Here we have a rare and highly collectable Lemania HS9 Broad Arrow (Series I) Royal Navy Monopusher Chronograph Military Watch c.1945-50.
What can we say, but, WHAT A BEAUTY!
For those of us who are fascinated by the militaria of Britain and its Commonwealth Nations; there is one mark that we all recognise, one mark which can link all items to the British Empire…the “Broad Arrow”. Whether you collect watches or weapons, battledress or binoculars, tanks or teaspoons….the venerable “Broad Arrow” can often be found stamped (but not always), printed or engraved as it is the one mark that links all things of military ownership.
This Monopusher watch is an early Lemania “Series I” example with the “scalloped” rather than “notched” case-back. The “HS/|\9” on the case-back indicates “H.S.” for Hydrographic Service, the “Broad Arrow” symbol for military use, and the “9” indicating it is a chronograph watch. This coupled with its NATO Stock Number 0552/924-3305, indicates that this specific timepiece was produced for the British Royal Navy between 1945 and 1950. With its early serial number of “2181”, we estimate this Lemania would have been produced around 1945 to 1946.
The condition of both the dial and movement is superb – a testament to how well constructed these watches are. At 38.5mm, it is large for a 1940s watch but well suited to modern tastes.
This example displays the “Lemania” signature on the dial, whereas earlier examples were unsigned. However, as it also has the “Circle T” printed on the dial; the dial will have been replaced with a Tritium one; either during normal servicing or when it was re-issued under its NATO stock number.
The hands, lume plots, and numerals at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock were all re-lumed with Tritium to Military Specifications, replacing the Radium used initially. This change in specification by the British Ministry of Defence was taken to reduce Radium exposure to its Officers and enlisted men. The face retains its original “replacement dial” Tritium lume and markings. However, we have had the original hands sympathetically re-lumed as they were in an awful condition.
The beautifully gilded 15CHT manual winding movement is fitted with a self-compensating Breguet hairspring, column-wheel chronograph mechanism and 17 jewels and has recently been serviced; and is therefore working as you would expect of a Military watch.
The Monopusher (the single button on the side of the watch at 2 o’clock), operates the chronograph or stopwatch function. When the button is pushed it starts the centre second hand. Pressing the button again stops the hand and pressing it a third time resets the hand back to the noon position. There is an elapsed minute counter at 3 o’clock, which allows for timing intervals up to 30 minutes.
The case is all stainless steel and is in very good order – a few marks from wear but overall very smart and ready for action.
The strap is an old Flexi-Strap, which is very similar in style to a Bonclip strap that would have perhaps been fitted originally. It would look great on a NATO or Horween strap too!
Lemania specialised in the production of chronographs; watches with a built-in stopwatch function. Chronographs are inherently complicated things to manufacture and for this reason many watch companies brought-in movements from specialists like Lemania.
Lemania supplied luxury brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe and amongst others Omega. Did you know the Cal. 321 that powered the first watch on the moon was an adapted Lemania! Because Lemania often supplied movements to other brands, for which they were uncredited; watches which are signed by Lemania, are especially prized.
Sadly, the Lemania watch company is no longer in existence but it has become something of a cult brand in recent years and revered by collectors. Good original examples of these watches are becoming increasingly rare and hard to find. This Lemania “Series I” Monopusher, therefore, represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a fantastic collector’s piece; which will be commented on for years to come!