Vertex - WWW 'Dirty Dozen' - c.1944 - World War II Military Watch
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c.1944 Vertex WWW 'Dirty Dozen' - British Ministry of Defence-Issued WWII watch
A beautiful, highly collectable piece of wearable history, this fine Vertex was issued to a British soldier fighting in WWII. The watch is one of 12 'Dirty Dozen' watches, which, for those in the know, are seeing increasingly fewer for sale in this kind of exceptional condition as collectors worldwide seek to complete 'Full sets'. Finding an opportunity to purchase one of these stunningly-preserved beauties is not to be missed. Only 15,000 of the Vertex www's were thought to have been produced and no-one knows how many may have survived!
As fighting on both the WWII Eastern and Western fronts showed signs of turning in the Allies' favour, many members of the British armed forces were issued with a basic but carefully specified watch, commissioned from 12 Swiss manufacturers by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD). These were ultimately to replace the earlier issued 'ATP' series watches from earlier in the war, and have become even more collectable and desirable than this already beloved collection, thanks to their larger and more sturdy manufacture.
Though there are some subtle differences between the dozen, they were produced to tight specifications- designed to be waterproof, have fixed lug bars, numbers and indices, a matte black dial with luminescent hands (originally made of Radium, later replaced by the MoD with less radioactive Tritium) and an extremely accurate and reliable movement, manually wound.
As mentioned, the Radium fills that were originally applied to the watches eventually caused mild radiation buildup when stored en masse, e.g. for transport/delivery back to the UK for repairs. To rectify this, the Ministry of Defence 'redialed' many watches after an unknown date to house Tritium instead of Radium. This came later in the war when resources were hard-stretched, and so the redials have a much more 'sterile' look to their hour plots with distinctly lacking patina, and more importantly, their sub-seconds register no longer featured a 'sunken' effect into the dial. If you look closely at 6:00, where the sub-seconds can be read on this Vertex, you can see a faint concentric/radial brushing pattern and a slight sunken appearance. This, together with the rich caramel patina across the pencil hands and hour plots testified to the originality of the watch.
What's on offer
This is truly one of the nicest Vertex Dirty Dozens we've seen in terms of case, dial and lume condition. Not only that, the dial is fully original to the watch and thankfully features Radium lume fills, known for their beautiful patina effect (when fully intact, as here!). Furthermore, the sub-seconds register at 6 is gently sunk into the dial and has a concentric radial brushed texture, another nod to the watch's originality. The newer, NATO replacement dials are seen as a wartime budget replacement, but are often sought-after for their better condition than the original dials. We think it's amazing then, that this original dial is in better shape than some of the later re-dials. The case is incredibly crisp, with original finish visible throughout and only the lightest signs of wear. The jet black dial, Arabic numerals, hour plots and hand fills are all in gorgeous condition- that caramel, 'tropical' patina is what collectors live for!
Case: Chrome Top
Case back: Screw on.
Crystal: Shatter-proof plexi.
Bracelet: NATO military-style strap for fixed lug bars.
Winding: Manually wound.
Movement type: Mechanical.
Calibre: Calbre 59
Waterproof: When new! (We wouldn't swear by it now.)
Condition: Excellent condition with crisp case edges. The watch has some signs of wear in accordance with its age.
Model Reference: WWW.
Date of issue: 1944/45.
Supplied with a 12-month Vintage Watch Specialist guarantee.
Lug width: 18mm.
Lug height (lug to lug): 47mm
Wrist size: Adjustable.