5 Pilots’ Watches and Aviation-Inspired Watches from Baselworld 2017

As we approach Father’s Day, we continue our series of features on memorable watches from Baselworld 2017, in a number of popular categories, with a look at five high-flying timepieces aimed at professional aviators and historical aviation enthusiasts.

The Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic, a vintage-inspired piece launched in 2011, was relaunched this year with a new dial design, additional case options, and very affordable price tags. The watches’ 44-mm cases have a simple and sturdy design, equipped with an oversized crown typical of today’s pilot watch designs and a solid caseback featuring an engraved Alpina logo. Depending on the dial color option, each watch will come on either a black, dark blue, or brown leather strap. On their dials, the watches have an outer minute track with the Alpina red triangle at the 12 o’clock position, along with applied Arabic numerals broken up with rectangular markers at each of the quarter hours. The hour and minute hands have a distinctive, curved design, while the simple red seconds counter again features the brand’s logo as its counterweight. There’s a subtle, integrated date window at the 3 o’clock position that is hardly noticeable upon first glance — a useful feature that helps maintain the aesthetic focus on the rest of the dial. Inside the watch is the automatic caliber AL-525, based on the Sellita SW 200, which holds a 38-hour power reserve and features special finishing by Alpina. Best of all for cash-strapped watch enthusiasts, Alpina has made it clear that none of the prices on any of the new models will exceed 900 euros, or about $975 — which is down from the already very accessible $1,500 on previous Startimer Pilot models. Click here for more info and dial color options.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic - white dial
Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic

Continuing the brand’s tradition of aviation-influenced designs, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Horolum takes its cues not only from the dashboard instruments that a pilot consults while in flight, but also from the bright lights that he sees when he’s coming in for a landing. Its dashboard-clock dial has a Super-LumiNova coating that glows in the same intense green color as the lights on airport runways (hence the name “Hora” plus “Lum,” short for “Lumen” or light). The 42-mm bead-blasted steel case is reminiscent of those used in the brand’s early BR-01 models. The dial — made of micro-blasted brass-rhodium that makes it homogenous with the case — is made of two superimposed metal plates, with cutaway numerals and indices on the gray upper plate and green-tinted, long-lasting Super-LumiNova C3 coating covering the lower plate. In this “sandwich” construction — favored by brands such as Panerai — the luminescence shines through the cutouts for a brilliant glow and easy nighttime legibility. Green Super-LumiNova is also used on the hands, and the calfskin leather strap, with stainless steel pin buckle, is in a gray-green color. The BR 03-92 Horolum is also outfitted with the Sellita-based, self-winding BR-CAL.302 and includes a date window at 4:30. Both new watches’ cases are water-resistant to 100 meters and feature nonreflective sapphire crystals over the dials. The Horolum is a limited edition of 500 pieces, priced at $3,400.

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Horolum - NIGHT
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Horolum

Japan’s Citizen has introduced three new models in its Promaster collection of professional-grade sports watches this year, one each for land, sea, and air. The “air” model is the latest version of the Citizen Promaster Skyhawk. Its large, 47-mm case is made of Citizen’s trademarked “Super Titanium,” an extraordinarily lightweight, scratch-resistant, hypoallergenic, and corrosion-resistant material that is five times harder and 40 percent lighter than stainless steel. Its black, analog-digital dial, with sky-blue highlights, was inspired by the coordinate axis on the radar screens found in airplane cockpits. Its multiple functions include a dual-time display, a 1/100-second chronograph, a perpetual calendar, two alarms, and a rotating slide rule bezel for calculating flight times. The watch, which comes with a Super Titanium bracelet with a Duratect coating, is driven by Citizen’s light-powered Eco-Drive Caliber U680, which runs for nearly 1.5 years on a full charge. The Promaster Limited Edition Super Titanium Skyhawk A-T is priced at $895 and limited to 5,000 pieces.

Citizen Promaster Skyhawk
Citizen Promaster Skyhawk

The four limited editions in the new Graham Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art Ltd. pay homage to the decorative “pinup girl” paintings on the nose and fuselage of military aircraft from the 1940s — with each of their sunbrushed dials displaying a different smiling, saluting lady (“Anna” is pictured below; “Sally,” “Lilly,” and “Nina” round out the horological harem.) Like all Graham Chronofighter watches, these are equipped with a chronograph function, activated by the fast-action stop-start trigger mechanism on the left side of the case — itself an invention developed to make it easier for military pilots to handle their watches’ timing functions while at the controls of a plane and wearing gloves. The stainless steel, 44-mm cases are water-resistant to 100 meters, mounted on hand-sewn calf leather straps (in black, green, or blue depending on the dial color), and feature a domed sapphire crystal over the dial as well as a sapphire exhibition caseback that reveals the G1747 automatic movement (based on an ETA 7750), with 25 jewels and a 48-hour power reserve. In addition to the miniature pinup girl paintings, the dials have a day-date display at 9 o’clock (above the watch’s serial number and the girl’s name); a chronograph minutes subdial at 6 o’clock, a white-varnished, red-tipped central chronograph seconds hand; and white Super-LumiNova hands, numerals and indices. Each watch is limited to 100 pieces each, priced at $5,450.

Graham Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art - Anna
Graham Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art – Anna

The Tutima Grand Flieger is the revised and modernized re-edition of the historical Fliegerchronograph that the German brand introduced in 1941 (and later released in a replica edition in 1990) — which was also the first German-made chronograph outfitted with a flyback mechanism. This year, Tutima introduced several non-chronograph versions of the watch, including one with a sunburst-finish brown dial (below), powered by Tutima’s in-house Caliber 330. The watch maintains much of its predecessor’s period details, including the notched, bidirectional coin-edged bezel with red reference marker at 12 o’clock, and the vintage-style hands and Arabic numerals. The day and date are displayed in a window at 3 o’clock. Over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating on both sides; in the back, another sapphire pane offers a view of Tutima Caliber 330, an automatic movement with an “antique gray” rotor, 25 jewels, and a power reserve of 38 hours. The stainless steel bracelet is also a nod to the styles of the past; the new Grand Fliegers are also available with blue or black dials and on leather straps as well as bracelets. Prices start at $2,500.

Tutima Grand Flieger - brown dial
Tutima Grand Flieger


Leave a Reply