The Culling Collection of Military Watches

Date of Auction: 15th September 2020


Estimate: £60 - £80

German military: An aviator’s wristwatch, by Avia, 1930s-1940s, the black dial signed ‘Avia Special’, with luminous Arabic numerals, outer minutes track, luminous hands and subsidiary seconds dial, the jewelled movement signed ‘Swiss made’, within nickel plated case with large wire lugs and a snap on steel back, to a later black Nato strap, dial diameter 33.5mm. £60-£80


Avia is a Swiss watch company with a history dating back to the end of the 19th century. They made good mechanical lever movement watches under their own brand name and provided watches and movements for other brands including New York, The Ball Watch company and A Wittnauer.
This style of watch, collectively known as ‘
aviator’s watches’, date from the late 1930s-early 1940s. The IWC MkIX is probably the best known, but similar models were produced by Zenith, Movado, Omega, Hevetia and Avia. It is thought they were designed for and used by the nascent German Luftwaffe pilots, although they were not officially issued. The design, with the large case with oversized winder (suitable for handling whilst wearing gloves), radium numerals and hands and rotating bezel with moveable marker point, can be seen as the precursor to the WWII Luftwaffe Hanhart chronographs. The moveable bezel marker allowed pilots and navigators to easily log the passing of time - vital for calculating distances, fuel consumption, etc., in these early aircraft.