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Mens 1917 Waltham Wwi J. Depollier Khaki Sterling Silver Military Trench Watch For Sale
Not until the First World War would the wristwatch be considered an everyday necessity for the gentleman, although their use by troops is noted during the Boer War, albeit limited. Prior to the Great War, watches were considered “women’s jewelry” and too effeminate for the discerning man. WWI would change this, putting the watch on the wrists of soldiers fighting in the trenches of Europe, this event having repercussions once the soldier returned home.
As one 1919 advertisement promoting wristwatches for gentlemen states, such devices were “manly watches for manly men – any man so out of date as to consider the wristwatch effeminate need only learn the kind of men who use them…the fighting men, the soldiers in the World War, the military and naval men the world over, the big game hunters, the aviators, motorists, yachtsmen.” By the end of the 1920s, wristwatch production would surpass pocket watch output at most U.S. factories and Swiss factories, a trend that became more pronounced over time.
I am pleased to offer for sale the following military watch, the “KHAKI” model dating to ca 1916 - 1917 . Its wire lug, three-piece case is crafted of Solid Sterling Silver and was made by Jacques Depollier & Son , a prominent case maker and watch firm in the early 20th century.
Depollier was founded by its namesake in 1877 (in Brooklyn, NY) and made cases under the “Dubois” name as well. They are best known for their unique cases for WWI period military and sportsman watches, including one of the very first waterproof watches, a good ten years before Rolex. It was also a Depollier-cased Waltham that was on the wrist of pilot Roland Rohlfs when, in 1919, he broke the world record by flying to an altitude of 34,610 feet in a Curtiss L-3 triplane.
As with all Depollier watches this timepiece features a robust Waltham mechanism. One of its key selling points of this “KHAKI” and similar sterling silver models (like the D&D Utility) was its“unbreakable glass that will not loosen or fall out” – in fact, one of the earliest uses of a heavy duty plastic crystal on a watch – this Depollier never had a glass crystal.
This watch measures 38mm from lug end to lug end and 32mm in width (34mm with original silver winding crown). This works out to be 1-1/2 inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide, not counting the crown. My watchmaker David has fully serviced its 3/0 size, finely damasked mechanism and it runs very well and keeps accurate time.
This original white porcelain enamel dial is in excellent PLUS condition with no chips or damage. It features a black 60 minute outer track border, Arabic style numbers, original Skeleton blue steel hands with fill and a recessed sub-seconds dial with 60 second chapter and sweeping seconds hand. Signed WALTHAM below the 12. Please note that the hands and numbers have been repainted with safe, non toxic enamel material – it is not radium.
The hardened acrylic crystal is in excellent condition. Again, this model originally came with an acrylic (early plastic) crystal and NOT glass. The three-piece Sterling Silver case is in excellent condition, complete with solid wire lugs that are solid and secure. The matching and original winding crown is in excellent condition with a secure stem sleeve. It winds and sets smoothly.
Turning the watch over I find that the hinged back lid is in excellent condition, tastefully engraved “G.J.S.” as shown. It was quite common for WWI era watches to be personally engraved in case the watch was to go missing in battle – ideally it would be returned to its owner or his family.
Peeking inside I find a clean 2/3 bridge, seven jewel mechanism with fancy damaskeening on the top plates. It is signed Waltham, USA with serial number #20,513,925 – dating it to ca 1916 - 1917 as per production records. The inside case lid is clearly stamped J. DEPOLLIER & SON – STERLING – 412,109.
This timepiece has just been disassembled, cleaned, oiled and regulated to ensure that it winds and sets smoothly while keeping accurate time. It comes complete with a new 14mm black men’s length oil leather strap with fold-over ends especially designed for solid wire lug watches such as this. All in all a excellent, early military watch from two of the finest in the watch industry – you can’t beat a Depollier Waltham watch and this example is in stellar condition.
Since 1998, Holben's Fine Watches' goal has been happy customers. I treat buyers as I like to be treated: with courtesy and respect. I’m especially proud of my excellent response and high number of repeat clients. I’m a long-standing member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC), and have collected watches since I was a kid.
Watch sizes: I provide exact measurements in millimeters (the watch industry standard) and inches, and include a U.S. quarter in photos as a size reference. Draw the measurements on paper to help visualize the watch on your wrist. Remember, men’s watches from the 1910s - 1960s were smaller than considered normal today.
Buyers outside the United States with less than five response: Please introduce yourself via email PRIOR to offerding. Otherwise, your offer may be retracted.
Note: The USPS has raised its fees for all services as of 1/27/20013 – including a 100% increase of first class international rates. I charge less than actual cost for fully insured, shipping with tracking – there are no handling or packing fees. Overall, I spent $1.22 for every $1 received for shipping costs in 2012 (source: Quick books data).
U.S. winners pay $7.75 for fully insured, safely boxed USPS First-Class Mail shipping. Washington State residents (and those with shipping addresses in Washington State) add 8.6% sales tax.
Canadian buyers pay $21.00 for Registered Air Mail shipping with tracking (I cover the insurance) or $35 for EMS Global Express, a bit faster. International buyers pay $49.00 for EMS Global Express Mail with tracking and insurance. I do provide a Registered Air Mail shipping option ($25.00) to a few select countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. If you are an international buyer please wait until I invoice you with your shipping option(s).
International Buyers – Please Note: Import duties, taxes, and charges are not included in the item price or shipping cost. These charges are the buyer's responsibility. Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to offerding. While I ship within 24 hours of receiving payment but your local custom authorities can delay the delivery of your package. As such, it can take anywhere from 7 days to 30 days before final delivery is made.
Payment is due within three days of sale end, unless you’ve contacted me prior to arrange otherwise. In accordance with policy, payments not received in four days will initiate an unpaid item case through the Resolution Center.
In the rare event that a watch needs further service upon receipt, I ask that you return the wristwatch to me (or mailed to my watchmaker, David) at my expense. It will be corrected and quickly mailed back to you.
If you like unique and collectible vintage or antique wristwatches, add holbensfinewatches to your Favorite Sellers. I specialize in American and Swiss timepieces from the 1900s – 1970s. My selection changes weekly, and is comprised of manual wind and automatic watches from the following categories: WWI trench; WWII; military; fancy case, art nouveau; art deco; mid-century modern; stainless steel; sterling silver; white, yellow and rose gold; solid gold; platinum; and diamond, ruby and/or sapphire ladies’ cocktail watches.
Our sister store, Holben's Fine Watch Bands, offers an extensive selection of straps including Bonetto Cinturini, deBeer, Di-Modell, Hadley-Roma, Hirsch and Staib; deployment clasps and buckles; metal bracelets; German military Bunds; UTC ballistic nylon G10; open-ended; James Bond striped, leather and woven NATOs; WWII canvas military; genuine and silicone rubber divers; carbon fiber; Kevlar; LORICA; Cordura; GT rally tropic perforated; alligator-, crocodile-, lizard-, ostrich-, shark- and buffalo-grain; chrono sport; riveted; waterproof / water resistant and woven/braided.
Cautious Carl and I want thank everyone for 15 GREAT YEARS on …keep on ticking!
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Mens 1917 Waltham Wwi J. Depollier Khaki Sterling Silver Military Trench Watch: $560