Harry S Truman and the Gallet Flight Officer Chronograph...
Harry S Truman and the Gallet Flight Officer Chronograph...Harry S Truman and the Gallet Flight Officer Chronograph...Harry S Truman and the Gallet Flight Officer Chronograph...
Harry S Truman and the Gallet Flight Officer Chronograph...
"With the onset of America’s participation in WWI, Truman rejoined the Army National Guard. Before going to France, he was sent to Camp Doniphan in Oklahoma for training where he also ran an on-base canteen with fellow serviceman, Edward Jacobson. Jacobson had worked previously as a clothing store clerk.

After serving as a battery commander in an artillery regiment in France, Truman and Jacobson opened a haberdashery in Kansas City. It was then that Truman met Bernard Gallet's father, Léon Gallet (1899 – 1975).  Léon, only 20, was traveling across the Midwest in search of new outlets for his company’s Swiss timepieces. Sharing similar interests, including a serious involvement in Freemasonry, the two men became friends.

When the time came for Léon Gallet to solicit the American military for purchase of his company’s groundbreaking new pilot’s wristwatch, Gallet contacted his friend, then a US senator, for help. It was during ensuing discussions that Truman requested from his personal experience as an artillery officer, that the tachometry scale found on the dials of the 1st series of watches, be added for timing of flight speeds and munitions blasts.

Truman’s assistance in procuring a military contract for his friend from Switzerland was initially unsuccessful. While Gallet’s wristwatch, with its extremely durable design, highly accurate elapsed time recorder, and time zone calculator was the ideal accessory for long bombing missions across Europe, the watch’s advanced technology proved too costly for the military’s limited spending for mass-issued timepieces. Instead, Truman’s recommendation resulted in the issue of Gallet’s Flight Officer on an “as needed” basis, where the watches were purchased individually by the U.S.A. Ordinance Department. In other cases, reimbursement vouchers were provided to servicemen for private acquisition."

In spite of initial resistance, hundreds of Gallet’s watches took to the skies on the wrists of US and British aviators during WWII, with President Truman donning a Flight Officer during his term as America’s 33rd president.
Early WWI image of Colonel Harry S Truman.
Reverse view of President Truman's Gallet Flight Officer Chronograph showing the names of two members of Truman's senatorial staff.
President Truman lifting his cuff to show his Gallet Flight Officer watch.
The Gallet Flight Officer worn by President Harry S Truman and now housed in the Harry S Truman Library.
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Harry S Truman and the Gallet Flight Officer

It has long been rumored that Harry S Truman (US President from 1945 to 1953) played some undetermined role in the design of Gallet’s first Flight Officer Chronograph, and its eventual use by pilots of the Allied Forces during World War II. The most interesting and seemingly credible version of this story was shared with us during a visit with Bernard Gallet before his passing in 2006.

The story goes as follows:
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