Available Now: Introducing The UNDONE Aero Scientific 1940 for The Rake & Revolution

The UNDONE Aero Scientific 1940 pays tribute to the Weems Second Setting watch with a vintage-inspired affordable edition which stays true to the original timepiece.


A Little History On The Rotating Bezel

It is widely assumed that the rotating bezel we see on so many timepieces has been invented for diving watches. After all, the rotating bezel part of a dive watch is a vital component for divers as it allows them to see how many minutes have elapsed during a particular dive, and to estimate how much oxygen is left in a diver’s tank to ascend back to the surface.

Well, it turns out that the rotating bezel we’ve all come to love was actually created as a navigation tool for aviation in the 1930’s by U.S. Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Philip Van Horn Weems (1889-1979). P.V.H. Weems stands out in history for his work on what was then called “avigation” which highly influenced modern air navigation, earning him the distinction of “Greatest Living Navigator of his Time.”


    Lieutenant Commander Weems wrote many books on the principles of aerial and celestial navigation and also invented the tools to stay alive while putting them into practice. The Weems System of Navigation was later taught to many military aviation navigators, and marine navigators. He determined that it was essential to simplify aviation navigation computations, and to develop fast, reliable methods of navigation that were simpler than maritime techniques, even if slightly less accurate.

    One of his inventions was the Second-Setting Watch which added a rotating 60-seconds bezel which could be locked in place. This was a game-changer as being able to track activity by the second was a vital requirement for military pilots at the time where accuracy was vital to pinpoint flight paths and avoid navigation miscalculations of hundreds of miles over the course of a flight. With a simple radio call, troops could align the bezel’s vertical zero position with their watches’ seconds hands and coordinate military actions. Ever wondered where the phrase “synchronise your watches” in movies comes from? That’s where; it’s when military men are turning their Weems bezel.

    P.V.H. Weems had already worked with Longines on creating the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch, due to Weems association with Lindbergh after his successful solo flight across the Atlantic, so it was natural that Longines would create the Weems Second-Setting Watch as well. The first versions of the watch featured a bottom clamp to lock the bezel in place, but this was later replaced with a second crown at 2 o’clock to serve that purpose.




    Kevin Cureau


    September 2020


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