This New Pilot’s Watch Helps Keep the Last Remaining B-24 Bomber Plane in Flight

Paige Reddinger

Of the more than 18,000 B-24 bombers built for combat during WWII, only one remains in flying condition today. The B24J (serial number 44-44052) is kept in flight by The Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts 76 years after it first took to the skies. Built by the Consolidated Aircraft Company in Fort Worth, Texas in 1944, the aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force, which transferred it to the Royal Air Force which flew the plane in combat in the Pacific Theater in operations that ranged from bombing to the re-supplying of troops.

Today its mission is a peaceful one—flying on the annual Wings of Freedom tour, the B-24 visits over 120 cities nationwide as a symbol of American patriotism and as a piece of our nation’s aviation history. But it takes a lot to keep it in the air, requiring a cost of $4,000 for every hour it flies. The Collings Foundation relies on annual donations to keep the bird in the sky, so the Scottsdale, Arizona-based watchmaker Geoffrey Roth has made a special limited-edition timepiece in tribute to the B-24. A portion of its proceeds goes directly to the foundation to keep it in flight.

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The 250-piece HH7 watch ($2,250) is milled from 316L of stainless steel and features SuperLuminova printing on a black dial with “Witchcraft” printed in yellow in a tribute to the B-24H, built by Ford. Delivered to the 467th bomb crew and flown to England, it saw combat in over 130 missions and, incredibly, never had a single person on board that was killed or injured. The caseback of the 42 mm watch comes with a special engraving of the B-24J “Witchcraft” liberator.

For each watch sold, $250 will be donated to The Collings Foundation to keep its B-24 in flying condition. The sale of all of the pieces would cover over 15 and a half hours of flight time. Due to the pandemic, the Wings of Freedom tour is currently on hiatus, but when it returns you can book a 30-minute ride on the B-24 Liberator, which holds a minimum of 6 passengers and a maximum of 10, for $475 a person.

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