Wakmann started life as a watch distributor in Portugal but really cut their teeth producing various aircraft clocks and gauges for the United States Air Force in World War II as well as for civilian applications after the war ended. Building to military specifications for durability, usability, and function seems to have permeated the company culture and it can be seen in many Wakmann watches years after they stopped making clocks and watches for the armed services. This fantastically original 37mm Venus 188 powered Wakmann chronograph from the early 1960s embodies this combination of durability, usability, and function. Also of note on this watch is the “France” markings on both the dial and the case which indicate that this piece was assembled in France rather than Switzerland.
The Case and Bracelet
The 37mm stainless steel case is in great condition and shows very honestly. The case shows no signs of overpolishing with sharp and crisp edges in all places. The pushers look to be correct for the watch and we can not say with complete certainty, but the crown also seems correct for the reference. The screw-down caseback is also correct for the watch and features a personalized engraving that seems to date the watch to 1961. The watch wears a non-original but early bracelet that is in excellent condition. It will fit up to a 7.5-inch wrist.
The Dial and Hands
As great of condition as the case is in, the dial takes it to the next level with anybody being hard-pressed to find any faults. The matte black color is consistent across the dial and the printing remail bold and crisp. The lume above the hour markers and on the hands has taken on a lovely caramel patina and is full in all places. This all-black configuration is also a rare variant among the Wakmann models with only a handful of example available for reference online.
This watch features a Wakmann signed Venus 188 chronograph movement. The watch is running with all chronograph features functioning as expected. The service history is unknown.
Very rarely does US monetary policy come into play when discussing vintage watches but in the case of Wakmann it plays a crucial role. Following World War II, the United States implemented a tariff on complete and assembled watches from foreign countries as a way to spur growth in the domestic watch industry. As ever with politics though there are loopholes in the law, and Wakmann, originally a portugues watch manufacturer and distributor, figured out that as long as the watches were assembled in the US, even if they were made of swiss or european parts, they could avoid the hefty taxes. Boosted by a partnership with Breitling, Wakmann assembled many fantastic watches in the decades following the war and in recent years have become beloved by collectors.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Venus 188|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Stainless Steel|