Journal

The Waltham Depollier Waterproof Field & Marine Watch,

Sep 24, 2023

The Waltham Depollier Waterproof Field & Marine Watch,

All dive watches owe their existence to the Waltham Depollier Waterproof Field & Marine Watch, probably the first waterproof watch that actually worked. Threaded case, screw down crown and the double clinched bezel which is what made dive watches possible.

The need for a waterproof trench watch became very apparent in the early days of WWI trench warfare due to the conditions in the trenches. The trenches themselves and the deep craters created from relentless shelling would fill with mud and water.

This was the worst possible environment for watches as they were not resistant to water and if the mud and water didn’t kill you and your watch the chlorine & mustard gas would.

The gas and water would enter the watch through the path of least resistance, the bezel and the crystal lip ring and they would corrode the watch movement rendering the much needed timepiece inoperable.

An American named Charles Depollier, an absolute genius at problem solving, saw the flaws in watch case designs being used in trench warfare and went to work on these problems in 1917. He wanted to create the perfect wrist watch case housing Waltham movements:

  • In May 1917 Charles Depollier applied for the “double clinched bezel” patent to prevent corrosive gas and water from entering thru the crystal lip ring.
  • In October 1917 Depollier applied for a patent for his threaded hermetic case design to prevent water from entering through the case seams. In
  • In March 1918 Depollier applied for a patent for his screw down crown design to prevent water from entering through the crown tube.

Depollier did not wait for the patents to be granted, he started production soon as they were applied for.

Depollier’s first Waltham “Field & Marine” watch case design with coin edging, was first introduced in August of 1918.

But, this only allowed for the case to be sealed as tight as your fingers could torque it down.

His 2nd & 3rd case designs, were a game changer, the bezels and case backs had two thin slots cast into them.

These slots allowed for the use of the “Depollier Chuck Key” so you could really torque down the bezel & case back for a watertight seal.

Not many people know this, but Depollier also invented the spring bar for watch bands back in 1915.

All waterproof watches and dive watches on the planet today can be traced back to the technology that Depollier developed during the Great War.

Depollier’s advancements in horological technology still echoes very loudly today and for this reason in 2021 a new chapter will open in Waltham history with a revisited version of the Waltham Depollier “Field & Marine” Watch and its crown technology.

 

Related Articles
Aviation Heritage: Discover The New Waltham A17 Pilot Watch

Aviation Heritage: Discover The New Waltham A17 Pilot Watch

Read more
Theodore Roosevelt's stolen pocket watch recovered by FBI after it was missing for 37 years

Theodore Roosevelt's stolen pocket watch recovered by FBI after it was missing for 37 years

Read more
Watches and Commercial Espionage: Waltham Watch Company

Watches and Commercial Espionage: Waltham Watch Company

Read more
Waltham gold pocket watch auctioned for a record-breaking $1.485 Million

Waltham gold pocket watch auctioned for a record-breaking $1.485 Million

Read more