In 2008, there was a casual discussion on Watchuseek forum to make a perfect modern Baumuster B or Type “B” flieger watch. The initial goal was to achieve an exact replica under 500 euros. Mike Stuffler, German forum moderator and watch expert, and I approached Laco to explore the viability of such a project and we received a very positive response.
Forum members contributed countless hours of personal time to brain storm on type of movement, design exact replica of the original Laco Type B dial, design the case back and side engraving; and finally find a crown similar to that of the original watch.
Laco deserves a lot of credit for the numerous communications regarding designs, renderings, and finally translating our ideas exactly into the watch. They accomplished all this while keeping the cost of our custom watch affordable.
While it is not a replica in true sense of the original Laco Beobachtungsuhr FL 23883, this watch is the closest homage to the original. We did not want to recreate the 55mm original Laco, so we settled on a 42mm case, which is practical for everyday use.
After many discussions, we narrowed our requirements to following:
- Sand blasted 42mm stainless steel case, height 13mm
- Solid case-back engraved “limited edition” with Laco logo and Nr.
- Hand wound modified ETA 2824 (hacking)
- Free-of-inscription-no-date sterile dial, type: Baumuster B
- Lume dots on hour circle and arrow below 12
- An onion crown same as the original
- A domed sapphire crystal
- Superluminova C3 lume
- Engraving “FL23883” on the side of the case
- Lume on: minute numbers 10,20,30,40, and 50, minute markers, dots on hour circle, arrow, and hands
- White circle around dial
- Standard Pilot strap and extra original Pilot strap
- Cost: We settled for 550€
I assumed the role of the project manager and began documenting our project journey. Based on the excerpts from my documentation, I created a timeline which highlights our process of achieving this nearly perfect modern flieger.
April 12, 2008: We selected this watch from the Laco catalog since it had a 42mm sandblasted case, ETA 2824 movement with date, and a type “B” dial.
After much debate on the type of movement with keeping the production cost low and a hack feature, Laco suggested a modified 2824 movement converted to manual wind (ETA 2801). This was a good compromise which kept the cost of movement reasonable and provided a hack feature.
April 22, 2008: This was the first rendering provided by Laco. This had the date window removed but the dial and crown remained the same.
April 22, 2008: Rendering to add the lume dots on the inner hour circle.
April 22, 2008: Rendering of the case-back engraving with the limited edition marking.
April 29, 2008: A rendering to add the new crown and lower the arrow below the 60-minute marker.
May 5, 2008: Rendering of case-side engraving with FL23883.
May 5, 2008: This is the first attempt to design the dial as close to the original Laco Type B dial. The lume is depicted in green and applied on alternative minute numbers, minute markers, hour dots, and the arrow. The hour circle was re-drawn to make it thinner.
May 8, 2008: This was the first final rendering of the watch with updated dial and original crown. Laco managed to find the original manufacturer of the crown and had them make a replica of the original.
The first consensus was that this rendering will be approved for production. However, a passionate debate began regarding the current font vs. the original Laco font.
May 26, 2008: This rendering changed the fonts closer to the original dial. Notice the tick marks on number 1 and 7 are gone.
This is a scan from Laco of the original Pilot watch dial. It was very difficult to copy the fonts from this dial since the ink appears bleeding which makes the fonts unique. The most obvious is hour number 7.
Forum member Frank, a graphics specialist, spent several hours to achieve perfection in the dial as you we see in the next several pictures. This is picture of the original Laco watch which belongs to WUS forum member and Frank used this picture to re-create the 42mm dial.
May 28, 2008: This rendering of the dial was an attempt to copy the original fonts. It was a significant improvement but not perfect.
May 29, 2008: This was second attempt to copy the original dial fonts. It was an improvement with thinner hour circle minus the lume.
May 29, 2008: This was third attempt to copy the fonts of the original dial. The lume on hour numbers was removed and only lume on the hour dots was kept.
May 30, 2008: This rendering yet again came very close to becoming the final production watch. However, more perfection in font was desired to make this as close to an exact copy as possible.
June 3, 2008: While fonts on the dial were being worked on by Frank, another forum member, Bruce, suggested correcting the font on the case-side engraving. The numbers in the engraving are not same as in the original.
June 4, 2008: Thanks to Bruce, we had a perfect font of engraving. Notice the number 8.
June 17, 2008: Actual picture of the case-side engraving. The case is not sandblasted yet.
June 17, 2008: Picture of case-back engraving. The case-back is not sandblasted yet.
June 26, 2008: Picture of the printed dial taken in dark to show the lume. The dial factory did not reproduce the fonts correctly, and the distance between the numbers as shown in the rendering due to problems with converting pixel data to vector data. Frank then had to create the vector data file for the dial factory.
July 9, 2008: This was the reworked dial sent to dial print factory.
July 24, 2008: Picture of the case-side engraving on the sandblasted case.
August 4, 2008: Picture of the case and crown.
August 4, 2008: Couple of pictures of the crown and case. Laco did an excellent job of locating the original crown manufacturer and sourcing it from that company.
September 15, 2008: Picture of the printed dial. Due to holidays and dial redesign there was a slight delay, but this looks perfect.
September 15, 2008: Picture of the printed dial under the black light to show the C3 Superluminova lume. Just as the original, this Laco has lume on minute numbers 10,20,30,40, and 50, minute markers, dots on hour circle, and arrow.
September 18, 2008: Picture of the first completed watch. The dial, crown, and case are just as envisioned. The only thing left for a later date is the addition of the blue hands. This watch was left with the black hands due to time and cost constraints.
September 18, 2008: Picture of the completed case and crown. The sandblasted case looks great.
September 18, 2008: Picture of the completed case-side engraving. The “faded” look is so much like the original.
September 25, 2008: Picture of the completed case-back engraving. Sonderanfertigung: Custom Made
Handaufzug: Handwinding Saphirglas: Sapphire Crystal
Edelstahl: Stainless Steel
Wasserdicht 50M: Water Resistant 50M
Deutschland: Made in Germany
– Nice Leather watch case
– Watch with black strap and an additional original leather strap in brown
– A Certificate designed for WatchUSeek forum with your watch number and original signature of Mr. Günther (owner of Laco)
This was one of the best collaboration between a diverse, global group of flieger enthusiasts who came together to great homage Baumuster B flieger. I will be honest that there were many moments where I thought this project will completely fall apart, since building consensus among passionate collectors was not easy. But, in the end everyone had their eye on the prize, and the result was satisfying.
I am proudly wearing my Watchuseek Baumuster B today to celebrate the 9-year anniversary of this project.