A Longines special prize watch : The Serbian.-

1. The Serbian Military Academy
The army and the Serbians are closely connected , their first military formation dates 1500 years ago. Vlastimir of Serbia formed the first medieval State in Raska in the 7th century and from that time it evolved into a Serbian Empire. A long history and a very long tradition in the army development. Many wars have been passed always with a deep involvement of the Serbian people. We can say that the Serbian history is deeply connected with  the Army and every single battle is a milestone. 
Getting aware about that lets talk about one very important Serbian army institution :
The Military Academy of Belgrade (MAB).

After the autonomy granted by the Ottoman Empire to the Principality of Serbia , in 1830 , it was founded the "artillery school" were the young cadets could get their training and graduation.
The activity stopped after six months only . 

Some years later the Colonel Iljia Garasanin , after becoming a very important Prime Minister from 1862 to 1867, at  that time Chief of the military Belgrade base (Garrison Army), suggested to improve the training and education of the artillery troupe  establishing again an Artillery school. The State Council accepted the proposal and HM the Prince Aleksandar  Karadjordjevic , established it on March 18th 1850.
The Artillery school used to be the first military degree granting institution in Serbia.

Its tradition and culture were preserved lately at the Military Academy in Belgrade.
After the first Serbian-Turkish war (1878-1878) the Congress of Berlin recognized the Principality of Serbia as an independent and sovereign State internationally.

The war experience and the intent of expansion determined the necessity of implementation and reorganization of the "Artillery school".
The Minister of Defense , Second-lieutenant Jovan Miskovic (Head of General Staff), due to his great academic and war titles , took care personally to the reorganization of the school. He wrote the "Act of the structure of the Military Academy" and he visited very often the school participating actively to the examines of graduation and speaking directly to the cadets.

The National Assembly adopted the Act and HM the Prince Mihajilo Obrenovic ratified it on January 30th 1880. That was the start of the Military Academy!
A very important note : General Jovan Miskovic used to be a cadet at the Artillery School , he enrolled  in 1860 and he left  in 1865 with a graduation of 4th place on 86 cadets having graduation. According to the documents that was a very important graduation level.
The Military Academy used to work endless under the flag of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia until 1912 when the Balkan war started. Other stops happened during the First World War and in April 1941.
1941 was the last date of life of the Academy under the flag of the Kingdom  . After the WWII the academy started under the flag of the Federative Republic of Yugoslavia……. 

2. 1930-1940 Serbian historical situation

The Principality of Serbjia became a state in the  the Balkan region after the revolution which started in  1804 and ended in 1817. Despite the extremely brutal oppression and the revenge by the Ottoman authorities, the revolutionary leaders, first Karadjiordjevic and second Obrenovic, got success in their aim of freedom to Serbia after 5 centuries of Ottoman oppression.
At the beginning, the Principality included  the territory of the former "sanjaluk" of Belgrade , but in the period between 1831 and 1833 it expanded to the East, South, and West. 

In 1867 the Ottoman troupes were expelled from the Principality, securing its independence. In fact Serbia obtained the full international recognition with the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. The Principality would last until 1882 when it was raised to the level of the Kingdom of Serbia.The Kingdom  of Yugoslavjia has been established  in  1918  after the WWI  end and the Versailles Treaty ( when it was ratified as the Kingdom of Serbs , Croats and  Slovenes with a  union of the two Provinces and the  Kingdom of Serbia) . It was renamed to the first official use  "Yugoslavia" in 1929.

HM Aleksander I Karadjiordjevic is one of the two main actors of this article. He was the second in the line to the Throne but his brother , Crown Prince George , wasn't adapt to the role.
In the I Balkan war in 1912, Crown Prince Alexander fought victorious many battles as a Chief Commander and later  , in 1913, during the II Balkan war , called the battle of Bregalnica . During the Second Balkan War Prince Alexander took sides in the complicated power situation for the control and administration of Macedonia . In this Alexander met Col. Dimitrjievic famous as "Apis" ( the head of "Black hand" secret organization who organized lately the assassination of Prince Franz Ferdinand giving the start of I World War) and in the wake of this Alexander's father, HM King Petar I , agreed to nominate the Crown Prince Regent of Serbia . At the start of the First World War the Crown Prince Aleksander was the nominal Supreme commander of the Serbian army .

The Serbian army distinguished itself in the battles at Cer and at the Drina river in 1914, scoring victories against the Austro-Hungarian forces .In 1915 the Serbian army with the aged HM King Petar I and the Crown Prince Alexander suffered many losses being attacked from all directions by the alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. It withdrew through the gorges of Montenegro and northern Albania to the Greek island of Corfù , where it was possible to reorganize the troups. After the army was regrouped and reinforced, it was possible to achieve  a decisive victory on the Macedonia front at Kajmakcalan. The Serbian army carried out a major part in the final Allied breakthrough in the autumn of 1918.
On 1 December 1918, in a prearranged set piece, Alexander, as Regent, received from the delegations of the People's Council of the Slovens , Croats and Serbs a speech read out by one of the delegation, and Alexander made an address in acceptance. This was considered to be the birth of the Kingdom of Yugoslavjia . In 1921, on the death of his father, Alexander inherited the throne of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which from  was colloquially known both in the Kingdom and the rest of Europe as Yugoslavia.
On 6 January 1929, in response to the political crisis blown  at  the murder of Stjiepan Radjic Croat opposer , HM King Alexander abolished the Constitution and introduced a personal dictatorship (the so-called "January 6th dictatorship", Šestojanuarska diktatura). He changed the name of the country to Kingdom of Yugoslavia and changed the territory divisions from the 33 regions to nine new "banovinas" on October 3rd. 

In 1929 HM the King Aleksander I , appointed  General Žjivković, as a  Prime Minister ( the head of the secret organization "White hand" suspected of the "coup d'état" of March 27th 1941) . In the same month, he tried to banish by decree the use of Serbian Cyrillic alphabet to the use of Latin Alphabet in the entire Yugoslavjia.

In 1931, Alexander decreed a new Constitution which transferred executive power to the King. The king was assassinated in Marseille during an official visit to France in 1934 by an experienced Bulgarian revolutionary in force to the IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation), in a conspiracy with Yugoslav exiles and radical members of banned political parties in cooperation with the Croatian extreme nationalist organization (ustase).

HM King Alexander I was succeeded by his eleven-year-old son Petar II , the second actor of this article , and a regency council headed by his cousin Prince Paul.

The international political scene in the late 1930s was marked by growing intolerance between the principal figures, by the aggressive attitude of the totalitarian regimes. The order set up after World War I was losing its strongholds and its sponsors were losing their strength. Supported and pressured by the fascist Italy and the nazist Germany, the Croatian leader Vladko Macek and his party (ustase) managed the creation of the Banovina of Croatia in 1939. The agreement specified that Croatia have to remain part of Yugoslavia, but it was the start of building an independent political identity in international relations. The entire kingdom was to be federalized but the Second World War stopped the accomplishment of those plans.
Prince Paul submitted to the fascist pressure and signed the Triparty Treaty in Vienna on 25 March 1941, hoping to still keep Yugoslavia out of the war. The popular support of Paul's regency ended . Senior military officers were opposed to the treaty and launched a "coup d'état" when the king returned on 27 March. Army General Dusan Simovic took the power, arrested the Vienna delegation, exiled Paul, and ended his regency, giving to the 17-year-old King Petar II full power . Germany decided to attack Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941, followed immediately by an invasion of Greece .

After the quick invasion HM King Petar II left the country together with the government. He left to Greece , Jerusalem , Cairo. In June 1941 he arrived to the UK where he joined other governments in exile and where he accomplished his studies in Cambridge. After studies he joined the Royal Air Force.

He was deposed on  November 29th 1945 and He was exiled in United States. He died in Denver , Colorado on November 3rd 1970. He is buried at St. Sava Monastry in Libertyville , Illinois.

3. One of the three Royal Jewellers in Belgrade : Stefanovic .

The jewelry company of M. T. Stefanović was originally founded in 1892 in Požarevac, the town near Belgrade. Stefanović moved to Belgrade and, approximately during 1924, he became close with the Court and in 1928 he had a  title of the Royal Jeweller. In Belgrade only three jeweller companies had this title between the two World Wars: 
-Milan T. Stefanović, 
-M. R. Petković (since late 1920s) 
-Vasilije Isajev (since 1937).  
Stefanović's company trade also in Swiss watches too, in fact it was the Longines's authorized dealer for the Kingdom of Serbia . The company closed in 1941.


4. The special prize watch
Grace to a friend  , I got the email address of Mr. Vuk Obradovic , the Serbian Army Museum Curator , that after a special study and analyses of the watch back engraving he  sent me his advise :
First series  Serbian watch
"Your acquisition is really interesting. Inscription  on the back means,  - “Protect Yugoslavia”  - motto of Yugoslav Army / last words of former King Aleksandar I Karageorgic when he was killed on October 1934 in town
Marseille, France.
- Two headed eagle with coat of arms of Kingdom of Yugoslavija on his chest, on left wing is monogram of former King Aleksandar I (AI) and on the right wing is engaged the monogram of his son King Peter II (PII)
- Dates I-X-1934 and I-X-1937 signified the education period of 62nd class of Military Academy in Belgrade.
We presume that this watch is presented on graduate day to some new lieutenant who finished Military Academy with exceptional accomplishment."

Second series Serbian watch

"This watch is a bit different then the one before but it has the same purpose. It was presented on graduation day to some of the new lieutenants who finished the Military Academy with exceptional accomplishment.
Inscription on the back means :
On top – “We will protect Jugoslavia” – reminiscence on the last words (“Protect Jugoslavia”) of former King Aleksandar I Karageorgic when he was killed on October 1934 in Marseille , France.
In the middle - two headed eagle with coat of arms of Kingdom Yugoslavija on his chest, on left and right sides are Cyrillic letters “V” and “A” witch may be initials of Military Academy (Vojna Akademija) in Belgrade
Below - Dates I-X-1936 and I-X-1939 signified education period of 64th class of Military Academy in Belgrade. Watch is pretty much worn out in the middle portion but I presume that between dates is inscription “KLASA” (on Cyrillic –КЛАСА-) and on top of that must bee number 64".

5. The White dial  watch (Bela ručni sat)
The case diameter of this magnificent wristwatch is 38 mm. with snap back case and faceted bezel.

Three bodies case in stainless steel "staybrite". The crown , with 24 teeth , is a typical Longines of that time without any logo. The internal part of the back case have printed the movement serial number and acier inox staybrite. 

The external part have the fine engraving above described. All the white dial first serie have the same back decoration. In my personal opinion that engraving was done locally by the Royal Jeweller Milan T. Stefanovic but it's just an hipotesys. The movement , an old type coming from the 1911 , is the calibre 15.26 with 5 separated bridges , VRAC gilt finishing , bimetallic hair spring , compensated balance , 17 jewels. A robust movement a bit obsolete for that period. We can suppose that the request of the Serbian Army Academy was oriented to the strength of the movement and to obtain the less expensive price possible.

According to the Longines Museum archives we can say :
"The serial number 3’377’445 identifies a wristwatch in stainless steel.
It is fitted with a Longines manufacture caliber 15.26 that was first produced in 1911.
It was invoiced to Messrs Stefanovitch in Belgrade, who were for many years our agent for the Serbia, on the 11.09.1937."
Another one  , owned by FDG, UK , has the serial number 3.377.445 with the same invoicing date , we can suppose that it was the first lot.

The dial is very interesting , the most original and intrigant part of the watch. Made by Flueckiger & Cie Cadrans of St.-Imier it has 3 fixing feet , the "grené" matt surface (lacquered) , the pad printing graphics with an external double rail with 5th of second scale , 12-3-9 big black arabic numbers included in a circle , other smaller hour black circular numbers , seconds counter at 6 o'clock with "chemin de fer" and radial 60-10-20-30-40-50 numbers , and the best part below 12 o'clock mark : the emblem of Coat of Arms of Karadjiorgevic family , the Saint-Lazarus chain emblem and the Longines logo. Than the Royal Jeweller Milan T. Stefanovic. The hands are "leaf shape" with a flame blueish finishing . 

This watch is an authentic beauty! 

6.The Black dial watch (Crna ručni sat)

The black version of this Price watch is more recent and on the internal snap back case is possible to see the reference number , the serial of the case and "acier  inox Staybrite". It's engraved and not stamped . 

The external part of the back case have the specific engraving (see the upper description) and again I suppose that this decoration was done in Serbia by the Royal Jeweller. The bezel is flat with a nice "coin edge" shape.

The 15.26 movement has a different serial number position on the “platine”and  the same VRAC gilt finishing. 

According to the Longines Museum Archive the watch in the picture have the following datas :
"The serial number 5’778’674 identifies a wristwatch in stainless steel.
It is fitted with a Longines manufacture caliber 15.26 that was first produced in 1911.
It was invoiced to Messrs Stefanovitch in Belgrade, who were for many years our agent for the Serbia, on the 15.09.1939".

Another model coming from Mr. F.d.P with serial number 5.788.987 , it means 313 numbers difference , was invoiced on the same day as the one before , on 15.09.1939 to M.T. Stefanovic. Probably the second bunch of watches sent to Belgrade from the Saint-Imier rail station on the next Saturday……
The dial is black matt " à oxidation" with graphics obtained "à épargne" , probably made by Flueckiger & Cie Cadrans of St.-Imier it has 3 fixing feet , graphics with an external double rail with 5th of second scale , 12-3-9 big black arabic numbers included in a circle , other smaller hour black circular numbers , seconds counter at 6 o'clock with "chemin de fer" and radial 60-10-20-30-40-50 numbers , and the best part below 12 o'clock mark : the emblem of Coat of Arms of Karadjiorgevic family , the Saint-Lazarus chain emblem and the Longines logo. Than the Royal Jeweller Milan T. Stefanovic. In my opinion this dial use to have a luminescent material on the big numbers and the "leaf hands" still have a sort of Radium paint on them , giving a "gypsum feeling".
This matt version or  the black glossy one , are two authentic pieces of art.

This special army wristwatch has been produced in this two versions. For the 62nd and 64th course of graduation at Belgrade Military Academy. The quantity of each is unknown unfortunately , but it can be estimated between 100-300 each. In any case an extreme scarce version of a military Longines wristwatch.
One more information to consider is that at the MAB were trained and teated only ground specialist cadets. The naval and air specialist were trained in other two different Serbian academies.

The other points making extremely attractive this collecting wristwatch are the back engravings and the marvellous graphics of the dial. Both beautiful and unique.
A museum timepiece that can be a gem in any army or Longines oriented watch collection.

8. Special thanks to 
Professor Predrag Markovic - University of Belgrade 
Mrs. Bojana Popovic - Applied Arts Museum Curator of Belgrade
Mr. Vuk Obradovic , Army Museum Curator of Belgrade
Mrs. Jennifer Bochud Longines Museum Curator , St.-Imier (Suisse)
FDG , UK , owner of one  of the White Serbian watches and deep vintage watch expert
Mr. Franco Tocco , Friend , photographer and graphic designer
Mr. Renato Zamberlan , Friend , Professional watchmaker and expert in old and vintage watches refurbishing (www.orologeria.com)
Roberto Randazzo , Jatucka ,  of www.newoldcamera.com , for his marvellous pictures and his kind availability and help (the two main Serbian watch pictures belongs to him).
PF. Di Peio , Friend , great watch collector
Stefanovic Jewellers Belgrade , for their great help.

9. Credits
Enciclopedia Britannica
Longines Spare Parts catalog n°8http://www.orologeria.comhttp://www.newoldcamera.comshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1