Howard Hughes has to be one of the most interesting Americans to ever live. He inherited astounding wealth at an early age, was a gifted engineer, and had a major role in the development of both commercial aviation and the movie industry. The H-4 Hercules, better known to many as the “Spruce Goose,” was perhaps his crowning achievement as an aviator and engineer. The Hercules was designed as a “flying boat,” and meant to transport heavy artillery for the American war effort. It was built almost entirely out of wood (birch, not spruce, despite the nickname) due to restrictions on heavy metals as part of the war effort. Famously, the plane wasn’t ready in time to actually be used in the Second World War, and Hughes’ efforts to build the plane became the subject of tense Congressional hearings, where he was accused of wasting taxpayer money on a plane that couldn’t fly. Ultimately, it did fly, briefly, in a 1947 test flight, and there has been something of a legend around the plane, and Hughes, ever since.
Bremont H-10 Hercules
- Case Material: Stainless steel, rose gold, platinum
- Dial: Black (stainless steel), brown (rose gold, platinum)
- Dimensions: 43 x 14.4mm
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Water Resistance: 100 meters
- Crown: Push/pull
- Movement: BWC/02
- Strap/bracelet: Leather
- Price: $11,895 (stainless steel), $22,495 (rose gold), $30,995 (platinum)
- Reference Number: n/a
- Expected Release: Available for pre-order now
Now, Bremont has created the Bremont H-4 Hercules collection, a series of watches in stainless steel and precious metals, to pay tribute to the Spruce Goose, and raise some money for its continued preservation in the collection of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR. Bremont founders Nick and Giles English have a genuine and deep interest in aviation, and have really gone all out for this new special edition, with their first-ever platinum watch, and small pieces of the Hercules built into the movement.
The watch itself is a relatively straightforward GMT in a classic pilot’s watch style. It’s fairly substantial, at 43mm across and 14.4mm thick, but for an instrument inspired pilot’s tool I think that’s more than appropriate. A 24 hour ring in two tones surrounds the outside of the dial, with a running seconds subdial at 9:00 and a date window cut at 6:00. Color choices here are sober, with the stainless steel option available in black, and the rose gold and platinum editions coming with sunburst brown dials. To my eye, the rose gold and brown dial pair especially well together.
Over the years, Bremont has become known for, among other things, incorporating physical elements of the aircraft that inspire their watches in the watches themselves. The H-4 Hercules is part of a continuing series of high end, extremely limited tribute watches in this vein, and I think aviation enthusiasts will be pleased with what Bremont has accomplished here. The open caseback reveals the BWC/02 movement, with a specially designed propeller shaped rotor featuring actual birch wood from the Spruce Goose in the propeller blades. The use of wood where we’d normally see something metallic has an interesting effect, and certainly lends a handmade feel to the finished product. The extent to which you find this appealing depends greatly on your interest in any number of things, namely aviation, Howard Hughes, and collecting extremely limited high end watches, but if you happen to fall into where those interests meet on a hypothetical Venn diagram, Bremont’s H-4 Hercules has an obvious appeal.
Given the nature of the materials used, production of the H-4 Hercules is understandably limited. Three hundred pieces will be made in stainless steel, and 75 each in rose gold and platinum. The H-4 Hercules is available for pre-order now on Bremont’s website, with delivery set to begin in December. Bremont