Flieger Friday: Guinand Starfighter Pilot

Guinand just announced an exciting release of Starfighter Pilot Chronograph, a reminiscence of the legendary Heuer pilot’s chronograph.  The matt bead blasted Bi-Compax chronograph is based on the legendary Heuer watch from the 1960s. The pilot chronograph is a homage to the classic chronograph of the jet age which was mainly issued to the pilots of the F-104 “Starfighter” aircraft. We can draw a direct correlation between the Guinand Chronofighter and the Bundeswehr chronographs of the sixties.

Hanhart 417 was the first watch issued to pilots of the reformed Bundesluftwaffe in 1955. But the Hanhart was a decidedly pre-war design for men flying Mach 2-capable F-104 Starfighters.  Hence, Junghans was tapped as a second provider of pilot watches in 1957.

Junghans developed the famous column-wheel J88 chronograph movement in 1949. Their watches stand out to this day with the unusual twelve-sided bezel.  Junghans were issued to pilots (F-104 Starfighters) from 1957 until it was replaced by the Heuer (Leonidas) Bundeswehr chronographs in 1967.

Picture courtesy of OnTheDash

In 1964 Heuer merged with Leonidas, a competitor who produced watches for the Italian military. The new company- known as Heuer-Leonidas S.A., supplied the Bundeswehr chronograph bearing Leonidas logo to the Bundesluftwaffe in 1967. It had a 43mm case and a hand-wound Valjoux 220 movement.

Helmut Sinn gained a contract to service the watches for the German army and took the opportunity to swap out the original Heuer dials with a Sinn logo replacement. This is essentially Heuer 1550SG with Valjoux 230 movement.  Helmut Sinn purchased Heuer parts and sold several Sinn dialed 1550SG to military and later to civilians.  It also happened that one of the big customers of Guinand since 1960 was Helmut Sinn.  From the mid-1960s to the 1990s, Guinand manufactured a significant share of watches for the Sinn.

in 1995 Helmut Sinn bought the shares of the Guinand S.A. from the Guinand family, and continued manufacturing watches for other brands in Switzerland. The Swiss production eventually ended in the year 2000, and Helmut consolidated the production of his brands Guinand, Chronosport and Jubilar in Frankfurt under “Guinand Uhren Helmut Sinn GmbH “.

The newly released Starfighter Pilot interprets the look and feel of the sixties Bundeswehr chronograph in a contemporary way. Guinand wanted to upsize the case to be closer to the original Heuer case, so they used their big pilot watch case (42.6mm) instead of their Series 40 chronograph case (40.6mm).  The domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inside provided for optimal readability.

The Starfighter has matt black dial, and the hour numbers are coated with “Grade X1” SuperLuminova, which according to the ISO 3157 standard will extend the legibility by at least a factor of 1.6 in the long term. The recessed sub-dials with beveled edges are reminiscent of the historical fighter pilot’s chronograph.

The chronograph is powered by Valjoux 7753, a reliable automatic chronograph caliber developed in the 70s.  However, Guinand did not include the date corrector at 10’o clock to maintain the same design as original chronograph, and to achieve higher water resistance rating of 200 meters.  The watch comes on an IWC Big Pilot-style cowhide leather strap, which is made locally in Frankfurt area for Guinand.

Mr. Matthias Klueh, owner of Guinand, sums up this watch best with the following statement, “The Starfighter Pilot Chronograph transports the historical idea to the present day.” The Starfighter can be purchased directly from Guinand website and their Frankfurt showroom.  The price is 1,879 € including German VAT.

Photo Credit: Guinand and Watchuseek forum members