Helvetia 1930/40s Pilot Watch
Helvetia started producing pilots’ watches in about 1932. They were
approximately 41mm in diameter and were powered by an adapted 16 Ligne
pocket watch movement the calibre 51S. Helvetia fitted these first
watches witha variant of the Depollier/Brun shock protection system that
they had been using since the late 1920s in their sports watches.
By the end of 1934 the 51S movement had been superseded by the slightly
amended 51-10 version and the shock protection replaced with the
Helvetia’s own system patented in 1929.
The cases were usually
made of chrome plated brass and had a hinged inner and outer back cover.
They also had large fixed lugs for passing through a long, wide strap
that could be fastened over flying clothing if required.
came in rotating and non-rotating bezel versions. The rotating bezel
version had a pointer attached to the inside of the bezel under the
glass. This could be used to keep track of time elapsed which was used
as a navigational aid by pilots. The larger 41mm case with the rotating
bezel was numbered 7011. The rotating bezels have a knurled surface to
make it easier to grip the bezel for turning
To mark this new
range of watches Helvetia adapted their standard logo with the addition
of a propeller. Initially this was static below the name but in January
1933 they registered their famous spinning propeller logo.
the 1930s a variety of dials were in use but after the start of World
War 2 the majority of watches seem to have been of the standard style
with the numerals 1 to 12 fully illuminated and fitted with ‘Cathedral’
style hands. By the mid 1930s a thick glass crystal also started being
used, this was to help minimise condensation due to the change in
temperature when flying at altitude .
Case: 41mm, Chrome plated
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