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RARE ILLINOIS CLOCK CO. WW II U.S. NAVY
Carrying Case & Naval Observatory Certification
Presented is a WW II ILLINOIS Watch Co.
USN rated chronometer deck watch in a traditional three section varnished wood case with full gimbal
mounts. It is complete with its original carrying case, and last official U.S. Naval Observatory rating chart dated April
28, 1944 with maker’s name and serial number 1389485 of 1897. The clock is noted as being in service with
the U.S. Maritime Commission – our merchant marine. After considerable research, and with help
from a number of collectors of Illinois Watch Co. pocket watches, we believe it to be one of only eleven
that are known to have survived the war.
What is special about this example is:
- A Naval Observatory rating sheet
- Excellent condition considering its age and war time service
- Complete with original carrying case
- Is keeping chronometer rated time
BRIEF HISTORY: Even though there is no mention of Illinois movements
serving in the military in WW II, two companies, M. Low and Roth Bros., both of NYC, were installing high quality
pocket watch movements in seagoing cases under USN contracts. The Navy bought all the could get of these until production
of the Hamilton 21 was ramped up to meet the wartime demand.
Marvin Whitney in his definitive work, Military Timepieces, discusses the small boxed
chronometers that were assembled early in the War by Roth Brothers, New York to satisfy this demand. Whitney
identifies companies such as Hamilton, Elgin and Waltham plus others, but does not include Illinois in his list. The
movements were repackaged in heavy weight brass tubs and fitted to plain chronometer style, five inch square, three
tier, gimbaled cases with a strapped carrying case included. All these pocket watches carried the name of the movement’s maker
on the dial as their only identification. Roth also supplied similar movements in a bronze bulkhead (wall) mount
with its name prominently imprinted on the dial, but it did not put their name on any part of the assembly for those
in a chronometer style housing.
PROVINANCE: This clock was handed down in the same family from
grandfather to father to son. It was sold to help pay for a college education. As the son states, “it has sat in the attic
1897 MOVEMENT CONDITION: Is generally excellent for clock
of this age that has seen service at sea and is keeping time well within its rated rate. The 12 hour dial has some minor
grime on the face. The lacquered finish is about 90 percent original, but the brass has darkened under it in some areas. The
main spring is sound and the clock has run for 40 hours 10 minutes on one winding. After removing the bezel, there is a lever
at the two o’clock position which when extended allows the time to be set by the winding stem.
CASES CONDITION: Both cases are in sound condition. The carrying
case is made up of small billets of wood which was likely a wartime effort to save on material. Its interior is padded with
blue felt. The leather strap is well worn, but useable.
INSIDE CASE DIMENSIONS:
CARRYING CASE DIMENSIONS: 7 1/4″ square
The superior example of a complete ILLINOIS
U.S. Navy chronometer with carrying case, and official papers should appeal to someone who desires only the most unusual and
Complete with carrying