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Thread: When a Frankenstein Watch has its Uses - CWC G10 Content

  1. #1
    Grand Master Wallasey Runner's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Wirral - North West England

    When a Frankenstein Watch has its Uses - CWC G10 Content

    The hunt for spare parts for vintage and military watches seems endless, there are always WTBs for bezel inserts, dials, hands, crowns, domed crystals etc so that people can return a rare or treasured watch back in to its correct format, how it would of looked at the time of sale or issue in the case of military watches.

    I have been collecting the CWC fatter case G10s, Fatboys and Fat Navs from the 1980 to 1982 period and parts for those rarely appear for sale.

    The other week a watch appeared on e-bay that was so Frankenstein that it could have belonged to Peter Cushing. The watch was listed as a 1981 Fatboy, which if correct would have been a rare bird indeed.

    What interested me was how many different spares were contained within the one watch. The watch does indeed have a 1980/81 Fatboy dial, which is in very nice condition. The listing stated that the movement had been replaced with a modern quartz equivalent, so we can ignore that as of little use.

    My understanding is that sometimes when the movement is changed the hands also have to be changed to post 1985 hands, but comparing them using a loupe against my 1980 Fatboy they do look the same and under UV light the glow is consistent with the tritium plots on the dial. That suggests to me that they are the original hands.

    The case is in nice condition and that could certainly be reused, but the main reason I bought the watch was for the case back.

    What we have here is a genuine 1981 Navigator case back with everything correct. The serial number falls within the recognised range, the NATO stock number is correct and has the hash that appears after the 99. The 1980 Navigators didnít have the hash after the 99.

    So what has gone on then. I believe the watch started life as a 1980/81 Fatboy and at some point was in for repair. As we know back in the day and in military circles little thought was given to keeping things together. It probably ended up on a work bench next to a Navigator that was also being repaired and the case backs were put back on the wrong watches. Years later the watch was probably sold off as surplus or by then simply wasnít working. Rather than hunt for a donor watch whoever bought it decided to put a modern cheap quartz movement in it. The crystal was also replaced with a horrible aftermarket jobbie with a fully polished ring and the person doing the work even left hairs and dust specks on the underside of the crystal. It then gets listed for sale.

    Alternative theories could include a watch maker with a box of bits throwing everything together, but I prefer my more logical and well thought out theory.

    What next I hear you ask. I have been hunting for a 1981 lumed Navigator and up to now was waiting for a complete watch to come to market. The case back gives me additional options, the 1980 and 1981 Navigators are identical except for the case backs, so I could buy another 1980 Navigator and swop the case backs over. Another long shot is someone selling a Navigator for spares that has an okay dial and date wheel.

    I am also looking for a 1981 (0552) Fatboy and my spare dial is identical. That would enable me to consider a poor condition one as long as the case back wasnít completely trashed.

    The watch is working and on the wrist looks just like a 1980 Fatboy, so I could wear it as a beater until the wreaking ball arrives. I will probably not wear it and just sit on it as a collection of useful spares rather than a watch to be worn.

    Hope you enjoyed reading something a little different.


  2. #2
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Berlin, London and sometimes Dublin
    Thanks for writing that up, Ken. With the exception of hoarding a couple of GSTP dials I donít do this for military but I do find myself hoarding a treasure trove of Universal Geneve loose dials, spare movements (essential for vintage anyway), service kits and other bits like bracelets.

    Keep up the good work.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  3. #3
    Grand Master magirus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Up North hinny
    An interesting read, thanks for taking the time. I enjoy wearing my three occasionally, quite a contrast when taking a Voyager off!

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