When Two Much-Loved Hobbies Collide - the Result is Amazing

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When Two Much-Loved Hobbies Collide - the Result is Amazing

Post by Mortuus on 2013-10-20, 18:17

In the relatively short time I've been collecting, I've noted some pretty common behaviors that identify us as collectors (or WIS). As such, these behaviors, I think, might tend to make us seem a little odd to most of the non-watch collecting majority out there. To see a quick demonstration of what I mean, complement a stranger on his (or her) watch.  If the person is a collector, he (or she) will smile, hold out his (or her) wrist so you can get a better look at the little horological miracle that resides there – and, of course, he'll (or she'll) give it a little shake if it happens to be an automatic – and tell you all about how he (or she) came to acquire it, etc.  A non-watch person, on the other hand, will give you a blank stare for a couple of seconds, then treat you to a very brief expression of panic, as if you’re about to snag the watch right off his (or her) arm.  A muttered “thank you” follows as the person slips past, trying to skulk away and jam his (or her) hands – and wrists, of course – into the hand-warmer pockets on his (or her) gen-u-wine WWII bomber jacket…

…or not.
 
[Say, if no one minds, I think it’s time to lose the “his (or hers)” stuff; I've paid my dues to the PC meme, but it’s getting pretty irritating, to say the least.  To this old fly-boy’s way of thinking, the 'he (or she) thing' smacks of the kind of patronizing that ultimately pisses off good people, irrespective of gender, etc.]

So I’m cruising along on a favorite site, one that feeds another of my expensive hobbies (flight jacket and flight gear collecting), and I come across this little beauty…







A very cool replica of a U. S. Army Air Corps leather watch strap, complete with a molded-leather crystal protector.  These were normally worn by navigators who absolutely had to have a well-protected, accurate watch.  Those old war birds – B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress, just to name a few – were notorious for their lack of amenities, but they were downright deadly when it came to sensitive and/or fragile instruments.  This strap, with its protective cover, was one of those things that became very much sought after by pilots, crew chiefs, and just about every other member of the flight crew, so much so that owning one became a status symbol of sorts.  All this was going through my mind as I looked for the 'virtual buy' button…

…and that’s when it hit me that I was preparing to do something the non-watch (read: normal) person wouldn’t even consider doing: buying a strap for a watch that I had yet to own.  And it couldn’t be just any watch, oh no, uh-uh…  It had to fit inside the relatively small protective cover.  And it needed to at least look like a period piece, if not actually being from the WWII era.  Easy-Peezy, Japa- er, Lemon Squeezy, right?  And, wouldn't you know it, there it was, like magic…








An Oris, of all things.  Heretofore, the only experience I’d had with Oris was looking at them in the online catalogues and sales sites, and noting how bloody-damned expensive they all were.  But this one’s an ‘oldy,’ I thought.  Damned thing’ll go for one-meeelyun dolars, I continued, absentmindedly putting the tip of my extended right pinky against the right corner of my mouth.  Okay, so I didn’t really think and do those things, but I did note that the case had a 34mm width, something that’s not very popular these days, what with all those tungsten carbide tea-saucers that, strangely, are still very much in fashion at the time of this writing.  (Okay, Hose-feathers, I’ll get to the point… Dang, everyone’s in such a damned hurry…)



This beautiful little tempus machina cost me less than $100 USD, and it came with the widely-popular, non-descript black leather strap, of which I’d been ‘given’ six at last count.  The plexi-crystal is original equipment, as are the hands, crown and case.  I still haven’t made up my mind about the provenance of the dial, but I strongly suspect it’s a repro, given the fact that the hands are pretty scarred up while the dial looks almost pristine.  Either way, it’s a very good, authentic-looking dial, so it’s a non-issue.  No, really





As I always do with my newly-acquired vintage mechanical (and auto) watches, I took it to my Jeweler for a look at the innards and an accuracy check.  He called me the next day with the less-than-happy news that the watch was running about +12 minutes per hour; apparently, the hairspring had been replaced at one time or another, and the installation required some “creative adjustments” (read: Jury-rigging) to make things work as designed.  Fortunately, it was an easy fix, and it’s keeping pretty steady time, which for me is about +/- 3 min/hr…



Ah, but will it fit? (And, seriously, what man hasn’t asked himself that very same question on more than one occasion…?)



The answer is,  ‘Why, yes, it fits perfectly'… (she said, her smile a bit forced, her voice a bit strained...er, sorry; got carried away with the romance of it all...ahem.)



No, seriously, take a good look…



As can be seen, the fit is about as close as you can get, given the dimensions of the leather cap.  Of course, it’s not air- or water-tight, but it’s not meant to be.  In terms of its primary job – protecting the watch from a bumbling aircrew + the aforementioned Land of Jutting Instruments and Rough Edges – it does quite well.  And, as an added extra bonus, it looks pretty damned good when it’s all strapped into position...



Take a quick look at the width of the wrist shield below, and you'll see the only down-check for this piece:



As a mechanical watch, those wide 'lapels' make it a little difficult to get your fingers under the crown to wind the mechanism or set the time.  It's not that big a deal, but I felt that it merited a quick mention.



The above shot, with an authentic WWII leather 'helmet,' shows the old Army Air Corps decal.  My ultimate goal is to find a repro decal in that size to put on top of the molded crystal shield.  They're a bit difficult (and relatively expensive), but they can be found.

Heck, I look back and think how handy this would have been back in my nasal radiator daze.  Flying a single-seater is a wonderful thing; no crew to worry about – no endless chatter from the backseat to endure; that’s one thing that Top Gun captured accurately. Of course, that means you have to do everything yourself, like polishing your flight boots, ironing your flightsuit and cleaning your apartment while you’re out with his girlfriend.  Okay, okay, I’m just kidding!  (Jeebus!  I can just picture all those miffed RIO’s lining up to smack me with their purses – er, helmet bags, I mean!  Aw, c’mon, Goose, lighten up, dude! – and give me a stern talking to…)

At any rate, and with all due apologies to the Naval Flight Officer community, the cockpit of a single-seat aircraft has quite the appetite for anything even remotely fragile, and because you’re often doing ten different things at once, things like watch crystals tend to get a beating every now and then.  This would have been a very practical piece of equipment and, of course, it would have looked way cool, which is an absolute necessity for any piece of USN flight gear…





As always, many thanks for dropping by…


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Re: When Two Much-Loved Hobbies Collide - the Result is Amazing

Post by kahuna74 on 2013-10-22, 12:43

Again, very nice mort. Hats off,,,
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Re: When Two Much-Loved Hobbies Collide - the Result is Amazing

Post by Mortuus on 2013-10-22, 15:06

kahuna74 wrote:Again, very nice mort. Hats off,,,
Thanks so much, Big-K! alien 

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