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The History of the Trench Watch

In the mud and chaos of the trenches of the First World War the wrist-watch was born. The War was won by the Allies when they learnt to synchronise tank, infantry and artillery assaults and to do that you need reliable, accurate timepieces. The pocket watch, the traditional men’s watch of the day, was useless as a timepiece for the infantry. It was cumbersome, broke easily and impossible to use at night. The first wrist-watches were private commissions ordered by wealthy officers serving at the front. They were designed to be practical instruments of war, but they were also meant to be objects of beauty that wouldn’t look out of place in the fashionable bars and clubs of Paris.

By 1915 wrist watches were being manufactured by every luxury jeweller in London, Paris and Geneva. Although they were marketed at military officers and called ‘trench watches’ they became increasingly popular with well to do civilians. A trench watch from Harrods, the famous London department store, would set you back £4, around 14 weeks pay for an ordinary British infantry man. By 1916 wrist watches were common amongst the officers, but few infantry men could dream of affording one. The Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 changed that.

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette was part of the larger Battle of the Somme which had began on July 1st 1916 with a disastrous British offensive which left 58000 British soldiers killed or wounded. Two new innovations were unveiled at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which required precision time keeping in order to be effective. The first was the creeping artillery barrage, which was a moving barrage that was fired 100 yards in front of advancing infantrymen. The second was the introduction of the tank. Although only one tank was operational during the Battle, the military commanders rapidly realised its how efficacious it was if the complimented the infantry assault.

The creeping barrage and the introduction of the tank required all soldiers to have an accurate, military timepiece. By 1918 the British Army was issuing watches to those that most needed it, like signalmen and engineers. After the War ended the wristwatch remained popular and by the 1920s few men wore pocket watches anymore.

The names of the Lufbery Trench Watch

The Grenadier

 

Grenadier regiments were originally formed in the seventeenth century as specialist grenade throwing units. Grenade throwing was dangerous and difficult in the seventeenth century and to cope with the demands of the role Grenadiers were often physically large and extremely brave. By the eighteenth century grenade throwing was a lot safer and easier however the Grenadier regiments still recruited tough, muscular men to serve in their ranks. As a result, Grenadier regiments tended to lead assaults and were often used as shock units.

 

The Fusilier

In the seventeenth century there were two types of musket: the fusil and the matchlock. The matchlock was cheaper to manufacturer but required the gunpowder to be ignited by an open flame on a cord (the matchlock). The fusil was lighter, more accurate and easier to use; it also did not need an open flame to fire. A Fusilier was a soldier who used a fusil. In the early days of the Fusilier they were associated with the artillery as it was a lot safer to have fusils around barrels of gunpowder rather than matchlock muskets.

 

The Dragoon

Dragoons were soldiers who rode into battle on horseback but fought on foot. Most countries disbanded their Dragoon regiments after the First World War as they had little use against tanks and fighter planes. In 1917, an Australian regiment of Dragoons took part in one of the last cavalry charges in history at the Battle of Beersheba in Syria.

 

The Highlander

A Highlander was a soldier who served in one of the Highland regiments recruited from the north of Scotland. The first Highland regiments were formed in the second half of the eighteenth century after the British government crushed the Jacobite Rebellion in 1746. Highlanders were famed for the kilts they wore in battle and their ferociousness, the Germans nicknamed them ‘Ladies from Hell’ during the First World War.

How crowdfunding is changing the watch industry.

Since Kickstarter was launched in 2009 it has completely changed the watch industry.
Between 2011 and 2016 watch brands on Kickstarter raised over $80 million.
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