Eaglemoss Military Watches Collection.

Special Edition 8, British Navy, 1940s – Longines Hydrographic Survey (HS) watch

Rate this Entry

When Churchill heard of Italy’s use of human torpedoes against Royal Navy Ships in the Mediterranean he ordered that the British produce a similar device.
The capital ships of the German fleet were a constant threat to North Atlantic convoys and strenuous attempts were made to sink ships such as the Tirpitz including Operation ‘Title’
Two British copies of the Human Torpedo, called 'chariots', were towed within range of where the Tirpitz was anchored in a Norwegian Fjord. It was realised that the two man crew of the Chariots would need a waterproof timepiece that would function for hours of submersion, so they could make rendevous with their support ship, but at this time the Royal Navy did not have such a watch. Other than the Italian Panerai, there was no watch anywhere with such capabilities. So they decided they had to create one.
Fortunately there was experience in England of constructing watches suited for work in extreme environments. The special watches made for the Royal Geographical Society were pocket watches specially designed for use by some of the great Victorian explorers. Made from Silver which was easy to work with and also resistant to saltwater corrosion, the watches were individually hand made with screw back & front cases, with the winding crown protected by a screw on cap which attached by a short chain to the outside of the case. The only significant upgrade was the fitting of rubber gaskets, instead of oil impregnated leather, and cutting grooves into the case top and back, which allowed the cases to be screwed tightly shut with a wrench, massively improving the ability of the case to resist water pressure. And two thick fixed wire lugs to allow fitting to the wrist with a long leather single piece strap
The dial was specially made in brass, painted matt black and simply designed. Arabic luminous 12, 3, 6 and 9 numerals and large luminous batons for the remainder of the numerals. The white skeleton hands and the tip of the sweep seconds hand were coated with radium paint for maximum visibility in challenging conditions.
The watch measures 51mm in diameter, 17mm high and takes a 24mm strap, a huge timepiece, even compared with a Panerai. The movements were from stock, the Longines 12.68n with a center sweep hand which was not always fitted, the same movement type also later found service in Paratrooper watches

Satin finish, 39.2mm case, 52mm with the*large "Canteen" crown, 10.8mm deep.
49.1mm lug to lug. 17.7mm wide lugs
Interior aperture 33mm across, 9.4mm deep. 6mm Crown, 29mm flat glass
30mm Black matt dial, Hours indicated with raised orange Arabic numerals 12, 3, 6 and 9, and battons at hours between
Skeleton type, polished hours and minutes hands with orange infill and a slim polished seconds hand.
Brown leather three ring Zulu style strap 16mm wide, polished buckle. approx. fitting 185-225mm

One of the few military style straps in the collection.

Its a real shame this wasn't made to the same scale as the original watch, though it would still be large for some

Just by coincidence one of these came up for sale on e-bay almost exactly a year ago, a previously unknown serial number that had been in the ownership of the same family since WWII it was given to* Danish Resistance fighter Jens C Esbensen who*was guard master at Aarhus City Hall and caretaker at the property Ny Banegårds Gade 47, where for long periods during the Second World War he housed around 7 British frogmen. JCE received the watch as a gift from one of these men. The price for an extraordinarily limited edition watch with an amazing history and just a handfull of surviving exsamples, only £32,000. A bargain if you had the funds.
Tags: diver, longines, navy, wwii Add / Edit Tags


  1. Samanator's Avatar
    Excellent post.
About Us
We are an independent and wide-ranging forum for watch enthusiasts. From mainspring to microchip, from Europe to Asia, from micro-brand to boutique - we cover it all. Novice or expert, we want you to feel at home. Whether it's asking a simple question or contributing to the fund of horological knowledge, it's all the same hobby. Or, if you like, you can just show us a picture of your new watch. We'll provide the welcoming and courteous environment, the rest is up to you!
Join us