Best Swiss watches

Longines Avigation is a Modern Twist on the 1930s Flying Era

Recreating the past is rarely a great idea, and by that I mean an entirely faithful replica of the ancient technology that put together a Ford Anglia or Timex wristwatch back in the 60s. The tools and processes used weren’t that great when it came to mass production frankly. But bespoke Swiss watchmaking is – and was – a little bit different.

In the 60s factories like Longines, Tissot, Omega, Rolex and many more had a sort of Model T production line of highly trained people – often women – who painstaking assembled one or two components on the two main plates of a watch movement. Go back further to the 1930s whehn the US Army wanted a handy watch for their pilots and you really are in the hand-crafted, almost pre-machine tool era in Swiss watchmaking.

The US Army wanted a pilot watch that had big numbers, and sat at a jaunty angle over a glove as most cockpits were open then. Piaggio of Italy had invented the pressurised cockpit in 1919 for one of their long range bombers, but many fighter and reconnaisance aircraft were still open to the elements. Pretty hard to fly in rough weather too, which is why a quick glance at the wrist was all the time a pilot had to remove their eyes from the horizon, or the instruments of course.

So this recreation of a 30s classic is bound to be better made, as it uses the highly precise computerised tools of the 21st century to cut and finish the component parts. A column wheel chrono movement powers this 41mm watch, case is steel, strap is leather – naturally.

The fluted crown controls all the stopwatch functions too, which is a clever bit of tech.

A classic black dial, with super luminova hands and numbers adds a superb vintage face to this watch. They’ve faded the numerals a bit haven’t they, unless it’s my imagination? It looks the part and the quicky touch of off-setting the dial is a real talking point. It may well prompt a history debate too, which is always welcome in this neck of the woods.

Not for us at £2500 – too expensive for something that lacks practical everyday wearability on the ground.

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