Through The Sands of Time…

The West End Watch Company, A Swiss Legend In The Middle East

One of the most interesting aspects of watch collecting is learning about watch brands and their connections with historical events or famous individuals. One brand that has a very interesting history, as well as a unique connection with a well known person from the past, is the West End Watch Company. For this article we will provide a peek into the history of the brand, including more details regarding one of its fantastic vintage models, the Sowar.

(Photo Credit: West End Watches)

In 1886, the West End Watch Company was established in Bombay, India by M. Arnold Charpié, the Bombay representative of the Swiss watch company Alcide Droz & Sons. The premise behind the brand's name was an attempt by Charpié to make a connection between the brand and the trendy district in center London, with the reasoning that the name would British colonists and soldiers in the region to the brand. Later that year, Alcide Droz & Sons, began to market the West End brand to the Indian market. 

Lawrence of Arabia


(Photo Credit: Smithsonian)

By 1914, West End was offering solid, well made and cased Trench and Pocket Watches. Specializing in the Indian Military and Civil Services, West End, with acceptance of the British Military, produced Trench Watches that were marked "C.S." for the Civil Service in India and "C-tailed BROADARROW-S" for Indian Military personal under British control. During the First World War, a large force of British and Indian soldiers was sent from Bombay to the Persian Gulf to reach Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). All of the soldiers received West End Watch Company watches as a part of their deployment supplies. It is reported that the famed soldier T. E. Lawrence (aka "Lawrence of Arabia") purchased a West End Watch and used it during his missions. Much of the credit for the spread of the brand's recognition has been attributed to his troops and the Indian armies, who traveled from Tibet to Aden. 

(Photo Credit: thatsanirban.blogspot)

In 1934, West End Watch Company introduced the Sowar, the first wristwatch to feature the “Incabloc” shock absorption system. In Hindi, Sowar means "Calvery", which is in reference to the elite Indian warriors of the era. During this era,it was the brand's most popular model in its history and sold over 13 million watches throughout the Middle and Far East. The model has been so successful that the line is still being produced to the present day. The West End Watch Company continues to thrive today, more than 130 years after its inception. The modern company produces a wide variety of Swiss Made watches for the global market, made from quality components and built in their factory in Leytron, Switzerland.

(Photo Credit: West End Watches)

After reading our brief summary of notable events from West End's history, we hope you take the opportunity to do a little research of your own. We encourage you to pop over to their website to look at their current line-up as well as search the web for examples of their fantastic vintage models.

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