Lemania two-button military chronograph (1975)

£ 6,950

This is an extremely rare and desirable Lemania 818 chronograph made for the British Armed forces and delivered in 1975. Lemania were the exclusive supplier of chronograph wristwatches to the British military between 1945 and 1970. The watches they supplied during this period were single-pusher types, the reasoning being that with a single pusher there was less chance of an error in timing or accidentally stopping the chronograph. After 1970 the Ministry of Defence revised their chronograph specifications to allow for the less costly two-button type chronograph movements to be used and so opened up the chronograph supply to other manufacturers.

Lemania supplied just 500 pieces of the two-pusher type chronograph 250 each in 1975 and 1976. Lemania gave this model their reference 818 and these watches are powered by their excellent 1872 movement (the same movement that was adopted by Omega for the Speedmaster line of chronographs from around 1969 onwards).

This watch is from the first year of issue - 1975 (this is what the /75 on the case back refers to). The watch is in excellent condition, the case has some scratches and dings from use, but this is to be expected in what was a tool for the military. The dial is in superb condition, as is the movement - testament to the excellent quality of the construction of the case. The hands have some marks from rough handling during service and I believe the hour hand may have been replaced (if the new owner would prefer I can source a correct replacement, but honestly I'm not sure if it's wrong - it certainly looks a correct match for the minute hand)

The stainless steel case is asymmetric, which provides protection for the pushers and the crown, it's a good size at 40mm excluding the crown and it takes a 20mm strap. The watch has fixed strap bars, as per the military specification, for a pull through NATO type strap. The oversized crown makes winding simple.

Lemania supplied many different armed forces around the world - their movements are very solidly constructed and keep excellent time, making them a good fit for a rugged life in the services. Lemania are something of a cult brand - no longer in existence today, but much cherished by aficionados. The company specialised in the production of chronographs (that is watches with a stop-watch function built in). 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 watch has been fully serviced and regulated, the chronograph functions perfectly and the time keeping is of the highest order. It is supplied with a NATO fabric strap. This is a great watch for everyday use.

Case diameter (excluding winding crown): 40mm
Case material: stainless steel
strap width: 20mm
time keeping: grade A+

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