Pilot Watches


The video review for the budget-watch Ticino Big Pilot in the stealthy black case with sterile dial. A very cool watch for the money, and definately something that will keep your watch bug at bay if Pilot watches are your thing! Massive 47mm full sized big pilot case, with Chinese Manual winding Unitas movement.

Since the Economy has not recovered, I will continue to review some more affordable watches!

WWII style Pilot watches are a popular style of watches these days, with IWC coming in at the top of the price range, with a dozen or more other Swiss and German brands coming in anywhere under them. Some of the major Pilot watch producers include Steinhart/Debaufre, Archiemede, Ollech & Wajs, Damasko, Tourby, and Laco. What many may or may not know is that Laco was one of the five brands selected by the German military to produce watches for them during WWII along with Wempe, A Lange Stowa, and IWC. So if you want an authentic, yet affordable WWII style Pilot watch, Laco is definately your best bet.

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Now, this is an automatic pilot and 42mm in diameter, which makes it different from the originals which were 47mm, and manual winding. They were large so that they could be worn around the outside of a flight jacket and still be easily seen. You can get the 47mm version from Laco, but the one I have here is 42mm, and has an ETA 2824-2 Movement, etched with the Laco logo on the rotor.

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Its a very nice watch, with a mineral crystal (it can be ordered with Sapphire), and sits very well on my somewhat small wrists. The lugs have a interesting shape as they stick straight out from the case, rather than curving down. The Lume on the watch is okay, but not fantastic.

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There you can see the air-cooled perforated strap, but it is only perforated on the back and sides. It remains solid on the top, which is a nice feature. It makes the watch very comfortable to wear, and even comes with the same strap in black in case you want to swap.

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And finally, a wrist shot. More and more I am finding I like the 42mm size, and though I do enjoy the 47mm pilot, I find the 42mm more suitable for me, and really in the end looks better, regardless of wrist presence.

If you like the Pilot watches, do yourself a favor and check out Laco. They are one of the original suppliers for WWII pilot watches, and they continue to make a great product for a great price today. This 42mm Pilot sells for about $450 new.

In my conitnuing search for good Budget watches, I got my first Glycine watch and it’s a very cool watch. I had seen a friends Glycine Airman D24, with the three separate hour hands and decided it was time for me to get a Glycine and see what the fuss is all about. While the Airman is not quite as fancy nor as desirable as the D24, it does have a similar feel with its large flat face and easily readable dial.

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The Glycine Combat 4 is available in four or five different dial lume colors, all with a black dial. This one in particular has the yellow/green numbers and is my favourite. The other options include White, Blue, Red and I believe Orange though I’m not sure. The information online available for Glycine watches in general is very limited. Maybe it’s time for a glycinesource.com?? haha.. maybe not.

glycine_combat_01

The Combat 4 has a nicely decorated Swiss ETA 2824-2 movement, and of course the entire watch is Swiss Made. It does not have a specification as to whether or not the crystal is Mineral or Sapphire, and the information available online is limited, but I am assuming that it is Mineral, as Glycine does use a lot of mineral crystals.

It is a bit strange seeing a watch that retails north of $800 with a Mineral Crystal (I am assuming), but it is a very nice watch. The dial is a very large one, with a case diameter of 43mm. This watch wears large for it’s size. The bracelet is also a very nice one. It feels really loose when you move it around, but it sits and molds to your wrist very nicely. When I strap this watch on, I want to look at it.. the dial just jumps out at me.

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There it is on my 6 3/4″ wrists, and it really fills it out. The lume on this watch is one of the best I’ve seen. It starts glowing immediately and holds it longer than most watches I have. This guy is water resistant to 50M, and does not have a screwdown crown. A very simple watch, but it has that simple, but not too simple style to it with a touch of Pilot watch and a touch of sport watch. It looks simple, but it stands out, and looks great.

I think I need to get another Glycine now!

Next up in my search for the ultimate sub-$500 watch is a Wilson Watch Works Navi, which I briefly talked about the other day.

The Wilson Watch Works (WWW) stuff is not very known, especially outside of ebay, but very impressive. I stumbled upon Wilson Watch Works when I was browsing through ebay at various watches using the Swiss Unitas 6497/6498 movements. These are hand made peices from the US, made from German crafted cases and dials, with Swiss luminova. Front crystals are all Sapphire, double AR coated, with rear exhibition crystal made from K1 Mineral.

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The model I picked up is the Navigator, or that’s what I call it at least because of the navigator dial, as Chris at WWW does not have model names yet. Dials and cases are totally sterile. This one is 42mm, and bead blasted stainless steel. They are all available with any combination of cases, dials or movements. You can choose to have a seagull movement installed if you prefer, and will save you $150 or so.

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As you can see, the semi-gloss black navigator dial is very nicely crafted, with expertly applied Swiss luminova on the all the outer markers and outer arabics. Hour and minute hands are also both illuimated.

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I put mine on a German Pilot strap with rivets in a dark chocolate brown, and I think it looks fanastic. Chris offers them on either vintage or bund straps, but I am partial to the double rivet pilot strap so I sourced mine elsewhere.

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The crown is very nicely crafted of solid stainless and finely bead blasted as well. The movement is nice and slack-free, unlike those chinese seagull unitas copies. The cases are manufactured by a company in Germany that also manufactures cases for Tourby watches and Lum-Tec, which sell nearly identical watches for almost twice the price, which is probably fair market value. Wilson Watch Works doesn’t have the same exclusive dial and case designs, but the quality is the same, and thus you save money.

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This case uses lug screws, not spring bars, which is kind of nice. The screw threads are very strong and well threaded, and not likely to strip. They are polished, which gives a nice contrast to the blasted case.

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Exhibition caseback showing the swiss made eta unitas 6497 movement, undecorated, but beating strong. Did not really check accuracy, but it was within seconds of my Breitlings that I synched it to over the course of a day. Of course the Unitas doesn’t have a date complication, but most days I can do without it – doesn’t stop me from looking for it though.

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On my wrist, the 42mm case is fanastic. Probably the perfect size, though the spikey diamond crown digs into my wrist sometimes. But I love the watch and love the case. Everything about it screams quality… and at a price of $459, it certainly is worth the price and very close to the perfect $500 watch for me. I’d been eyeing the Tourby peices as well, but at $800+, they would really have to offer me something that WWW doesn’t. And until then, I’ll stick to my WWW Navigator.

Take a look at his ebay store here: http://shop.ebay.ca/merchant/wilsonwatchworks

This is the first of my recession time watch reviews! In this economic downtime its important to still get the fix for your watch bug, but at the same time stay responsible. Its not about whether you have the money, its about whether you should be spending it. And spending it might not be the prudent thing to do. And some of us aren’t patient enough to wait long periods, so that short term watch fix can be had by spending only a hundred or two.

The Ticino Big Pilot 47mm Watch
I purchased both the black and the regular steel version of this watch after owning an IWC Big Pilot for a very short period of time. Picked ’em up from sizzlinwatches.com – they have a deal now.. cheaper than when I bought them. I really loved the look of the Big Pilot, but it was uncomfortable with the crown digging into my wrist all the time. Couldn’t justify the expense. So I purchased a couple of Ticinos! For $125-200 a pop, the cost was minimal and with the amount that I would wear it, it would last a decent amount of time.

First up is the Ticino Black PVD.
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Massic 47mm size, with a well-machined case. Dial is a very nice matte black with a totally sterile dial. Small seconds at 9 o’clock. Very standard Pilot dial, with the Triangle and two dots at 12 o’clock. Speaking of which, does anyone know what that symbol is called?

ticino_black_02

Comes on a black leather strap, of average quality. Buckle is black coated as well, which was nice to see. If you look closely you can see the crown is not that sharply angled. At first, I thought this was because they painted it black and it wasn’t very good paint. I realized later that it is because it is a cheaply manufactured base metal crown because the non-black coated one looks like this as well, except it is chrome plated.

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Visible case back, not bad. Some sort of Chinese movement.. sea-gull, type E, whatever. I don’t keep up on the Chinese movements but if you know, feel free to comment. Once a fellow on youtube called me a blowhard because I didn’t know my Chinese movements and how it’s the heart of a watch. I realize its the heart (or soul, as I like to call it), but keeping up on $20 movements that are replicas of real swiss movements isn’t something I am that interested in. But perhaps one day!

Ticino Big Pilot 47mm Regular Steel.
Now.. onto the Steel version. I picked up the Pilot style bracelet for this one also from the same guys. I prefer the look of this watch on the bracelet, and it seems to sit better on my wrist, even though it is still probably a bit too big for me. The bracelet makes the watch not move around quite as much.. but maybe I just wear bracelets tighter than straps.

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There’s a shot of the regular steel version. As you can see, the dial on this one is not sterile, and has the Ticino logo on it as well as the word “Professional”. I think I prefer the sterile dial but this steel case. Too bad they didn’t offer it that way. Perhaps the movements and dials could be swapped out. Looking at the crown, you will notice it is also not very well cut probably because it is chrome-plated base metal rather than stainless steel. I’m not sure how long the plating will last, but most old watches have crowns that are plated base metal.

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If you look closely, the movements are actually different. I thought that was strange. I don’t know which Chinese movement was used in which watch, but they are not the same. Both models have Ticino written on the winding gear, however.

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And a final shot of the silver model on my wrist.. and another below of the black one on my wrist!

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Both watches are pretty good value for being under $200, and offering a nice, subtle styling that you don’t find very often. Both kept very good time, within 12 seconds a day, which is better than many non-swiss made mechanical watches I have had. Aside from the Crowns, I really like the build quality of these peices. Hope you enjoyed the review.

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