of mine told me yesterday that he has recently inherited a Rolex pocket watch, which he believes was presented to his grandfather on his return from the WW1. Now the thing is, he also is of the belief that this was one of many watches, procured centrally and presented in large numbers.

    Does anybody have any information on this? I know there were thousands of Rolex and Omega pocket watches sudddenly surplus to requirements at war's end. However I have never heard of this scale of presentation - particularly as the watch is apparently a gold half-hunter type.

    His gf was not apparently commissioned or in any way unusually distinguished being a working class chap from Wales.
  2. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    I've just done a couple of quick searches online, and there isn't the expected level of clutter that you'd see if there had been massed central presentations, and I've certainly never heard of the Govt doing anything similar.

    I was vaguely aware though that some communities and employers had made presentations to various people on their return from the war, especially if they had featured in the local press or had been awarded Gallantry medals.

    Is there any detail on the watch indicating who presented it originally?

    If genuine (ie Govt issue) this could turn out to be a very interesting story.
  3. In the first years of WW1 there was a shortage of issue watches, particularly in the artillery and large amounts were procured from both Switzerland and the USA, quite a few of these were Rolex, and are now worth a bomb and very collectable, they tend to have black dials and Illuminous numbers and are radioactive. A great number were engraved after the war and presented to people, I have my grandfathers issue RN Chronograph which is engraved as a presentation watch presumably when he left the service
  4. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    I have my grandfather's silver backed half-hunter wristwatch engraved 'Swiss Brevet 71363' with a serial number which I understand he wore all through WW1 (in which he served in Sierra Leone, Mesopotamia, France and Taranto) so I've always assumed he bought it himself. It came out of the war in better shape than he did, but it's good to have such a personal thing. Only yesterday I was showing it to my 11 year old grandson and explaining that it would one day be his.

    As an aside, when my stepfather was demobbed at the end of 1945 he was told by whowever was ticking off the returns list that he could hang onto either his watch or his revolver. He kept the watch (and some other odd bits incuding a bedding valise, but those I suppose he would have had to purchase himself; but also jungle-green dyed towels and some bits of bronze-coloured cutlery).
  5. I did much googling Grem before throwing this "open to the panel". I have found many interesting things about the procurement of watches by HMG including the putting of Rolex works into unrecognised - though presumably well known in 1918 - brand cases.

    Surely on a site where people criticised us for discussing which watch and why, whilst revealing our collections, somebody may have a clue? I personally doubt there was a national presentation. I await seeing the thing with eager anticipation. apparently he is also getting another WW1 vintage watch that belonged to his uncle. Jammy cnut.
  6. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    I'm not doubting your research ability in the slightest! :D

    I think that pictures might generate a bit more response if you can get them though! Especially if it is a really really shiney thing!
  7. it is apparently a "precioussss"... :)
  8. If your story is true it will be "very preciousss" have you seen the prices for "Mill Subs" ?
  9. Yes. The gold chain alone is worth £350!
  10. Bump?
  11. I am researching this topic at my home town here in Canada. There were 99+ watches issued to the men of Milton in September 1919. There are newspaper references but not a detailed list, so I have been trying to repeat the process carried out in 1919 to determine which soldiers received the watch. I have already researched the Milton soldiers so I had a lot to start with. You can see more information on this at the web site:

    If you back up a page from that you will have access to the soldier research as well. The WORD and EXCEL document will be updated on a regular basis as I complete the process. In the interim, I am most interested in hearing from others who may have seem any one of these watches (a lot of the families were back in the UK), as some of them must have gone to collectors.

    Now that I have this posted I will go back and fill in my profile - as this is my first visit.

    Richard of Canada

  12. Pity he didn't keep the revolver as it would have come in useful in civy street. ;-P
  13. Cuddles,

    Was the guy in a unit with strong local ties e.g. TF or 'Pals' battalion ??? It seems much more likely to be a town council or local aristocrat thing - having read a fair number of War Office files dealing with medals, pensions, wound gratuities, etc in 1918-21 I'm pretty sure the WO weren't handing out free watches ....