“Man must rise above the Earth — to the top of the atmosphere and beyond — for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”
Q. Dear Gonzo,
A couple of years back I was bitten by the watch-bug and ever since, I’ve accomplished and maintained the goal I had set back then. Every 5 months I buy a new watch and time is approaching for another; this will be the 6th addition.
Reaching the half-dozen mark – however silly it might sound – is what I am looking forward to and therefore, to make it memorable, I’m looking at something which I never thought I would; apparently, for their simple designs and features. My usul preference goes for complexities and despite owning a couple of pilot’s watches (one Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot; the other one a Citizen Aviator Chronograph), I suddenly feel drawn towards the classic Flieger look. And here starts the problem.
The Khaki Pilot I find too stark and on your face; the Aviation X-Wind Automatic an overkill (considering been only to paragliding; that too only once so far), the Converter GMT or Chronograph not quite fitting the look I have in mind. Plus, they’re not the simplistic kind I’m looking forward to.
A good example of what I’m exactly after would be the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic which, unfortunately, I missed out upon. A technical watch with a non-technical look; I prefer something that doesn’t look out of place when I’m out with my family on a weekend.
I’m open to the Seiko 5 Military Automatic but I find it a little less sharp than I desire. What would you pick if you were at my place?
Now, to the next part of my question: Does the term ‘Pilot’ really applies to a watch without features and functions that might come handy inside the flight deck? This excludes timekeeping; I mentioned it lest you try to draw my attention that way.
A. I see, young man that you are aware of that hunting forever doesn’t make much sense and somewhere,you have to draw the line. The Seiko 5 Military Automatic – and the rest in the ‘Military’ repertoire is definitely a line but certainly, not the end of the line. There are quite a few others more and some even offer you more without deviating from the classic Flieger You may have a look at the Orient Sports Flight Style Chronograph in case you do not mind a little complication and let go of the internal circle of hour-markers. Or, just go for the SANTOS DE CARTIER (and get lighter by around $8K). “Why?” – I can guess you asking.
The fun part is, all men’s wristwatches owe their existence to pilots. So technically, every watch is a pilots’ watch, with or without pilot-friendly feature(s) and function(s) and as you mentioned, keeping time-telling out of this discussion.
You must have had heard about Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian aviation pioneer? For those who didn’t – he was the very gentleman whose contributions significantly developed the basic aircraft into something worthwhile and adorable. Exactly 118 years ago, in 1904; Cartier the famed Parisian jeweller received an order from Alberto Santos-Dumont for a watch that he could wear on his wrist. It was troublesome for him (and also to other pilots of his era) to reach for the pocket watch every time they needed to check the time. Letting go off the controls – even momentarily – while in motion was dangerous. Auto-pilot didn’t show up for another 8 years. Whether it was an invention to aid aviation and aviators or to keep their love for pocket watches alive is subjected to a lot of debate; apparently, it seems to be the first one. But then again, you can’t be too sure about that.
Sorry, I digressed.
The point is: Over time, wristwatches became essential equipment for every aviator and watch companies tried to throw-in as many pro-aviation tools into them as they could afford.
Note: Military watches, too, came up like these. Soldiers needed to keep their hands free for their rifles and grenades and watches to sync their attack timings.
Only a few stand up to real-life use. That’s because the flight decks have everything sorted out on digital displays and there’s nil to very, very slight chances for them to malfunction; thanks to modern technology and inventions.
Why, then; buy a pilots’ watch? (Again I digress, but this time, it’s knowingly).
Let me narrate a story. An Officer of the Armed Forces was given the duty of bringing small consignments from the base to his camp. He was given the charge of two JCOs to execute his commands.
Every week the three covered a total of 350 kilometres (up and down). All the while, the JCO at the back and the Captain held their respective assault rifles in hands; their index fingers by the trigger-guards.
Weeks rolled to months and then, to years. One such day while travelling, the Captain asked his JCO at the back – “Please keep it on the backseat for some time.”The JCO didn’t even flinch. The Captain (bit offended now) asked for the second time. The JCO’s answer was – “Sir, our orders are to stay on full alert, all the time.”
The Captain was astonished. “Did you even, for once, in the past two years, confront a single threat on this route?” – He asked.
The JCO replied – “Sir, it might very well be so and my earnest wish is we never have to engage in a combat on this route; but when you are fired upon, you won’t have the time to reach for your rifle on the backseat. You might not even find the time to say– “Hand me over my rifle” for I could be gone before I can hand you over your weapon; Sir.”
May the circuits on-board never fail! But if they do, a pilots’ watch will come handy to anyone who is in the habit of flying. But to average city guys like us? If you know how to use the EB6 scale and the chronograph, you can still accomplish a lot.
However, you are looking for a really old-styled flyer/pilots’ watch and you don’t quite want to walk the way others would usually. My suggestion, wait for some more time and let the Ratio Skysurfer Pilots’ watches fly in!
Your 2022 ‘Mission: Buy a new watch’ turns less daunting as this new slew of Pilot/Flieger watches promise to enter the watch market in another couple of months. Staying true to the archaic ‘Pilot’ concept, the RATIO Skysurfer watches stand out with their extremely high legibility, robustness and accuracy; without at all being overwhelming or underwhelming. The Ratio Pilot Watches are currently under manufacturing and will be here anytime within the second quarter of 2022.
Here’s a quick spec check.
- Case material: 316L stainless steel, brushed/polished
- Case back: 316L stainless steel, screw-in.
- Dimensions: 38mm/40mm(d), 10.5mm(t)
- Movement:Seiko NH38A
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Strap: Leather; saddle-stitched.
A few details about the Skysurfer watches you should know before buying. It will help you choose better.
- The Ratio SkySurfer Pilot watches will be introduced in two different case sizes and two different dial layouts: Type A and Type B.
The Type A is a very simple layout set within a more traditional 38mm case size while the Type B is slightly larger, measuring 40mm across and with a dial that’s slightly more technical in appearance i.e. with a separate, inner circle showing the hours and an outer circle marked with the minutes (5 minutes interval).
- Every metallic part of the Ratio SkyurferPilot watches is made from 316L stainless steel/nickel It’s the special chemical composition of the alloy that makes it particularly robust against physical impacts and resistant against corrosion and rust resulting from halogens and the resulting halides.
Its other advantages are:
- It takes glossy and brushed finishes much better than titanium or any other metal.
- The colour of the 316L alloy stays unadulterated irrespective of age.
- Easier to PVD-coat than other materials.
- The Seiko NH38A movement was specifically designed for open-heart watches and Ratio keeps the options open should you like a dial swap further down the line for a direct view of the escapement. It is a basic three-hand movement without a calendar complication. The movement exhibits a huge improvement in accuracy upon regulation, with tight tolerances on either side (0 to +8 seconds/day). Without being regulated (factory default), accuracy varies between -20 to +40 seconds/day. The movement can be wind manually; beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz), has 24 jewels and allows hacking the seconds.
- Long, stainless steel crown with deep grooves to facilitate easy time setting with wet hands or with the gloves on.
- Sapphire crystalis extremely strong and scratch/shatter resistant and much, much less prone to cracks and breaking.
- Distinct dial finishes: Sunray (blue/black), Textured (black), Full Lume (white).
- Genuine rich leather straps and 316L Steel buckle clasp.
Keep dropping in to leave your replies below. State which one from the above Ratio Flysurfers you’d like to go for the most and also, for what?