As we close out 2018 and head home for the holidays to find a mistletoe, one last order of business at the Watchuseek HQ is to discuss our favorite flieger of the year. The selection for 2018 will come as no surprise to anyone that it includes couple of GMT pilot watches. This year has been dominated by GMT complication, beginning with the untenable Rolex GMT Master II announced earlier during Basel fair. We hope you sit down with some eggnog and enjoy reading about our favorites, and welcome your comments on your favorite flieger of the year.
Mike Stuffler, Moderator of German forum and flieger expert
Mike is not only the moderator of several German watch forums, but also voices his opinions very strongly about technical and aesthetical aspect of watches. He is not afraid to call out a poorly designed or executed watch as such, which is playfully known on the forum as being “Stuffed”. So, what did Mr. Stuffler select as his favorite of 2018?
Mike has a very sound reason for selecting and purchasing the Damasko DC80 – “Damasko succeeded in delivering not only a well-functioning example of a Lemania 5100 inspired chronograph but is currently the best value for a chronograph with stop second/stop minute out of the center” stated Mike.
DC 80 houses a patented chronograph movement – Damasko C51 – based on the proven workhorse ETA/Valjoux 7750. The benchmark for the modification of the caliber 7750 was to significantly increase the readability of the chronograph function. For that reason, Damasko put their main focus on the technical realization of a jumping 60-minute stop hand out of the center.
Compared to former Lemania 5100 chronographs with a height of 15 to 16mm, the DC80 is just 13.7mm thick. This is quite a big plus for wearability and comfort on the wrist. This was achieved not just by adding a module on top of the movement, but a ground-up construction/modification of the movement.
That alone would be exceptional for a watch with a heavily modified chronograph, but this watch also includes all the technology Damasko is known for – their ice-hardened case, the decoupling screw-down crown, the lubrication cells and their patented bezel system. DC 80 chronograph is $2,665 and available in US from Worn & Wound.
Brad Bokkean, Administrator of Watchuseek forums and dive watch expert
Brad also known as Sargent Bo is not only an avid dive watch collector, but he is also an avid pilot watch collector. Brad is a 30-year US Air Force veteran and spent several years based in Germany. He has a keen eye for authentic flieger design and appreciates the pedigree of watch manufacturers’ history behind a specific watch. So, it was no surprise that Brad selected and acquired Laco Speyer as his favorite of the year.
Laco is one of the few exclusive flieger manufacturers whose workshop in Pforzheim can look back on a long tradition. Laco Speyer is the closest modern replica of the original Beobachtungsuhr (Type B) flieger dial. However, this modern classic design mixed with the latest technology comes in perfect 39mm size. True to paying an homage to the original, Speyer comes in a matte sandblasted stainless steel case with the historical “FL23883” engraving.
A domed and anti-reflective sapphire crystal enhances the retro appeal but also provides a perfect legibility. Additional features include thermally blued steel hands filled with bright C3 Superluminova, ETA 2824-2 “Elaboré” automatic movement, solid case back with engraving (Laco also offer free personalization), and a high quality brown leather strap with rivets. Price is € 781.51 excluding VAT and available directly from Laco website.
Michael Weare, Editor-in-Chief for Watchuseek blog and world traveler
Michael is an accomplished blogger and author of published fiction novels. His inspiration for writing comes from his adventures of living in Southeast Asia, and eventually settling in the yellow brick home in the rolling hills of Cotswolds. Michael has a pragmatic approach to life and prefers affordable watches which offer better value than the Swiss-hyped mega brands.
Michael selected Archimede Pilot GMT, a pragmatic choice for a world traveler. The watch comes in a three-piece brushed stainless-steel case which is 42mm in diameter with a height of about 10mm, so it is easily worn under the cuffs while traveling. The finishing and fit of the case is excellent, as you would expect from any Ickler made case.
The Archimede Pilot 42 GMT is extremely legible in almost all lighting conditions. This is true for reading both the local and GMT time. Indexes, numbers, and all hands (including the seconds hand and GMT hand) are coated with BWG9 SuperLumiNova (white at daytime, blueish color in dark). The date is nicely integrated into the inner GMT hours ring with beveled edges. Pilot GMT price is €974.79 (excluding VAT) and can be purchased directly from Archimede website.
Scott Sitkiewitz, Senior Contributor for Watchuseek YouTube Channel and professional photographer
Scott began his career in video and audio working on the Oprah Winfrey show for several years in Chicago. Along with his contribution to Watchuseek Youtube channel, he is a private consultant for professional video and digital photography. Scott has a keen eye for detail and notices the subtle nuances of the composition of the dial, or construction of the case and bracelet. His work with consulting and Watchuseek takes him to many exotic locations, hence he had been in search for the perfect everyday pilot GMT. This year his search ended with the purchase of Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT.
The size is perfect for a modern pilot watch with 41mm case and only 12.5mm height, making for an easy all-day wear watch. For Bell & Ross, the design is a perfect evolution of the vintage collection, the quarter numerals are just the right size, the hands all have a different shape for easy identification. The ultra-curved sapphire crystal gives a nod to mid-20th century watches with the protection one expects in modern watches.
The rotating bezel can track a third time zone, or for a more practical use as a time keeper since Scott enjoys cooking. The bracelet has just the right amount of polished links to give some bling. The short links on the bracelet hugs the wrist for a very comfortable wearing experience. 100 meter water resistance makes for no worries around water when Scott is photographing models for the beach bikini photo shoots . BR V2-93 GMT is priced at $3,500 on the steel bracelet and can be purchased directly from Bell & Ross online store.
Bhanu Chopra, Freelance Blogger for Watchuseek blog and creator of Flieger Friday blog
Bhanu Chopra has been a freelance blogger for Watchuseek since the Ernie Roamer days. He is often seen travelling with just his Amex and passport in the pocket, and rarely says no to a watch he likes (a salesman’s dream customer). Although at the last watch gathering of 2018 he shared his New Year’s resolution of no new watches in 2019 – wagers for his first buy in the new year are being collected by Scott. A lesser known fact about Bhanu is his superstition as a frequent long-haul traveler – he does not fly without his lucky charm, his Stowa flieger. So, it was natural that his last purchase and his selection of the year is the Stowa Verus flieger.
As a trained watchmaker and designer, Jörg Schauer re-designed the historical Stowa watches in co-operation with Hartmut Esslinger, and moved the design element forward with the times. Some of the differences between the Klassik flieger and Verus are that Verus has much bolder and bigger numbers and markers, larger white hands, discrete round date window at 6’o clock (no-date version is also available), BWG9 Superluminova, and a basic ETA automatic movement.
The 40mm case size with 10.2mm height makes it easy to wear every day and tuck it under the shirt cuffs. The lug width is 20mm, which opens possibilities for numerous strap changes. Verus on a green or brown Nato strap makes for an understated tool pilot watch. Verus is priced at € 554,62 (excluding VAT) and available only directly from Stowa website.
We wish all of you Happy Holidays! We look forward to bringing you interesting Flieger Friday features in the new year.
Photography Credit: Scott Sitkiewtiz, Mike Stuffler, Brad Bokkean, and respective watch brands