Alfonso Faustino: Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece

BEGIN UPDATE:

20-February-2022, @ 1000 Hours PST: I have been wearing this timepiece for three days straight, and I dig it! It runs strong and is about two minutes fast or right on the dot throughout its full wind-cycle. Remember, it’s a 1940’s vintage wrist timepiece; hence, I find it so appealing that it performs so well.

One full wind-cycle lasts ~1.5 days. I enjoy the routine of having to wind it…the last time I wound a wrist timepiece was when I was about 8 years old when my pappy bought me my first wrist timepiece — it was a Timex that he got me while we had fried chicken lunch at Woolworth’s on a Sunday afternoon.

It has no complications; and, all my wrist timepieces have at least one complication: DATE.

I find myself lost with this 1940’s WWII vintage wrist timepiece; because, it doesn’t have the date complication; but, that’s a minor thing — I just have to retrain my brain to memorize the date whenever my morning starts.

I’ve gotten so many compliments over it when my mum and I went to brunch yesterday, 19-February. It is definitely a talking piece, and catches peoples’ eyes within their visual range. As mentioned in this BLOG, it is not a large-sized watch — it is small and bold — and, being small and bold makes it look like a large sized watch.

I visited a wrist timepiece jeweler, and I was checking out the wrist timepieces on display, and the sales person noticed my 1940s Vintage WWII Hamilton Frogman Canteen, and she was just so amazed by the story behind my timepiece.

https://www.omegawatches.com/en-us/watches/speedmaster

She wanted to hold it; so, I took it off and let her try it on; and, she didn’t want to give it back — she just loved the simplicity of it and the colors; and, I totally agree and feel the same.

I’m so happy with my purchase! It’s been on my wrist for two of my past acting classes and three television-series auditions.

END UPDATE.

17-February-2021, 0812 Hours PDT:

Alrighty now, yesterday, at 1300, I took possession and custody of my Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece; and, I am very pleased with it.

Let’s start with my assessment of its authenticity; as, I mentioned in this BLOG, I am not a purist — my goal was NOT to get a junky, broken, dirty, rusted out, patina vintage wrist-timepiece — these broke down wrist timepieces have no appeal to me AT ALL. I want all those pieces reconditioned, refurbishes, or replaced with OEM parts from that specific timeframe.

The Case:

  • The case is the original 1940s case that has been reconditioned and refurbished to like-new condition as best as possible — there is patina on one of the lug post, but I’m fine with that.
  • Now, this part gets a little tricky for me; so, do your own research. Hamilton created two versions of the military issued timepieces…one for general military soldiers and personnel and one for the US Navy Frogmen diver’s use.

The general A-11 military use has “W” and “H” in the space between each lug post — so, one side should have “H” and the other side should have “W”. The Frogman Canteen of this era does not have these engravings.

The 748 Movement:

  • The movement is 748 and no hack. The movement that should be in there is the 987S SS49293; but, as I mentioned in this BLOG, that doesn’t matter to me. The 748 is an original Hamilton movement, and it is from the same era of Hamilton watches as the Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece — 1940s. I knew of this 748 movement at the time of purchase.
  • No hack feature. The 748 doesn’t hack, but the 987S does — not a problem — I knew of the absence of hacking at the time of my purchase — I’m not part of a Frogman team that needs to synch my timepiece to do a UDT mission to blow up a German submarine these days.

The Face:

I’m all about the face of the timepiece; if it ain’t got face it gots no place in my collection! My Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece has a wonderful authentic face, which has been cleaned up, reconditioned, and refurbished to OEM specifications. As I mentioned, I do not like rusted, dirty, broken anything on my wrist time-pieces — I want them all refurbished and reconditioned to be brought back up to like-new condition with OEM parts from that era. Check it!

  • USN BUSHIPS is properly scripted.
  • HAMILTON is also scripted on the face. A lot of fake Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece neglect this feature on the face; because, to the passing eye, you can’t see it; because, it is black on black…but, upon a cursory inspection, ah, there you are little fella.
  • The hands are the authentic original hands that have been refurbished and reconditioned.
  • The second hand has glow material on it — a nice feature from that era.

The hatch, canteen, crown, and crystal are authentic:

  • The back casing (hatch) is real and authentic — it has been polished up. U.S.N. 1657.C is engraved with the proper font and spacing for this timepiece of its era.
  • Check out the crown and the canteen latch — they are also authentic and original parts to my Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece.
  • Hamilton’s OEM double mineral crystal is just as it should be — it’s an OEM replacement, also shown in the picture, supra.

Radium Glow Material:

Glowing material has been added back to the face and hands. In the 1940s, timepiece manufacturers used radium, a radioactive material, which is hazardous, to make the numbers and hands glow. A lot of people painting the radium got nuclear poisoning and developed cancer and tumors. Once the government and health professionals found out of the dangers of radium, timepiece manufacturers had to put the radioactive nuclear ☢️ symbol on the face of the watches; so, the earlier vintage wrist timepieces don’t have the radioactive symbol, and the later vintage wrist to pieces do — mine does not have the radioactive logo on its face.

Photo Credit: Chrono24: This is an authentic Military-issue 1969 Vietnam A-11 Wrist Timepiece given to soldiers. It has Radium. The seller mentioned they are new-old watches, meaning, they are new watches, old in that they are no longer produced, and have been sitting in storage for decades.

Eventually, in the late 1970s or early 1970s, radium was no longer used and replaced with the glow-materials of various nature we have today. Through the passage of time, the radium would break down into a powdery nature, which is especially dangerous because of its airborne potential. Once the timepiece technician pops open the case, he or she runs the risk of be exposed to radioactive poisoning; so, if you have one of these timepieces, you might have the challenge of finding a watch-technician open to the idea of working on your vintage wrist timepiece.

NOTE: Do additional research on my assessment of radium…the accuracy of my assertion, supra, could be partially off.

END NOTE.

The Hamilton 1940s 748 Movement:

Keeps good time. The 748 movement, without hack, is a mechanical movement from the 1940s, and it was used for civilian dress wrist timepieces. It is a reliable, accurate, beautiful, easy-to-maintain movement, which is favored by people refurbishing the Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepieces. If you want the original 987S movement with hack, expect to pay over $1000 for a specimen of this quality.

The Size:

Lets take a look a the size…it’s small to my standards — I’ve always worn big heavy 38MM – 42MM wrist timepieces — my Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece comes in at ~26MM.

I have small wrists, so I can get away wearing this small timepiece.

I figure most guys have bigger wrists than me; so, I’m wondering, why did Hamilton make the Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece at 26MM?

The picture, supra, shows size comparison from 42MM, 38MM, and 26MM.

Water-resistant: 30 ATM:

The Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece is good for 30ATM; now, I won’t be going that deep, ever; but, I will be swimming, showering, and bathing with it on. The watchmaker of this specimen said, “Go for it!”

I’m really enjoying this on my wrist. It is nostalgic, unique, and really cool-looking.

For these reasons, I’m very pleased with my purchase. Expect to pay anywhere from $160 – $300 for this fine refurbished, reconditioned, Hamilton Vintage WWII Frogman UDT USN BUShips Wrist Timepiece with the 748 movement.

For me, this was money well-spent!

END UPDATE.

Before I begin, let me lay down my foundation:

  • I am a complete newby in this area; I literally learned the little I know about this genre and the timepieces therein, 13-February-2022; and,
  • I anticipate I might be making some, if not a lot of, errors in my assertions and assessments of timepieces in this genre.

Through my readings of Hamilton and Bulova’s history of their participation in our country’s war engagements, both brands, in addition to others, such as, but not limited to, Elgin and Waltham, played a major role as functional and needed tools for our fighters.

The WWII era captured my interest; because, of my father. My father fought in four major wars: Japanese invasion in the Philippines, end of WWII, Korean War, and the beginning of Viet Nam. When General MacArthur visited the Philippines, he created a program for any Filipino man who was interested in joining the US Army and becoming an American instantly. You had to be 18 years or older. My father was 17 years old; he lied about his age; and, he signed on with the US Army. He stayed four years with the US Army, and he transferred to the US Navy. After 35 years of service, he retired from the US Navy.

When I was a kid, my father always said, America was the greatest country in the world. His goal was to be an American, and the only way he could was to join the US military.

He came to America with only $200 in his pocket — his dedication to working and saving money to build a strong future for me, my mum, and sister was his only goal and interests in life. He succeeded. My life is so blessed because of my father. Yes, my mum and sister, too. My father created the Big Bang for the creation of his world for my mum, sister, and I to live and flourish.

Reading about the war history of Hamilton, Bulova, Elgin, Waltham, reminded me about my father; because, these companies built timepieces for the US military for all the wars of which my father fought.

Because of people like my father, you and I have the freedoms we have today — yeah, yeah, yeah, I know…are we really free with this whole Cancel Culture and so on? That’s a topic for another time. Anyway, for this BLOG, we are free Americans.

So, I gravitated to two timepiece companies: Hamilton and Bulova, and I began my search towards the acquisition of a WWII or Korean War wrist timepiece.

I gravitated toward Hamilton.

Now, those of you that know me know I don’t buy used stuff — all my wrist timepieces are brand new.

All the vintage wrist timepieces are used many times over — that alone doesn’t appeal to me…I really don’t care who wore it and where was it worn — I am not the type of person that likes old-looking, rusted, partially broken, and dirty wrist timepieces.

So, what do I do?

I started to look at refurbished and reissued wrist timepieces. The reissued time pieces looked great, but most of them are quartz = battery-powered. Here is an example of a reissue:

The reissue models, to me, do not look at all authentic and vintage. The face, dials, and font are not authentic for the 1940s era. The script for USN BUSHIPS is wrong and incorrectly written.

The rear case is incorrect in the format, script, and process. Ugly and cheap.

I have a principle in my wrist timepieces that I always follow: Absolutely no battery-powered wrist timepieces. To this day, I have NEVER and NEVER will purchase a battery-powered wrist timepiece.

Because of my inflexible principle, supra, reissues seemed to be out of the market for me.

Next comes the refurbished models. Okay…yeah, they are used, but they are repaired and reconditioned authentic wrist timepieces that are brought up to close-to-new-condition.

Here is an example, supra, of a refurbished reconditioned A-11 Elgin that is not a Frogman but part of the series of USN Vintage WWII wrist timepieces.

It’s the real timepiece that was created back in the 1940s and worn by USN personnel during WWII.

Hamilton uses “.” in there script, supra, whereas Elgin does not, as shown, below.

I was okay in being flexible with purchasing an old-new-reconditioned refurbished and vintage wrist timepiece.

Next step, what type of vintage wrist timepiece do I want? Civilian or military?

I chose Military; and, I even broken it down one step more — not just any military, but, specifically, USN — only US Navy-issued wrist timepieces; because, my father retired out of the US Navy.

So, I targeted the USN Frogman Canteen made by Hamilton.

I remember my father was telling me about USN Frogmen; I was about 6 years old, and my pappy and I were watching television, and the scene was about two Frogmen setting up underwater bombs to blow up German submarines; so, I asked my pappy, “what’s a frogman?” He explained to me. Present day changed the term Frogman to US Navy SEALs, which do Frogman stuff along with other stuff these days.

I started to specify my search to what types of wrist timepieces did frogmen wear during WWII?

Canteen diving wrist timepieces produced by Bulova, Elgin, and Hamilton.

I started to do my research on this model…there are a lot of information out there, and I found it really tough to find an article that said, “If you want a Hamilton Frogman Canteen, look for this, that, and this.”

I had to determine the type of collector I am and the purpose of my purchase.

My father always taught me about achieving my goals; and, part of achieving my goals was to focus on know what you want.

I applied my father’s teachings of goal-achievement by doing the following:

What type of collector am I?

I’m not a purist — in other words, I don’t have to have all original parts, but I do want certain things to be authentic — primarily the case, face, and hands. The movement can be a mechanical or automatic movement made by Hamilton. It could be a current-day movement or a movement specific to that era that has been reconditioned or refurbished. The movement must NOT be Japanese — come on, the Japanese was our (USA) enemy at that time — how stupid would I look if I was bragging about this timepiece and told people it has a Japanese movement?

What do I want?

I want an original case, face, and hands that’s all refurbished or replaced with face, hands, and case that were from that period, 1940s, and from Hamilton — I want Hamilton parts. I want it to be fully functional, such as, but not limited to, keeping accurate time. I want it water resistant to the specs for that era.

What will I use it for?

To wear and talk about it at dinner parties and social events. I am not looking to sell it nor looking to it as an investment. I don’t buy luxury items for investments. I buy them to satisfy my pride of ownership, bragging rights, and ego. If I want investments, I buy stocks and real estate.

Mission Accomplished and Goal Achieved.

I purchased this refurbished and reconditioned Vintage Hamilton WWII Frogman Canteen Divers Wrist Timepiece.

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING ASSERTION IS MY PERSONAL ASSESSMENT BASED UPON MY LIMITED RESEARCH AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE INFORMATION I FOUND THUS FAR — I AM STILL VERIFYING MY ASSERTION: According to my research, this timepiece used the 987 series movement and eventually ended up with the 987S movement. The movement in my timepiece appears to be replaced with a 1940s reconditioned and refurbished 748 movement. The 748 movement, according to my research, was used for the Hamilton vintage 1940s non military wrist timepieces.

As mentioned in my NOTE, supra, my assertion could be entirely false, which means the 748 could have been the original movement that Hamilton used for that particular timepiece, and later changed out to the 987-series movement as Hamilton produced future wrist timepieces for that era and military project — if this is true, then that would be a real cool feature about this wrist timepiece. I still have to do my research on this issue.

NOTE: Update: 16-February-2022: I communicated with the seller and asked about the 748 movement. He informed me that the 987-series movement is the movement that Hamilton used for this model wrist timepiece; but, due to the high cost of parts, maintenance, and finding a working 987-series movement, he used the 1940s 748 movement. This is a common practice for refurbished and reconditioned wrist timepieces of this model and era — so, if you’re a purist, this is NOT the wrist timepiece for you.

END NOTE.

Anyway…like I mentioned, I don’t care about having the original 987, 987A, 987F, nor the 987S movement — I ain’t gonna sell it; and, I ain’t a purist; hence, all I care about the 748-movement is that is was made by Hamilton; and, the movement IS NOT A JAPANESE MOVEMENT NOR A BATTERY-POWERED MOVEMENT like the reissued products that are out there right now.

I’m very pleased with my purchase; the timepiece will arrive 18-February-2022. Once I get possession and custody of it, I will update this BLOG with my impressions and the performance of the timepiece.

I am really excited to take possession and custody of this timepiece, and I hope it will meet my expectations. We will see, soon.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino