We usually post on the Divers Forum, however we've been working on an awesome new military timepiece based on a watch used by bombardiers and gunners during WW2. I'm a HUGE WW2 history buff, so it seems appropriate to announce this on Memorial Day as we take time to honor those who have served.
I'll post the LONG version of our press release below because my guess is you guys would want to hear the whole story.
If you are reading this and you've never heard of Bathys Hawaii, well you are not alone! lol...but we've been out here in the middle of the Pacific designing killer diver watches that are all Swiss Made and even though we're not ALL THAT, we do make a pretty damn good watch.
Let us know what you guys think about the BOMB TIMER.
PRESS RELEASE MAY 30, 2010
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
A group of men at war meeting to synchronize their watches before an attack is one of the great iconic images of WW2. During the 1940s there were no atomic clocks, no GPS satellites, and time was kept using specialized pendulum clocks linked to radio transmitters that then broadcast time signals. Thus at some level, each individual tank, ship or airplane had to keep it’s own accurate time. Accurate timekeeping is also required for such wartime activities as coordinating rendezvous, nighttime navigation, reconnaissance and post-bombing damage assessment. Battlefield and situational awareness, which are have been key components of warfare since its inception, require not only knowing what happened, but knowing exactly when it happened.
Because of the demands imposed by the War, production of timepieces increased sharply as the US entered the conflict, and watch manufacturers had to quickly draw up designs based on existing movements. One requirement was for a time-keeping device that could be used in gun turrets to record when shots were fired during aerial combat and could be adapted for use in the bombardier station for making precise timing calculations during bomb runs. US manufacturers such as Hamilton and Elgin rapidly designed watches to meet this demand by adapting ladies “purse watches” into small timepieces that had large second hands to clearly display the seconds and that frequently had ‘hack’ buttons that allowed the user to pause the balance to allow for synchronization. These watches found their way into the gun turrets used both for practice and actual aerial combat as indicated by old advertising done by Hamilton at the time. These small clocks were also mounted to the control panels within the bombardier station of B-17, B-25, B-26 and B-29 bombers used throughout the WWII, where it was used both to keep track of time and for other bomb-related calculations. The highly-regarded Norden bombsite, considered a key weapon used by the Allies to win WW2, was the most complex analog computer of its time and allowed a bombardier (under ideal conditions) to place all bombs within a 100’ circle from 20,000 ft. However to achieve such accuracy factors such as altitude, airspeed, and range had to be calculated precisely. Once all the information had been input into the bombsight, it was still necessary to test its solution against the real world, so the bombardier would use either a stopwatch or a panel-mounted clock with an oversized, hackable second hand to compare the Norden’s release index against the calculated solution to the range problem. In action, the bombardier did not press a button to manually release the bombs; rather he calculated and tested his predictions on the Norden, then held the crosshairs on target as the sight’s mechanism chose the proper release point – this was the key to the Norden’s legendary accuracy.
When the WWII ended, many GIs brought home war relics and one of the more popular souvenirs were these console-mounted clocks which bombardiers and other members of the air crew would then attach to a crude leather strap to fashion themselves a wristwatch. After all they had been through over the skies of Europe and The Pacific, they deserved it.
BATHYS PAYS TRIBUTE
It was one of these “Bomb Timer” wristwatches that Bathys Hawaii owner Dr. John Patterson spotted at a vintage watch fair and that got him pondering the idea of doing a tribute watch that captured the overall look and design of the original clocks while utilizing modern materials and a modern movement. “I just kept thinking about those guys, freezing their butts off at 20,000 feet, and then at the moment of truth, the bombardier taking the helm and flying those lumbering planes straight into the heart of exploding flak - all so that they can drop 10 tons of bombs on a target they can hardly see”, say Patterson. “And although the original watches are fairly small, the large second hand appealed to me both at the design and functional level. By scaling everything up to a modern size, the visual impact of the long second hand sweeping the dial is striking. And by maintaining the “Bomb Timer” name and the loud ticking sound, the watch conveys the tension felt by the original wearers in the cockpit.”
The results speak clearly – the newly updated Bomb Timer features a large steel 52mm x 35mm rectangular case that closely mimics the originals. Inside beats a classic manual-wind pocket watch movement, the ETA 6947. To accurately recapitulate the design of the original timepiece, the movement has been installed ‘upside down’ with the crown in the 9:00 position protected by crown guards that look identical to the WW2 mounting tabs that affixed the clock to the bomber control panel. Both the front and the back of the watch are visually striking: the front with the very large subsidiary second hand, and the back with a sapphire exhibition window displaying the well-decorated manual wind movement. The layout of the dial is quite different than any other watch out there, with a huge, 17 mm subsidiary second - though in this case ‘subsidiary’ is a name only because the second hand is anything but secondary to the hour and minute hand – it stands out as equally important. The hands and the main dialwork and minute tracks are all printed with white C1 Superluminova, and glow very brightly as is seen with all Bathys watches. The second hand and track are printed with a red Superluminova that is less bright than the C1, but still easily read under dark conditions. The entire case is milled from 316L stainless steel and will be PVD coated black for some models. The case incorporates a screw crown to hermetically seal the interior against water entry down to 100 meters (330 feet).
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Currently The Bomb Timer is still in the prototype stage, with production slated to begin in 2011. Bathys Hawaii is well-known for putting their prototypes through extensive testing prior to production, so Patterson says that following a strict deadline to begin production is not a priority. He says, “One thing we do before release is make several prototypes and pre-production pieces and hand them out to ‘da braddahs’ – which are a group of guys here on Hawaii who help us test Bathys watches. Da braddahs are a mix of lifeguards, cops, divers, boat captains and helicopter pilots who get a watch to wear around for a couple months. We encourage them to beat on them and make sure everything is sorted before we give Switzerland the thumbs up.”
Asked about pricing, Patterson smiles, “ Well we’re still working on a the final price, but as always we are trying to make it as low as we dare go; our current working estimate is in the $1800-2000 range. Personally I think that’s going to really get a lot of people excited. I have been doing the research and have spoken with lots of guys who served in the War or who are WW2 historical buffs and they are really interested to see the results of this project. And in digging through my own family history, I was able to learn a lot more about two of my uncles who had flown B-24 Liberators out of Britain during 1944. So for me, this story has come full circle and really has special meaning.”
Here's a photo of the WW2 original:
Here's a shot of the real prototype:
Here's the caseback:
As you can see, the prototype still needs hands and some other small tweaks to the caseback (such as the Hawaiian map etched onto the sapphire), but I think this might be our best work to date.
But in the end, we are making these watches for YOU GUYS! So we're wanting feedback so we can improve the design further before going to production. Part of the design process is getting these prototypes made and onto the wrists of our "test pilots" so we can make sure every little thing is right. As others can attest, we really listen to our customers and that's a large part of our success.
ADDITIONAL IMAGES, INCLUDING HI RESOLUTION JPEGS CAN BE FOUND AT THIS URL: