Lemania Series II Fleet Air Arm Chronograph c.1950.
These fabulous watches were issued to pilots and navigators of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm between 1945 and 1970.
These beautiful chronographs were issued in three series. The watch for sale is a Lemania Series II example which dates it from around 1950 to 1955 and was issued to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. This is indicated by the NATO stock number of 0552/920-3305 on the reverse of the case.
The series II examples all had a round case with mostly black dials and featured the 15 CHT non-shock-protected movement. The encircled “T” on the dial indicates the use of tritium luminous compound. By the early 1950s, tritium luminous compound began being used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as a substitute for radium which was considered to be more hazardous when the watches were stockpiled in large quantities.
The single button on the side of the watch operates the chronograph (stop-watch) 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 twelve o’clock position. There is an elapsed minute counter, which allows for timing intervals up to 30 minutes.
Sadly, the Lemania watch company is no longer in existence but it has become something of a cult brand in recent years and its watches are very much cherished by collectors. Lemania supplied a number of different armed forces from all over the world. Their movements are extremely well made and are renowned for keeping excellent time, making them a good fit for a rugged life in the services.
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. They supplied amongst others Omega (the movement that powered the first watch on the moon was made by Lemania), and luxury brands Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. Because Lemania often supplied movements to other brands (for which they were uncredited), watches which are signed by Lemania are especially prized.
Good original examples of these watches are becoming increasingly rare and hard to find. As such, the watch for sale represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a fantastic collector’s piece.