During the austere, uncertain times of the 1940s businessman and film tycoon Howard Hughes defied the odds when he built what remains the largest aircraft in the world to be made out of pure wood: the H-4 Hercules.
Nicknamed the 'Spruce Goose', the H-4 exemplified true engineering genius that pushed the boundaries of aeronautical design. In celebration of its iconic triumph, English watchmaker Bremont has released a limited edition H-4 Hercules chronometer that salutes the 'flying boat' of the 1940s.
"My brother Giles and I have been fascinated by the story of the H-4 Hercules since childhood," says Bremont co-founder Nick English.
"The sheer ambition of building an aircraft on that scale using wood is remarkable. It paved the way for the large aircraft we use today, and did it with style, panache and just a dash of Hollywood. It's fitting, therefore, that the aircraft is being commemorated by a timepiece of this stature."
One of the biggest drawcards of this particular timepiece that may tickle both watch collectors and aviation fans is that the Bremont H-4 Hercules, remarkably, contains original parts of the aircraft that billionaire businessman, engineer and pilot Howard Hughes flew on November 2nd, 1947.
The movement of features an automatic winding four bladed propeller rotor that was constructed using some of the original birchwood veneer from the H-4 Hercules fuselage. You'll find that the rotor weight of the movement is also engraved with the words Spruce Goose.
A timeless collaboration
The wood – made available only through essential preservation work on the H-4 – was shipped to the UK from the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville Oregon, USA where it was cut specifically to Bremont measurements.
The original aileron fabric from the aircraft's control surfaces can also be found sewn into the English-made bridle leather watch packaging – a truly unique touch to this historic timepiece.
"The Hughes H-4 is arguably the most important aircraft ever to have flown, in terms of its innovations in construction and control systems – a huge contribution to aviation development and history," explains English.
"It proved such an inspiration that we felt compelled to design a watch based on its iconic design with a percentage of proceeds also going to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum for preserving the aircraft."
The H-4 is a combination of micro-engineering, watch design and aviation history.
It features a 25 jewel Bremont BWC/02 movement with 50+ hour power reserve and has GMT functionality, along with hours, minutes, a small non-hacking seconds hand at nine o'clock and the date at six o'clock. The dial is reminiscent of a 1040's style aircraft, with dark tones and large legible numerals.
Housed in a beautifully finished 43mm case in Bremont's Trip-Tick construction, the H-4 features an onion-style screw-down crown, anti-reflective scratch resistant sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 100 metres. Strap options include a vintage leather brown alligator leather with pin buckle to compliment the case material.
This Bremont H-4 Hercules Chronometer is extremely limited to just 300 stainless steel, 75 rose gold and 75 platinum pieces and is available in Australia for a retail price of $16,995 for stainless steel, $31,995 for rose gold and $44,595 for platinum.