Smiths De Luxe GS 6B/542 RAF Wristwatch c.1956
The end of the Second World War by no means brought about total peace for Britain who became involved in conflicts all over the world. Such conflicts in Palestine, Malaya and Korea were fought with the equipment left over from WW2, which in watch terms for the British Army was primarily the W.W.W’s.
In the 1950s, prior to the production of the Smiths W10, Smiths were commissioned by the British Government to produce a “General Service” (GS) wristwatch which was to be used across all branches of the UK armed forces and was to be manufactured to the precise specification of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
An order was subsequently placed for 300 pre-production examples, the first of which was issued to the RAF in the mid-1950s. The watch for sale was issued to the RAF in 1956 and carries the same 6B/542 designation as the more common Omega “53” pilots’ wristwatches.
Following the first 300 examples being produced it would appear the MoD had no further requirement for any other watches and no more orders were made. This was until 1961 when around 600 examples were produced and issued to the Royal Australian Air Force. Due to the small number of watches manufactured, the cost to Smiths to produce each watch was extremely expensive.
Smiths have a grand history in the UK as watch, clock and instrument makers. They are famed for having produced watches for the British military and Smiths watches even accompanied members of the first Mount Everest Expedition. Sadly, Smiths produced their last military wristwatches in the early 1970s.
The Smiths De Luxe GS 6B/542 is an extremely rare find and is considered by many military watch collectors as something of a “grail” watch. This is mainly due to the small number of these watches that were produced and the very few examples that are known to exist.
As such, the watch for sale represents a rare opportunity to acquire a special piece of British military horological history.