Today's Spotted is dedicated to an important historical figure of the twentieth century, Louis Mountbatten, British statesman, admiral and last Viceroy of India. Some of you, especially the younger ones, will probably have known him thanks to the Netflix series “The Crown”, which has turned the spotlight on a figure of considerable historical importance. However, his naval and diplomatic career is closely linked to the history of the United Kingdom and beyond. Before talking about its watches, let's go over it together.

Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas MountbattenEarl Mountbatten of Burma, had a long and very illustrious naval career. In 1932 he was promoted to commander and in 1937 to captain. During the Second World War he was in command of HMS Kelly, famous for having accomplished many feats, only to be promoted as commodore and captain at the HMS Illustrious in 1941. In 1943 he was appointed Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia with the rank of Admiral until 1946. Between 1946 and 1956 he was promoted to Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, Fourth Lord of the Sea, First Lord of the Sea and Admiral of the fleet .

Mahatma Gandhi & Lord Mountbatten

In 1947, 1st Earl had been created Mountbatten of Burma and in the same year he was appointed viceroy of India. He was the last person to hold the office of viceroy and concluded the negotiations for the independence of India and Pakistan from the Empire. From 1959 to 65 as Chief of Defense Staff and Chairman of the Committee of Chiefs of Staff he worked to integrate various branches of the armed forces. He died on August 27, 1979, while fishing on a small boat in Donegal Bay, Ireland, murdered by the IRA.

Earl Mountbatten was the uncle of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and had always been known to the family as Uncle Dickie. He was very close to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and in fact Prince Charles is said to have referred to him as his "honorary grandfather".


ROLEX BUBBLEBACK ref. 2490

Lord Mountbatten has often been spotted with an elegant on his wrist Rolex Oyster Bubbleback ref. 2940, very popular among British officers, and not only, at that time. The watch that was often immortalized on the wrist of the last viceroy of India was auctioned at Christie's in 2006. It was a gift from his wife Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, on the occasion of their 21st anniversary. of marriage.

The Rolex Bubbleback is credited as the first official Oyster Perpetual watch, it was characterized by the typical Oyster case and a Perpetual movement with self-winding technology, a real innovation in those years. Dating back to the 50s, this 'Ovetto' ref. 2940 is a precursor to the brand's hugely successful line of sports watches that would follow in just a few years.

Although Lord Mountbatten has often been spotted with this wonderful example of the Rolex house, even if from some shots we found it is evident that he owned at least one other Rolex with a gold Oyster case, we managed to find two other watches never noticed on his wrist ...


BULOVA ACCUTRON ASTRONAUT

This photo depicts Lord Mountbatten wearing a Bulova Accutron Astronaut. It is an iconic watch from the Made in USA maison, which owed the name “Astronaut” to the use of the watch during the experimental phases of some American military aviation projects.

The first was the assignment by the USAF, NASA and USNavy agencies of Accutron watches to the pilots who alternated on the three rocket planes North American X-15, aircraft that between 1959 and 1968 carried out 199 experimental flights crossing the boundary between atmosphere and space. Another important recognition was when during the early 60s the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) entrusted the same models to the pilots destined for the OXCART project, code name of the Lockheed A-12 military reconnaissance aircraft produced by the Skunk Works section.

The movement of the Accutron Astronaut uses a tuning fork oscillator, driven by an integrated circuit controlled by a transistor, which vibrates at 360 Hz thanks to a battery. The advantage of this type of movement was certainly the precision, reliability and ease of use compared to common mechanical movements, especially for aerospace use.

The example worn by Lord Mountbatten was in 14K gold, a type of gold used for the American market.


BULOVA ACCUTRON ACCUQUARTZ

But the Bulova Accutron Astronaut was certainly not the only example of the house of the tuning fork. Here is Lord Mountbatten in his Royal Navy uniform, wearing a Bulova Accutron Accuquartz, gold laminated, with Fixo Flex bracelet. In this case, the search was really very difficult. Deciphering a decidedly little commercial watch with a single middle case, although so unusual but typically 70s, took hours and hours of research.

The Bulova Accuquartz represents an attempt at a "change of pace" for Bulova, given that the advent of the first quartz watches, made the diapson technology expensive and obsolete, which resulted in a drastic drop in sales. In 1969, the management of Bulova made an agreement with the CEH consortium, which was developing the Beta 21 movement, which was to be the first quartz movement made in Switzerland, and a year later, in 1970, they produced a small series of experimental watches. , which received the temporary name of “Accuquartz”, and were sold through some jewelers personally selected by the house, as a market test. The operation, however, was not satisfactory, given that the high production costs of the Beta 21 caliber would have forced Bulova to sell its watches at too high a price.


This small part, I imagine, of the timepieces that belonged to Lord Mountbatten has somewhat amazed me. If the Rolex Bubbleback was a popular watch among the gentlemen of that era, especially if they were looking for a waterproof, resistant and extremely versatile object, the two Bulovas were real surprises. I would certainly have expected them on the wrist of a Navy Seals. Who knows if they had not been given to him by some US officer as a sign of friendship between old sea wolves ...