Back in 2010 I bought from an important Roman dealer and dear friend, this Longines Chrono Monopulsante cal. 13zn with stunning black dial. There was also a small addition…a rare steel ‘pointer’ on a bi-directional rotating bezel.
Note the steel arrow/pointer on the bezel, above the 60 min marker at 12 o’clock
Inside the caseback is the serial number
Now to be clear, I paid a significant amount of money for this watch – maybe even a record for the time. There were three main reasons that I bought it. Mainly, because I loved it! Secondly, I thought it was really a very rare piece. The third reason was that given the presence of the ‘pointer’ on the rotating bezel, I believed that it was some kind of military issued watch. However, I was not able to find much information on these pieces and the only photo I found was by Maestro Gino Balbi (whom I thank!) in the Longines Book by Gianluigi Toselli, on p. 85.
Page 85 of the Longines Book by Gianluigi Toselli
However, in the book the watch was generically (and incorrectly) reported as a “chronograph of the 20s”. I did more and more digging and failing to find any other information I sent an email to the always very kind Mr. Donzè, the Head of Archives at Longines.
Very quickly I received the following email:
The email confirmed that I had indeed bought a 13zn cal steel Chronograph sold in Romania on October 11th 1937. The fact that it had been sold in Romania aroused, as you will imagine, in me an even greater interest. But I still couldn’t find anything more…
The Pieces Come Together…
I talked about it with a very dear friend, a true collector and a true enthusiast for these watches. Then suddenly, after a few weeks, I found a ‘mountain’ of information that helped me piece together the pieces of this incredible find.
Firstly, here is a letter from Longines to the Romanian Ministry of Aeronautics offering them the watches in question:
The photograph included with the letter – my watch!
Here is a very interesting thing to note. In the photo of the offer letter the hands are in solid metal. However, in the letter it is specified that the watches will be supplied with radium filled hands (Lancette (aiguilles) Radio), which seems more logical.
Below the original invoices concerning the two batches that were delivered. The serial numbers were reported in blocks, the total of the pieces delivered, and the price of the watch (102 francs). This is the real gem of information.
The serial numbers in batches
The invoice for the watches
Finally here is list of Pilots to whom these chronos were supplied.
My watch, with serial 5,429,161 went to Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Cantemir who was based at the Military School of Tecuci Flight.
I would like to extend a warm thank you to all my friends who have collaborated in the research of this special watch.
Meanwhile, here is a link of the site where you can read in detail about these amazing watches.