We would love to put one of our 22mm wide straps on an original A-7 watch, an onion crowned coaxial monopusher from 1934.
On October 10, 1934, the US Army Air Corps released a seven-page document which described in detail the design and functions of watches to ‘Military Specification No. 27748’.
These watches were to be designated ‘Avigation’ watches, a common contemporary shortening of ‘Aerial Navigation’, used particularly by Longines and Wittnauer Weems..
Seven months later, the US Army Air Corps (1926-1941) which was the predecessor to the current US Air Force, placed an order for 175 Avigation Hack Type A-7 watches from Longines through their US Agent, Wittnauer Co.
As specified, the Type A-7 features a dial offset by 40 degrees from the vertical, a co-axial monopusher in the onion shaped crown, as well as large Arabic numerals, 30-minute register at 12 o’clock and constant running seconds sub-register at 6 o’clock.
These design elements allow pilots to read the dial, activate, stop, and restart the chronograph, as well as to always have a relative notion of position of 12 o’clock, without twisting the forearm or letting go of the yoke of the plane.
1935 issue case back with black dial. Serial No. AC-35-171
These watches were manufactured specifically for the US Army Air Corps. The movement reads U.S. ARMY A.C. The manual wind caliber 18.72 features a single button chronograph complication.
Due to the high compliance of specification number 27748, only two other manufacturers, Meylan and Gallet, could produce Type A-7 watches.
A-7 watches were only produced for a short period, and in limited quantities.
Not only due to its rarity, but also owing to its distinctive and easily identifiable design, as well as the practicality inherent in a pilot’s watch, the Avigation Hack Watch is the quintessential military ‘tool watch’.
After the war and for a very short period of time, a small production of the A-7 watch in stainless steel was produced for the civilian market, as opposed to the chrome-plated military version, one shown above.
The black matt dial, printed with silver inscription displays the Milan-based retailer Eberhard’s signature making it the only known model A-7 in steel with retailer signature.
Meylan was an American watch importer based in New York that is still in operation as a stopwatch retailer.
Here is the Meylan A-7, dial and case back.
Meylan A-7 case back. Serial No AC-37-77, dating this watch to 1937.
The Meylan movement
With massive cases measuring 51 mm in diameter, these A-7 watches are true trophies for collectors of military timepieces.
Signed Longines, missing stem and crown.
Longines, Serial No. AC-35-184 above.
Non Breguet hands on Longines, Serial No. AC-35-54
October 1934 Gallet version shown above.
We would love to see a better image of the Gallet A-7
It is interesting that the Gallet MultiChron 30M, first issued in 1914 is almost identical to the A-7 except for the offset dial, see below.
Gallet made its first wrist chronograph in 1914. These early chronographs were powered by 12 or 13 ligne Valjoux movements modified and signed by Electa, and featured a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. This gave rise to the model name MultiChron 30, which would become Gallet’s signature chronograph line.
Below is the Antiquorum offer for Serial No. AC-35-56 with a signed white dial, perhaps severely refinished.
The dials above and below are reminiscent of the Longines West End model, powered by Longines cal. 12.92, serial number 3,096,569 which dates this watch to 1915.
Longines have 2 recent rereleases of this watch, the Avigation 1935, one shown below with a date window at 6 o’clock.
And, a limited US release of 100 without the date window, and leaf hands.