Lemania British RAF monopusher chronograph, Cal. 2220

As mentioned in my article on the Lemania caliber 2310 chronograph, prior to disappearing recently into Swatch's Montres Breguet, Lemania produced watches under its own brand from the 1930s into the 1960s, and supplied movements both before and afterwards. Their specialty was always chronographs, and through their partnership with Omega the 2310 became famous as the base for the Moonwatch and later Speedmasters, and continues to be used, now over a half-century later, by the great houses of Patek Philippe, Roger Dubuis, Daniel Roth and Vacheron & Constantin, as well as Breguet.

Lemania's other strength was as a supplier to various militaries and official agencies. Lemania watches (or sometimes movements only) have been provided to Czechoslovakia, France, Sweden, Rhodesia, Australia and others, and they were one of twelve companies complying with the rigorous post-WWII British WWW (watch, wristlet, waterproof) requirements. With this history, it might be expected that Lemania's military chronographs would be exceptional watches, and this turns out to be the case.

Some other Lemania watches which may be of interest:

The present watch was issued by the British RAF in 1962 and features a unique asymmetric stainless steel case which provides some protection to the crown and pusher. It has a matte black broadarrow dial, with luminous hands and markings of mildly-radioactive tritium (note the "circle-T" symbol). The case is polished at top and bezel along with brushed sides, and is heavy and large: 40mm across and 12mm thick. Similar watches were issued for quite a few years, and so there were many variations; some had white dials, different luminous material or no arrow, and cases may have been symmetric or fully brushed.

Click the pictures for even larger!

Solid screw-in back with military engravings:

The large case is totally filled with this beautiful movement. The caliber 2220 is the shock-resistant, monopusher version of Lemania's highly-regarded 15-ligne (about 34mm diameter) chronograph movement. First used in pocketwatches in the 1930s, it is found primarily in military wristwatches. The chronograph mechanicals are all at the top , and the very neat and open layout may reflect the need to accomodate several variations. Besides this one-pusher design, there is a two-pusher caliber (sometimes with flyback feature) and also the unique hacking movement created for the Swedish Air Force in which most of the chronograph works are dispensed with, and the pusher's control of the center seconds-hand is converted to a zero-reset function.

The very large screwed balance features a fine adjuster and overcoil hairspring, and while the bridges have a simple curved-grain finish, their edges are properly beveled and polished, as are the screws and all countersinks. The many springs and levers are meticulously shaped from sheet steel, and also brushed with a simple straight grain. The overall level of finish is typically high, but strictly functional rather than decorative. The large spring at the far right tensions the chronograph pusher, and is beautifully (and appropriately) blued for greater strength.

Details of the balance, the clutch-wheel and its carrier, and the escape wheel and cock:

The beautiful column-wheel and control levers:

An extraordinarily elegant spring:

Details of the case:

Please check out the rest of my watch Articles and pics:

I hope you enjoyed this!

January 11, 2007

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