Extremely Rare & Authentic RAF Operations Room Fusee Elliott Type I Sector Clock c.1943

Extremely Rare & Authentic RAF Operations Room Fusee Elliott Type I Sector Clock c.1943


Stock Number: C0063 Category:

Extremely Rare and Authentic Operations Room RAF Type I Sector Clock with Fusee Elliott Movement c.1943.

Historical Background

Due to the bombing raids inflicted on London during WW1, the need arose for Britain to establish an air defence system that would enable it to track and intercept enemy aircraft.

The first early warning system was introduced in 1918 by Major General Ashmore who established the Metropolitan Observation Service (MOS), which later went on to become the Royal Observer Corps in 1941. This system was reliant upon the coordinated efforts of all the observers in the MOS, the Navy, the Police, the anti-aircraft units and the aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps. This information was passed to a central operations room where it could be analysed and actioned accordingly.

During the inter-war years, Britain’s Air Defence was expanded and significantly enhanced by AM Dowding and the introduction of radar in 1936. Despite being revered for his role as Commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, Dowding’s greatest achievement was to develop an integrated air defence system. This system would be the first of its kind anywhere in the world and played a pivotal role in Britain winning the Battle of Britain.

The system involved the flow of reports from radar stations and other detection sources such as The Observer Corps, radio direction finding stations and Barrage Balloon posts into filter centres where the information was assessed and plotted on a large map-table by means of counters. These counters were coloured red, yellow and blue in order to correspond with the five-minute coloured segments displayed on the sector clock.

All incoming reports were designated a counter depending on what coloured segment the minute hand of the clock was on when the report was received. This made it possible to plot and track the path of an incoming enemy raid.

This information was then passed on to the relevant operations rooms at Sector and Group HQ’s of RAF Fighter Command.

The system proved extremely effective and enabled RAF Fighter Command to intercept enemy aircraft quickly and efficiently. This was decisive in Britain maintaining control of the skies during the Battle of Britain and beyond.

Contrary to popular belief, the large majority of mechanical sector clocks such as the RAF Sector clock for sale here were not actively used for the purpose of air defence. All the sector clocks used in Dowding’s air defence system were electric slave clocks provided under contract by the GPO.

Dowding’s air defence system was a closely guarded secret. It is now believed that mechanical clocks with similar dials were produced and issued for use throughout the RAF as a subterfuge in order to disguise the important use of sector clocks in air defence.

Genuine and original examples of these wonderful clocks are incredibly scarce and are seldom offered for sale on the open market. Very few RAF sector clocks are believed to have been produced in 1943 which makes such examples all the more sought after.

Consequently, the RAF sector clock for sale represents an exceptionally rare opportunity to acquire a truly iconic piece of Britain’s wartime heritage and history.

The clock for sale is in fabulous original condition having been sympathetically serviced by one of our highly skilled and experienced horologists.

The silkscreen dial has aged beautifully and remains in very good condition. As expected, there is some fairly light crazing and staining to the dial with evidence of historic minor surface repairs in places. These dials were susceptible to rust and as such can often be found in a very poor state of repair.

The dark stained beech surround and outer casing of the clock is solid and stable despite evidence of some movement to the joints in the past. The casing has numerous scratches and marks which are commensurate with age. Due to wartime shortages and the difficulty of importing raw materials to Britain caused by U-Boats attacks on shipping in The Atlantic, native woods such as Beech were used when more exotic alternatives such as mahogany were in short supply.

The high-quality cast brass bezel retains its original wartime black matt finish which is often stripped off when these clocks are being restored.

The movement is signed  “F W Elliott” with the serial number 20027 and dated 1943.

The clock is sold complete with its original pendulum and a winding key (replacement) and comes with a free six-month warranty.

Case: 480mm (Approx)

Dial: 360mm (Approx)

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