Do you have ever any moral problems on a watch? I mean, Fliegerwatches that were used by the Luftwaffe, Panerai watches that were used by the Italian Navy in WWII, U-Boat watches that were in the race to be elected by Nazi’s for their frogmen. Maybe even sooner, when a watch was used in any kind of war. The Glycine Airman used by US chopperpilots in Vietnam, Omega 30T2 watches used by the RAF in WWII and so on.

I am not one of those, however, the line is getting thin when it is about watches that would be actually used by Nazi pilots or soldiers who were on the wrong side in WWII. When I was attending the P-Day #3 meeting in Frankfurt, some guys where showing off all their Italian Navy collectibles, even an actual used divers suit used by the Italians in WWII. That is one step too far for me. That’s like the Nazi collectibles on eBay, I would never buy those. To each his own ofcourse. What about you? Would you buy a watch used in a war?

Personally, I definately could end up having an Omega 30T2 watch with RAF inscription from the 1940s, but I couldn’t do the same with a watch used by the Luftwaffe.

Click on comments on the below-right if you have some. I am curious to hear about them from other watchcollectors.

  • I think authentic item are are always fine as long as the collector doesn’t go so far that he “glorifies” them somehow. In this context, I think I would have found the diving suit somewhat discomforting, just like you did.

    If it’s pre-1945 and has a swastika on the back, that’s fine for me. However, if it’s contemporary and has an inscription like “Luftwaffe” on the dial, it’s reactionist Nazi Crap. I’ve seen these show up on WUS, quite some time ago.

    There are still borderline cases left, like a guy who I met personally who assembles genuine movements from the 1930s into contemporary cases and labels them “Eigentum der Fliegertruppen” on the dial. I really don’t know what to think of this one.

  • boompje

    So you would never drive a Volkswagen Bug/ Beetle?

  • Not one actually driven by a Nazi, no.

  • John

    Ofcourse is just your personal opinion. I think during war-time there is no right or wrong. I bet there were “”good”” nazi’s and bad “”allies””.

    I think one should like a collectible vintage military watch for it’s design and not the designer’s “”side””………

    Regards, John

    BTW really nice weblog Robert Jan! I discovered it a few weeks ago and I really enjoy reading it.

  • jay

    I understand your reservations, everyone has to draw his own line here. Actually owning memorabilia from a defeated regime often carries no concept of endorsement, though a modern piece could be more easily be seen as a tribute (but even there its the individual who must decide).

    I bought one of those Soviet submarine clocks as a kind of historic counterbalance to my WWII US navy deck clock, yet I certainly don’t think of myself as supporting communism, or even militarism (which both sides invested too heavily in)

  • Bas

    talking about cars, have you ever heard that story about our own Prins Bernhard who stole a luxury handcrafted Mercedes from a Nazi and sold it after the war?

    He didn’t have moral problems with that. I agree with him. The war is over, a nice car is a nice car and a nice watch is a nice watch.

  • Robert-Jan Broer

    Thanks all for you comments.

    Bas: I know the story, and I wouldn’t drive a car which was used by Nazis.

    Jay: A modern timepiece in the same line wouldn’t be much of a problem I guess.

    John: Thanks for the compliments. I am not allowed to use my site-url in a message-footer on Paneristi, so it is a bit difficult to get the word around that this blog exists since TZ thinks the same way. Luckily WUS don’t 🙂 Ofcourse it is my personal opinion, it is my blog 🙂 However, I can see why you think otherwise, but owning or using a thing (watch in this case) actually used by Luftwaffe would give me an unpleasant feeling.

    Hacmac: Maybe you made a good distinction, ‘as long as the owner don’t glorifies them’. That’s exactly what was wrong with all the Italian Navy stuff at the P-Day 3 meeting. The diving suit gave me a real shiver.

  • John Sproston

    As a collector of watches (& pens) I do consider provenance. Being an ex-Brit, British military stuff is no problem. I would never buy a Mont Blanc used by Adolph, Goebbels, etc. but would be very tempted by a supercharged 1937 Mercedes roadster. I think the clincher would be the superlative quality of the item, with the creators in mind, not the objectionable user. In extreme cases I think negative aura or Karma clings to objects, so I take it case by case.

  • I wouldnt care..

    By the way, talking about cars, the Spanish King has the only 6 wheel mercedes designed only for hitler, musolini and franco´s parades…

    Daimler-Benz gave him an empty check to buy the car, but he refused the offer..

  • Idetrorce

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  • Fred de Haan

    There are two separate issues in this topic-item:
    1. the liking of watches as a hobby, which is actually a thing of all times.
    2. the liking of watches as what they represented b4 in temporal wars.

    These two separate issues are not equal in essence: hobbies ans wars are not moral things,
    develish politicians have no morality whatsoever.

  • Aspe Tjuh

    Well, to be liking watches or not to be liking watches, that’s the real qustion here 🙂

  • OmegaJohn

    So Harris’s pilots levelling Dresden in Lancaster bombers is morally acceptable? Yet Luftwaffe watches are not! Please, do me a favour!
    I am sure the watch makers were not goose stepping and chanting ‘zeikheil’ whilst they built the Omega. They built watches not tanks!

  • Bear Midkiff

    I hate to see politics, past or present make their way into the Horological world. We love watches for their beauty, technical prowess, and mechanical perfection. The watches; pistols, and tanks were not responsible for the crimes against humanity, nor for the suffering of innocent civilians during the Allied Fire Bombings. People committed those crimes, let’s leave the morality where it belongs; to those with the power of choice. Not the watches.

  • Andrew Hughes

    It comes down to intent. If you are a cold blooded racist and wear memorabilia as a sign of hatred, then that is one thing… especially anything with a Swatika. However, not all German soldiers were Nazis and and not all Allied troops were saints. We tend to simplify complex situations like this. Some were just caught up in duty to country. Obviously, this has to be taken on a person-by-person judgment call. I personally would like a 1939 Hanhart Chronograph reproduction in my collection based solely on its merit as a watch and not a symbol of Nazi Germany. Those watches were prized by the Allies too if they could capture one. If it had a Nazi stamp on it though (like some German lugers), I could not wear it.

  • kai

    i think the problem comes up if items become symbols; for politics, religion or maybe status or class.

    i like my watch to represent technical quality and estethics, and nothing of the above.

    wearing a watch or a garment from war is a more personal statement than for example using a pair of binoculars from the same era.

    then you have the wannabies, always willing to step in the trap of tastelessness. the reputation of any good line of products can thus be ruined. they dont have to be misrepresented by war.