Pocket watches commissioned by the British government for military issue during the 1930s and 40s were often engraved with the initials G.S./T.P., for General Service / Trade Pattern. While many Swiss manufacturers produced these watches, the pattern remained the same- a black or cream dial with Arabic numbers at each hour, some filled with luminous material. There was a subsidiary dial at 6 for the seconds hand, and the maker’s signature, from the likes of Jaeger LeCoultre, Helvetia, Buren, Leonidas, and many others, was printed at 12. The dial was designed for maximum legibility, and the large 19’” gilt jewelled movements were built to be reliable and hard-wearing.
The hand-wound Flyer’s watch houses a Japanese-made Miyota 17 jewel manual movement, and is inspired by utilitarian pilot’s watches of the 1940s. The yolk-yellow painted markers at 3,6, and 9 allow for quick timekeeping, while the triangle and two dots at 12 provides easy orientation, even at strange angles. The inner track with pips at 05 to 55 gives precise measurements from the minutes baton hand and the centre sweeping seconds. The Flyer’s watch is the most minimal design in the GS/TP collection, and wears very differently with the military black or ordnance cream dials. The beveled cushion case with pierced and twisted bombe lugs, and the engraved frog back also refer to early aeronautical instrument watches.
The Trade Pattern watch takes its name from the standard design for British army pocket watches produced during World War II. Indices are heavily filled with yolk-coloured paint, and a full railroad minute track allows for precise timekeeping. Note the unpainted dashes corresponding to the painted numbers at 3,9, and 12, and the wholly unpainted markers at 6, which would have been overlapped by a small seconds dial in the original pocket watches. The polished steel pencil hands are filled with matching yolk coloured paint, and the whole dial is magnified by the ‘G’ etched high domed plexiglass crystal. The engraved screw-down crown is heavily ridged and wears quite large relative to the 28mm cushion case, recalling the tool watches that inspired it.
The Fried Eggs watch takes its dial layout from a British compass of the type used by the Ordnance Survey. Compass points have been replaced with large numbers at 12,3,6, and 9, with a full railway minutes track and dashes at the half-hours. The unnumbered hours are marked with ‘fried eggs’, filled off-centre with thick egg yolk paint, echoing the design of the markers on Universal Genève’s iconic Polerouter Submariner watches of the early 1960s. The custom-milled surgical steel case is quad-screwed with a frog back, finished with linear brushing on the sides, radial brushing on the back, and mirror polishing on the bezel, and houses a high grade Japanese-made Seiko-Epson quartz movement. The Ordnance Survey was set up in 1791, following the Jacobite rebellion, charged with accurately mapping Scotland. It remained connected to the military, and produced large scale maps of Europe during the First and Second World Wars.
GS/TP’s Telegraph watch draws influence from Morse Code operator’s pocket watches produced in the early 20th Century by various makers, including the West End Watch Co. of St-Imier, Switzerland. Rather than spelling out full numbers to express times, using these watches as a key the time could be tapped out as a single letter, from ‘A’ at 1am to ‘Z’ at midnight. AM times are printed in red around the outer ring, and PM is in blue. The steel pencil hands are polished for the military black dialled version, and blued on the ordnance cream dial, for the highest legibility.