How Britain’s first speed trap was an antique watch

An antique watch was used by British police as the country’s very first speed trap.

With its traditional and ornate styling the incredible chronograph pictured may look like it belongs on a gentleman’s suit, but it was actually used to catch drivers who were driving too fast in the 1930s and 1940s.

That’s right – believe it or not it’s one of the earliest examples of something many people hate: a speed trap.

pieces of time antique pocket watches

The watch, with its large analogue hands, was used by officers of the Met to time how long it took motorists to cover set distances, before calculating whether or not they were speeding.

It would have been used by two officers stationed at either end of a road. The first would signal to the second when to start the watch, at the time a car passed them. The second would then stop the watch when the car passed them, giving a reading.

Although the technique seems primitive and the execution is rudimentary, this method of measuring the time it takes a car to cover a designated difference using the formula D/T=S is still used today.

This particular watch is engraved with the initials MP, standing for Metropolitan Police, and a crown on its nickel plated case and despite being 80 years old it’s still in perfect working order.

To discover more stories about interesting antique watches check back here regularly!

Image: Jeffrey Smith under creative commons.