Lemania Series III HS9A Fleet Air Arm Chronograph c.1964
These extremely rare watches were issued to pilots and navigators of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm in the mid-1960s.
The vast majority of Lemania Series III watches issued to the Royal Navy featured a luminous black dial and were issued with a NATO stock number. However, the watch for sale carries the very rare designation of HS9A.
“H.S.9” refers to the Royal Navy stores reference for a “Wristwatch Chronograph”. The majority of the early Lemania Series 1 chronographs featured a white dial with luminous markers and were marked with the HS9 designation. It is, therefore, plausible the additional “A” simply signifies the slight variation to other Lemania Series III’s due to it having a white dial with luminous markers.
Unfortunately, the true meaning of the HS9A designation remains unclear. What is certain is the Lemania HS9A was produced in very small numbers for a short period of time.
Other than the luminous material applied to the dial and hands, the Lemania HS9A is very similar to that of the chronographs issued to crew of the Royal Navy’s nuclear fleet.
The Lemania Series III differs from its earlier predecessors in that it features an asymmetrical case with integrated crown and pusher and is powered by a rhodium-plated shock-resistant version of the 15CHT known as the calibre 2220.
The single button on the side of the watch operates the chronograph (stopwatch) 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.
The Lemania HS9A for sale is made rarer still due to it being accompanied by some remarkable history and provenance of its service and that of its original owner, S.Lt Cole. This includes S.Lt Cole’s original Flying Clothing Certificate which confirms the watch having been issued to him on 5 May 1967 and his ship as being the aircraft carrier, HMS Victorious.
The watch also comes with its original NATO strap and a signed handwritten record from S.Lt Cole regarding his service in the Royal Navy from 1967 to 1972.
Rare military watches accompanied with such wonderful history and provenance of its original owner are virtually impossible to find. Consequently, the watch for sale is an extremely important piece which is surely a must-have for any serious military watch collector or enthusiast.