An aviation icon flies again, though only as part of a commemorative wristwatch by Bremont. The H-4 Hercules limited collection pays tribute to Howard Hughes’ legendary Spruce Goose, one of the largest aircraft ever built, by including original birch used in the construction of the giant seaplane.
While aerospace history is marked by many notable types of aircraft, only a handful of airplanes are famous in their own right as individuals. The Wright Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the Enola Gay all have their claims to the record books, but none is so odd as the H-4 Hercules, nicknamed the Spruce Goose.
The brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser and the eccentric (to put it mildly) Howard Hughes, it was built during the Second World War as a prototype strategic transport flying boat capable of transporting US troops across the Atlantic Ocean and above the menace of German U-boat patrols. It was not only the largest seaplane and the largest wooden aircraft ever built, but the largest plane built up to that time and the plane with the widest wingspan until the flight of Scaled Composites’ Stratolaunch first flew on April 13, 2019.
To save weight and due to wartime metal shortages, the Hercules was built out of laminated birch. It was also highly controversial due to delays and Hughes’ prickly perfectionism, and never went into production. It only flew once on November 2, 1947, when Hughes, who was at the controls for a taxiing test and in an apparent fit of pique, took off and flew for 26 seconds to an altitude of 70 ft (21 m) above the water for a total distance of one mile (1.6 km).
Hughes then placed the Hercules into storage, where it remained carefully preserved for decades. After his death, its ownership was contested by the US government – eventually ending up on display at its present home at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
To pay homage to this machine and its remarkable story, Bremont has introduced its H-4 Hercules collection, Available in stainless steel, platinum, and rose gold finishes, it includes not only the standard hours and minutes plus a non-hacking seconds display at 9 o’clock, but also the date at six o’clock and a GMT function to keep track of the time in more than one time zone.
But the party piece is behind the case with its distinctive 1940s retro design. Under the anti-reflective scratch-resistant sapphire back crystal is the rotor for the 25-jewel Bremont BWC/02 automatic caliber. This is not only in the shape of a four-bladed propeller, but also incorporates bits of original birch veneer from the fuselage of the Spruce Goose that was removed and placed into storage during a preservation effort.
Like the Spruce Goose, the H-4 Hercules watch was built by hand, though in Henley-on-Thames, England, rather than California. Its movement includes a Glucydur balance, Nivarox CT balance spring, and a double-reverser, bi-directional winding mechanism that produces a frequency of 28,800 vph and a 50-hour-plus power reserve.
Meanwhile, the 43-mm case has a distinct oversized screw-down crown and the dial comes in either black metal or dark brown, with nickel/rose gold or rose gold hands and Super-LumiNova, as well as a 24-hour marked dial ring and brushed nickel calendar disc. It’s water-resistant to 10 ATM (100 m, 330 ft) and comes with a vintage leather strap with Stainless Steel pin buckle and an additional grey vintage NATO strap.
To top it all off, the watches come in bridle leather packaging incorporating original aileron fabric from the aircraft.
The Bremont H-4 Hercules Platinum is available in a run of 75 units for US$30,995.00, the H-4 Hercules Steel in 300 units at $11,895.00, and the Rose Gold in 75 units for $22,495.00.
The video below introduces the Bremont H-4 Hercules collection.
Bremont H-4 Hercules