I was given my first watch by my Granny Berta at the age of 11. It was a Soviet Pobieda and looked similar to that on the photo below. I was very proud of it.
At the age of 16 my uncle gave me his military Omega. Until now this is my most cherished watch in my possession, because it has a very interesting history, and somehow tragic.
My uncle Karol Borkowy was born in 1921 in Silesia, a part of Poland which for centuries was a disputed territory between German and Poland. After the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland, it became part of the Third Reich. From this point, as a German citizen, Uncle Karol was conscripted to the Wehrmacht and attached to the 7th Air Division, or Flieger-Division. Together with a number of other Polish Silesians, he was later moved to the 1st Parachute Division where he was given a military Omega.
After the Allied Forces landed in Italy he managed to escape and first joined the British army and later the 2nd Polish Corps of General Anders. He was at the battle of Monte Casino fighting against his former colleagues who occupied the ruins of the Monte Casino Monastery. A lot of them were like Karol – Polish Silesians forced into the German Army.
Before he gave me the watch, he changed its face and hands. Probably it had a swastika on it. It looks very 1960s, but the movement is 1943. Interestingly, it is probable that at the same time similar Omega watches were given to British paratroopers.
Find out more in Part 2 here