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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I came across this unusual Cyma-Tavannes watch made of solid silver and had to buy it. Now, I am trying to date the watch, but I am finding very little information on the webz about it. I know it pre-dates 1966 since that is when the Cyma-Tavannes Watch partnership was ended. That said, the characteristics of the watch lead me to believe it is much older than the sixties anyway, I am guessing, the forties? Aside from it being quite heavy, (the silver) and rather large for a watch from its era, it has been fitted with a very unusual face protector, or at least that is what I believe it was intended for? It has one last very unique feature to it:sneaky2:, but I will save that for later conversation:confused1:, assuming I get any interest on the subject of the date of manufacture of the watch.:001_tongue: I haven't been on here in a while, but hopefully some of my old friends still frequent the forum and, more important, they are still as smart as they used to be! Thanks!

 

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Hi Tom. That watch might be even earlier than the 40's. Those protectors usually came on trench watches from WWI I think. Hopefully somebody will come along soon to help - maybe Adam or Ben or another collector of pre-1940 pieces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. I know Cyma provided shockproof watches to the military in 1915 with protective covers so I was thinking that was a possibility, especially with the wire-type lugs that I also think were quite common back then since they were still using pocket watches. I was wondering if anyone knows of a serial number register for Cyma? That would be definitive.
 

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But would the military use actual silver? I"m thinking post-world war to the early 30s FWIW.
 

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There are a couple of things here that will help you date this watch.

This watch appears to have a metal dial, somewhat odd for a Swiss WWI wrist watch leading me to believe that it dates to the early 1920's.

This case design with the rather wide lug diameter (18mm - 22mm) was popular well into the late 1920's as well.

The crystal guard is not correct for this watch, they are of different shapes.

The guard was probably made by the Mealy Manufacturing Company of Baltimore, Maryland known as the "DUO" patented in October 1917.

Yes, sterling silver watches were in fact used by the military in WWI and for several years thereafter, worldwide.

For some reason the Swiss (and some American case manufacturers) loved to place golden crowns on sterling silver watches so it is probably the original.

At one point this watch case MAY have been painted black, those black spots could possibly be paint and not tarnish.

So, my best guess: 1919 - 1922 give or take a year.



I just bought myself a CYMA last week, should arrive shortly.

15 jewels, gold filled case, enamel BOLD Roman numeral RED XII dial.





 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
There are a couple of things here that will help you date this watch.

This watch appears to have a metal dial, somewhat odd for a Swiss WWI wrist watch leading me to believe that it dates to the early 1920's.

This case design with the rather wide lug diameter (18mm - 22mm) was popular well into the late 1920's as well.

The crystal guard is not correct for this watch, they are of different shapes.

The guard was probably made by the Mealy Manufacturing Company of Baltimore, Maryland known as the "DUO" patented in October 1917.

Yes, sterling silver watches were in fact used by the military in WWI and for several years thereafter, worldwide.

For some reason the Swiss (and some American case manufacturers) loved to place golden crowns on sterling silver watches so it is probably the original.

At one point this watch case MAY have been painted black, those black spots could possibly be paint and not tarnish.

So, my best guess: 1919 - 1922 give or take a year.
A lot of GREAT information as I slept! Thank you. The case is entirely silver. By dial I was thinking you meant bezel portion of the case. I have no idea what the dial is. I assumed porcelain? The black you see is both the product of my horrible photo skills and the fact that it is heavily tarnished and if I have learned anything from my past friends on this site, especially from when I purchased the Illinois Green Gold Consul, don't remove the patina and leave everything exactly as is! That is what I have done. I have no doubt that the case would polish up to look quite spectacular, I am just resisting the temptation to do so, for now.

The shrapnel guard fits the watch to perfection. While it does not match the case, from the angle photographed at, it does surround and protect the crystal perfectly (no crystal currently on the watch) and it sets onto the watch, snapping into place, like, well, a swiss watch! The lug width is why I initially guess at the forties, because it is 22MM and I have never seen one that width on the early watches. as you mentioned, but do agree it is clearly older than my guess.

My grandpa served in WWI and my dad in WW2 (he is 93 and still alive), my uncle in the Korean War, my brother in Vietnam, and my son in Iraq, so I have a natural inclination toward military watches and own about 5 now. Sadly, I will NOT be able to keep this watch, wear it in my watch rotation, because of the secrets it holds and my wife has demanded I keep it out of the house so it sits in my safe deposit box. I would be very curious as to what type of band I should buy for it as most of my bands for military watches are Nato bands and that would not work for a watch of this era. I was not aware of the significance of its secrets when I purchased it or I likely never would have bought it, but now I own it so not much I can do other than keep it out of the house. My wife is originally from Brasil so while I am not the least bit superstitious and would like to believe she is not either, the watch stays where it is for now while I do more research. I will provide a photo of the watch case back later today, after I vote and get back from physical therapy. Let's see how long it takes for everyone to figure it out and if you are all much smarter (a given) than I!

PS Thanks to all those who have already helped and the help that I know is forthcoming. A special thanks to Dennis for rallying the troops privately since I know those he has asked for help will have the answers I seek, as they always do! If I have learned anything over the years here it is that the knowledge of some of the guys here is phenomenal. Thanks again!
 

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This is an early European so called Trench Watch for the UK market
You can see the regulator is marked in BOTH French A/R (swiss) and English F/S(UK)

Based on dial and luminosity AND metal dial I date to 1920/22
 

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But would the military use actual silver? I"m thinking post-world war to the early 30s FWIW.
The hallmark of "935" means 93.5% silver. The British standard for "silver" was usually 925, but there were quite a few that used a little better grade of silver. The Brits considered anything under 92.5% pure silver as "not silver."

Silver was used in officer's trench watches during WW!. I have a number of them. Stan's probably right that the crystal guard may not be original to the watch, but it's interesting, anyway.

I don't know the year, as I don't recognize that hallmark. The British hallmarks always included a code letter for the year and the city of importation. Stan's estimate of the year is probably as accurate as you can get, and I'm almost sure that piece is WW! era.

The Cyma brand, which is signed on the dial, is generally more popular than Tavannes brand, although I don't think it indicates higher quality than Tavannes.
I know that Cyma military watches bring pretty good prices, especially from British collectors. I have a Tavannes branded watch that was Canadian military in its origin, and that's probably why this piece wasn't imported through the British hallmark process, but probably direct to US or Cananda.

At one time, the Cyma and Tavannes combined companies were the largest producer in the world in the "wristlet" market segment. "Wristlet" (I hate that word) generally refers to early wrist watches, that mostly had their beginnings in combat in the trenches in WWI, hence "trench watch." Be careful in restoring this watch if you intend to sell it, eventually, to UK military watch collectors. They hate redials and "overpolishing" of metal cases. On the other hand, I look at restoration of these pieces as finding a 1937 Alfa Romeo 6C 2900B rusting away in a barn in Tuscany. It wouldn't make much sense to let it continue to deteriorate.

Take a look at some of the American trench watches that Stan has restored if you want to get an idea of what can be done. The only thing is, you should decide your objectives with the piece before you begin the work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for the extremely helpful information. I have been "busy" the last few days since the election and have only now felt able to come back to this. If I was going to keep the watch I would absolutely get it restored, but as I mentioned earlier I won't be keeping the watch because of later origins/ownership of the watch, a little fact I did not understand when I bought it. I thought the solid silver case (it is really quite heavy), size of the case, and the military origins of the watch would make it a nice fit into my collection of military watches. I am not even "allowed" to keep the watch in the house! :scared: A shame, really, because fully restored and on the right band this would make an amazing addition to my watch collection!

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
What exactly is the problem that you are not allowed to keep the timepiece in your home?
My wife, a very superstitious Brasilian, has a real problem keeping the watch of a convicted quadruple homicide felon, one who was executed in 2005, in our house. Go figure!

I have been contemplating why a group of gang bangers would give what was even then a vintage watch to a gang leader? My guess is they were involved in "trench" warfare, as they saw it, and thought a trench watch used by an officer in WWI was fitting? That is just a theory, of course.

The East Side Crips were the first known Crips set founded on the eastern section of the 110 Freeway in South Central, Los Angeles, California. Raymond Lee Washington grew up on 76th Street on the East Side of Los Angeles, California near Fremont High School and is believed to be one of the founders of what would later be known as the Crips.

It was in 1969 when Washington organized several neighborhood kids in a click called the Baby Avenues (aka Avenue Cribs). The Baby Avenues wanted to emulate a gang of older youths called the "Avenue Boys." The Avenue Boys, whose territory was on Central Avenue in East Los Angeles, had been involved in gang activity since 1964. The Baby Avenues then began using the name "Avenue Cribs," in reference to the gang members' relative youth. By late 1971 the Cribs where being referred to as the Crips and their reputation around Los Angeles grew.

It was around this time when Washington met Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who lived on the westside and recruited him into the Crips (he would found a gang called the Westside Crips). In 1999, Alex Alonso published a detailed history on the Crips in Territoriality Among African American Street Gangs in Los Angeles which in 2000 inspired the documentary, Lords of the Mafia (aka Gangsta King) which tells the story of how the Crips formed in Los Angeles.

Raymond Lee Washington was killed on August 9, 1979 at the age of 25 on the corner of 64th and San Pedro Streets in Los Angeles, five months after Tookie Williams was arrested for quadruple murder. No one was ever arrested in Washington's murder. Today, most gangs under the East Side Crips, aka “East Side Boys,” card also operate under the Gangster Crips card as well.

Stanley Tookie Williams III (December 29, 1953 – December 13, 2005) was a leader of the Crips, a notorious American street gang which has its roots in South Central Los Angeles. In 1979 he was convicted of four murders committed in the course of robberies, sentenced to death, and eventually executed. Once incarcerated, he authored several books, including anti-gang and anti-violence literature and children's books.

Williams refused to help police investigate his gang, and was implicated in attacks on guards and women, as well as multiple escape plots. In 1993, Williams began making changes in his behavior, and became an anti-gang activist while on Death Row in California. He renounced his gang affiliation and apologized for his role in founding the Crips, although he still refused to help police investigate the gang. He also co-wrote children's books and participated in efforts intended to prevent youths from joining gangs. A biographical TV-movie entitled Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story was made in 2004, and featured Jamie Foxx as Williams.

On December 13, 2005, Williams was executed by lethal injection after clemency and a four-week stay of execution were both rejected by Governor Arnold Sshwarzenegger, amidst debate over the death penalty and whether Williams' anti-gang advocacy in prison represented genuine atonement for his quadruple murder or was just a way to escape execution. Williams was the second inmate in California to be executed in 2005.
 

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I think it is just as likely that some soldier in WWI named Stanley Williams was given a watch by a group of East Side Boys who were too old to go off to "the big one".

I can't buy that a group of gang bangers would go together to buy a vintage, non bling watch for their leader, or that said leader would buy a vintage non-bling watch and have it engraved with his real name, not his nick/gang name
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I think it is just as likely that some soldier in WWI named Stanley Williams was given a watch by a group of East Side Boys who were too old to go off to "the big one".

I can't buy that a group of gang bangers would go together to buy a vintage, non bling watch for their leader, or that said leader would buy a vintage non-bling watch and have it engraved with his real name, not his nick/gang name
A remote possibility that "that some soldier in WWI named Stanley Williams was given a watch by a group of East Side Boys who were too old to go off to "the big one?" Sure. Just as likely? I just don't think so. In one case we have a known name that is absolutely associated with the giver of the watch. In your scenario we must assume a WWI soldier with the name and then assume a group from his neighborhood with that nickname? I think Occam's Razor applies here, that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So I had this really sneaky idea that I put in play over the weekend. My wife loves to watch movies so I rented the Jamie Foxx movie about Stanley Williams and said nothing about its connection to the watch. As I suspected, she did not make the connection herself and simply watched the movie and thought it was a good movie. Later, I will bring up the movie, reminding her that the main character of the movie found redemption, and then make the connection. We'll see what happens.

In any event, I am wondering what would be a really good band for the watch? Normally, I really like the Nato bands on my military watches, but they would not have had such bands in WWI. I am guessing a nice heavy vintage leather band? Any ideas?

 
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