Manual wind dress chronographs from the 1940s and 1950s are a special breed of class – like this early 1950s Belltone two register chrono here – and bring a special charm to any formal occasion. Chronographs of this era don’t always age well, given most are base metal with stainless steel plating, and often the plating wears has worn off in the intervening seven or eight decades. But not on this Belltone, with its nearly pristine case with zero plate loss.
During this era, chronographs were quite popular with aviators, as they allowed them to make rapid calculations and conduct precise timing. The demand for chronographs only grew along with the aviation industry in the early part of the 20th century. As the U.S. exploration of space initially involved solely test pilots, by order of President Dwight Eisenhower, chronographs were on the wrists of many early astronauts.
Usage of these watches followed a similar trajectory for many fields that involved precise and repeated timing around increasingly more complicated high-performance machinery – automobile racing and naval submarine navigation being two prime examples.
The Belltone dial is set with metallic blue lume filled hands, lume filled Arabic numerals and droplets, and metallic blue chronograph and subdial hands. The dial shows a small visible amount of patina that only contributes to the vintage beauty of this watch.
This Belltone comes with a leather strap, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1950s Belltone Manual Wind Chronograph
DIAL: Beautiful original silver Belltone dial, with original hour, minute, and chronograph hands. 60 second and 45 minute chronograph subdials
CASE: Original 35mm (37mm w/crown) x 42mm case; as noted, plating remains complete, with no wear evident.
CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal is scratch-free.
BAND: Light brown leather strap, with cream-colored accent stitching and stainless-steel hardware. This Belltone comes with an orange, white, and blue ZULU strap, also with premium stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Manual wind 17 jewel movement, signed “A. and M. Babin Swiss, Model 178.”
CROWN: Original unsigned crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Pushers depress with satisfying click. Chronograph hands snap back and reset to zero with no issue.