Brand to Watch: Aerowatch and the Aerowatch Renaissance Orange Tornado


Aerowatch is a small brand with a big history. At Baselworld 2015, the Jura-based brand debuted the Renaissance Orange Tornado, a new skeletonized watch with bright accents on the dial. It’s worth taking a look at both where this watch company comes from and what it’s doing today. Here’s the Aerowatch story behind the Renaissance Orange Tornado.

Aerowatch isn’t the most familiar name in the watch world, but it has the kind of solid Swiss heritage that many small independent brands would do anything for. Originally founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1910, Aerowatch aspired to being a watchmaker for the future. As the name suggests, the brand had its eye on an English-speaking international market, and during the golden age of flight it wanted to be the first name in aviation-themed timepieces.

Aerowatch-Historical Ad 560
An Aerowatch ad from 1910

But the path forward was not so easy. The brand moved repeatedly, first to Fleurier, then to Neuchâtel. Throughout, it remained a family-run business. When Maxime Crevoisier took over the company from its original owners in 1942, he set it on its course as a specialist in pocketwatches and pendant watches for men and women.

He and his son Georges built up a distribution network in more than 30 countries. The business continued along through the following decades. In 2001 the Crevoisiers sold Aerowatch to Denis Bolzli, who now runs the company with his two sons. It is based in Saignelégier in the Swiss Jura, close to the French border.

Aerowatch Headquarters 560

A key thing to know about the brand is that Aerowatch only entered the wristwatch market very recently. Throughout the 20th century it remained a pocketwatch company. It was not until 2004 that the brand began to work on original wristwatches with fine Swiss movements. Today it has a range of models for men and women, with quartz and mechanical calibers.

An important moment for the brand was 2009, when it launched its first Grandes Squelettes models. Skeletonized models are always a pleasure to gaze into, but all the more so when the movements they reveal have some history to them. That’s definitely the case with Aerowatch’s Grandes Squelettes: they’re powered by hand-wound Unitas movements, which have a heritage dating back to the 1950s.

 

Aerowatch Orange Tornado soldier 560The Renaissance Orange Tornado uses a skeletonized bridge design. It’s built off of concentric circles that emanate outwards from the balance, located at 8 o’clock. (This subtle asymmetry was also used in the Black Tornado, which was introduced several years ago; other Grandes Squelettes models have different designs.) Two bright orange hands with luminous coating are mounted at the center; a seconds subdial is at 6 o’clock. Simple, luminous hour markings are found around the perimeter of the dial, making for easy reading. The small seconds display has no markers, but the orange hand should make its position easy to spot nonetheless.

One real treat in looking at the Renaissance Orange Tornado is that its barrel is open for view. As you wind the movement via the crown, you can see the mainspring contract. And as it winds down over the course of 46 hours, you’ll be able to monitor the remaining power just by glancing at it.

Aerowatch Orange Tornado mainspring CU 560

The watch uses a Unitas 6498 movement, a 16 1/2-ligne manual caliber. Now owned by ETA (and sometimes known as the ETA 6498), it runs in 17 jewels and has a pocketwatch-style power reserve of 18,000 vph. The movement has been skeletonized, decorated, and chamfered by hand. The Renaissance Orange Tornado is sizable: it has a 45-mm diameter. Its case is made of polished stainless steel with a black PVD coating. The ring around the dial is matte black with orange markings for the hour indexes. The front sapphire crystal is domed. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters.

Aerowatch Orange Tornado back 560

Available at Aerowatch retailers since March, the Renaissance Orange Tornado costs $2,580. It comes on a black leather strap with orange overstitching and has a steel folding clasp that’s coated in black PVD.

 

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