Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Watch

Now from time to time, those familiar with the world of military aviation will hear of or make reference to the idea of those who operate military aircraft having a predilection for chronometers of rather large proportions. That is, big watches.

It also seems that in the realm of smaller one or two seat jet propelled aircraft, designed to go very fast and mix it up with other smaller one or two seat jet propelled aircraft, also designed to go very fast, but wearing different colors and/or markings (that is, fighters) a big watch is de rigeur.

Now the boys and girls who make a living in this particular realm of military aviation go by the name of "Pilot" in the Air Force and "Naval Aviator" in the Navy. As regards the Marine Corps I'll fall back on the OAFSSRFTOTN*:

A United States Naval Aviator may be a commissioned officer or warrant officer qualified as a pilot of the United States Navy or a commissioned officer of the United States Marine Corps or United States Coast Guard.
Now I do not make mention of the US Army here, my apologies to the soldiers in my audience. It's just that we're talking fast movers here, not (ahem) "choppers" (as I believe the Army calls them), "helos" is what I call them. (I'm sure RJL would be completely comfortable with the term "rotary winged aircraft" or something equally technical. He's like that and we love him for it. In a manly, non-threatening way, of course.)

Now I do know one or two rotor-heads and I believe they too have the "big watch affectation". It's fighter aircraft I'm familiar with, so I'll stick with that. Helicopter operators are welcome to chime in down there in the comments.

My son-in-law, Big Time has many large time pieces. Some of great value. He owns a Breitling. I once asked him if he wore that while flying.

There was a long pause. He looked at me with his steely Naval Aviator gaze. It was as if I'd said, "So Son, do you wear women's clothing to go gambling in Reno?"

After that long pause, wherein I'm sure he was wondering how much of my idiocy was hereditary, fearing for his daughter's future no doubt, he said, "No Dad. Are you kidding? Do you know how much a Breitling costs?"

I assured him that I was aware of how expensive these fine instruments for professionals retailed for and that my question was, indeed, rhetorical.

At any rate it seems my fascination with Big Time's watch collection did not go unnoticed. A  Christmas or two later I received a joint gift from the WSO and the Missus. That fine time piece depicted at the beginning of this post, in fact.

I feel humbled and honored to own such a time piece. Now I need a Super Hornet. To go with the watch. I keep dropping hints but I've been told not to hold my breath.

Well a fella can dream can't he?

*OAFSSRFTOTN = Old Air Force Sarge Standard Reference for Things of This Nature. Which would be Wikipedia. Make note of this for future reference. As a matter of fact, I'm going to run over and put this on the Acronym Page right now. Wait here.... Done!


  1. For which we in SF have some observations about time pieces which shall not be posted here.

    My favorite time piece is my 1976 Omega Speedmaster also known as the "Moon watch". Picked so as to provide reliable, non-electric time for long duration missions behind enemy lines. Think many, many months to years.

    Non-electric because back in the day, you couldn't use an electric watch while working with explosives. There had been an incident where about 8 students and their instructors had died when an electric watch caused an electrically operated firing circuit to detonate while they were tying their individual charges in to the ring main. This was a long time ago when digital watches were very new and electrical watches had not yet benefited from the introduction of CMOS circuitry and its attendant extreme low power requirements.

    Both of my children have teethed on it.

    It has was my primary watch during all of my HALO jumps.

    Yup. I knew how much it cost.

    I bought it to use during SF deployments. It would work in outer space, why not at 30,000 feet? And, if I was jumping from that high and had a watch singularly qualified to operate without issue at and after exposure to those altitudes, it would not make sense not to use it.

    To me, they're all birds. Exfil birds, infil birds, or jump birds, but they're birds. Crash hawks, Shithooks, Little Birds, Paves (yeah, I know about Pavehawks, but give me a frickin' bone here), and 53s. Hueys back in the day.

    Choppers dates the user to the days of Hueys.

    Nowadays I normally wear my Seiko dive watch but tonight I happen to have the Omega on for a change.


    1. I would reckon that the SF community would choose a time piece for it's reliability and accuracy, not for its looks. Pilots apparently want all three. Plus size.

      The Omega Speedmaster is a beautiful watch, your comment twigged a long dormant memory, so I Googled the image of the watch. Some good photos but the memory is that a buddy of mine had always wanted that particular watch. Don't know if he ever got it, we went our separate ways and lost touch a jillion years ago.

      Birds. Of course. Not sure how I forgot that term. I'm guessing because my job and my family is pretty much all about the Navy. Shithooks, heh. Almost had a Shithook rotor tip take the top off a bus I was riding on the ramp near the MAC terminal at Kadena. Damn bus driver wasn't quite paying attention. Bus did stop, just in time. That was one pissed off CH-47 driver!

      That watch in the photo is also a space watch. As used by cosmonauts. It's still an awesome watch though.

  2. My Ol' Man had a watch fetish and he never even sniffed a cockpit. I was blessed in that I got a couple of his hand-me-downs, the best being a pretty spiffy Girard Perregaux. I have NO ideer what happened to that watch... the last time I remember seein' it was sometime in the late '70s. More's the pity, too.

    I gave up wearing a watch last year sometime when the battery on my Lassale died. I figgered I really didn't NEED a watch any longer and my phone tells me what time it is if I'm not near a clock.

    1. The Girard Perregaux is a neat looking watch, the Lassale on the other hand is beautiful. You had fine tastes in time pieces Buck.

  3. A watch... it's been like forever since I wore a watch.
    I figured I didn't need one because about the only places I go where there are no clocks are bathrooms, churches and casinos... and I only go to one of those regularly.
    Besides, it leaves a tan line.


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