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Always"watching"

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  1. I so wanted to write an erudite response to this question and gave it considerable thought, with a look at the overall development of watches, and miniaturisation generally, leading to the present day position vis a vis mobile phones, smart watches and mechanical/quartz wristwatches. My thoughts ended in a blank, however, concluding that pocket watches of classic form will only come back in a big way if they are seen to be a necessity. Once the public feels that something is necessary and has willing producers able to supply the demand, then fashion and style start to enter the picture, providing variety and catering to different sections of the market. I cannot say if analogue pocket watches will ever gain ground again though I would hazard a guess that their days as a major timekeeping accessory are unlikely to return.
  2. (Pic from autopuzzles.com) The story of the Simca Fulgur concept car does not begin with either a designer or an auto manufacturer. Instead, unusually, it begins with a popular weekly Franco-Belgian comics magazine, “Le Journal de Tintin” (Eng. “Tintin”, Dutch edition title. “Kuifje”) which included various series including the title series, “The adventures of Tintin.” Although primarily aimed at young readers, the magazine adopted the slogan, “The Magazine for the Youth from 7 to 77”. In 1958, Le Journal de Tintin invited car manufacturers to imagine a vehicle that could travel on the roads of the world in 1980. Unfortunately, this offer was not taken up, and SIMCA themselves were one such refusee, with its most important designers unwilling to take part in what they considered to be a wacky or crazy project, and with the company being taken up with more practical concerns. At the same time, a young designer at SIMCA, Robert Opron, mentioned the request by Le Journal de Tintin to a friend - astronomer and astrophysicist Pierre Guérin - who argued that Opron should try and convince his superiors of the importance of the project. He argued that Le Journal de Tintin was a very popular magazine read by many adults, and during their conversation, the two men wondered if 2000 would be a more relevant and interesting date for the concept car proposed by Le Journal de Tintin to aim for. The SIMCA concern was a product of the 1930s, originally a subsidiary of FIAT charged with manufacture of FIAT cars in France. The company grew in importance during the 1950s, becoming the second biggest automobile manufacturer in France and becoming more ambitious. In 1958, Chrysler Corporation acquired a 15% stake in SIMCA and became the North American distributor for the firm’s cars. Partly because of the company’s need for a reputation for innovation, and partly because of Robert Opron’s persuasive arguments, SIMCA accepted the challenge laid down by Le Journal de Tintin (the only company to do so), and tasked Opron with producing a proof of concept prototype of a year 2000 automobile. At this time, Opron was a junior designer at the firm, having joined SIMCA in 1957 where he was working (under a designer who had worked at Pininfarina) on minor projects only, such as logos and hubcaps. Now, together with the assistance of at least one other designer, Opron set to work on designing a concept car for the advent of the next millennium, to emerge as the 2-seat Fulgur prototype. As Opron himself has said (quoted in Chapman (2009)), “It was a fun job. It was the sort of job you gave to the office youngster - but when they [Simca] saw that it made quite an impact with the public, they started to make use of it.” SIMCA Fulgur proof of concept prototype seen here with Colette Duval in the driving seat (see text for details) and, below, the Fulgur layout from "Robert Opron, l'Automobile et l'Art" by Peter Pijlman (pics from spct2000.files.wordpress.com): The shape and (proposed specifications) of Opron’s Fulgur bore some connection with concurrent interest in flying saucers and spaceships, especially in the USA, yet the prototype also took account of current European tastes and financial restraints. Thus the vehicle was small in size and did not use any of the flashy chrome elements still popular on American cars. The Fulgur was immediately publicised in Le Journal de Tintin with an illustrated article on the vehicle published in the 11 December 1958 issue of the magazine. Furthermore, the magazine included a story, “L’affaire ‘Fulgur’” in one of its comic strips, “Les aventures de l’agent ‘P.60.’” for 13 issues between January and April 1959. In more official and “adult” venues, the Fulgur proof of concept prototype was an immediate sensation when displayed in Paris and at the Geneva Motor Show in 1959; the prototype was shown together with its amazing technical sheet detailing a host of innovations that the designers thought would be commonplace by 2000. It goes without saying that the exhibited prototype, with plastic-covered metal chassis, did not actually incorporate the futuristic innovations specified, although it could probably have travelled, albeit rather slowly, on the road and a witness is recorded as seeing the Fulgur being driven slowly in ordinary traffic during the time of the Chicago Motor Show of 1961, probably as a publicity trip/photo shoot. The spacious cabin of the proposed production Fulgur was to be both sound-proofed and air-conditioned; its plastic bubble was anti-reflective and offered excellent visibility to the driver. The super comfortable seats were influenced by the celebrated 1956 lounge chair design of Charles and Bernice “Ray” Eames, and they had variable flexibility, built-in headrests, and could rotate to facilitate access to the vehicle. Perhaps readers of this topic can make up their own caption to this dramatic Parisian street scene featuring the SIMCA Fulgur prototype (pic from Reddit at i.red.it): The Fulgur was intended to be controlled by an on-board computer or "electronic brain" that could respond to voice commands input by the driver. The car was also equipped with a dual radar that constantly monitored the road, and it could connect to a control tower while driving on the motorway. The computer could stop the vehicle independent of human intervention in the event of an obstruction being detected, and ultimately could transport the occupants from A to B without any human actions being necessary. The steering wheel of the Fulgur was very similar to that of an aircraft and the dashboard was a model of purity and ergonomics, being dominated by a radar screen. There appears to be some confusion as to whether the car on major roads was meant to actually be powered via electric cables integrated into the highway or whether electromagnetic guidance on the road only was performed via these cables. Whatever the case, the projected main source of power was electricity from six fuel cells (hydrogen batteries) which would provide sufficient charge for 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles), the two electric motors being in the rear wheels; the steering at lower speeds was executed through the front wheels. The Fulgur was to be provided with an adaptive electromagnetic suspension system with constant trim, providing unparalleled comfort - especially necessary given that projected top speed was almost 300 kph (185 mph) on a highway/motorway; headlight brightness also adjusted automatically with speed. Perhaps the most dubious innovation postulated for the Fulgur was the retraction of the two front (steering) wheels when the vehicle reached a speed of 150 kph (95 mph) while two gyroscopes were brought into action to keep the vehicle balanced on its rear wheels. In this mode, the V tail and its rudders stabilized and directed the vehicle. It has been suggested that the V tail of the Fulgur was inspired by the Air Fouga/Potez Air Fouga C.M.170 Magista jet trainer, tested in 1952 and a successful French aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s. Concept meets reality at the turn of the milennium; The Peugot 307 versus the SIMCA Fulgur concept car (note the mirror images of Colette Duval in both vehicles) - pic from spct2000.files.wordpress.com, and below, the Dinky SIMCA Fulgur with box - pic from worthpoint.com: Press kit from the New York International Auto Show (pic from upload.wikimedia.org): In addition to the positive reactions garnered at Paris and Geneva in 1959, the Fulgur was also a hit with the public at various shows in the United States between 1959 and 1961, and it was still a crowd-puller in the latter year at the Chicago Motor Show. The French vehicle even participated in a spring festival organised in Montreal, Canada, in March 1960 organised by Chrysler, and it is rumoured that the car also featured at a motor show in Tokyo. Anxious to make the most of all the publicity in Europe and elsewhere, SIMCA called on the services of a well-known and attractive French couple, parachutist and model, Colette Duval, and automobile stuntman Gil Delamare. After Colette’s early career as a skydiver from about 1951-56 had encountered mixed fortunes, she then founded a fashion boutique, then a nightclub. Between 1958 and 1986 she also played in 10 films. She died in 1988, aged just 57. Colette Duval can be seen in various contemporary photographs of the SIMCA Fulgur. It is with some sadness that I have to conclude this topic by saying that the Fulgur prototype, which had been so prescient in some of its ideas for the future of road vehicles, was to end its life unceremoniously on the scrap heap. Rear view of the SIMCA Fulgur prototype at the Chicago Auto Show of 1961 (pic from chicagoautoshow.com), and below, the Fulgur protoype at the Geneva Motor Show in 1959 (pic from autopuzzles.com): FURTHER NOTES ABOUT ROBERT OPRON Some information on this designer in the context of the Fulgur appears in the main text but it is worth making some additional notes about him. Robert Opron, automobile and aviation enthusiast, was born in France in 1932, obtaining his first job as a designer in 1952 for a factory that processed sugar beet. In 1954, he joined the staff of the Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiqus du Nord (SNCAN), where he contributed to the development of the cockpit of the Nord 2051 Noratlas. He was also engaged in flying and aerobatics from the 1950s. A friend of Opron’s who knew the head of personnel at SIMCA managed to get him a job at SIMCA in 1957, and it was during this period at SIMCA that Opron worked on the Fulgur concept. Ironically, given his work on the Fulgur project, SIMCA abandoned its style department in 1960-61 and Opron lost his job. The management offered him 2 years severance pay which included a non competition clause whereby for a limited period, Opron could not work for another automobile manufacturer. He therefore transferred his styling skills to fridges and cookers while working for a firm that designed/manufactured home appliances and bathroom equipment - a job that did not suit his main interests. In 1961-62, Opron spotted an advertisement published in a major Parisian daily in which a major unidentified carmaker was seeking a designer. The company was in fact the Citroen concern, which on recognising Opron’s design credentials and potential, hired him. On joining Citroen, Opron worked under Flaminio Bertone, himself one of the most important twentieth century automobile designers, and Opron himself was to be responsible for the acclaimed shapes of the Citroen SM and the Renault Fuego. Indeed, Robert Opron was to be known for cars he designed in France and Italy from the 1960s to the 1980s, and he was one of the 25 nominees for a 1999 competition in America to choose the “Car Designer of the Century”. REFERENCE Chapman, Giles (2009), “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Vehicles”. Dorling Kindersley Ltd, London, for The Book People Ltd, St. Helens. TEXT ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Particular acknowledgement is due to the article by Rénald Fortier, Ingenium, entitled “It was fulgur, fulgur, fulgur, fulgurable”, 11 March 2019. Ingeniumchannel, Ingenium Museums. Online address: (ingeniumcanada.ord,channel/articles/it-was-fulgur-fulgur-fulgur-fulgurable)
  3. There is plenty of information online about the "safety barrel" itself, which was used quite a lot by Waltham. I cannot unfortunately identify your own watch but perhaps someone will at least be able to tell you caliber details of the movement.
  4. I was a collector of Limit watches for some time and have always retained an affection for the company which is part of Time Products Ltd. - currently comprising a group of watch brands, viz. Accurist, Sekonda and Limit. I believe that I wrote an article on Limit watches some time ago; they have always been at the budget end of the market and both mechanical and quartz examples exist from the long history of the company. I have not come across your particular Limit model, and one needs pictures in order to date it with any exactitude.
  5. Dear @GoronVor, I believe that you will find the pictures and my captions here below interesting and helpful in dating and identifying your own Tell wristwatch. So without further ado, here they are: An important Tell watch with the same branding and monogram logo of your example, Goron, but with the name "FLEURIER" added on the dial. This watch dates to the end of the 1960s and into the 1970s and was made during the period when "Fleurier Watch Company SA" was part of SGT Neuchatel SA, a grouping of 9 Swiss watch companies that lasted from 1968-1981. (Pic from i.etsystatic.com) Three views of a very similar 1970s Tell watch to your own, Goron; this example is NOS and the yellow label on the back bears numbers that just might help date it more accurately and throw additional light on the Tell branded watches produced by Fleurier under SGT (pics from Galéria Saleria at images1-hu-secure.gs-static.com).
  6. It is an extraordinary fact that right up until almost the last days of the Second World War, German aircraft companies were coming up with cutting-edge designs for military aircraft and beginning to put these ideas into practice. Had the Western Allies and the Soviet Union not already been within sight of absolute victory over the Third Reich, these (or at least more highly developed versions of these) aircraft could have inflicted major damage and hindered or delayed the final defeat of Hitler and the Nazi regime. I have already written an article on the Forum about the Messerschmitt 163 Komet rocket interceptor, and the Germans were also pioneering combat use of a jet engined aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me 262, towards the end of the War. This topic is about yet another radical aircraft contending on Hitler’s side in his last ditch attempts to prevent the Allies from winning the War - the piston-engined Dornier Do 335 Pfeil (Eng. Arrow). When it comes to aircraft performance, designers are always trying to maximise engine power and minimise drag, and a twin-engined layout with wing-mounted engines will only increase power over a single-engined design at the expense of reduced manoeuvrability and increased drag. An alternative arrangement that at least partially solves this problem is to place the engines in tandem, front and rear, along the aircraft centre-line, producing power in what is known as “centre-line thrust” The benefits of this engine arrangement include reduced frontal area, an aerodynamically clean wing, and the elimination of dangerous asymmetry in the event of one engine failing. Centre-line thrust was to be the raison d’être of the Dornier Do 335, featuring a conventional nose mounted engine with tractor airscrew together with a second engine located in the rear fuselage, driving a pusher propeller situated aft of the tail unit. An instructive diecast model by Oxford of the only surviving Dornier Do 335 (see text for full details) - pics from rafmuseumshop.com: The origins of the centre-thrust layout implemented in the Dornier Do 335 actually go back to the First World War, when Dr/Prof Claude (Claudius) Dornier (1884-1969) designed a number of flying boats which typically featured a tandem engine arrangement; the engines were mounted back-to-back in pairs, with the forward unit powering a tractor airscrew and the rear-facing unit driving a pusher propeller. This arrangement was used in the successful Dornier Do Wal (Eng. Whale) flying boat of 1922. There was also inspiration from the Siemens-Schuckert Dr I triplane fighter of 1917 which utilised a “primitive” twin-engined centre-thrust design. In 1935, Dornier produced the Do 18, with a much improved version of the tandem engine system. In order to enable the pusher propeller to clear the trailing edge of the broad chord wing of the aircraft, an extension drive shaft from the rear engine was introduced. It wasn’t a difficult transition from this improvement to the idea of placing the pilot between the two engines in such an arrangement, and indeed, on 3 August 1937, Claude Dornier filed a patent (No. 728044) for an aircraft of just such a configuration, and it was on the basis of this patent that the Do 335 came into being. During 1939, Dornier was working on the P 59 high speed bomber project, which incorporated the tandem engine layout patented in 1937. However, the P 59 project was shelved by Reichsmarschall Goering in early 1940 on the over-optimistic assumption that the War would be over soon and thus all work that would not bear fruit within the next year or so should be cancelled. This blow did not end Dornier’s interest in his tandem-engine proposition, and he was soon working on another unarmed high speed bomber project - the P 231 - incorporating an internal bomb load of 2,200 lb and a similar configuration to that of the P 59. In May 1942, Dornier submitted a refined version of the P 231 design in response to a Technische Amt (Technical Department/Office) requirement for a single-seat high speed bomber. The Dornier proposal was selected as the winner after facing competition from rival designs by Arado and Junkers, and despite official resistance to the unconventional layout, a development contract was awarded under the RLM (German Aviation Ministry) designation Do 335. The only surviving Dornier Do 335 (see text for full details) - pic from indianamilitary.org - and, below, cutaway drawing of a typical (unspecified) Dornier Do 335 (pic from airpages.ru): The way was still not smooth in bringing the Do 335 concept to fruition. In the Autumn of 1942, with detailed designs progressing, the RLM informed Dornier that the advent of massive Allied bombing raids meant that the Do 335 as currently presented was no longer required. Instead, the aircraft would need to be rethought as a multi-role fighter of similar performance and capable of acting as a single-seat fighter-bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, and two-seat night and all-weather interceptor. The redesign now went ahead but the Technische Amt delayed the issue of a formal contract such that Dornier eventually sought the intervention of Generalfeldmarschall Milch, the Inspector-General of the Luftwaffe. By the end of 1942, with the necessary redesign completed, the first metal cut had been made on the prototypes at Oberpfaffenhofen. On 7 June 1943, with the growing seriousness of the war situation, Hitler himself intervened to expedite the Do 335 and the Me 262 programmes; prototypes of the Dornier plane were already in process of construction. However, Messerschmitt succeeded in persuading Hitler that their Me 262 would make a better high speed bomber than either the Arado Ar 234 or the Dornier Do 335, and on 7 September 1943, Hitler insisted that the Me 262 should receive sole priority. Milch’s advocacy of the two other types had been brushed aside, in spite of the fact that the Do 335 could carry twice the bomb load as the Me 262. Youtube video of the Dornier Do Pfeil (Arrow) from youtube.com: The initial prototype of the Dornier plane, designated Do 335 V1 (CP+UA), first flew on 26 October 1943 from Mengen, Württemberg, piloted by Flugkapitan Hans Dieterle and powered by Daimler-Benz DB603A-2 engines delivering 1750 hp at take-off. Handling trials at Oberpfaffenhofen were followed by official evaluation of the aircraft at the Rechlin Erprobungstelle. At high speeds, although some snaking and porpoising was found, the aircraft was generally well-recieved by the Rechlin test pilots. Favourable comments were made about the handling behaviour, manoeuvrability, acceleration and turning circle of the plane. Criticism was levied however at the poor rearward vision and fragile undercarriage. During the Winter and Spring of 1943-44, the V1 prototype was joined by additional development aircraft. Prototypes Do 335 V2 and Do 335 V3 incorporated several minor changes; the oil cooler tank under the nose was shifted into an enlarged annular engine cowling, blisters were added to the cockpit canopy to house small rearview mirrors, and the main undercarriage doors were redesigned. These two protoypes were kept at Oberpfaffenhofen for further test flights. Do 335 V4 was intended as a prototype for the two-seat night and all-weather interceptor but it was cancelled while still under construction in the autumn of 1944. The Do 335 V1 prototype with chin oil cooler and circular mainwheel doors, and the later V3 prototype with revised nose shape and mainwheel doors (photos from Dornier) - pics from aeroflight.co.uk: In spite of the lateness in the day, if the Do 335 was ever to see combat, the prototypes kept on coming. Do 335 V5 (CP+UE) was the armament test prototype, fitted with an engine-mounted 30mm cannon and two 15 mm cannon mounted in the upper nose. Do 335 V6 (CP+UF) and Do 335 V7 (CP+UG) were retained at Oberpfaffenhofen for equipment trials, with V7 later being transferred to Junkers for ground tests using Jumo 213 engines. Do 335 V8 (CP+UH) was used as an engine test bed by Daimler-Benz. With mainstream construction of the new type now planned and intended to take place at Menzel, it was a harsh blow when a bombing rain in March 1944 destroyed much of the production tooling and forced Dornier to set up a new line at Oberpfaffenhofen. The prototypes were still being constructed and tested - a situation that was to continue with various prototype variants until the end of hostilities - and the Do 335 V9 (CP+UI) was the prototype for the Do 335A-0 pre-production model. Fitted with a strengthened undercarriage, full armament, and DB603A-2 engines, it was delivered in May 1944 to the Rechlin Erprobungstelle for further official trials. Hitler, at this point, facing the likelihood of an Allied invasion of France at any moment, decided to give maximum priority to the production of the Do 335. It was also decided to cancel the Heinkel He 219 and use its production facilities to build Do 335s but Ernst Heinkel resisted this move and managed to delay, and eventually ignore, its implementation. The two-seater Do 335A-12 - picture from a kit model and photograph of the actual variant (pics from i.ytimg.com and, below, i.pinimg.com/originals): Do 335 V9 was quickly followed on the Oberpfaffenhofen production line by the first Do 335A-0 (VG+PG) fighter-bomber. In all, ten of these aircraft were produced, several being used by Erprobungskommando 335 (EK335), formed in September 1944 for the service evaluation and development of operational tactics for this new type. These were part of an order by the RLM which also included 14 prototypes, eleven production A-1 single-seaters and three A-10 and A-12 two-seat training aircraft. Finally, in late 1944, the Do 335A-1 superseded A-0 on the production line, becoming the first combat-ready production model of the aircraft. It was similar to the Do 335A-0 but with the uprated DB603E-1 engines and two underwing hard points for additional bombs or drop tanks. Delivery of the Do 335A-1 commenced in January 1945, and immediately impressed. Capable of a maximum speed of 474 mph at 21,325 ft with MW boost, or 426 mph without boost, and able to climb to 26,250 ft in only 14.5 minutes, the Do 335A-1 could easily outpace any Allied fighters in the vicinity; it could also carry a bomb load of 1,100 lb for 900 miles. The aircraft was nicknamed “Pfeil” or “arrow” by Dornier test pilots on account of its speed, but service pilots were less fulsome and called it “Ameisenbär” (Eng. Anteater) because of its long nose. The Do 335A-1 was armed with one 30 mm Mk103 cannon (with 70 rounds) firing through the nose of the propeller hub, and two 15 mm MG-151/15 cannon (with 200 rounds per gun) firing from the top cowling of the forward engine. An internal bomb load of 500 kg (1,100 lb) could also be carried. Interesting Youtube video showing original footage of the Do 335 in flight (from youtube.com): The Do 335 was an advanced machine in a number of ways and not only in its engine configuration. Pilot safety in an emergency was given some priority, with the result that a pneumatic ejector seat was incorporated which when fired, pushed the pilot away from the aircraft with a force of about 20 G. In addition, the chances of a pilot safely escaping the aircraft were enhanced by the use of exploding bolts that when detonated would jettison the pusher three-blade propeller and dorsal fin. Another innovative design feature was the tricycle landing gear. It has to be said, however, that the Do 335 was not without its faults. Weak landing gear that was prone to failure has already been mentioned, but there was also a tendency for the rear engine to overheat. The D0 335A-1 was also very large for a fighter, with a length of 13.85 m (about 45 ft 6 in), and wing span of 13.8 m (about 45 ft 3 in). It was heavy when loaded, at 9,600 kg (21,000 lb) and stood so high (at 5 m or about 16ft 5 in) that an adult of average height could walk beneath it. Nevertheless, its performance characteristics were such that there might have been mileage in both using the Dornier Do 335 in certain fighter operations and continuing to develop the centre-line thrust concept further. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), time ran out for the Wartime Luftwaffe. The Do335A-2 and A-3 were proposed developments with improved canon armament but were never built. One Do 335A-0 became the prototype for the Do 335A-4, an unarmed long-range reconnaissance model with two Rb50/30 cameras in the weapons bay and DB603G engines. Ten A-4s were ordered for production but none were completed. The same fate was to befall the Do 335A-6 radar-equipped two-seat night-fighter variant, prototyped by the Do 335 V10 (CP+UK). In this variant, a second cockpit for the radar operator was positioned above and behind the normal cockpit, and the weapons bay replaced by a redesigned fuel tank. Radar antennae were attached to the wing leading edges and flame dampers fitted to the exhausts. The prototype V10 was never actually fitted with the FuG217 radar and although production of the A-6 was transferred to Heinkel in Vienna, none were assembled. A number of dual-control control trainers were produced interspersed with production of the A-1; these were variants Do 335A-10 and Do 335A-12 which had their respective prototypes. The instructor occupied the second cockpit (though without an ejector seat due to shortages). A Dornier Do 335A-1, work number 107, at the factory in Oberpfaffenhofen. This example was taken over by American troops and examined by US intelligence (pic from airpages.ru): Original Dornier handbook pages for the Do 335A-1 (pic from airpages.ru): As the war situation further deteriorated, development efforts switched from the A-series fighter-bomber to the more heavily armed B-series heavy fighter. Time was running out for Hitler, however, and the B-series aircraft were to be represented only by two single prototype machines - a Do 335 V13 (RP+UA) for the Do 335B-1 and a Do 335 V14 (RP+UB) for the B-4. The V13 featured a revised nose undercarriage arrangement, a V-shaped armoured windscreen, DB603E engines, an additional fuel tank in the weapons bay, and the replacement of the two 15 mm MG151 cannon in the nose by 20mm MG151s. The B-4 prototype had this armament supplemented by two 30 mm Mk103 cannon mounted on the inner wing leading edges. Further developments were still under construction, including some with two-stage supercharger DB603LA engines capable of 2,100 hp. Two of the sources used for this topic are pretty clear that no pilots flew Do 335s in combat, at least not serving with a fully operational unit. However, this may be an over-simplication of the exact situation, and here I quote from the Aeroflight (2016) article: “Plagued by mechanical unreliability and lack of aviation fuel, the operational career of the Do 335 is rather obscure. Do335A-0 and A-1 aircraft are thought to have flown a number of operational missions with EK335. Some were also used by III/KG2 in the Spring of 1945. French fighter ace Pierre Clostermann’s book ‘The Big Show’ mentions an encounter with a Do 335 in April 1945, during which the German aircraft easily outpaced the pursuing Hawker Tempests and escaped. Such events were very rare, so it seems likely that most operations were high speed interdiction missions - many taking place at night.” When the US Army overran the Oberpfaffenhofen factory in late April 1945, only 11 Do 335A-1 single-seat fighter-bombers had been completed as well as two Do 335 A-12 conversion trainers. There were another nine A-1s, four A-4s and two A-12s in final assembly, with components and assemblies ready for 70 more aircraft. Heinkel at Vienna had not been able to build any Do 335A-6 night-fighters. At the end of the War, it transpired that a number of planned developments of the Do 335 were in progress on the drawing board, including several big-winged high altitude fighters, the Do 535 with a rear jet engine, the Do 635 (later Ju 635) long-range reconnaissance aircraft with twin fuselages joined by a common wing centre section, and the P 256 jet fighter. Two prototypes including the V13 prototype for the B-1 series designed for heavy day-fighter roles (pic from airpages.ru) In terms of examples that survived the immediate aftermath of war, two A-0 single-seaters were shipped back to the USA on the British carrier HMS Reaper for evaluation by the US Navy and Air Force. An airworthy A-12 two-seater was flown to the UK and flight tested at the Royal Aircraft establishment (RAE) Farnborough, but an A-1 also destined for Britain force-landed at Merville in France en route and was abandoned. A further incomplete B-series Do 335 airframe also made it to Britain. The A-12 was test flown only three times before crashing and killing the test pilot in January 1946. Some interesting observations have been made by Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown who undertook initial flight testing of the Do 335 A-12, including a tendency for the brakes to overheat and even catch fire; a problem suffered generally by Luftwaffe aircraft. Fortunately, this was partly compensated for by the reversible-pitch tractor propeller which could reduce landing distance by 183 metres (600 ft). Brown says that once the aircraft had reached high speeds, the controls were responsive and well-harmonised, and he praised the powered ailerons and stability of the plane. Brown concluded that although later Allied fighters would have been able to match it when out in the open, as an all-weather and night-fighter, the Do 335 would have been a formidable opponent. He draws specific attention to the speed of the Do 335 and the fact that the Mustang or Spitfire would have had a job nailing it. The original Do 335A-12 taken to Britain and tested at RAE Farnborough - see text for details and, below, front view of a Dornier 335 V3 prototype showing the wide track of the main wheels. A third picture, bottom, of a Dornier 335 shows the characteristic cruciform tail of the type (pics from airpages.ru): There is now only a single surviving Dornier Do 335, which is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport, Virginia, USA). This aircraft, the second Do 335A-0 built and originally designated VP+GH and A-02 (Wk No. 240102), had been evaluated at the US Navy’s Patuxant River Test Center from 1945-48. Subsequent to testing, the plane was left in open storage for no less than 27 years, in the grounds of Naval Air Station (NAS) Norfolk before being transferred to the storage facility of the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in 1961. Finally, the decaying airframe was flown back to Munich, in 1974, for restoration and preservation by the Dornier company the following year, at Oberpfaffenhofen (then in the process of building Alpha Jets). During the restoration process, crafts-people from the Dornier company, of whom many had worked for the firm since World War Two, were surprised to find still attached to the aircraft the explosive bolts designed to blow off the tail fin and the rear propeller. Dornier displayed the preserved plane at the May 1976 Hannover Airshow before moving it to the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Then, in 1986, it was returned to the Paul E. Garber Facility for storage. It is currently on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar (NASM) at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, USA (Inventory Number A19610129000). Depiction of a Dornier Do 335 Pfeil in flight (pic from img1.goodfon.com): Among the sources used in the research and writing of this topic, the following are to be particularly acknowledged; in descending order of importance: “Dornier Do 335 Aircraft Profile” Article last updated 26 June 2016 by admin; Aeroflight:the Website for Aviation Enthusiasts (aeroflight.co.uk/aircraft/types/type-details/dornier-do-335/htm “Flying the Arrow”, by Guiseppe Picarella/London, 21 December 2004; article for Flight Global (flightglobal.com/flying-the-arrow/58253.article) “Dornier Do 335 A-0 Pfeil (Arrow)”; Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, undated topic incl. display details (airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/dornier-do-335-A-0-pfeil-arrow/nasm_A19610129000) “The World’s Strangest Aircraft” by Michael Taylor: published in 1996 by Grange Books, London.
  7. Really just as an aside rather than making a particular judgement on CWC, I find the question of what constitutes good value for money is not always straightforward or amenable to reason. On the face of it, certain models, or even the whole output from a single company, can seem to be overpriced when compared with other similarly specced watches/companies. However, logically, in a competitive market place, one would expect a constant shift towards a mean in terms of prices at different market and specification levels. It is clear that there are many factors other than pure economics that permit some watches/watch companies to survive in the market in spite of their apparent overpricing, and whether one should actually harshly judge or attribute blame for this form of overpricing is a moot point. I suppose that when all is said and done, we buy what we really like within the framework of our available income, and unfortunately, what we really like sometimes has an unforeseen premium in terms of price. Compromise is often the only way forward but at times only what one really wants is good enough, overpriced or not.
  8. I do have certain brands of which I am a fan; even those companies don't always get it right every time though. As a general rule, when buying a watch, it is the individual model that I go for (or against) rather than the brand but certain brands are themselves a sort of unofficial "guarantee" that the watch will live up to certain quality standards.
  9. Ostersetzer & Co GmbH is now a company engaged in the wholesale of watches, jewellery, alarm clocks and watch parts; its HQ is at Reinprechtsdorfer Strasse 46, 1050 Vienna. Interestingly from the point of view of this thread, Ostersetzer & Co has two wholly-owned partner companies, Oriosa Trading GmbH and Gloriosa Retail GmbH. Oriosa Trading is now engaged in rental and leasing, and is stated as formerly dealing with the trade and agency business, and also with the retail trade of jewels, gold, silver goods and watches. Gloriosa Retail is engaged in trade in goods of all kinds, especially jewellery and watches. Both Oriosa Trade and Gloriosa Retail are based at the address of Ostersetzer GmbH in Vienna. Note that the brand name, Gloriosa, also appears on vintage watches, and these were apparently sold by Ostersetzer on the UK market. According to Trademarkia, the actual trade mark, GLORIOSA, was in the hands of the Ostersetzer company from its initial registration in 1954 until 2014, when the brand name became defunct and open to new applicants for registration. My feeling about the R T Stone connection matches with Alan's view immediately above. I would suggest that Ostersetzer acquired/bought in the watch from a Swiss provider/manufacturer (possibly a Swiss company linked to Ostersetzer) and then sold it wholesale to R T Stone, who then retailed the watch in this country with his own brand name having been added to the dial at some stage. The caseback was branded Oriosa for Ostersetzer - either at source or by Ostersetzer themselves, who then may have added the R T Stone brand name to the dial as part of the wholesale package when selling the watch on to R T Stone (quite possibly the Richard Stone jewellery firm based in Derby, which is still going). The more one studies watches, the more one discovers complex supply chains running from the manufacture of individual components, through the assembly of watches, and then through the wholesale and retail chain, with different companies contributing to the final product over its gamut of manufacture and sale.
  10. That is one nice G-Shock, Richard. I can see how irritating that small digital seconds display could be in your line of work although, aesthetically, I prefer having just the two centre analogue main hands.
  11. I agree with Scott; the watch looks to me to be a normal automatic Visodate Seastar Seven from about the late 1960s or just into the 1970s. The Seastar Seven was introduced in 1964 and the number seven apparently referred to the seven essential qualities of the model that set it apart from other watches in the same price range. You will find that your particular Visodate Seastar Seven Automatic is a front-loader rather than having a normal attached caseback, and it is likely to be powered by a Tissot caliber 784 automatic movement.
  12. In the British Museum, among other marvels of horology, is a complex watch by Ferdinand Berthoud, one of the most celebrated watchmakers in France in the middle of the 18th century. This watch, signed “Ferdinand Berthoud A PARIS”, is masterpiece of micro-engineering and craftsmanship of its period and worth taking a look at both here and, of course, in the British Museum. Ferdinand Berthoud was born on 19 March 1727 in the village of Plancemont-sur-Couvet in the Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, into a family with distinguished clock- and watchmakers among its number. At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to his brother, Jean Henri, to learn the art of clock- and watchmaking. In 1745, he left for Paris in order to gain more experience in clock- watchmaking. After working as a journeyman for various Paris watchmakers, Berthoud became a master clock- and watchmaker at the Order of the French Royal Council in 1753 aged 26, as an exception to guild rules; he was to remain in France until his death at Groslay on 20 June 1807. Portrait of Ferdinand Berthoud (pic from static2.worldtempus.com): A member of the Institut de France and an “associate foreign member” of the Royal Society in London, Berthoud was awarded the Légion d’Honneur and was made Pensionnaire du roi and Inspecteur général des machines pour la Marine. In addition to his prowess as a maker, Berthoud was also an accomplished and extensive writer on horology - a rarity for a practical watchmaker. He published ten volumes between 1759 and 1807, the most famous of which were probably, “Essai sur l’horlogerie” (1763) and “Histoire de la Mesure du temps” (1802). The Essai … was a two-volume work concerning the theory and practice of clock- and watchmaking that ran to nearly 1,000 pages of text and 38 plates of illustration. As an important aside, it is notable that Berthoud was involved in the important work to produce an accurate marine chronometer, and he paid visits to London twice (1763 and 1765) primarily to examine the work done in this field by John Harrison. Berthoud gained entry to London scientific circles thanks to his horological writing, and he himself succeeded in making marine chronometers for the French navy and other nautical tests and voyages. The gold-cased full-plate fusee watch designated by Berthoud as Number 333 on the gilded brass dust cover is an extraordinary piece. Firstly, it has a power reserve of thirty-two and a half days on a single wind. Even in the 19th century, eight-day watches were relatively scarce, so a month-going watch in the middle of the 18th century was an extreme rarity. Secondly, the watch features a half-quarter “dumb” repeat mechanism in which the hammers tap the hour and the number of seven and a half minute periods past on the inside of the case when the pendant is pushed down. The watch has a cylinder escapement ( brass wheel, steel cylinder, 3-arm gold balance), the most precise technology available at the time, and there is also a stop mechanism enabling the watch to be used as a timer. The escape wheel is mounted in the centre of the watch and its extended arbour carries the centre seconds hand (unfortunately now short in length due to the loss of its tip). Berthoud Gold-cased month-going cylinder watch with half-quarter repeat, centre seconds, stop lever, equation and date indications; marked by Berthoud as watch number 333 (pics from media.britishmuseum.org): The 51.5 mm diameter gold case of watch no. 333 is marked for Paris 1760 and also bears the maker’s mark “HBP” with a star above which probably refers to Horace Bénedict Pasteur who is recorded at rue St Louis between 1751 and 1753. The design on the caseback incorporates a universal equinoctal ring dial marked “OV BION A PA”, an armillary sphere, a pair of dividers, a telescope, an air pump and a book - a collection of objects indicating that the intended customer had scientific interests. Berthoud designed this watch with automatic indication of the equation of time - put simply, the equation of time is a complication that indicates the difference between the time displayed by the position of the sun (sundial) and the time displayed by any clock. The watch has a central white enamel disc, calibrated in minutes, which is controlled by a cam beneath the dial. This automatically rotates back and forth so that true solar time is indicated by the tail of the mean-time minute hand. Berthoud was evidently proud of this particular piece as evidenced by its inclusion in his “Essai sur l’horologie”. In his introduction, Berthoud writes, “In chapter XVIII I enter all the details of the construction of equation watches which I have made. I here explain the first one which has a dumb repeat and seconds and goes for 8 days and which marks the months of the year.” He then refers to two more watches, and says of the the second one, “I also present the calibre of an equation watch, jump centre-seconds, repeating, going for a month without re-winding, which marks the months of the year.” Ferdinand Berthoud was a watchmaker of considerable importance in the history of watchmaking, and for readers of this topic who wish to learn a bit more about him and his contribution to horology might usefully start at an article on Quill & Pad: online address, quill&pad.com/2015/09/19/who-was-ferdinand-berthoud-and-why-should-we-care/ Further pictures of Ferdinand Berthoud watch number 333 (pics from media.britishmuseum.org): The full specifications of the Berthoud watch number 333 can be seen at britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1958-1201-296 I have no idea as to the financial value of watch number 333, except that it is undoubtedly astronomical. For those who cannot afford a genuine period Ferdinand Berthoud pocket watch but would like a luxury timepiece that honours his work and bears his name on the dial, there is now an option to consider. In 2013, Chopard announced that they were to launch a new high-end Swiss watch brand in celebration of the life and work of Ferdinand Berthoud. This brand, "La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud" launched its first wristwatch in 2015, the FB 1, and although there is perhaps a slightly disingenuous use here of Ferdinand Berthoud's name, the watches from La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud represent something quite special in terms of their quality and design, and at least the brand has not fallen into the trap of losing sight of the modern world. The brand has skilfully interwoven traditional elements and materials with those that are more modern so that the watches reflect a respect for innovations of the past developed by Berthoud and other great watchmakers while also taking advantage of the technology of today. Particular acknowledgements are due to David Thompson, (The British Museum) "Watches", published by The British Museum Press, 2008 and 2014
  13. I second all those congratulating you on your retirement - enjoy.
  14. RAF Beaufighters of Coastal Command attack a German ship with devastating force (pic from BAE Systems/Ron Smith): I have to admit that when I came to this subject, I was still so beguiled by, and in awe of, the svelte beauty and fine performance of the de Havilland Mosquito that I tended to ignore the Beaufighter; indeed, the Beaufighter had always seemed to me to be the big, pugilistic, older brother of the more finely honed Mosquito, and I wasn’t sure how positive my opinions would be after researching it for this article. I needn’t have worried, however, because during the process of writing this topic, my respect for the Bristol Beaufighter has greatly increased and I now feel that the Beaufighter and the Mosquito should be seen as equals in a partnership over time; together fulfilling all the roles that a larger twin-engined fighter plane was ideal for. In terms of both aesthetics and practicality, the Beaufighter has a rugged doggedness and muscularity that is actually rather attractive, forcefully enhanced by its ability to carry and unleash massive firepower against our enemies during World War Two. The Beaufighter neatly complements the elegant and speedy airiness of the Mosquito, both planes capable of deadly use in their own fashion. Thankfully for history and for democratic civilisation, we had both of these aircraft and would have been less secure of victory without either one of them. So here is the Beaufighter story. During the period between the two world wars, the Bristol Aeroplane Company turned its attention to the concept of developing of a heavy long-range fighter, recognising the lack of such an aircraft in the RAF inventory. Accordingly, the chief designer at Bristol, Leslie G. Frise, and his colleague Roy Fedden, the firm’s engine designer, discussed the possibility of developing a single-seat fighter based on a Bristol bomber - either the Beaufort or the Blenheim - and presented their proposals to the Air Ministry in 1938 in advance of the RAF specifying a need for such an aircraft. This proposal resulted in official specification F.11/37 for a heavily armed fighter with a gun turret for a second crew member. In line with the specification, Frise and Fedden designed a twin-engined, two-seater fighter with massive firepower - four fixed 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon located under the nose in the space taken up in the Beaufort by the bomb aimer, and a further six 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns mounted in the wings. A dorsal observer’s turret was added at the middle of the fuselage for the second crew member. An initial order for 300 Beaufighters was issued and the first prototypes took to the air in July 1939, the name of the aircraft being derived from the “Beau”fort bomber. In flight performance, the Beaufighter had one Achilles heel that was managed but never completely cured - longitudinal instability, giving the aircraft a tendency to sway, especially during take-off and landing. The first unarmed Beaufighter prototype no. 2052 in July 1939 (pic from BAE Systems, Ron Smith): Vintage poster showing a cutaway illustration of the Bristol Beaufighter Mk1 (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): Beaufighter Mk.VI of 272 Squadron 1942 (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): One advantage of the Beaufighter’s design was the fact that it utilised the major airframe components of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo-bomber already in production (viz. the wings, tail unit and landing gear) and with a somewhat shortened front fuselage the plane had a characteristic snub-nosed appearance. Partly due to the use and availability of well-tried and tested components, gestation period of the Beaufighter was relatively short, with Bristol even supplying its own Hercules engines to power the prototypes. Indeed, it was a matter of only 13 months between the first flight of a prototype and the introduction of the Beaufighter in September 1940. The first squadron to receive a Beaufighter were Nos. 25 and 29 sqaudron, on 2 September, and by 17 October 1940, night fighter unit No 29 squadron was up and running with Beaufighters. Other front-line squadrons (25, 219, 600 and 640) were soon being equipped with Beaufighters, and in late 1940 aircraft equipped with the newly developed AI Mk.IV radar system were introduced. On 14 November 1940, Flt Lt John “Cats Eyes” Cunningham claimed the first kill using the radar against a Junkers Ju 88. Cunnigham, of 604 squadron, was the most successful RAF night-fighter pilot; he and his radar operator Jimmy Rawnsley were credited with 19 confirmed victories at night and one during the day. He later went on to have a distinguished career as a test pilot, and worked for British Aerospace until his retirement in the 1980s. Cockpit of the Bristol T156 Beaufighter (pic from flight-manuals-online.com): During its development phase, it had been assumed at Bristol that the new aircraft would have a top speed of 540 kph (335 mph) but in reality, the twin Hercules III double-row radial engines did not provide quite enough power for this target to be reached and top speed was about 500 kph (310 mph), less than the Hawker Hurricane and also with higher fuel consumption. It had therefore become clear that the Beaufighter was not well-suited to the role of daytime interception. However, the plane really came into into its own as a night-fighter, and its use during the increased German bombing raids in 1940 was crucial. It had sufficient speed to gain the upper hand over German bombers and, when fully armed (for a short while in 1940, the Beaufighter flew with its cannon only due to a predicted shortage of machine guns destined for Spitfires and Hurricanes) could be a devastating opponent such that one salvo on target was enough to guarantee heavy damage. The Beaufighter Mk.IF (late production) was variously powered by Bristol Hercules III, X or XI engines, and the plane had a length of 12.6 m (41 ft 4 in) with a wingspan of 17.63 m (57 ft 10 in). Normal range was 2,141 km (1,5000 miles) with a top speed of 520 kph (323 mph) at 4,572 m (15,000 ft). The service ceiling was at 8,809 m (28,900 ft) and empty equipped weight of the aircraft was 6,381 kg (14,069 lb). Interestingly, the last major Beaufighter model or variant, the Mk.X, was about the same size as the Mk.I but considerably heavier in empty equipped weight and powered by more powerful Bristol engines - up from 1,400 hp to 1,770 hp. The service ceiling of the Mk.X was down to not far off only half that of the Mk.IF and top speed was only a tad faster. Prior to the Beaufighter, The Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF, equipped with radar, had been used in a stop-gap fashion as a night time fighter, but it was slow and lacked the necessary performance for the role; the Beaufighter Mk.I now filled this gap and took this fighting role to a new level. The Mk.IF Beaufighter had continued to use Bristol Hercules III air-cooled 14 cylinder double row radial engines through 1940, then upgraded versions of that engine, but with a change in strategy whereby the bomber fleet took priority and increased the demand for Hercules engines, the Beaufighter was required to use a different engine altogether. This resulted in the faster Mk.II Beaufighter, powered by two Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines; the even more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon was used in some Beaufighters. The Mk.II Beaufighter also incorporated a twelve degree dihedral tailplane as a remedy for the known low-speed instability of the aircraft, and this was to be fitted on all subsequent variants. The Bristol Beaufighter protected the night skies over Britain during the peak of German bombing raids which began to peter out in May 1941. During the last major raid on London on 10 May, Beaufighters shot down no less than 14 enemy aircraft - the most ever claimed on any one night. Beaufighter Mk.1C of the RAAF on the ground after flak damage, March 1943 (pic from asisbiz.com): The Beaufighter did not succumb to an early demise with the lessening of German bombing raids on the UK, nor even when the faster de Havilland Mosquito arrived on the scene - indeed, its time was by no means over. By mid-1941 the Beaufighter had been adopted by RAF Coastal Command in the form of the Mk.IC long-range strike fighter. The main focus for this version was the need for an aircraft able to strike at the Mediterranean area, and in order to increase the range, extra fuel tanks replaced the machine guns on the aircraft. The Mk.IC enjoyed considerable success against Italian and German shipping in the summer of 1941, and in November 1941, No 272 squadron mounted attacks on North African airfields destroying 44 aircraft in 4 days. The MK.IIF Beaufighter night fighter, of which over 400 were built, served with UK-based squadrons from April 1941. After the Beaufighter MK.II, came the Mk.VI which, like the Mk.II was produced in coastal (VIC) and fighter (VIF) versions. For night-fighting, the Mk.VIF was mainly equipped with the newly developed AI.MK VIII radar housed in a “thimble” nose. The ever-diminishing raids on the UK in 1942 freed many of the home-based squadrons to fly night raids over northern France, attacking trains, convoys, railway installations and other similar targets. The Mk.VIF was also used in an escort role during bombing raids, luring away Luftwaffe night fighters. Also in Europe, the Beaufighter Mk.VI was also used to help prepare the way for the invasion of Sicily and Italy and support Allied ground operations until the Italian surrender. And in the North Sea and Bay of Biscay, from 1942 until the end of the War, Beaufighter Mk.VIC aircraft sank or crippled thousands of tons of enemy shipping and submarines using their cannon and rocket projectiles. A Bristol Beaufighter in the National Museum of the American Air Force, Dayton Ohio. This example was manufactured on license by Fairey Aviation Co., Stockport, and delivered to the RAAF in 1942. It bears the markings of USAAF pilot Capt. Harold Augspurger of 415th Night Fighter Squadron who shot down a Heinkel 111 carrying German staff officers in September 1944, and the bottom picture presumably shows the plane during restoration (pics from media.defense.gov): The Mk.VI Beaufighter was instrumental in inflicting serious damage not only in the European theatre of war but also further afield. Squadrons of Beaufighter Mk.VIF fighters were operational in the Far East against Japanese lines of communication in Burma, mounting daily low-level raids and destroying 66 locomotives, 123 ships, and 96 road vehicles in the nine months from the end of 1942. The Mk.VI was to continue to operate against the Japanese until the end of the War, its deadly armaments now enhanced by the use of rockets; the aircraft earned the name of “Whispering Death” from the Japanese. Somewhat nearer to home, the Beaufighter MK.VI replacement of the Mk.IC played a vital role in the victory in North Africa, roaming widely and attacking targets opportunistically. Beaufighter Mk.VIC aircraft in the air (pic from Biggles wiki at vignette.wikia.net) Explosion of a German ship after attack by Beaufighters on a German convoy, probably off the southern coast of Norway and the North Sea (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): The success of the Beaufighter in its anti-shipping role led to the development of the last major variant of the aircraft, the Mk.X, of which 2,205 were made This variant was developed from the MkVI(ITF) interim torpedo fighter and entered service in 1943; it was powered by two Bristol Hercules XVII 1770 hp engines. The Mk.X had a range of 2,366 km (1,470 miles) with 1,700 lb torpedo, and a top speed of 488 kph (303 mph) at 395 m (1,300 feet). In terms of armaments, the Beaufighter Mk.X was more variable than earlier models. It was heavily armed, as were earlier models, with 4 nose-mounted 20mm cannon and six 7.7 mm (0,303 in) machine guns in the wings, but also had a dorsal-mounted 7.7 mm machine gun (NB it is evident that some pre-Mk.X Beaufighters had a dorsal mounted machine gun; others used this turret solely for observation/radar operation by the second crew member). The aircraft could also carry either a single 965 kg (2,127 lb) or 748 kg (1,650 lb) torpedo beneath the fuselage, plus either eight rocket projectiles fitted in racks under the wings or two (113 kg) 250lb bombs. The rocket-armed Mk.X Beaufighters could be used for both air-to-sea missions or for ground attack. Mk.X Beaufighter torpedo fighters featuring a modified version of the AI.Mk VIII radar system in a “thimble” nose, and unofficially known as the “Torbeau”, proved to have excellent air-to-surface capabilities and became the standard variant for Coastal Command for the last two years of the War. In March 1945, Beaufighter TF Mk.Xs of nos. 236 and 254 squadrons managed to locate and destroy five German U-boats in the space of just 48 hours. Beaufighter TFXs (Mk.X Torpedo Fighter) of the RCAF showing rocket projectile racks beneath the wings (pic from BAE Systems/Ron Smith): Beaufighter Mk.X armed with rocket launchers and with thimble-nose radar system (pic from tracesofwar.com): An attack by a Beaufighter on shipping in the mouth of the Gironde, Bay of Biscay, towards the end of 1944 - this picture was taken by a camera mounted in the aircraft's nose (pic from Australian Memorial at S3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com): The last Beaufighter model to be produced (163 in total) was the XIC, made for Coastal Command and similar to the Mk.X yet without the ability to carry a torpedo. Production of the Beaufighter continued until 1945 in the UK and 1946 in Australia and totalled 5.928 units.The last examples still in service were retired in the RAAF in 1960. The Beaufighter also served in a number of other air forces including those of Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA - Others ended up in Portugal and Turkey. The Beaufighter had fought in all the major theatres of World War Two and turned out to be an aircraft worthy of the greatest respect and regard. A Mk.XTT (target-tower) Beaufighter in post-War role shortly before the type was withdrawn from RAF service (pic from BAE Systems/Ron Smith): The final Beaufighter variant, the XIC, in a state of restoration under the Fighter Collections Restoration Project, at Duxford, in 2013 (pic from upload.wikimedia.org): Illustration by Ivan Berryman showing a Beaufighter based in malta attacking Italian shipping and aircraft (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): The main sources for the text of this topic - the most important first, then in descending order - are as follows: “Aircraft of World War Two: A Visual Encyclopedia”, by Michael Sharpe, Jerry Scutts, and Dan Marsh; Parkgate Books, London, 2000 (1st published in 1999 by PRC Publishing Ltd). “Fighter: Technology, Facts, History”, by Ralf Leinburger; Paragon Books Ltd, Bath, 2008. “The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II”, by David Mondey; Chancellor Press, London, 1994 (1st pub. By Hamlyn in 1982) “101 Great Fighters: Legendary Fighting Aircraft from WWI to the Present”, General ed. Robert Jackson; Sandcastle Books, Sheriffs Lench, Worcestershire, 2008 “Fighter Aircraft: Featuring Photographs from the Imperial War Museum”, by Francis Crosby of the Imperial War Museum Duxford; Published by Hermes House, London an imprint of Anness Publishing Ltd, 2002 and 2007.
  15. I must admit that I am not as keen on this watch as I feel I ought to be. What puts me off is the shape of the case beneath the dial/bezel. It reminds me of a squashed cow-pat oozing outside its proper parameters beneath the dial/bezel. Sorry - I know I should be ashamed of myself.
  16. Obviously a ""stealth" model. G-Shocks are a collectible on the rise, and pretty good wearers as well. I am a fan and have two or three examples; I just hope that Casio doesn't start upping the prices too much because at the moment, most Casio watches are very good value.
  17. May I also thank you Rog @Roger the Dodger for that useful information for members given in your two (widely spaced timewise) posts on this thread. I must admit that even though I am a mod and should know better, I was not aware of all the details pertaining to the edit function.
  18. Thanks for showing that interesting watch, Norman. These sort of attribution questions are certainly tricky, but your new evidence does indicate that the Alter watches may be French in origin although French movements were used internationally by certain watch companies. I still feel that there may be a Portugese connection ...
  19. Many watch companies have engaged at various times in a quest to connect with their history and traditions, leading to the introduction of watches that reach back into the archives and pay homage to particular historical models or milestones. One of these companies is Milus, and the watch we are looking at here is the Snow Star; the Snow Star Instant Date and the new Snow Star re-edition wristwatch. The Milus watch company was founded in 1919 by Paul William Junod and in 1930, the company started using a stylized crown logo relating to the Greek God, Hermes. After a long history, the firm, based in Biel/Bienne, has recently undergone a revival, with some fresh ideas as well as a neat remake of the Snow Star, whose interesting history I relate below. Currently, the firm is owned by a member of the Tissot family, and a period during the early 2000s when Milus focussed on high-end watches with expensive complications has come to an end - the firm is now concentrating on practicality, good value and classically styled watches. The original Snow Star model dates to the late 1930s-early 1940s, and it wasn’t until about 2011 that Doron Basha, president and CEO of Milus discovered that the company and the Snow Star had played an unusual and important part in the lives of US Navy pilots flying over the Pacific during World War Two - a piece of the firm’s history that had passed into obscurity over the years. A Milus Snow Star Instant Date taken from a life barter kit that had been scrapped for its gold content (pic from omegaforums.net): During the War, certain fighter and bomber pilots assigned to this theatre of conflict were supplied from 1942 with “life barter kits” - wax-sealed packages carried in their backpacks which contained 24-carat gold pieces and a Milus watch. The idea behind these kits is that should the pilots crash-land or be forced to parachute into enemy or otherwise unfriendly territory, they would be provided with bargaining materials. These life barter kits contained two small gold rings, a segment of gold chain, a small gold pendant, and lastly but not least a Milus Snow Star wrist watch together with a rolled up black fabric strap. The contents were sealed in a rubber block, and each item was wrapped in tissue paper; identification was by a two or three digit serial number on the outside. View of an original World War Two US Navy pilot's "life barter kit" (pic from omegaforums.net): The new Snow Star re-edition alongside an original US Navy pilot's "life barter kit" (see text) (Pic from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7az.stackpathcdn.com): It is not known exactly why the US Navy chose the Milus “Snow Star Instant Date” to be included in these kits but it seems that they were looking for a suitably reliable and well-made watch that would be sufficiently valuable as an article of exchange. It is also not known exactly how the Navy acquired the watches for use in the life barter kits, they may have commissioned the watches from Milus themselves or entered into secret negotiations with a US retailer of Milus watches to supply them. Or did they just buy a number of Snow Star watches from a local jeweller? In/from 1980, the US government sold off its remaining stock of life barter kits, most of them still unopened since the early 1940s and accompanied by an X-ray of the contents; this sell-off seems to have passed the Milus company by and they remained ignorant of the kits until some thirty years later. As soon as the Milus company learned of its World War Two role as provider of a “bargaining chip” for downed navy pilots, it launched a mission to collect as many World War Two life barter kits as it could, and connect them with the pilots themselves or members of their families. By June 2012, three kits had been found and in all three, the Milus watch was still working. Also by that time, in early-mid 2011, Milus had launched a limited-edition "Heritage" version of the Snow Star, sold with a pair of cufflinks and commemorative dog tags. This watch had a 40mm case, a magnified date feature, a sweep hand, and was powered by an original-yet-overhauled mechanical movement from the 1940s. The watch was made in two runs; 99 in 18 carat red gold and 1,940 in steel. Note that I have not illustrated this particular Snow Star model, but it is well-illustrated online. Moving on in time to the present day, the latest iteration of the Milus Snow Star Instant Date is a respectable homage timepiece with a 39 mm 904L polished stainless steel case (904L steel being the grade that is used by Rolex) and screw-on solid steel caseback. Other specifications include dauphine hands, a slightly domed AR-coated sapphire crystal, screw-down crown with 100 metres water resistance, and the watch is powered by an ETA 2892A2 automatic movement which runs at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 42 hours. Note that there is no lume on the watch which, in my personal opinion, is a good thing and allows the polished hands to really show themselves off. A minor niggle is that apparently the small quick-release levers on the supplied strap are visible when wearing the watch. The model is available in two colourways - black (with a black leather and khaki green fabric strap) or silver dial (with a black fabric and leather strap). I prefer the silver dial, which is in keeping with the original Snow Star, and I should just mention that this dial has a pale champagne tone in some lights. Price is 1598 Euros. The new Milus Snow Star re-edition - black dial colourway with the khaki fabric strap, and below, silver-dial colourway with black fabric strap (pics from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7a2stackpathcdn.com): Rear view of the new Milus Snow Star (pic from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7a2.stackpathcdn.com): Silver dial colourway of the latest Snow Star with Khaki fabric strap usually provided with the black dial version (pics from ablogtowatch.com): As an aside, here is a rather beautiful 1970s automatic 18 carat gold Milus Snow Star with 34 mm (excl. crown) case and mineral glass crystal (pic from assets.catawiki.nl): And now, the finale to this story has to be told ... When I myself looked critically at the pictures of the Milus Snow Star Instant Date as included in the World War Two life barter kits, I did wonder about the actual date of these watches. Everything about them seemed to indicate that they might be later than suggested - later 1950s into the early 1960s. I am not alone in thinking that there might be a problem in date attribution; indeed, a thread on the Omegaforums (omegaforums.net/threads/time-capsule.42389/) discussed this matter quite thoroughly and also shows an interesting piece from the New York Times of 13 January 1980 (attachment on omegaforums.net): Given the evidence discussed on the Omegaforums thread, I feel that at least some of the life barter kits were produced/issued at a date later than the Second World War, and thus featured a model of the Milus Snow Star that dates to the post-War period. The New York Times piece mentions that these kits were also issued during the Korean War and it may be that the surviving kits sold off by the US Government were even later than that, actually put together as late as the early 1960s. At this stage, I just do not have enough information to make conclusive statements about this controversy, and I leave the matter as a tantalising historical question for others to solve; I note that the Milus records from the 1940s were apparently destroyed in a fire.
  20. Thanks for showing that watch, Norman. It seems that we are honing in on Portugal as the most likely source of the Alter brand name; in terms of a possible South American link, I would expect Brazil to be the most likely contender. I must also welcome the fact that @Chantry1 has acknowledged the research that members do to answer queries posted on the Forum. It makes quite a difference when a thank you is posted on such a thread.
  21. Where are my offers then? NOTHING, not a dicky bird... Surely I should be hearing from Lorus soon. That's about my mark at the moment.
  22. I have not been able to find much about the Alter watch brand, but I am pretty sure that it is not Swiss. I illustrate the one vintage Alter watch that I have managed to find, and note that the back of the watch has been inscribed, "Fernando Gomez" together with the astrological lion and "Leo." The seller of this mechanical hand-wind watch (Vintage Watches at sokm77wsatches.blogspot.com) thought it might be of West German manufacture (for reasons unknown ) while I myself am leaning towards a Portugese or perhaps a Latin American origin for the "Alter" brand. Further research is needed.
  23. Welcome to the Forum, Chantry. The term, "cronometro" (Eng. chronometer) written on the dial of your watch relates to the accuracy of the watch/movement and not to any "stop watch" function. The history of the term "chronometer" is an interesting one, but to cut things short, I will say that some watches marked with this term cannot actually claim to be chronometers in the more modern sense of the word. For a watch to be a true chronometer, it has to be tested by a relevant body and reach certain standards of accuracy. Unfortunately, certain companies still like to put the term, "chronometer", on watches that have no rightful claim to be classed as such. I am doing a rapid research binge to see if I can find out something about "Alter" watches: I will post my results here below on this thread.
  24. There are some interesting comments on this issue on the following forum thread: edcforums.com/threads/rubber-silicon-resin-bands-durability-issues.135165/ It would seem that there is some consensus that there have been great improvements made over the years in the durability of resin/rubber watch straps used by Casio, at least on their higher quality watches such as G-Shocks.
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