All-weather English made watch, in original retailers box, circa 1955.
Chromed case with stainless-steel screw-back marked WATERPROOF and ANTI-MAGNETIC, retaining the original button. Smiths 12.15 shockproof movement upgraded for Benson with added jewel at the centre (12.16) complete with original inner case-ring. Double-roller detached lever escapement with polished steel escape, the monometallic balance with 'Chronovar' compensating balance-spring. Two-tone silvered deco-style dial with a mix of luminous Roman numerals and diamond marks, original matching blued-steel luminous hands. 33 mm diameter, not including button or lugs. Together with original velvet lined, red cardboard Benson box.
James Walter Benson, then at 25 Old Bond Street, one of London’s premier retailers of good and top quality watches from before the 1880’s. Benson’s catalogue of circa 1952 gives a price of £13/17/6 for this Tropical model - "Waterproof, Sandproof, Shock Resisting and with Non-Magnetic Hairspring." Benson was the leading English retailer of Smiths watches for which Smiths supplied their better movements and some unique designs, this model being of the same basic design as supplied by Smiths and worn by Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful ascent of Everest in May 1953.
For more information about English wristwatches see the short note in my website Glossary, and my illustrated article on ‘English Wristwatches’ in the April 2000 issue of Antique Collecting. NB: Although sold as waterproof, this style of case should be regarded as water resistant only and is best kept away from damp conditions, as are all English wristwatches of this date.
No doubt due to being worn in adverse conditions, most examples of this Tropical model show extensive pitting to the case and markings on the dial. This watch, although it does show some signs of wear, is much better than usually found. The box also in good complete condition but the hinged lid with some broken edges. Fitted with contemporary new/old stock brown pigskin strap. Presently being serviced and accompanied by my usual guarantee.
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