The Hamilton 6BB 75003-3 “GS” Military Watch, was produced between the mid-60’s and 70’s and as its name suggests, is a special version, designed for use in tropical areas.
The first thing you notice, when looking at this watch, is the striking resemblance to the IWC Mark XI (and the JLC!) British Military watches made around the same time. Like these models, the Hamilton is recognisable by its simple 36 mm stainless-steel case, black dial with Arabic numerals and Tritium luminous hour markers.
Why so similar?
The reason is simple; the Hamilton GS (made by Hamilton Switzerland, rather than Hamilton USA.), replaced the Mark XI in the British Forces inventory! Both were built to the same British Government specification, with a steel case, high visibility dial, anti-magnetic protection and hacking seconds.
Our particular Hamilton GS watch is in lovely unrestored condition. Everything looks “just so”, the dial is crisp; the hands are original; although the Second hand has been repainted to Orange at some stage in its life. The original White paint can be seen, below the beautifully faded pale Orange, when looking at it, using a 10X Loop.
The matt black dial has a large luminous inverted triangle marking the 12 o’clock position; there are large luminous blocks marking the other quarter hours and smaller luminous dots for the remainder of the numbers. The dial also has full Arabic numbers (apart from the 12) printed in white. Everything you need and nothing more!
The Tritium hour markers are “grubby” but they still glow after exposure to strong sunlight. Not bad for a watch that’s over 40 years old!
The dial is also printed with “G.S.” above the “6” indicating that this watch was made for the British Military General Service division and would have been issued to a non-military member of the British armed forces; primarily in the Commonwealth, but also to overseas Diplomatic establishments abroad. In addition, they also acted as a “cover” for several military personnel who helped other nations organise their own security and law enforcement, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government.
James Bond, 007 anyone?
The case and crown are untouched and show only light scratching from daily wear. All the edges to the case are nice and crisp, indicating it has never been polished. The lugs and strap bars are in good shape too.
The movement is a Hamilton Cal. S76S with 17 jewels. It is jewelled to the centre wheel and has a direct drive sweep seconds hand. The movement is protected from magnetic influences by a Faraday cage comprising a soft iron movement ring, removable movement cover and an extra thick dial.
The screw down case back has some deeper scratches to it. The main one being from somebody’s clumsy attempt to remove the case back and the tool they were using must have slipped!
The case back is engraved with the usual information about the watch. To the centre is engraved the Hamilton “H” with Troicalized and 75003-3 (the model number) below. Above the “H” is engraved 150oE which indicates the magnetic shield exceeds 150 Oersted (1oE = 79.577 amperes per meter). Finally, around the edge is engraved “Shockproof, Anti-Magnetic, Waterproof” and “Temperature Compensated”. All as expected.
What is intriguing is; there are additional “scratched” markings made to the sloped part of the case back.
The first engraving is above the word “Temperature” and reads “J/4151 (2480)” and the second can be found above the word “Shockproof” and reads “137/FA”. We have also discovered, engraved to the inner-face of the case back, “R4675BH”.
What do these engravings mean?
Well, we are not experts and have absolutely no idea! However, let’s let our imaginations take over for a minute. When typing “J-4151” into Google and searching images the first image that comes up is this…
J-4151 leading four F58s (J-4030, J-4027, J-4022, J-4100) late 1970s.
Photograph possibly SAF origin
© Alfred Damen, 2013
J-4151 (build number 2533 from Hawker Aircraft Ltd) was first flown by David Lockspeiser and was delivered to the Linton on Ouse Station Flight.
It was returned to HAL in 1973 and was converted into a Swiss F.Mk58.A and was delivered to the Swiss Air Force, on the 30th January 1975. It was crashed at Lac de Neuchatel on the 11th May 1979.
Could this be David Lockspeiser’s watch?
Hang on a minute, that HAL build number is close to the bracketed number of our watch (2480)! Build number 2480 was also a Hawker Hunter, but this time J-4098. J-4098 was first flown on the 19th January 1960 by Don Lacey.
Could this be Don Lacey’s watch?
It would appear that both David and Don were test pilots for Hawker, as they both appear very regularly on the “first flight” roster. It would also make sense that these ex-military men would be issued with a “GS” or General Services watch. Is that why the second hand has been repainted Orange so it could be seen more easily in the cockpit of a Hawker Hunter?
Was it so? We have no idea!
But, this is one of the wonders of owning a vintage watch. They have stories to tell and histories to uncover. A true glimpse into the past, is possible, with a little research.
One of the things I have learned while researching this watch is; what an amazing person David Lockspeiser was! If you have time, it is well worth reading his Biography/Obituary here… http://www.rafjever.org/118sqnper014.htm