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Eterna Majetek - A journey thru time (WW2)

  1. donkii Feb 1, 2016

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    A military watch is more than something showing time, it's probably one of the most personal and intimate things a soldier would wear.
    A balance between precision and reliability, a military clock must also be easy to read and at the same time it cant be to big and bulky. The combination of all this tends to give vintage military watches a fairly immutable and spartan expression. Let's say timeless..

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    This clock, known as Majetek, was a model used by the Czech Air Force (CAF), during late 1930 and mid 1940 and was produced by three different manufacturers at the time. Longines, Lemania and Eterna. There is some variations between the brands (Longines Majetek was distinctive with its coin-edge bezel and Cathedral hands), the Longines also had a turning bezel. There are two sizes of watch cases, the smaller 37mm and the larger of ~39mm. The case itself is in my opinion the fun part about this watch, it has its almost square flat top surface (bezel) surrounding the circular dial that translates into the straight sloped lugs. Majetek during its production years had two different layouts of the dial, the first with a sub-sec at six and the later that I bought where we see a central, almost sweeping second hand.

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    Picture above courtesy of Zaf Basha, www.classicwatch.com

    In the mid 1930's the Czechoslovakian military wrote a tender to supply them with watches for their pilots.
    It was Longines who acquired the contract and supplied prior to the Second World War military watches for the pilots of the Czechoslovakian Air Force. On the edge of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1939) whole squadrons of CAF managed to escape to the United Kingdom thru France and joined The Roayal Air Force on the bombings against Nazi Germany.

    About 90 pilots flew in "The Battle of Britian" most with No. 310 and No. 312 RAF Squadron during the summer of 1940. The planes used was the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire.
    The Czech airmen quickly gained a reputation for their aggressiveness, but above all for their courage and knowledge in the air combat. 88 Czech and 2 Slovaks together accounted for nearly 60st air kills. Nine pilots lost their lives. Ace among these 90 pilots were Sgt. Josef František who flew for the Polish Squadron marked 303, he had 17 confirmed kills and downed nearly 30 enemy planes, this made him the highest-ranking allied pilot in the Battle of Britain.

    Pilots of No. 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF
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    The Czechs themselves do not call these watches Majetek, it goes by the acronym MVS. The majority of the watches Longines made had the label 'Majetek Vojenské Správy' which translated read Property of the armed forces. This marking was on the caseback and most often in conjunction with an identity number. I mentioned earlier that there were three manufacturers of these watches and certainly we can say that Longines produced these watches for military use, the watches Lemania produced came after the Second World War and were distributed to civilians in late forties early fifties. The mystery and discussion among collectors is mainly related to the third brand, Eterna. We know with certainty that the watches from Eterna was delivered to the czechmilitary, but if it was supplied during or just after the Second World War isn't 100% clear. Based on stories from collectors on 'Czech' watch blogs and forums we can assume that the watches from Eterna that has markings according MVS or as in my case, crossed swords on the lugs at 11, was assigned to soldiers/pilots in combat and those who was completely unmarked was awarded Czechoslovak war prisoners who returned from prison camps after the war, most likely they were not used in combat.

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    Picture above courtesy of Zaf Basha, www.classicwatch.com

    The Eterna I placed my hands on has most likely been owned by someone within the CAF that were in service during some part of the Second World War, where and how one can only speculate. People sometimes wonder why I collect and buy watches and this is exactly why, the history behind the watches, the part they play in historical events.. This is what it's all about for me, the hunt of great historical watches.
    The model I got here is the one with the larger case, traditional centered second hand together with a gilt dial. The two crossed sword marking at 11 o'clock is highly unusual and I have never seen one for sale before, I've seen a few examples of it but never for sale. These crosses swords was used everywhere within the Czech military and can bee seen on buttons, patches, weapons etc...

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    The watch on the pictures, 75 years old and works exactly like any other modern watch today, only difference is that this has a history, a history that starts with one of the worst massacres history has ever seen and this persecution still exists, among us. Let's hope that this watch can get a somewhat brighter future than its history.
    Thanks for us and I'll excuse my english, it's not easy for a swede ;)

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    Edited Sep 23, 2016
  2. bluefireblade Feb 1, 2016

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    A very captivating read, great to learn some of the history behind the watches pictured. Nice photos too.
     
    donkii likes this.
  3. fibonacci086 Feb 1, 2016

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    Great post ! Thank you
     
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  4. Tony C. Ωf Jury member Feb 1, 2016

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    Nice post. Thanks!

    Though these watches aren't cheap, Eterna is, in my view one of the most undervalued of all vintage brands.
     
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  5. donkii Feb 1, 2016

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    Gotta agree with you there. The price is although increasing now but I guess that has to do with the market overall. I would love to add a Super-KonTiki to the collection :)
     
  6. Severin Feb 1, 2016

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    Great write-up - thank you. In case of interest to you, the word "majetek" or some variant of it is shared by several Slavic languages that I know of (and perhaps other I do not know of) In addition to the translation of "property" that you correctly noted above, it is also commonly used to indicate or connote "asset" or "fortune" or "wealth".
    Thanks again for the well-composed post.
     
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  7. donkii Feb 1, 2016

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    Yeah I'm aware of that. Many of those countries share the same language :) I wasn't aware of the fortune and wealth use of the word. Thanks for the lesson :)
     
  8. ahsposo Most fun screen name at ΩF Feb 1, 2016

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    Great collecting and history lesson! Thank You.
     
  9. agee Feb 1, 2016

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    Nice post-very informative
    I collected these watches over the past few years
    I have owned all 3, but I now own only the Longines from WWII
    with Majetek Vojenske Spravy on the case back
    Here are a few pictures
    036.JPG 041.JPG
     
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  10. donkii Feb 1, 2016

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    That one is really nice :)
    Do you have pictures on the other once as well? Did you have the marked casebacks on all of them?
     
  11. cristos71 Feb 1, 2016

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    Great watch and write up....and of course it now makes me want one all the more :)
     
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  12. agee Feb 1, 2016

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    I had 2 Lemania both marked on the case back with MVS and 1 civilian version Eterna
    Here is a picture of 1 of my Lemania MVS

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  13. agee Feb 1, 2016

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    case back picture
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    Gavin likes this.
  14. styggpyggeno1 ΩF Enforcer ....and thread killer Feb 1, 2016

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    Great post!
     
  15. donkii Feb 1, 2016

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    Thanks for the pictures @agee :)
     
  16. Maybe Feb 1, 2016

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    Reading this post makes me feel like a time traveller.
     
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  17. LouS Mrs Nataf's Other Son Staff Member Feb 1, 2016

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    Very well done.

    Picked this up a few months ago and have been waiting for you to explain where it fits into the MVS array - thanks!
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  18. donkii Feb 1, 2016

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    Haha, so you waited? I think you already knew the answer when you bought that ;)
    That watch is in a spectacular condition. Fantastic to see another one :) Just wish mine was in that good shape ;) Congrats to a great watch!
     
  19. Traveler Feb 1, 2016

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    Nice write up, thank you... I love the history of these pieces... This is a great photo of one 'in action' (pic from historywars.tumblr.com).

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    Close up of the wrist...
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    As some may have noticed, I have had a few watches up for sale recently ... I was asked if I wanted to sell mine, and I came close to doing so, but couldn't part with it in the end...

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  20. Sueno213 Feb 2, 2016

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    I love your write up. Now I'll have to start researching mil watches. Is there a forum for military watches? Please advise