With collecting vintage watches, part of the attraction for many certainly involves uncovering stories, solving mysteries and learning more about a particular watch. I do suppose it is because for most of us, while we purchase objects for its intrinsic value, it is oftentimes the story that we also buy, swayed by the charm and romance of origins and journeys.
When it comes to military watches, it is no different. In fact, this whole idea gets put into overdrive as these timepieces were never sold to the public and only issued to the military. From there on we imagine and embellish stories of where our watch might’ve been, in action through adversity and triumph.
When it comes to this Zenith, the mystery ran a lot deeper. For a long time, these watches were just black dialed Zenith choreographs with Excelsior Park movements. They had no markings, just those from the manufacture and while anything with Zenith on the dial and an EP movement would already be considered a fine watch, a few collectors noticed that these watches were mostly originating from Belgrade, Zagreb and Ex-Yugoslavian states in general.
While some further digging into Zenith couldn’t uncover more information, they did mention that these Excelsior Park powered Zeniths were ordered in a batch of 2,000 pieces on the 20th of January 1954. They did not have any further information on who ordered it, but as most were found in ex-Yugoslavian states combined with the notion that there was no way civilians at that time could afford such a high-grade watch, many collectors began to realize that these could have been issued to the military.
Furthermore, a few collectors on the Military Watch Forum have chimed in stating that many of their fellow collectors residing in ex-Yugoslavian states have always known that these were in fact issued to the Yugoslavian Air Force. It makes sense as it is often the Air Force that needs the highest precision tools and with this Zenith 143-6, it is certainly the case.