The enigma lock … made by Chubb!

I think by now we all know what an enigma cipher machine is. After all
it is the star in many war movies and a classic in cryptography.

And now I finally know what type of lock it was equipped with. I think
it is quite ironical the German device was locked with a UK chubb lock.

chubb keys

The lock itself is a piece of art. It can be re-keyed on the fly. Just
open the lock with it’s key, and close it with a new key. Now only the
new key can open the lock. Simple and elegant. A pure brilliant design.

Look at the video clip to see a cutaway model of the lock in action.

* UPDATE: Oli mails there is a misunderstanding. It is not an Enigma lock after all …

> The guy from chubb told, that this lock was used by UK government to store
> high security stuff as the enigma machine, which was taken from one german
> submarine by the UK military.

> Sorry for my bad explanation in Hamburg, but that should be corrected –

** Update 04/08 we finally had our hands on a real enigma and opened the lock!

14 Responses to “The enigma lock … made by Chubb!”

  1. novicelockpicker says:

    Hey Barry,

    Wow amazing lock, just wondering who’s lock is it yours someone elses?

  2. Barry says:

    Novicelockpicker: The lock belongs to Oliver Diederichsen. It is also his voice you hear explaining about the lock. A few more clips are coming up shot at his place….

  3. rukwind says:

    I’ve been to Bletchley Park a couple of times (geek heaven), watching the marvels of enigma, colossus and the bombe. I guess I’m not addicted to locks enough to pay attention to those detail’s.
    (but I’m getting there)

  4. André Matuschek says:

    Hi Barry!

    Very interesting lock! I am very interested in the technical an hostoricyl aspects of the enigma machine. So I habe to make some comments:

    There is not the “one” Enigma, there where several versions of it, some for stationary use an some build into a suitcase. There are versions for the army (on the land) an versions for the marine. The
    army-version had the 1 out of 5 code-wheels, on the marine-enigma (ENIGMA-M3) you have to choose 3 of 8 wheels. So the machines are not compatible. And as you can imagine now, there is not the one lock used at all enigmas.

    So you should not say “And now I finally know what type of lock it was equipped with.”

    The most common Enigma-Version used by the germans in the WWII did’n even have a lock (aktually I have never seen an Enigma with a Lock). They had a little clip on the top. I don’t know which Enigma had the lock Olli shows in this video, but I will try to figure it out.
    Maybe the NEMA (Neue Maschiene, engl. New Machine, a newer Version of the Enigma used by the swiss army) had this Lock.


  5. André Matuschek says:

    And, here is a picture of the german enigma:

    No Lock!


  6. Barry says:

    André: good point. I don’t know the answer. When Oli says the lock was used to secure enigma’s I beleive him. But it would be nice to see an enigma box with that type of lock on it as ultimate proof…

  7. Jon D says:

    whenever I’ve seen one of these machines on telly or in a picture it always seems to be an ex-field unit in a pretty rubbishy looking box with a simple catch – perhaps the fancy lock was on a display example or maybe a machine made to be presented to a german officer?

    very interesting lock though, thanks.

  8. TOWCH says:

    Cool lock. Clever design.

    Do you know if the fences are spring driven, directly engaged by the key, or something else? Do you think a pin and cam would work to decode?

  9. Barry says:

    TOWCH: I think a pin and cam will open about anything. So this 97 year old lock probably will not have much resistance against it. And I just updated the item. It seems the lock was used to store confiscated enigma material by the UK forces.

  10. André Matuschek says:


    After reading some websites an some pages of some books I can confirm that no enigma ever had a lock more secure than the ones build into furnitures. No UK locks in german enigmas!
    That the UK military used UK high security locks to secure very sensible spoils of war however makes sense to me.
    So lets call this solved.


  11. Buck-O says:

    Hey Barry, are you, or Han Fey going to have any firther information about this lock? Soecificly how the mechanism for setting the key pattern in the lock happens. Im facinated at how this works, and am curious as to its inner workings.

  12. Oli says:

    I will make detailled pictures of the lock when I find the time.
    Sorry again for our misunderstanding, but it pushed a nice conversation about the enigma machine and we all learned a bit about it.

  13. Paul says:

    Here’s a much more complex changeable lock.

  14. Workstation says:

    I like changeable locks.

    Have you ever seen a Rielda cylinder? These are a changeable lock made in all the standard cylinder types.

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