... Hero Components

Having now examined Alpha, we know with certainty the parts Wah utilized to make his two motorized hero communicators.

Wonderfully, all these parts are readily available today with a little searching...


Used in Alpha is a one-jewel 30 second (also referred to as a "1/10 second" for the increments it can measure to) Swiss-made stopwatch that includes an internal protective cover plate (removed from the picture on the right).  The brand is "Temlex Trading Co." which is uncommonly rare to find today on eBay - in fact years of search have turned up none.  Beta may or may not have the same brand.  To operate the stopwatch:  one press of the knob starts, the second stops, and the third resets to zero.  Therefore, it has no reset button on the side.  The rewind knob is spherical.  The outside diameter of the housing is 1.95" and is rounded at all points - no rims, creases, reveal lines, indentations, or flat or cylindrical surfaces anywhere.  This is important because as you seek to buy your own accurate stopwatch to build a hero replica with, you will see many with these extra features that you'll now know to avoid if you want it authentic-styled.

Over the years from different manufacturers in different countries have come an enormous variety of mechanical stopwatches.  Be wary - from a distance and even sometimes up close many can in online photos look similar.  And because they tend not to be inexpensive ($25-$60+) and can be collector's items in their own right, you will want to school yourself here as best as possible to spot precisely what you want.  However, owing to the endless styles and variations out there, we can only show you so much before you have to dive in.  Total success from on-line purchasing is not guaranteed until you actually have it in your hand, back cover off, and happily ticking away.

Below are the most common varieties available today.  The one on the left, what we call Type A, is the exact style in Alpha:

A couple notes about what you see above:

1)  This is by no means all the different styles out there.  This is only a representative grouping.  Type C is by far the most frequently seen, and while they can be obtained for a really good price, they are thicker and much heavier than A.

2)  Types A and B are nearly identical - the only difference being the reset knob in B (which can always be removed, leaving just a hole).  When making an accurate hero comm, B's are great to use too. 

3)  The decorative "Compteur De Sport" printed on this B's inside cover is found occasionally in a few brands like Apollo and Thalco.  It is not common and can always be sanded off if you don't like the look.

Directly above are the Types A / B, showing the constantly rounded surfaces, compared to the C (which besides being larger almost always has vertical sides.)  We offer additional close-up pictures of A, B and C below, all at the same scale, to assist your shopping:

A       A       A       B       C

As further aid to your search, you can immediately disregard from consideration the following manufacturers, as every style we have seen from them has been much larger and heavier (like Type E), and often with a much different rewind knob (at right>>) than what Wah utilized:  Heuer, Breitling, Hanhart, Minerva, Gallet, Meylan, Jules Racine, Junghans, Marcel, Galco, Clebar, Clark, Ingraham, NuLine, and Omega.  Soviet and Russian stopwatches were unavailable here during the mid-1960s (remember the Cold War?), so even though they may tempt today with price, we suggest you avoid.  Also, having a hinge like in Type D is a dead giveaway that you probably don't want it.

It should lastly be noted that when push comes to shove, nearly any mechanical stopwatch, including those on the "don't use" list above, can be made to physically fit inside a comm shell.  Our task here is not to discourage creativity or have you incur greater cost in passing up cheaper or more readily available models, but simply to guide you on what is most historically accurate.

Where to get:
If you are committed to getting as close to authentic as possible, we recommend focusing on Types A and B.  And the good news... odds are in your favor that at least one of these is currently on sale as you read this.  B's are much more common than A's.  Start out with keywords Stop Watch Swiss and Stopwatch Swiss, though this might limit what comes up.  Removing the word "Swiss" gets you lots (and lots) more, so then you need to do some culling.  Start building up your own list of "omit" words, like "-Russian" or "-digital" that pare down your search to a manageable size without excluding the often vaguely-worded descriptions of items you actually do want to find.

Many Type A and B stopwatches are listed as "7 jewel" rather than Alpha's "1 jewel."  This seems to make absolutely no difference.  Having had both opened up side by side, they look, weigh, and operate the exact same as each other.  However, if a stopwatch for sale is listed as having more than 7 jewels, take a pass.

Once you have found one that looks good, if you are not 100% certain, ask about the weight.  Most sellers are hesitant to pry off the back of their item for you to get a sense of the insides, but many have a postage or a diet scale that weighs roughly to the ounce.  2 ounces is a keeper.  3 oz. gets thrown back in the pond.  And just when you think you've got it all figured out, the occasional A or B, even when perfect every other way, comes without the inner dust cover (probably having been lost during a long-ago cleaning).  Buyer beware... and good luck!

Moiré Pattern

We have developed a unique method by which you can obtain from a commercial print shop a transparency sheet with multiple HD rows of perfect Edmund #4 radial patterns... at a razor-sharp 3,000 dpi!  Finally no more clumping of the tiny lines in the center:

> > > The Details - PRINT A HIGH DEFINITION HERO PATTERN #4  < < < <

For more conventional printing means, you can also download the radial pattern to output on your laser or inkjet printer on the page Moiré and Moiré Bezel.

The only piece of the entire communicator we have never seen, since it is completely hidden from view, is the connection / spacer between the stopwatch second-hand axle and the lower paper #4 radial moiré pattern.    All efforts to view it have been unsuccessful, so you must use your imagination in figuring out how you want to raise the paper up to near-contact with the underside of the transparency.

Brass Tube

This is a 7/32" diameter brass tube, cut to a length of 1-1/8 inches.

Where to get:
Not a common size, but still made by K&S metals.  Available in hobby / hardware stores or online.  The original tube had a slightly smaller wall thickness, but from the outside, this new stuff is a dead ringer.

Brass Rewind Catch Peg

This is a 3/64" brass rod.  To install it firmly and cleanly inside the brass tube with the necessary structural strength, a hole was drilled straight through both walls of the brass tube.  Then this rod was slid in, soldered at both ends, and the protruding excess was cut and sanded down to be flush with the outside tube surface.

Where to get:
Again still made by K&S metals.  Available in hobby / hardware stores or online.

Rubber Hose

The plain 3/16" (inside diameter) dark brown rubber hose with 1/16" thick walls (5/16" outside diameter), cut to a 1-1/6" length, acts as a universal joint between the stopwatch rewind knob and the brass tube (which do not physically touch each other), since their axis of rotation are at different angles.  This same size hose is available today, just in different colors.  Be aware that pushing a hose this size over the brass tube and the knob of the stopwatch is a bit challenging and might require a drop of lubrication (like water or glycerin).

You can get something quick, crude and cheap that comes close - namely a common commercial 5/32" I.D. black rubber hose for vacuum lines, which have embedded in them a nylon thread to prevent them from being stretched too long - see right >>.  Sold by the foot anywhere.  Or you can get something that takes a few more easy steps that ends up looking downright perfect - see below.  You may note in the Alpha pic at the top of this page the outside end of the hose is nestled up against the midplate cutout as if it was to prevent the hose from being pushed off the stopwatch knob.  Rest assured that once pushed fully on, the hose grips the knob tight enough to stay put without any help.

To get it spot on, start with amber-colored latex tube:

The raw color you see above is of course far too pale, so you need to dye it.  Fishermen use the same technique when making lures with the material.  Obtain a box of "Rit" dark brown fabric dye powder at any crafts store.  Less than $2.  Any other brand will no doubt do just as well.  Open up the packet into 2 cups of hot water to dissolve and pour that into a large pot filled with maybe a half-gallon of heated water.  Stir and keep on a low steamy simmer - not a rolling boil.  Put in your length of tube, which you might want to cut into two or more segments just to make each more wieldy.  Five minutes or so of constant stirring will change the rubber color into a consistent rich dark brown that fully penetrates the whole thickness.  Remove the hose lengths to the sink and rinse off the little bit of excess dye.  Dry and you're done to perfect effect (below).  Wear your grubby clothes as drops that fling off the tube will naturally dye spots on the fabric.

Where to get:
The 3/16" I.D. 1/16" wall (5/16" O.D.) amber latex rubber tube is sold from many sites, but commonly at 50' lengths or more.  One site we've found that offers it at reasonable 10 ft. lengths ($0.96 per ft.) is www.mcmaster.com.  Enter product code #5234K32, or search criteria latex tubing for all options.

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