The Culling Collection of Military Watches

Date of Auction: 15th September 2020

Sold for £120

Estimate: £40 - £60

British military: An ATP wristwatch, by Moeris, 1940s, the signed silvered dial with black Arabic numerals, outer railroad minutes track with luminous spots, subsidiary seconds dial and luminous hands, the signed jewelled cal 10.5 movement, in plated metal case with screw down steel back signed numbered ‘2651236’ and stamped ‘ATP 61559’, on a later brown leather strap, dial diameter 28mm. £40-£60


In 1939, during the build up to WWII, the British Ministry of Defence realised it would need a large supply of watch to issue to soldiers. The ATP (Army Trade Pattern, or Army Time Piece) series of watches was the result, supplied by 17 Swiss watch makers under the brand names Buren, Cortebert, Cyma, Ebel, Enicar, Eterna, Font, Grana, Lemania, Leonidas, Moeris, Reconvillier, Record, Revue, Rotary, Timor, and Unitas. In an effort to demonstrate neutrality, the Swiss also supplied almost identical watches to Germany - the military German DH wristwatch.
ATP watches generally share the following characteristics: a 15 jewelled movement within a round waterproof case in stainless steel or nickel chrome, a clear white/silvered dial with railroad minutes track, luminous index spots, broad lumed baton hands and a subsidiary seconds dial, with an accuracy +/- 30 seconds per day. They all have fixed bars between lugs and are generally around 31mm in case diameter - the Moeris, being 33mm was one of the largest.
Around 133,000 ATP watches were manufactured at an average price of £3.  The contracts with Swiss manufacturers specified that in return for being supplied to the MOD at a reduced cost, after the war the watches were to be destroyed - to save flooding the market with cheap watches and to maintain the demand for the Swiss watch brands. However many must have escaped and some were simply decommissioned rather than destroyed.