The connection between timekeeping and flying is hardly easy, in the way in which that the dive watch is inextricably linked with the exercise for which it’s named. On the very begin although, exact timing was key, if solely to show some extent: establishing proof for the primary sustained powered flight. As each baby learns, this was Orville Wright’s flight of simply 12 seconds in 1903, which was nearly 12 seconds longer than anybody else had managed; his brother Wilbur made an try days earlier than that lasted simply three seconds. The press was unimpressed by the length, at first, however individuals finally got here round, however we relate this solely to notice that timing was vital, even when not functionally very important.
This being a watch journal, a lot of you, pricey readers, will hasten to remind us (we will think about the gears of your minds turning) that aviation requires a good bit of navigating and which means the longitude issue will probably be as vital to pilots as it’s sailors. It has not escaped our consideration, relaxation assured. That is the explanation we crown our number of timepieces with the Breitling AOPA Navitimer, and a notice in regards to the slide rule that the model launched, which served as a kind of wrist laptop for pilots.
On that notice, allow us to additionally head off the notion that the wristwatch itself was (partly) attributable to the wants of pilots. Little doubt you intelligent of us could have instantly considered Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont and Cartier. Nicely, this story takes off fairly a bit later, with business air journey, however the romance of flying stays a part of the story, even when it stays within the background. Clearly, we’re trying past conventional pilot’s watches right here.
Pictures are additionally an issue right here, with most of the watches in our choice having easy “soldier” model photographs, or are courtesy of the public sale home Phillips, and as such are standardised “semi-soldier” photographs. Sure items, such because the Concorde watch don’t have print-quality photos in any respect, whereas Tudor has not shared photos of the Air France fashions. The place photos are small, it’s as a result of that’s the finest we might discover.
Talking of background info, we reserve house right here on this introduction for the Rolex GMT-Grasp (beneath), which might be the world’s most well-known image of the connection between watch manufacturers and business airliners. This watch debuted in 1955 as civil aviation got here into its personal, and shortly grew to become the official watch of Pan American World Airways (higher often called Pan-Am). In 1959, the pilot of the primary Pan-Am New York to Moscow wore a GMT-Grasp watch, which reportedly carried out a significant navigation perform on mentioned flight.
Performance was a significant factor for timepieces from early on, and within the Fifties, discovered its apotheosis within the Breitling for AOPA (Plane Homeowners and Pilots Affiliation) watches. As Eric Wind, proprietor of classic watch store Wind Classic and watch skilled mentioned, “The AOPA (Plane Homeowners and Pilots Affiliation) and Breitling collaborated on the manufacturing of a trailblazing chronograph watch so the early Navitimers had the AOPA emblem; some solely had the AOPA emblem, with no point out of Breitling on the dial. Breitling designed the Navitimer to be used by pilots within the Fifties with a slide rule for making intricate calculations and a 24-hour dial timepiece named the Cosmonaute ended up going to house on the wrist of astronaut Scott Carpenter in 1962. There are additionally some Vulcain watches launched with the TWA emblem within the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies.”
Neither Breitling nor Rolex made watches co-branded with airways within the above examples, which contrasts strongly towards Vulcain, however that is apart from the purpose, which is glamour and journey. A lifetime of freedom, if you’ll, by flying the pleasant skies. It was a easier time for air journey, clearly, and the watches that performed their elements in that period stay unblemished by all of the chaos of the many years since then. Watch collectors have been turning their consideration to those classic items, which in flip impressed this story. The historic fashions chosen right here all have very particular tales tied to them, and all are unavailable with out some effort or particular entry.
“Watches with an aviation and house historical past and connection have all the time had a fascination for collectors and I anticipate they are going to all the time be desired in a method or one other. That is the place watchmaking and aviation industries have to work collectively by discovering modern methods in an effort to keep related,” mentioned Wind. Clearly there may be an concept lurking about that there’s a future for this kind of co-branded enterprise. We discovered only one present enterprise, discounting the restricted version AOPA Breitling items, which is another than we have been anticipating, if we’re trustworthy…
On that notice, the writers acknowledge a debt to each the consultants consulted for this story, together with public sale homes, and the unique Hodinkee story printed in 2021 that options most of the identical fashions.
Concorde Air France Quartz Plastic Watch
Developed collectively by Air France and British Airways, the Concorde opened an entire new period of air journey by means of its supersonic capability that made it attainable to achieve world’s main cities within the shortest time. It reigned within the sky from 1976 to 2003, and is likely to be making a comeback. Nevertheless that pans out, probably the most unforgettable second of Concorde occurred to be in 1996 when it safely accomplished the journey between New York and London in two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. So, this inherently disposable watch is an satirically well-known little bit of memorabilia that brings again the reminiscence of these days immediately. Something associated to Concorde is invaluable and collectable due to what it stood for—a technological feat within the subject of business aviation. If you will get a model that works, the place the battery was eliminated for security’s sake, it is likely to be value your time.
Breitling AOPA Navitimer
Shared objectives between companions result in unimaginable milestones, or no less than they’ll, as evidenced with Breitling and the AOPA almost 70 years in the past. In 1952, the Swiss watch producer began engaged on the Navitimer for the AOPA, to the organisation’s necessities. However, it took two extra years for Breitling to launch the Navitimer with a slide rule and eventually launched it with the AOPA emblem at 12 o’clock on a black dial in 1954. The identical yr, it was declared the official watch by the AOPA for its members with the phrase Breitling being conspicuously (to up to date eyes) absent. The 1956 41mm Breitling Navitimer ref. 806 with slide rule had each logos current. It proved to be the best wrist companion for each navy and civilian pilots within the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties. To this present day, the outdated Navitimer stays an iconic instrument watch because of its Venus 178 motion, beaded bezel and Mark II white-painted.
Therefore, early Navitimer timepieces have been solely tailor-made for the American aviation business, together with the famed 1959 model that was reissued in 2019, and the present crop of Navitimers that each one pay tribute to the fiftieth anniversary of the watch. As of this yr, the variety of Navitimer references produced since 1952 stands at greater than 40, making this probably the most profitable of all of the watches featured on this story.
The unsigned variations of the watch with the AOPA emblem that have been powered by the Valjoux 72 calibre have been solely in manufacturing from 1954 to 1955. Reportedly, these traded on the open market even then so non-AOPA members could have began sporting them already. Curiously, these early fashions didn’t have reference numbers talked about anyplace on them, making them extraordinarily uncommon and prized by collectors.
SAS Common Genève Polarouter
The 36mm Polerouter ref. 20217-6 stainless-steel timepiece bearing the SAS (Scandinavian Airways System) emblem on the dial was designed by Gerald Genta for Common Genève when he was simply 23 years outdated. Considered one among his most vital watch designs, it was launched by the watch producer in an effort to commemorate SAS’ first direct polar flight from Copenhagen to Los Angeles in 1954. The route required anti-magnetic timepieces (for which Common Genève was the go-to-watch model again then) since SAS flights needed to fly straight over the North Pole to scale back the gap between these two cities. Quickly after this historic second, Common Genève grew to become the only provider of chronometers and anti-magnetic watches to SAS. In reality, the preliminary items have been distributed amongst pilots and crew members as quickly because the flight landed at LAX on 15 November 1954.
Powered by the calibre 138 bumper automated motion, the watch is a collectable piece, for apparent causes, together with that motion. It’s also notable for its lyre lugs, a strong case and a easy silvered dial. In line with Adam Hambly, a seasoned skilled on Polerouters, there are solely 150 examples of verified SAS-signed examples at this time. In 1955, Common Genève modified the mannequin title from Polarouter to Polerouter. Sadly, Common Genève is defunct now.
Tudor Prince Oysterdate Reference 74000N Philippines Airways
Collectors won’t be shocked that Rolex and Tudor have a historical past of filling company orders, and thus creating fashions which might be unavailable to most of the people. Whereas we don’t have an instance of Rolex working with an airline with a co-branded watch, we do know in regards to the Domino’s Pizza emblem on the dial of an Air-King watch made for the pizza chain within the Seventies that also resonates with collectors. No, we’re speaking right here in regards to the Tudor Prince Oysterdate reference 74000N, with the emblem of the Philippines Airways (PAL) on the dial at 6 o’clock. The geometric palette of the emblem positioned on the silvered dial gels properly with the general look of the 34mm watch, which is powered by calibre 2824-3.
It’s believed that PAL supplied this watch to its workers after they accomplished 25 years in service to the airways from the Eighties. There may be one other Tudor reference, the Oysterdate ref. 9101/01, that was produced with the title and emblem of Philippine Airways circa 1979.
Such watches are hardly accessible by means of regular retail channels, making them much more fascinating. A fast verify on secondary gross sales websites exhibits that costs aren’t out-of-reach by any means.
Air France Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue and Black Bay Gmt
Whereas Rolex is now not making very many particular editions, if any, Tudor continues to take action, as seen in a few stunners for Air France. There may be not a lot info on this relationship, or on the Black Bay 58 and Black Bay GMT fashions particularly. Whereas these definitely exist, the precise particulars are cobbled collectively from purely speculative sources, apart from the Hodinkee story. However, it’s maybe unsurprising that Tudor aligned with Air France to supply the Black Bay GMT Ref.79830RB-00AF with “Pepsi” bezel in aluminium and Black Bay 58 Blue Ref.79030B-00AF, each in 2020. Solely 300 items of Black Bay GMT with calibre MT5652 have been made (supposedly) whereas solely 100 items of Black Bay 58 Blue with calibre MT5402 have been produced (supposedly) and so they have been all bought to the flight members of Air France albeit at a reduced fee. Whether or not that is borne out within the actual particulars, these fashions are definitely unavailable to most of the people, and aren’t at the moment listed on the market on any respected pre-owned retailers.
Seiko ANA 7S26-0620
This one is an actual deal with as a result of it was truly out there to the general public, and it was designed and developed in cooperation with ANA pilots in 2003. It was made out there by means of the in-flight catalogue of ANA (All Nippon Airways) in 2004 so those that wish to go attempting to find the mannequin can begin there. So far as we will inform, it was solely out there that yr. Notable right here is the ANA emblem at 9 o’clock, which balances out the day and date shows; sure that could be a Kanji day wheel, which after all is extremely fascinating and really distinctive, as if we even must say it. The ANA emblem can be stamped on the left facet of the case.
Clearly, passengers flying on ANA flights have been in a position to e book their orders for this specific watch, and it does seem on some pre-owned specialist websites. Powered by the in-house 7S26 motion, this 40mm from Seiko is typical for the model. Its reputation additionally quadrupled because of the Japanese Kanji date wheel. Because of this, it was onerous to seek out making it the cult favorite watch. I’m positive all this will probably be sufficient to fire up watch lovers’ curiosity for it.
Fossil Southwest fiftieth Anniversary Watch
Final yr, Southwest Airways teamed up with Fossil to have a good time its fiftieth anniversary, the airliner being based in 1971. As a part of this collaborative alliance, 1,971 items have been produced with the emblem of the airline on the dials and casebacks. Every Retro Pilot Chronograph watch is available in a tin field within the blue color of Southwest Airways. There are probably two variations to get into. One is a 44mm watch with a blue dial with a blue leather-based strap and a 36mm one which boasts a silver dial with contrasting particulars and
a blue leather-based strap. The crowns of each watches are decked up within the blue, crimson and yellow of Southwest Airways. Amazingly, the leather-based straps of each watches have been constructed from recycled seats of the airways, additional underscoring what a pivotal position the watch business can play in addressing the sustainability disaster. Nicely, nevertheless you are feeling about that message, it’s a good contact to have the watches secured by one thing viscerally tied to the heritage of the airline.
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