A new pilot watch is born…

…from an antique movement and a modern case.  The movement is a Hamilton 4992B Navigator’s watch 16s movement.  The serial number dates the production year to 1950, so it’s now 66 years old and is running perfectly.  I purchased a pilot watch case that will fit this movement and began the work of turning this pocket watch movement into a wristwatch.  I decided to use the original dial and hands for this build, mainly to show respect for the watch’s beginnings.

The strap is a closed loop design, which allows the watch to fit your wrist or to be worn on the outside of a flight jacket without changing the strap.  Since the strap is a loop, once you put your hand through the loop you can’t drop the watch while fastening the buckle – dropping mechanical watches will cause them to be exactly right twice a day – except for this watch, which will be exactly right once a day.  Not nearly as useful as you might think.

This is a 24-hour watch – meaning that the hour hand makes one revolution every 24 hours rather then the far more common once every 12 hours.  It does take some getting used to, because at first glance it may look like 6pm, but it’s actually noon.  When it looks like 9am, it’s actually 6pm, and when it looks like 3pm it’s actually 6am.  Once you’ve worn it for a while your mind makes the adjustment but it does take a little while.

This movement is a hacking movement, meaning that when you pull out the crown to set the time, the second hand stops.  This allows you to synchronize the watch to a known standard time source.

This movement is probably the finest movement ever made in America, and I know I will get comments that disagree with me.  The Hamilton 992B movement (the same kind as in my Grandfather’s railroad pocket watch) and this movement (4992B) are very closely related.  The differences are the 12 vs 24 hour display, the hacking addition on the 4992B, and the center second hand on the 4992B.  The 992B has a sub second hand.  Both of these movements are literally the finest examples of American watchmaking.

On to the photos.  In one of the photos on my wrist, the watch is showing 11:30 pm.  In the other wrist photo, the watch is showing about 6:20 pm.

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