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Carlos Fandango

When is a Frankenwatch not a Frankenwatch

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During my research on Helvetia German Army DH marked watches I was surprised that I didn’t find that many watches that appeared to have wrong parts or that had had DH numbers added to a civilian watch. There were some of course but not as many as I would have expected, most of the watches fitted nicely into the 3 or 4 slightly different variants I had already discovered.

Then I found a DH marked watch that definitely looked wrong. The first thing that jumped out was that the DH number was engraved rather than stamped in the usual style on the case back. The hands and dial were correct for a Helvetia DH, the hands were the later slightly thicker version and the dial was also the later type with ‘Swiss Made’ and a slightly larger subdial however the case seemed to be a different case manufacturer than earlier DH versions and while being correctly marked ‘3190’ also had a ‘2’ added below the ‘3190’. 

R4NQjY0l.jpg

yIvVle9l.jpg

Having studied Helvetia watches generally I knew that the additional 2 signified that the case was fitted with a movement holder for 11.5 Ligne centre second movements and not the 10.5 Ligne 82A that was fitted to Helvetia DH watches. On seeing a picture of the inside of the watch it was evident that this was the case, the movement holder was obviously too big for the movement. The final nail in the coffin was that the inner case back was marked with a standard Helvetia serial number, something that the DH watches never usually had.

tegKhS0l.jpg

7oAKlYll.jpg

It seemed clear to me that a civilian Helvetia centre seconds watch had had the movement and dial swapped for a DH style one, resulting in a movement/holder mismatch, and had then had a DH number engraved to the back in order to turn a civilian Helvetia watch into a more desirable and valuable DH watch.
Over the next few weeks however as I continued my research I came across another watch like this and then another. I eventually found four examples. This was starting to look like something other than a simple ‘Frankenwatch’. During this period I had also recorded several watches that were very similar to the Frankenwatches, the dials and hands were the same later type and the cases seemed to be from the same case manufacturer and had a standard Helvetia serial number inside the case back but they were not marked with the additional ‘2’ below the ‘3190’ and therefore had the correct 10.5 Ligne movement holder. The DH number was also stamped on these watches rather than engraved. 

ct3sUwTl.jpg 

vAb3QPgl.jpg 

67y4h4il.jpg

What was interesting was that the DH number sequence of the Frankenwatches were in a group and seemed to lead directly on to these correctly marked watches. The Helvetia serial numbers that I had managed to record for them were also earlier than the stamped higher DH numbered watches. The final bit of information came when I was looking at Helvetia DH pocket watches and noticed that the style of engraving used on these was exactly the same as on the Frankenwatches.

So now I have done a 180 degree turn on my thoughts about these watches originality. I believe that Helvetia needed to deliver a batch of DH watches and being short of the correct ‘3190’ cases used some ‘3190 2’ cases with the incorrect size movement holders and added the DH number in the same style that they used to add them to their DH pocket watches. The rest of the contract was made up with correctly marked cases straight from the manufactures.

It shows I think that what we may consider as ‘wrong’ in a watch might well be how it actually left the factory even if non-standard, especially in times of shortages of parts and raw materials like the last years of the war.

Thanks for reading. Carl.

Edited by Carlos Fandango
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     GOOD SHOW, fasinating numbers.    in my search of pocket German watches,  cameras and rifles;  H  after a serial number means "MILITARY".  and maybe H M means "navy".  vin

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Very intersting research and timely, your conclusions could well be probably. 

I suppose it will be difficult to confirm but necessary to make it factual rather than just probably guess work. 

In the future the Franken watches will appear and cloud research further. 

Thanks so much for the research already done, and I keep up the good work! 

Cheers Martin :thumbsup:

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14 hours ago, vinn said:

     GOOD SHOW, fasinating numbers.    in my search of pocket German watches,  cameras and rifles;  H  after a serial number means "MILITARY".  and maybe H M means "navy".  vin

Thanks. Yes, the D H is thought to mean either Deutsche Heer for German Army or Dienstuhr Heer for Service Watch Army. 

6 hours ago, martinzx said:

Very intersting research and timely, your conclusions could well be probably. 

I suppose it will be difficult to confirm but necessary to make it factual rather than just probably guess work. 

In the future the Franken watches will appear and cloud research further. 

Thanks so much for the research already done, and I keep up the good work! 

Cheers Martin :thumbsup:

Thanks, I try to look at the whole picture and see what that tells me rather than looking at one watch at a time. We will never know for sure but a faker would have to get hold of a load of DH style dials and 3190 cases and put them together in the same way and engrave the right numbers in the same style as the pocket watches. I think the most likely answer is the Helvetia factory did it.

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On 18/11/2019 at 16:26, Always"watching" said:

Fascinating bit of research Carlos. So much knowledge and experience lies within the membership of this Forum - don't hide it under a bush folks.:biggrin:

Thanks Honour:biggrin:

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On ‎19‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 11:16, vinn said:

   and M after a serial number is "marine"

    the answer is in some very expensive books,   not in my memory AND may not have been to the internet or to a forum !  in any event,  a put together watch (like cars) is not a fake,but perhaps not as valuable as a total original.  vin

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On ‎18‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 07:52, Carlos Fandango said:

During my research on Helvetia German Army DH marked watches I was surprised that I didn’t find that many watches that appeared to have wrong parts or that had had DH numbers added to a civilian watch. There were some of course but not as many as I would have expected, most of the watches fitted nicely into the 3 or 4 slightly different variants I had already discovered.

Then I found a DH marked watch that definitely looked wrong. The first thing that jumped out was that the DH number was engraved rather than stamped in the usual style on the case back. The hands and dial were correct for a Helvetia DH, the hands were the later slightly thicker version and the dial was also the later type with ‘Swiss Made’ and a slightly larger subdial however the case seemed to be a different case manufacturer than earlier DH versions and while being correctly marked ‘3190’ also had a ‘2’ added below the ‘3190’. 

R4NQjY0l.jpg

yIvVle9l.jpg

Having studied Helvetia watches generally I knew that the additional 2 signified that the case was fitted with a movement holder for 11.5 Ligne centre second movements and not the 10.5 Ligne 82A that was fitted to Helvetia DH watches. On seeing a picture of the inside of the watch it was evident that this was the case, the movement holder was obviously too big for the movement. The final nail in the coffin was that the inner case back was marked with a standard Helvetia serial number, something that the DH watches never usually had.

tegKhS0l.jpg

7oAKlYll.jpg

It seemed clear to me that a civilian Helvetia centre seconds watch had had the movement and dial swapped for a DH style one, resulting in a movement/holder mismatch, and had then had a DH number engraved to the back in order to turn a civilian Helvetia watch into a more desirable and valuable DH watch.
Over the next few weeks however as I continued my research I came across another watch like this and then another. I eventually found four examples. This was starting to look like something other than a simple ‘Frankenwatch’. During this period I had also recorded several watches that were very similar to the Frankenwatches, the dials and hands were the same later type and the cases seemed to be from the same case manufacturer and had a standard Helvetia serial number inside the case back but they were not marked with the additional ‘2’ below the ‘3190’ and therefore had the correct 10.5 Ligne movement holder. The DH number was also stamped on these watches rather than engraved. 

ct3sUwTl.jpg 

vAb3QPgl.jpg 

67y4h4il.jpg

What was interesting was that the DH number sequence of the Frankenwatches were in a group and seemed to lead directly on to these correctly marked watches. The Helvetia serial numbers that I had managed to record for them were also earlier than the stamped higher DH numbered watches. The final bit of information came when I was looking at Helvetia DH pocket watches and noticed that the style of engraving used on these was exactly the same as on the Frankenwatches.

So now I have done a 180 degree turn on my thoughts about these watches originality. I believe that Helvetia needed to deliver a batch of DH watches and being short of the correct ‘3190’ cases used some ‘3190 2’ cases with the incorrect size movement holders and added the DH number in the same style that they used to add them to their DH pocket watches. The rest of the contract was made up with correctly marked cases straight from the manufactures.

It shows I think that what we may consider as ‘wrong’ in a watch might well be how it actually left the factory even if non-standard, especially in times of shortages of p

On ‎18‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 07:52, Carlos Fandango said:

During my research on Helvetia German Army DH marked watches I was surprised that I didn’t find that many watches that appeared to have wrong parts or that had had DH numbers added to a civilian watch. There were some of course but not as many as I would have expected, most of the watches fitted nicely into the 3 or 4 slightly different variants I had already discovered.

Then I found a DH marked watch that definitely looked wrong. The first thing that jumped out was that the DH number was engraved rather than stamped in the usual style on the case back. The hands and dial were correct for a Helvetia DH, the hands were the later slightly thicker version and the dial was also the later type with ‘Swiss Made’ and a slightly larger subdial however the case seemed to be a different case manufacturer than earlier DH versions and while being correctly marked ‘3190’ also had a ‘2’ added below the ‘3190’. 

R4NQjY0l.jpg

yIvVle9l.jpg

Having studied Helvetia watches generally I knew that the additional 2 signified that the case was fitted with a movement holder for 11.5 Ligne centre second movements and not the 10.5 Ligne 82A that was fitted to Helvetia DH watches. On seeing a picture of the inside of the watch it was evident that this was the case, the movement holder was obviously too big for the movement. The final nail in the coffin was that the inner case back was marked with a standard Helvetia serial number, something that the DH watches never usually had.

tegKhS0l.jpg

7oAKlYll.jpg

It seemed clear to me that a civilian Helvetia centre seconds watch had had the movement and dial swapped for a DH style one, resulting in a movement/holder mismatch, and had then had a DH number engraved to the back in order to turn a civilian Helvetia watch into a more desirable and valuable DH watch.
Over the next few weeks however as I continued my research I came across another watch like this and then another. I eventually found four examples. This was starting to look like something other than a simple ‘Frankenwatch’. During this period I had also recorded several watches that were very similar to the Frankenwatches, the dials and hands were the same later type and the cases seemed to be from the same case manufacturer and had a standard Helvetia serial number inside the case back but they were not marked with the additional ‘2’ below the ‘3190’ and therefore had the correct 10.5 Ligne movement holder. The DH number was also stamped on these watches rather than engraved. 

ct3sUwTl.jpg 

vAb3QPgl.jpg 

67y4h4il.jpg

What was interesting was that the DH number sequence of the Frankenwatches were in a group and seemed to lead directly on to these correctly marked watches. The Helvetia serial numbers that I had managed to record for them were also earlier than the stamped higher DH numbered watches. The final bit of information came when I was looking at Helvetia DH pocket watches and noticed that the style of engraving used on these was exactly the same as on the Frankenwatches.

So now I have done a 180 degree turn on my thoughts about these watches originality. I believe that Helvetia needed to deliver a batch of DH watches and being short of the correct ‘3190’ cases used some ‘3190 2’ cases with the incorrect size movement holders and added the DH number in the same style that they used to add them to their DH pocket watches. The rest of the contract was made up with correctly marked cases straight from the manufactures.

It shows I think that what we may consider as ‘wrong’ in a watch might well be how it actually left the factory even if non-standard, especially in times of shortages of parts and raw materials like the last years of the war.

Thanks for reading. Carl.

 

On ‎18‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 07:52, Carlos Fandango said:

During my research on Helvetia German Army DH marked watches I was surprised that I didn’t find that many watches that appeared to have wrong parts or that had had DH numbers added to a civilian watch. There were some of course but not as many as I would have expected, most of the watches fitted nicely into the 3 or 4 slightly different variants I had already discovered.

Then I found a DH marked watch that definitely looked wrong. The first thing that jumped out was that the DH number was engraved rather than stamped in the usual style on the case back. The hands and dial were correct for a Helvetia DH, the hands were the later slightly thicker version and the dial was also the later type with ‘Swiss Made’ and a slightly larger subdial however the case seemed to be a different case manufacturer than earlier DH versions and while being correctly marked ‘3190’ also had a ‘2’ added below the ‘3190’. 

R4NQjY0l.jpg

yIvVle9l.jpg

Having studied Helvetia watches generally I knew that the additional 2 signified that the case was fitted with a movement holder for 11.5 Ligne centre second movements and not the 10.5 Ligne 82A that was fitted to Helvetia DH watches. On seeing a picture of the inside of the watch it was evident that this was the case, the movement holder was obviously too big for the movement. The final nail in the coffin was that the inner case back was marked with a standard Helvetia serial number, something that the DH watches never usually had.

tegKhS0l.jpg

7oAKlYll.jpg

It seemed clear to me that a civilian Helvetia centre seconds watch had had the movement and dial swapped for a DH style one, resulting in a movement/holder mismatch, and had then had a DH number engraved to the back in order to turn a civilian Helvetia watch into a more desirable and valuable DH watch.
Over the next few weeks however as I continued my research I came across another watch like this and then another. I eventually found four examples. This was starting to look like something other than a simple ‘Frankenwatch’. During this period I had also recorded several watches that were very similar to the Frankenwatches, the dials and hands were the same later type and the cases seemed to be from the same case manufacturer and had a standard Helvetia serial number inside the case back but they were not marked with the additional ‘2’ below the ‘3190’ and therefore had the correct 10.5 Ligne movement holder. The DH number was also stamped on these watches rather than engraved. 

ct3sUwTl.jpg 

vAb3QPgl.jpg 

67y4h4il.jpg

What was interesting was that the DH number sequence of the Frankenwatches were in a group and seemed to lead directly on to these correctly marked watches. The Helvetia serial numbers that I had managed to record for them were also earlier than the stamped higher DH numbered watches. The final bit of information came when I was looking at Helvetia DH pocket watches and noticed that the style of engraving used on these was exactly the same as on the Frankenwatches.

So now I have done a 180 degree turn on my thoughts about these watches originality. I believe that Helvetia needed to deliver a batch of DH watches and being short of the correct ‘3190’ cases used some ‘3190 2’ cases with the incorrect size movement holders and added the DH number in the same style that they used to add them to their DH pocket watches. The rest of the contract was made up with correctly marked cases straight from the manufactures.

It shows I think that what we may consider as ‘wrong’ in a watch might well be how it actually left the factory even if non-standard, especially in times of shortages of parts and raw materials like the last years of the war.

Thanks for reading. Carl.

arts and raw materials like the last years of the war.

Thanks for reading. Carl.

    in the 50's,  the US sold off empty watch cases much like the one above.   new,  unused nickel plated  over pot metal.      vin

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If anyone is interested there is one of these on Ebay at the moment. It's only the 5th watch of this variant I've seen. Same hands and dial, same case marked '3190 2' with too big movement holder and DH number engraved instead of stamped in the correct range.

(The shock protection has had a bodged repair by the way, it's not supposed to look like that!)

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Helvetia-Militaruhr-Military-Heer-Wehrmacht-Pilot-Einsatzuhr-II-Weltkrieg/264544612320

nWz9TIjl.jpg

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o84cZk1l.jpg

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