A. Lange & Söhne B-Uhr (Beobachtungsuhr) WW2 Luftwaffe Observers Wristwatch c.1942.
In 1935, with the storm clouds of war gathering over Europe, Adolf Hitler announced his plans to reconstitute Germany’s Air Force and officially created the Luftwaffe.
The German Air Ministry (Reichs-Luftfahrtministerium), which was responsible for aircraft production, began to design a suitable timepiece for its bomber navigators. Pilots required extremely accurate watches for navigational purposes. The watches needed to be precise, robust and easily read. This led to the iconic B-Uhr design being conceived.
The B-Uhr watches were very large in size (55mm) and were made to a standard specification. The movements were uniformly cased in a grey varnished, brass or steel housing with a snap-on back cover. Their dials were black with large luminous Arabic numerals and minute and second indicators. The hands were coated with radium so the watch would glow in the dark and the movement featured a hacking mechanism to aid precise time setting. The outer casing had FL23883 engraved on the left-hand side. FL designated Flieger, and 23 identified the watch as a navigation watch.
Before delivery, every watch had to undergo stringent testing for accuracy. Each watch was tested in six positions and at three varying temperatures before it could be certified by the German Naval Observatory.
There were five manufacturers who supplied the B-Uhren. These were A.Lange & Sohne, Wempe, IWC, Laco (Lacher & Co) and Stowa.
The B-Uhr watches were not personally issued to aircrew in the usual sense. Instead, one was supplied to the navigator of the bomber crew before every mission or raid. It would then be returned to the stores following their return.
The Lange & Söhne B-Uhr for sale is in excellent, almost new-like condition and is one of the very best examples you could ever hope to find. Incredibly, the watch is still fitted to its original oversized leather strap.
The watch features the more elaborate Type B dial with an outer ring for minutes/seconds and an inner ring for hours, which began being designed and manufactured in 1942.
It has been examined by The German Watch Museum Glashutte who awarded it with a Certificate of Authenticity, which accompanies the watch.