What an amazing week it has been in Rio. American Michael Phelps ends his record breaking career with 5 Golds and 1 Silver at Rio 2016 (an unprecedented 23 Olympics Golds lifetime total) and superstar sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica last night won his third consecutive Olympic 200m sprint, which in addition to his third consecutive 100m Gold, gives him a “triple double” and a shot at an unprecedented “triple triple” if the Jamaicans can pull off a Gold in the men’s 4×100 relay this weekend. But enough about that, let’s get to some watches.
With the Games of the XXXI Olympiad approaching their end, its about time for everyone to head home, and most will be flying. Which, along with the fact that today is National Aviation Day, brings me to this week’s “Buying Time” lineup, pilot’s watches. Most watch enthusiasts will at some point in their journey covet this type of watch. Like many styles in watchmaking, there is no strict definition of what makes a watch a “pilot’s watch” but certain characteristics do stand out: large cases (better visibility) and large crowns (for handling with gloves on) come to mind in a historical context, whereas useful features such as digital LCD displays with flight timer and alarm functions represent the more modern version of pilot’s watch technology. For me it is simply comes down to “knowing one when I see one” and that’s what we’ve got today. Check ’em out.
IWC Big Pilot IW5004-01
46.2mm steel case, automatic mechanical IWC cal 51110
For me, IWC is often the first that comes to mind when I think of a Pilot’s Watch. The first Special Pilot’s Watch left the IWC factory in 1936. It was the start of a special relationship between IWC Schaffhausen and flying. Just four years later came the 52-calibre T. S. C. Big Pilot’s Watch, the first observer’s watch with a case measuring 55 millimetres in diameter and an instrument-inspired appearance. Its design was to provide IWC with the inspiration for the Mark 11, produced from 1948 onwards. This, the best known of the Pilot’s Watches from the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer, was originally built for the Royal Air Force and has been in constant use for more than 30 years. In 2003, IWC launched the first Pilot’s Watch series named after the legendary British aircraft, the Spitfire. Since 2006, IWC has unveiled a series of Pilot’s Watch special editions in honour of the outstanding books and life’s work of the French author and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In 2007, for the first time ever, a watch bearing the name TOP GUN joined the IWC Pilot’s Watch lineup. In 2012, IWC’s year of the Pilot’s Watches, the TOP GUN collection became a dedicated line in the Pilot’s Watch family. For the first time ever, it included the Miramar models with their authentic military design. This IWC Big Pilot’s Ref 5004 in many ways represents the quintessential Pilot’s watch. The Ref 5004 was replaced in 2016 by the Ref 5009, though the differences between the two are fairly subtle. You can see more pics, specs and get purchase details on this full set (box and papers), right here>>>
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph IW3717-01
42mm steel case
Another great pilot’s watch, but with chronograph function. The Pilot’s chrono 3717 has been replaced by the ref 3777, and again the differences are fairly subtle. You can see more pics, specs and get purchase details on this full set (box and papers), right here>>>
Breitling Cockpit B50 Night Mission VB501022/BD41
46mm titanium case with black finish, quartz multifunction caliber
This Breitling Cockpit 50 quartz multifunction watch on rubber strap perhaps speaks to the more pragmatic pilot’s watch buyer. The Breitling Caliber B50 powers both an analog and digital-display specially developed for aviation. It’s 46mm titanium case with black finish makes this the “Night Mission” version. Great look, great functionality. You can see more pics, specs and get purchase details on this full set (box and papers), right here>>>
Bell & Ross BR01-93 GMT
46mm steel case with black finish
Bell & Ross draws heavily on cockpit instruments to inspire its watch designs. The BR 01-93 is a very legible watch (with a great lume shot), with an orange GMT hand to mark a second timezone. The automatic mechanical movement is the 2893 calibre from ETA. Despite its large 46mm square case, the watch is fairly thin at 10.3mm and lays surprisingly flat on the wrist. This watch is currently offered on Bell & Ross’s e-boutique at $5,000. This pre-owned piece is offered at 40% less than that. More pics, specs and get purchase details on this full set (box and papers), right here>>>
Breguet Transatlantique Type XXI Flyback 3810ST/92/9ZU
42.5mm steel case
More known for its tourbillons and elegant dress watches, Breguet is an esteemed brand that makes some great Pilot’s watches. This Breguet Type XXI flyback is one of those pieces that has been (and remains) on my personal wish list. It has a great classbical style and of course top notch Breguet craftsmanship. There’s also Type XX and Type XXII watches made by Breguet, but unfortunately Breguet does a bad job of explaining the differences between the pieces on its website — a real opportunity missed, if you ask me. But the short of it is that the Type XX was designed in the 50s for the French naval air army. The “type” was actually a French military procurement specification rather than a specific model or brand name. One key specification for these aviators chronographs was the flyback function or “retour-en-vol” as it is noted on the dial of this watch. If you didn’t know, a flyback chronograph is one in which you can press the reset button while the chronograph is running to instantly restart the chronograph timing. Rather than the “stop-reset-start” sequence of a typical chronograph. Basically the flyback permits for more accurate timekeeping in certain circumstances, relatively speaking. Google around and you can find some much more detailed breakdowns of the “Type” series. POr, click through here for more pics and purchase details on this watch (sold as you see it, no box/papers), right here>>>
That’s all for this week. Thanks as always to my “Buying Time” partner Govberg Watches. Have a great weekend!