Up for sale today is one of the most incredible trench watches I've ever seen! The case back inscription is out of this world! The inscription reads " Lt. Wm. F. Stewart, A.E.F, France, US Air Service" with the Shield and Wings in the center. This is Lieutenant William Frederick Stewart's 1917 WWI Elgin "Admiral Benson" Trench Watch. Lt. Stewart was an aerial combat pilot with the 27th Aero Squadron (Screaming Eagles), 1st Pursuit Group. They were the most successful Group in the US Army Air Service during WWI. America's top two pilots were with the 1st Pursuit Group, Lt. Frank Luke and Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Lt. Stewart was an immigrant born on November 16, 1891 in Dumbarton Scotland. His family immigrated to the United States and they settled in the San Francisco Bay area. Lt. Stewart worked as an insurance agent before the Great War. On June 17, 1917 Lt. Stewart filled out his Draft Registration Card in Sausalito California and there was a note written on the bottom of page two. The note stated that Lt. Stewart "intends to apply for the "Aviation Corps". Lt. Stewart fulfilled that intention and did in fact become a combat pilot with the US Army Air Service. After training in Texas at Kelly Field Lt. Stewart left for Europe out of the Port of New York on November 2, 1917 aboard the USS Kroonland. In June of 1918 Lt. Stewart accepted his commission as 1st Lieutenant with the US Army Air Service. Lt. Stewart flew a French made SPAD XII (Societe Pour L'Aviation et ses Derives). With the watch I will be including 13 of Lt. Stewart's orders and mission reports. One of these reports tells how Lt. Stewart took part in shooting down a German Halberstadt bi-plane on November 2, 1918 just north of Bantheville France. After the Great War Lt. Stewart returned to the California Bay Area and went back to work as an insurance agent. He married and had one daughter. Lt. Stewart loved to fly so he joined the US Army Air Corps Reserves. On December 12, 1937 he took off from Oakland with Captain Ira Galehouse on a training mission testing instruments. Soon thereafter their plane went down in the Bay, a massive search was launched but to no avail. Lt. Stewart and Captain Galehouse perished in the crash. Captain Galehouse's body was recovered three months later in the Bay but Lt. Stewart's body was lost as sea. Lt. Stewart died in service of his country at the age of 46. The US Army buried an empty casket for Lt. Stewart and erected a marker for him at San Francisco National Cemetery. Lt. Stewart served his country honorably for nearly 20 years as a pilot. Thank you for your dedicated and courageous service Lt. Stewart! I have compiled a nearly 50 page three ring binder of documents and pictures about the 27th Aero Squadron and Lt. Stewart's life. Lt. Stewart is mentioned four times in the book "United States Air Service, 1st Pursuit Group" that will come with the watch as well. I'll also include a copy of "America's First Air War" by Terry Treadwell and three issues of "Out of Control" the newspaper for the 1st Pursuit Group. I spent quite a bit of time researching Lt. Stewart, I'm sure you'll be impressed with what I've put together. I have to be honest, it felt really cool wearing Lt. Stewart's watch while reading his US Army Air Service mission reports! Lt. Stewart chose to wear a 1917 WWI Elgin "Admiral Benson" Trench Watch. But, somebody over the past 104 years made many mistakes when making repairs on the watch. I put the watch back to 100% correct factory spec. Somebody changed the crown, the hands and the dial with completely incorrect parts. Several mistakes were made with the movement too. ALL of these issues have now been addressed and Lt. Stewart's 1917 Elgin "Admiral Benson" is once again in superb condition and keeping perfect time! In September of 1917 the Illinois Watch Case Company gave proper names to four of their top of the line military trench watch cases. This model was named the "Admiral Benson" after Admiral William Shepard Benson of the United States Navy. Admiral Benson is best known for being the first Chief of Naval Operations for the US Navy in 1911. He was the first Commanding Officer of the USS Utah, he was also Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1915. So, it makes perfect sense that the IWCCo would name one of their cases after him. Our Great Grandfather's knew how to make things that would last for generations! The movement was just completely taken apart, repaired and a brand new mainspring was installed on March 31, 2021. It's now in superb running condition and keeping excellent time. This watch has been tested on a professional timegraph 5000 Machine for accuracy so rest assured! Take another look at picture number three again, this movement is clean as a whistle and stunningly beautiful! This sterling silver cushion shaped trench watch case has NOT been polished, just cleaned. The enamel dial on this Elgin "Admiral Benson" Trench Watch is among the most desirable Elgin ever produced, the BOLD Arabic Military Dial. The dial features a white face, BOLD Arabic numerals, outer minute markers, the correct thick blue steel hands for this dial and is signed "ELGIN" near the center. This historic and iconic WWI American made trench watch has been fitted with a dark brown leather strap that absolutely makes the watch! Take a look at picture number two again, this watch looks stunning on the wrist! The strap will fit a wrist up to eight inches and has a matching silver tone buckle. It will have a bit of wear on it because I seriously could not resist wearing this one for a few days, can you blame me? Here are the movement details: 1917 Elgin, 7 jewels, size 3/0s version, serial number 20531496, grade 417. They just don't make them like this anymore! The case measures 40mm lug tip to lug tip, 31.5mm without the correct factory crown with a 14mm lug diameter. The original factory crystal is still in very good condition. I also installed a brand new sleeve in the crown tube, the now has a nice firm pop, just as it should. This watch is ready to be worn and shown off, it will surely get noticed! I put a lot of time and effort into this Lt. Stewart's Elgin, I'm sure that you will appreciate the quality and quantity of work that has been done. Solid old World craftsmanship at its finest! You would be seriously hard pressed to find a finer example of this sterling silver 1917 WWI Elgin "Admiral Benson" Trench Watch with 7 jewels, the correct factory crown, a BOLD Arabic enamel military dial and an absolutely incredible "US Air Service" case back inscription! Combat pilots were the rock stars of WWI! This IS American history at it's finest!!! This one sets the bar! Once again, thank you for your courageous service and for your last full measure of devotion to your country Lt. Stewart. You will receive a FREE Poppy Lapel Pin with this purchase!
This incredible piece of American history will be for sale soon!