An outright jewel of military watches, probably second in my book to the funky, beloved JLC Mark 11. This is one military watch that gives the biggest bang for the buck. Freaking sweet and not that expensive (yet!) though that gets tempered by the fact they’re very rare!
I’m of course speaking about the far one on the right, the Hamilton Type 1 Military Watch.
Hard to find and issued only in Sept 1970 (at least for the US version), Hamilton was commissioned by the US Government to manufacture a larger than normal military timepiece making it easier for fighter and chopper pilots to read. I talked with a Vietnam Vet who confirmed he did see these with chopper pilots. This watch is often referred to as the “FAPD 5101” or “Type 1 Navigation”. Larger than the much more common GG-W-113, DTU/2A/P or Mil W-46374, the case measures approximately 47 mm from lug-to-lug, 36 mm in diameter (excluding the crown) and with 17-mm lug width and solid fixed bars.
I’ve held all the smaller field watches as well as almost all of the larger Hamilton “6B” class including the British versions.
Some comparison next to a couple GS variants:
None of them hold a candle in looks (hey this is my review, hence my perfect taste)…:leaving: So, unequivocally the Type 1 is by far the best looking IMHO, and more unique with its parkerized case and dial design. Kind of like an American-issued response to the earlier Mark 11. The Type 1 was also issued by the RAAF.
So here are the variants:
- US-Issued – FAPD 5101
- RAAF Issued Type 1 – “Large Font” RAAF
- RAAF Issued Type 1 – “Small Font” RAAF
So let’s get to the pics!
You can see the nice 24-hour and 12-hour dial is very legible with “Swiss” below the houndstooth market at 6 o’clock. There’s a certain heft to this watch that’s very surprising, especially compared to the much more common, run of the mill smaller mils from the 60s/70s etc. by Benrus, Hamilton etc.
Small Font RAAF
As rare as the FAPD 5101 is, the RAAF variants are even rarer. So when a Small Font RAAF popped up on eBay I couldn’t resist and almost fumbled over my keyboard in excitement. These too are very neat and interesting with a SS back to the parkerized case. It would appear (and I’m talking from only a couple examples) the smaller font RAAFs were later, at least they have higher serial numbers. Mine below is my minty Serial No 140.
I included pics of another from one of my friends. I think I’ve only seen 3 of these small font RAAFs.
Large Font RAAF
Below are pics of the equally uber rare Large Font RAAF. A caseback recently sold on eBay. Its pics is attached too below (serial number has been hidden).
This watch is powered by the fine 17-Jewel Hamilton Grade 684 manual wind movement which hacks. It looks like these “6B” class hammies went from the non-hacking 75 movement, then S75S and eventually morphed into the final 684 movement. One noticeable improvement Siew points out in the Cal 684 over the previous S75S was incorporating of micro regulating screw for fine timing adjustment. You can also see the antimagnetic dust cover below.
For some reason, my OCD likes to look at the different US Made straps, they do vary. There are 17 mm ones, slightly bigger than the more common 15/16” US strap. The below comparison of the black US bands attached demonstrates this, the one on the left with the weld mark is the 17 mm.
However, talking with a Vietnam vet who saw these on helicopter pilots wrists he said bands were always Olive Drab.
Talking with my good mate Watchadoo who’s handled more of the RAAFs than anyone, he unfortunately has never found empirical examples on straps so what was issued with RAAFs is unknown.
My RAAF came on a very nice, brand new (ableit 18 mm) Hirsch strap, I’m cutting it off with scissors to put it on a plain 17 MM OD. This is a military watch darn it, I find simplicity beautiful!