Roamer Trench Watch Love

It is a challenge to find dated Roamer Trench watches, below is a timeline of the watches in my collection, starting with a 1917 Black Dial MST157 in a hallmarked silver case on the left, and on the right the last MST 175 models from the late 1920s. The dates given indicate the UK hallmarked cases which can be dated exactly, the remaining watches are placed in a continuum between these in approximate (read guessed) date order, based on dial, font, movement finish etc.

The top two watches in the 1918 column are calibre MST157, the bottom two MST175 – after this all production was MST175. 8 Watches are Sterling Silver, 6 of which are UK hallmarked, one is Gold filled, and the remaining 3 are in Nickel cases.

While I have seen one or two ‘Roamer’ trench watches dated earlier than my 1917 example (one was 1913) I believe these are recessed – for various reasons including case screw marks and the essential point that the merger with Tieche-Gammeter appears to coincide with the use of the Roamer name and the use of lever watch movements.  This is not true for Medana incidentally.  For these reasons, unless we uncover some new and compelling evidence, I would look suspiciously at any Roamer trench watch dated to before 1917.

1972-3 Roamer Chrono-Diver

I’ve been waiting for one of these to come along for about 5 years at the right condition/price point. It is powered by a Valjoux 7734, early ones without a date have the Valjoux 23, slightly later a 7733.

Roamer Chrono-Diver – MOD: 734.9120.900

Just a few quick snaps:

Crown guards – crisp and sharp (these are often worn and dented – I doubt this watch saw much wrist time).  For such a chunky watch it has a very slim profile and feels just right on the wrist.

Strap was temporary – you can see the proper factory bracelet in the previous photo. Image from the 1972-73 range catalogue

When it arrived the crystal was very scratched – but as nothing else is damaged/worn I wonder if it had been stored in a drawer face down…

Early Rectangular Calibres

Rectangular watches really started off with the Gruen Quadron in about 1925, these being the first watches with a rectangular movement.

This was a move away from the earlier square or cut corner watches, that usually housed a smaller round (and usually ladies calibre), to a purpose built rectangular movement that retained the larger style men’s components and therefore accuracy (the size of the balance is important).

These rectangular watches were a huge success from about 1927 – and were copied by many other companies most of whom rushed to produce comparable rectangular movements, although some continued to use round movements in the meantime – leading to the stepped cases as an attempt to hide the unfashionable round movement. The following bulova is a classic example, note the size of the movement peeping out from under the dial.

Roamer, was fairly quick to produce their own in-house rectangular movements, with the first rectangular ladies Roamer calibre introduced in the 1920s, the MST 237 and 270. The first men’s rectangular calibre was introduced shortly after – probably around 1930 or 1931, the MST 302 – and appears in the 1933 materials catalogue.

Here is an early example, with the early logo – the Standard nomenclature was adopted sometime before 1933 as it appears in the 1933 catalogue.

Period side engravings, late 1920s, early 1930s.

Dial detail, appears all original on close examination – it is a commonly held myth that the notch at 3 always indicates a redial – this was used by Roamer (and others) in the manufacturing process for location between stamping and printing.

The case has a clear service mark of 1933 – if one assumes a reasonable 2 years to first service, it would place the watch at 1931, a fair estimate is of course 1931-33.

The watch needs substantial cosmetic work (not the dial) and movement work including a new balance staff. While it will eventually appear in the main collection, I thought it interesting enough to publish in the blog now due to the dearth of provably early 1930s Roamer watches.

1945 Roamer Shock Resist

I have recently finished up servicing this nice example of a 1944-46 Roamer Shock Resist in the patent waterproof case. The watch is a respectable 33mm and the movement is an MST 372.

I’ll leave the photos to tell their own story.

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New Arrival, Roamer Alarm

This one is a beauty – and the chrome ones are usually in the worst condition.

MST 427 movement, you can tell as the 417 has an additional hole on the barrel bridge.

Happy, because I now have them in all three finishes, Gold fill, Rose Gold fill and Chrome. I have no idea why the went with chrome on the cases as these were expensive watches when new – and Roamer were certainly making stainless steel cases by this time.