Antique pocket watches can be found in a variety of conditions. Some need a full restoration and others can be found as immaculate gems that collectors and dealers dream of owning. But the story of Shinji Mikamo, who lost everything when the nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, in 1945, except for his father’s pocket watch, is a truly remarkable one.
The start of it all
The then 19-year old Shinji was sent to a makeshift military hospital in the Hiroshima delta, separating him from his injured father, following the dropping of the bomb.
Three months passed, and Shinji was able to walk again. He headed went back to where his house stood. Shinji began to sift through the debris when he saw a flash. It was the sun reflecting on an object: his father’s silver pocket watch.
“At that moment, my father knew his father was dead,” Shinji’s son explained. “Something about the watch told him that. He burst into tears on the site with the watch in his hand. Now, he was really on his own.”
The watch had been given to Shinji’s grandfather for his work as a photographer who took portraits of the Emperor.
The amazing discovery
The watch had stopped working at the very moment of the blast, forever marking that moment in time, at 8.15. The watch’s hands had actually been wiped out, although the heat from the blast embossed the hands’ image on the face of the timepiece in the permanent position of 8:15. Remarkably, the watch had withstood the blast and Shinji was simply astounded that such a delicate timepiece was able to last through such a devastating event.
The watch remained as Shinji’s one and only family heirloom. When Hiroshima was officially designated as an International Peace Memorial City, he made the decision to donate it to the Peace Memorial Museum so that people could share in the amazement of the pocket watch that stood the test of time… and a nuclear bomb.
Image: Gordon Stradley/Pinterest
*This blog was updated on 14th June 2017.