Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ticking Time Bombers - 1943 Hamilton Bombtimer

The 1943 Hamilton Bombtimer, not actually a wrist or pocket watch, but mounted on a turret within a World War II bombadier's compartment so he could time the duration between bomb drop and detonation.

Two Bombtimers modified for the wrist

Additional Bomb Timer info from Rene Rondeau, Vintage Hamilton Watch Expert;

"A curious and largely unexplored topic..... There's nothing about them in Whitney's comprehensive "Military Timepieces", and they're not even listed in Hamilton's own WWII production summaries. There's one wartime ad that shows it (seen below).

These were made with the dial in either horizontal orientation as seen in the picture on top, or more "watch-like" vertical arrangement just below it (provided by the 2007 "Complete Price Guide to Watches". Usually the second hand is double-ended, one end with an arrow tip and the other with a simple point. I don't really know why. I suspect the second hand in the attached picture is a replacement since it's not even long enough to reach the seconds track.

They always have a pusher on the back edge as a hacking mechanism. It stops the balance and allows it to be set to the second. The movement is a standard 980.
The attached ad shows it being used as a training aid, in conjunction with a movie camera to film "hits". According to Hamilton employees and a couple of veterans I've talked to, these were primarily used to record bombing runs. Just as shown in the ad when used with a machine gun, the watch would be mounted into a bomb sight with a camera filming the release and detonation of a bomb, and the timer filmed as part of the image to record the exact moment of each step.

Needless to say these were never originally intended to be worn as watches, but lots of collectors mount straps by punching a hole in a conventional strap and bolting it to the case end."

WWII Advertisement featuring Bombtimer
(bottom right under crosshaired airplane)

Found a vertical version on Amazon

Find other military watches

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