Laco39_04a

 

There have been a few posts here over the years about various watches made to look like the old VDO gauges in our cars. Some of those watches have been OK, but they usually strike me as a little contrived because, well, they're watches. They should look like watches, dammit, and not tachometers or speedos.

But German Flieger (pilot) watches also look a lot like vintage VDO gauges - for some very good reasons. They were born around the same time (in the 1930s), in the same country, and followed the same design principles - maximum legibility with the cleanest fonts available at the time.

The original fliegers were made for the Luftwaffe to a design standard published by the German government. A lot were needed all at once (apparently, something was keeping the Luftwaffe pretty busy at the time), so the work was farmed out to five different watch companies.

The design has become somewhat iconic among watch geeks over the years, so many are still being produced by a lot of different watch companies today, including some by a few of those five original companies.

One of those companies is Laco, still in business in their original home town of Pforzheim. They make a lot of different models inspired by the original design - some very close recreations. Their best are pretty pricey, with authentic detailing and materials, and fancy Swiss movements. But they also make some fine examples with high quality but much cheaper Japanese movements.

I just got one of these and think it's pretty spiffy - maybe the perfect Speedster watch. Fit and finish are excellent, and it comes on a beefy, leather strap. It even keeps pretty good time.

Anyway, here are some photos of the model I got (the Aachen 39, BTW) and a link to Laco's website. And even though the photos don't show it well, the markings are a light green, very similar to the VDO gauges.

If you want to learn more about these, just search YouTube for 'flieger watches'. There are enough videos to keep you busy even if YouTube should last a thousand years.

 

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That's interesting Mitch. Five months ago I bought that same watch with the fancy Swiss ETA movement from Steinhart. The one I purchased is a 44mm watch only because they didn't have the 47mm in stock and only the originals were 55mm across or I would have gotten one in that size.Many of the watches I have now are automatic watches. This model is referred to as a Nav B-Uhr B-Type and it would have been worn by the observer on the bomber. The Nav B-Uhr A-Type only has the outer numbers. Interesting as well is that the watches belonged to the German Military and not the pilots or observers. The watches were checked out prior to flight and had to be checked back in upon their return. I think it is a great watch and wear it often. This is part five of a five part history of the pilot watch. Part five deals specifically with this watch. The first four parts are linked at the bottom of part five. The first four parts tells the history of how pilot watches came to be:

https://monochrome-watches.com...tch-part-five-b-uhr/

 

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I love the Big pilots used by the LH are awesome, but I personally favor the 50mm Breitling pocket watch used by US B-24 and 17 bombers and navigators.  A little more artistic with a more complex 18 jewel movements.... up close they are a work f art... the detail is amazing... ( I can take better pics if anyone is interested).  Also US military property which had to be checked in/ out for each mission.

The Brietling is pictured on the left, below. Worn on the wrist/ over the leathers with a rather Ingenious adaptor.

BAA07B77-1D92-4B67-8379-7028FF562B75

On the right is a 1909 -WWI era Zenith pocket watch... in a trench leather wrist band. 

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Supposedly, the original German pilot watches were 55 mm to accommodate the larger pocket watch movements of the day (which were probably more robust, more accurate, and maybe had longer power reserves than existing wrist watch movements).

Of course, size helped legibility, too. I notice reading a watch is harder when being bounced around in the Speedster. Probably even more of a challenge when a squadron of Spitfires is shooting at you.

They were also worn over flight jackets.

 

Sacto Mitch posted:

 

Supposedly, the original German pilot watches were 55 mm to accommodate the larger pocket watch movements of the day (which were probably more robust, more accurate, and maybe had longer power reserves than existing wrist watch movements).

Of course, size helped legibility, too. I notice reading a watch is harder when being bounced around in the Speedster. Probably even more of a challenge when a squadron of Spitfires is shooting at you.

They were also worn over flight jackets.

 

IWC was one of the original companies making the Nav B-Uhr Type-A watch and it was the largest one they made at 55mm:

IWC_Big_Pilots_watch_1940_1000-570x428

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