The Culling Collection of Military Watches

Date of Auction: 15th September 2020

Sold for £240

Estimate: £40 - £60

American Military: A US Army AAF Type A-11 wristwatch, by Bulova, 1944, the unsigned black dial with white Arabic numerals and outer 0-60 seconds scale, cream enamelled hands and red centre sweep seconds hand, the jewelled movement signed ‘Bulova Watch Co USA 10AK’, the chrome plated case with steel screw down back signed ‘U.S. Army AAF, Type A-11, Spec No. 94-27834-B, Serial No. AF44-189742, Part No. 10 AK CSH, Order No. 30-053-44-12600 AF, Bulova Watch Co.’, the inside stamped ‘Star Watch Case Co, base metal, stainless back, 6227039’, to a khaki canvas two part strap, dial diameter 25.5mm. £40-£60


The A-11 is perhaps the most iconic US military issue watch produced during WW II. Early on during the conflict it was recognised that a modern military wristwatch that could stand up to the rigours of combat would be needed for issue to Allied personnel, which led to the development of the A-11 specification.
The stringent spec demanded a legible black dial with white indices, a hand-wound, hacking movement with centre seconds, an outer minute track with 10-minute demarcations, and minute and hour hands. A minimum of 15 jewels was required, although, because of the need for a centre seconds hand, most use 16 jewels. There was some leniency with the rest of the production standard, however, with both unlumed and lumed versions produced and differences case designs. Three American watch manufacturers (Elgin, Waltham, and Bulova) were contracted to make the watches and although being an American production standard produced by American companies, the A-11 also saw service with the RAF (Royal Air Force) under the 6B/234 designation, the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force), and the Soviet Air Force.
The hacking feature allowed for ease of synchronisation and precise timing, and movements tended to be of high grade, such as the Elgin 539 and the Bulova caliber 10AK CSH (the latter issued by the British as the Mark VIII). The cases used on the A-11 were generally chromium-plated brass, as steel was requisitioned for wartime use. According to the instruction handbook and parts catalogue produced by the War Department for the A-11, straps were to be either one or two-piece canvas in olive drab colour.
All in all this made for a simple, accurate, high-grade wristwatch that could stand up to the rigours of use in the field and be easily maintained and serviced and many thousands indeed saw service as such during the war by USAAF crews.