This is a rare and desirable Royal Navy issued single-button Lemania chronograph. These watches were first ordered by the Navy for pilots and navigators in the late 1940s and Lemania continued supplying them until the early 1960s. The watch evolved over the years, but this watch is part of the first style (there was a later modification to the caseback and also later the case was changed to an asymmetric style).
The single button operates the chronograph (stop-watch function) - the button in turn starts, stops and resets the chronograph. There is an elapsed minute counter, which allows for timing intervals up to 30 minutes.
The condition of both the dial and movement is excellent - testament how well constructed the case is. The size at 38mm is large for a 1950s watch, but well suited to contemporary tastes. The case is all stainless steel and is in very good order - a few marks from wear but overall very tidy. As with all our vintage watches the case has been ultrasonically cleaned, but not polished.
The caseback has the original military markings: HS /|\ 9 stands for Hydrographic Service, so for Naval issue the /|\ is called the broad arrow and denotes crown property, 9 is the stores code for a chronograph wristwatch. This original number is crossed out and the later NATO stores reference number is engraved (the 0552 number). I’m not sure what the hand scratched “RES” refers to, perhaps the initials of the owner?
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 or we can fit another type of strap upon buyer’s request (the lugs, which would originally have been fixed bars, have been drilled out to take spring-bars). This is a great watch for everyday use and a certain conversation starter!
Case diameter (excluding winding crown): 38mm
Case material: stainless steel
strap width: 20mm
time keeping: grade A+