“The Inconvenient Truth about the World’s First Waterproof Watch”Excerpt from chapter 3.
The Waltham Depollier “THERMO” Waterproof Watch. The only “THERMO” currently known to exist.
Charles Depollier’s masterpiece has been missing from the historical record for decades.
This is the HIGH-END version of the Waltham Depollier “Field & Marine” Waterproof Watch. The Field & Marine” was made of nickel. This highly elusive model was named the 1919 Waltham Depollier ‘THERMO” Waterproof Watch. The Waltham Depollier “THERMO” Waterproof Watches were only made in .830 silver and 14k solid gold. This is the silver version. The side of the case reads “DEPOLLIER WATERPROOF WATCH TRADEMARK”. This absolutely remarkable piece of American craftsmanship is in SUPERB condition and has been mechanically restored. Hard to believe that this waterproof watch is 103 years old. All modern dive watches and waterproof watches today can be traced back to the technology developed by Charles Depollier, he started it all.
This is a .830 silver waterproof trench watch case, not sterling silver, that was manufactured by J. Depollier & Son in 1919. The FIVE Depollier patent dates that made this waterproof watch possible are stamped on the inside of the case back, 1916–1919. Case number: 289. Years of R&D by Depollier went into this case design. This is a fully hermetic waterproof case, the bezel and case back are both threaded, the threading is in excellent condition! Nobody over the past 103 years has tried to open the case the wrong way by prying it open. So many of these cases have been destroyed by somebody trying to improperly pry the case open but this one is just superb. The enamel dial on this trench watch is among the most desirable that Waltham ever produced, the Shadow Box Military Dial! The dial features a white face, shadow box numerals, outer minute markers, the correct blue steel skeleton hands for this dial and is signed “WALTHAM” near the center. The dial and skeleton hands have been re-lumed using safe modern material. Very nice dark brown color for that very desirable vintage look! This historic and iconic American trench watch has been fitted with a handmade 16mm tan KHAKI STRAP and a sterling silver slider clasp.
1919 Waltham Depollier “THERMO” Waterproof Watch, .830 silver.
Here is an advertisement for the 1919 Waltham Depollier “THERMO” Waterproof Watch that was published in Aerial Age Weekly on March 17, 1919. Beautiful full-page ad, Depollier liked to go big.
Here are the movement details: 1919 Waltham, 15 jewels, size 3/0s, serial number 21413784, grade 366, model 1907. The high-end movement features a solid gold center wheel, solid gold raised jewel chatons and solid gold balance wheel screws! The case measures a whopping 44mm lug tip to lug tip, 36mm not including the original factory crown with a nice and wide 16mm lug diameter.
Grade 366 Waltham 3/0s movement with a solid gold center wheel.
The case weighs an incredible 39.6 grams of .830 silver without the movement or 1.39 ounces. Take a few tenths off for the crystal. That is a lot of silver considering your run of the mill WWI sterling silver trench watch case only weighs about 12 grams.
This extremely rare “THERMO” model features a yellow military crystal. Charles Depollier wrote a booklet back in 1917 titled “The Watch in the Trenches”, on pages 13–14 he discusses the need for a dark colored crystal. This was intended to lessen the brightness of the radium lume. You certainly didn’t want an enemy sniper taking you out from across “no-man’s land”. The original dark yellow crystal has some scratches, but nothing that I would consider major.
……Read the full story about the first waterproof watch in the new book by Stan Czubernat:
“The Inconvenient Truth about the World’s First Waterproof Watch, the Story of Charles Depollier and his Waterproof Trench Watches of the Great War” ISBN: 978–0–578–29133–8, hard bound, 341 pages.
Available for pre-sale here
The very rare Waltham Thermo will be re-issued in a very small edition by the Waltham Watch Company. Learn more here and sign-up for the pre-sale priority list.