RAF Aircrew watches.

RAF Aircrew watches.

Joined: January 28th, 2004, 10:21 am

January 28th, 2004, 12:20 pm #1

Can anyone help me on this one? Am looking for info on these watches. I know that there was a 6b/159 pilots watch that was issued from 1936 to 1941 when this was replaced by the 6b/234 which had a 'hack' function on the watch. I have been told that both these watches were for Aircrew/Pilots (Prodgers book also confirms this) but some dealers have told me that the 6b/234 was for Groundcrew and Observers only - which is correct?
Also most of these watches were from Omega, Longines Jager le Coulture, Movado, IWC and Zenith but I have found a 6b/234 with the AM stamp and Kings Crown on it but made by Optima - has anyone heard of this company?

Nigel Carver
O/C RAF at War
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Joined: July 30th, 2002, 2:28 am

January 28th, 2004, 6:29 pm #2

Because I was wondering something along the same lines the other day.

The 6B/159 watch is pretty well known and shows up from time to time on Ebay. I have two of these watches. According to Mick Prodger's book, this watch became obsolete early in the war and a different watch, one with more functions (chrono?) became available. Does anyone know what this watch looks like?

There's some pretty nice pictures of RAF wartime watches on this site: http://www.tommyvintage.com/ommil.html
But if the later pilot watch is pictured there, I don't know which one it is.
Anyone have further info?
Dan
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Joined: January 28th, 2004, 10:21 am

January 29th, 2004, 10:19 am #3

Hi Dan

From what I know the 6/b 234 is very similar in look to the Omega's, Longines etc - it just has a different movement inside the watch that allows it to have a 'hack' function. This 'hack' function allows the watch second hand to be used like a stopwatch and is activated by the 'winder/crown' - anyway that's what I have been told by the dealers and Hendon!
This watch was introduced in 1942 to replace the 6b/159 as an Aircrew watch (according to Prodger etc), however everybody keeps telling me that the 6/b 234 was only issued to Groundcrew.....

Who is correct here....any idea??

Nigel Carver
O/C RAF at War
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Joined: August 23rd, 2003, 10:11 pm

January 29th, 2004, 10:33 am #4

Can anyone help me on this one? Am looking for info on these watches. I know that there was a 6b/159 pilots watch that was issued from 1936 to 1941 when this was replaced by the 6b/234 which had a 'hack' function on the watch. I have been told that both these watches were for Aircrew/Pilots (Prodgers book also confirms this) but some dealers have told me that the 6b/234 was for Groundcrew and Observers only - which is correct?
Also most of these watches were from Omega, Longines Jager le Coulture, Movado, IWC and Zenith but I have found a 6b/234 with the AM stamp and Kings Crown on it but made by Optima - has anyone heard of this company?

Nigel Carver
O/C RAF at War
The watch I have is one issued/made in 1940 (according to the engraving on the back), so without 'hack'-funtion.
It's made by J.W. Benson, so apparently yet another manufacturer of these watches.

I read somewhere that private purchases were sometimes retrofitted with AM engraving.
I'll see if I can confirm this info.

About the 'hack'-function. If this was a kind of chronometer or chronograph funtion, why would it be issued to groudcrew? A chrono-function is essential for navigating, so aircrew, be it observers, navigators or pilots etc I can undertand.

I'll see if I can post a picture of my watch when I get home from work;-)
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Joined: January 28th, 2004, 10:21 am

January 29th, 2004, 12:55 pm #5

Thanks for that - interesting! I take your point about the issue of 6b/234's, why give to Groundcrew if they have a hack function. However I was told that they were issued to any Groundcrew that needed a watch for accurate timings like the photo development staff etc.
What do you think?

The problem that I have got is whether I should buy the 6/b159 Omega that I have been offered or the 6b/234 Optima.....

Have you heard of Optima?

Nigel Carver
O/C RAF at War
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Joined: August 23rd, 2003, 10:11 pm

January 29th, 2004, 3:43 pm #6

I guess that if you want to portray a pilot, you should go for the 6B/159. You're certain that one was issued to aircrew.

If it isn't the portayal of somebody you're after, then go for the one you like most. I'm pretty sure ('cause of the 'hack'-function) the 6B/234 would have been issued to aircrew as well.

The fact that photo development staff needed one seems an unlikely explanation to me.
I've had two years of training in advertising and did a fair share of photo developing myself.
Timing the exposure of a picture was done with a (very old) timer. You just set the timer, switch it on and the light comes on and switches off automatically after the preset elapsed time.

But there probably are a hundred reasons I can't think off to give a watch with chronometer to groundcrew.
That doesn't mean it wasn't issued to aircrew.

Having said that, multiple stopwatches were mounted throughout the bombers of the RAF. On the cockpit dash, at the navigators panel etc.
Why give aircrew a chronometer when there's stopwatches all over the place...?
Can't remember seeing a stopwatch mounted in a fighter...

Maybe a vet can help out?


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Joined: January 28th, 2004, 10:21 am

January 29th, 2004, 4:10 pm #7

Thanks for that - yes I agree, I will probably get the Omega, its just that the Optima is such a good looking watch!
With regards to Fighters of the period, both the Spitfire and Hurricane had 'seven day' dashboard mounted clocks in them - so called because you wound them up and they were supposed to keep going for seven days!!

Still wish that I could afford both watches...the Optima is £295 from a dealer with warranty whilst the Omega (marked with braod arrow on back, 6/b 159 and dated 1944) is £250 from a friend....

Were 6b/159's still being issued during 1944??

I give up with this one.....

Nigel Carver
O/C RAF at War
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Joined: December 17th, 2003, 10:09 pm

January 29th, 2004, 7:22 pm #8

i have a 1940 dated 6B/234 watch made by a (still existing) watch company called Accurist. And it does not have the "hack"-function.
Maybe this is one of the mliltarised private purchase versions. I was told however (by the Accurist company)that because of demand, every now and then smaller watch makers were contracted to make these watches, when the bigger bigger companies could not cope.
The contract number on mine is A4736/40. I am quite sure that this is the original back, as it is a rather small size watch, and as a matter of fact a lot more elegant than the Omega´s.

Martin.
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Joined: August 23rd, 2003, 10:11 pm

January 29th, 2004, 10:38 pm #9

Thanks for that - yes I agree, I will probably get the Omega, its just that the Optima is such a good looking watch!
With regards to Fighters of the period, both the Spitfire and Hurricane had 'seven day' dashboard mounted clocks in them - so called because you wound them up and they were supposed to keep going for seven days!!

Still wish that I could afford both watches...the Optima is £295 from a dealer with warranty whilst the Omega (marked with braod arrow on back, 6/b 159 and dated 1944) is £250 from a friend....

Were 6b/159's still being issued during 1944??

I give up with this one.....

Nigel Carver
O/C RAF at War
And it kept going for eight days... of course

I got to check my watch tonight and it is a 6B/234. No 8624/40. No hack-function... Just like Martins... Go figure.
Here's a pic of my watch:

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Joined: December 11th, 2002, 3:50 pm

January 29th, 2004, 10:41 pm #10

i have a 1940 dated 6B/234 watch made by a (still existing) watch company called Accurist. And it does not have the "hack"-function.
Maybe this is one of the mliltarised private purchase versions. I was told however (by the Accurist company)that because of demand, every now and then smaller watch makers were contracted to make these watches, when the bigger bigger companies could not cope.
The contract number on mine is A4736/40. I am quite sure that this is the original back, as it is a rather small size watch, and as a matter of fact a lot more elegant than the Omega´s.

Martin.
I don't know if this is right but I have found that H Samuel do a rather nice Lorus watch with a black face and glow in the dark numerals, it comes with a green canvas strap, but it is easily replaced with a leather strap it sell for around £35, either way it looks the part, and at a fraction of the cost. Omega's are very pricey as well as Logines
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