Clocked

Eight day wind-up

I have a clock recovered from the cockpit of a USAF plane. Possibly an F4 Phantom. Possibly a U2 spy plane.

Probably something more mundane though...

It is a Wakmann Lemania A-13A USAF 17 jewel aircraft clock plus 1 hour timer, made in Switzerland by Breitling to USAF military specification. It has an eight day movement, ie it only needs winding every eight days.

Something about it really resonates with me. I am no military history fetishist, far from it in fact, so it is nothing to do with that. Perhaps it is because it is probably over 40 years old, an analogue relic of the cold war period, long since superseded by more sophisticated technology.

Despite its age, it still keeps perfect time. And that is all the more surprising considering the forces it was built deal with: zero G, 2G acceleration, 100% humidity, sub-zero temperatures and the like. And I'm assuming it has had to deal with some or all of these.

I think it is this that appeals to me. It is a jolie laide compact lump of metal, about 6cms width and height, 3cms depth, painted mat-black with a big easy to read 5cms dial and bright hands, with the 60 minutes of the timer arranged on the outside of the dial. There is a big knurled metal winding and adjustment button plus a push button for the timer on two of the corners, built to be operated by a gloved hand. On the opposite corners are the screws that fix it to the fascia. It is surprisingly heavy for something so small, especially considering it is from an aeroplane. It is built like a brick shithouse in fact.

Sitting on my desk it is unassuming. But staring at it I wonder where it has been, what forces it has been subjected to, how it has been used. It is an interesting distraction in its retirement.

Oh, and I hope it isn't radioactive...

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