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Life of Watch 3 Months In Southwest Pacific

From The American Horologist magazine, June, 1945

Life of Watch 3 Months In Southwest Pacific

The necessity of channeling 2,600,000 wrist watches, with movements 8 3/4 ligne or larger, to Army post exchanges and ships' service stores in 1945 for resale to service men, and possible methods of assuring that importers can meet this requirement were discussed at the recent meeting of the American Watch Importers Industry Advisory Committee, the War Production Board reported today.

This quantity of imported watches - almost double the number required last year and about three times the number needed in 1943 - is intended almost exclusively for overseas distribution, for use in connection with combat operations, military representatives said. More watches are needed this year, they explained, not only because more men have been sent overseas, but also because increased distribution of watches results in a correspondingly larger requirement for replacements.

The average life of watches used under battlefront conditions is extremely short, military representatives emphasized. They said that a watch lasts only about three months in the Southwest Pacific, and somewhat longer on the European front.

Currently, under Order L-323, WPB assigns for distribution to the Army Exchange Service for Army and Navy resale 50 per cent of all imported, men's wrist watches with movements 8 3/4 ligne or larger and 50 per cent of all uncased movements in the same size range.

Committee members estimated that importation of watches and movements in 1945 would total between 5,250,000 and 5,500,000 units. Of these about half are expected by the committee to be men's watches. Since only 50 per cent of those suitable for military purposes, or less than 1,350,000, would be channeled to the Army Exchange Service under present WPB policy, military requirements could not be met, committee members said.

The difficulty of meeting total 1945 military requirements for imported watches was emphasized by committee members. Since watches normally cannot be delivered from abroad until about a year after they have been ordered, they explained, orders for increased quantities that might be placed now could not be delivered under 1946. Committee members pointed out that transportation difficulties and the scarcity of raw materials are additional complicating factors in the commerce between Switzerland and the United States.

The possibility of placing military orders for imported watches on a firm basis, by means of long-term contracts, similar to those placed for most other types of war goods, was discussed. Committee members said that orders from individual post exchanges and ships' service stores, since'they provide no guarantee of purchase, offer importers no protection against possible cancellation of orders following the defeat of Germany.

Military representatives emphasized that requirements for watches are expected to remain high until both Germany and Japan are defeated. They said, furthermore, that while it might be possible to place procurement of imported watches on a contract basis, importers then would be required to meet definite delivery. dates. Committee members said that the uncertainty of delivery of watches to importers would prevent them from meeting such contractual obligations.

Committee members mentioned that the supply of repair and replacement parts for civilian's imported watches is improving. They pointed out, however, that repair service is limited by the decreased supply of manpower. 

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