There are some brands that seem so perfectly modern, it can sometimes come as a …
As we approach the end of 2017 and prepare for a new year of watch releases in 2018, we wanted to take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year. Check back each day of this week for a new list focused on everything that 2017 had to offer. — The WatchTime editors
The holiday season is synonymous with travel. Whether it’s driving across town or around the world, pretty much everyone is headed somewhere. One way to make the burden of travel easier? A world timer or pilot’s watch on your wrist. After all, you can only watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles so many times.
First up, a modern re-issue of a chronograph that Longines produced in the 1930s, the Avigation BigEye (“Avigation” is a portmanteau of “aviation” and “navigation,” which are the two functions the original watch was engineered to serve). The modern watch is distinguished by its extra-legible, semi-glossy black dial with big luminous Arabic numerals and an extra-large 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock (presumably, the “big eye” referred to in the model name). The dial, protected under a domed sapphire crystal with several layers of nonreflective coating, also has a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and a subdial for running seconds at 9 o’clock; a central hand counts the chronograph seconds; the hour and minute hands, like the hour numerals, are coated with Super-LumiNova. The 41-mm stainless steel case is water-resistant to 30 meters and features two prominent chronograph pushers for easy handling, even for a pilot wearing gloves. Learn more here.
The Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic, a vintage-inspired piece first released in 2011, was relaunched this year with a new dial design, additional case options, and a very affordable price tag. The watches’ 44-mm cases have a simple and sturdy design, equipped with an oversized crown typical of today’s pilot watch designs and a solid caseback featuring an engraved Alpina logo. Depending on the dial color option, each watch will come on either a black, dark blue or brown leather strap. On their dials, the watches have an outer minute track with the Alpina red triangle at the 12 o’clock position, along with applied Arabic numerals broken up with rectangular markers at each of the quarter hours. The hour and minute hands have a distinctive, curved design, while the simple red seconds counter again features the brand’s logo as its counterweight. There’s a subtle, integrated date window at the 3 o’clock position that is hardly noticeable at first glance — a useful feature that helps maintain the aesthetic focus on the rest of the dial. Inside the watch is the automatic caliber AL-525, based on the Sellita SW 200, which holds a 38-hour power reserve and features special finishing by Alpina. Click here for more info and dial color options.
Continuing the brand’s tradition of aviation-influenced designs, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Horolum takes its cues not only from the dashboard instruments that a pilot consults while in flight but also from the bright lights that he sees when he’s coming in for a landing. Its dashboard-clock dial has a Super-LumiNova coating that glows in the same intense green color as the lights on airport runways (hence the name “Hora” plus “Lum,” short for “Lumen” or light). The 42-mm bead-blasted steel case is reminiscent of those used in the brand’s early BR-01 models. The dial — made of micro-blasted brass-rhodium that makes it homogeneous with the case — is made of two superimposed metal plates, with cutaway numerals and indices on the gray upper plate and green-tinted, long-lasting Super-LumiNova C3 coating covering the lower plate. In this “sandwich” construction — favored by brands such as Panerai — the luminescence shines through the cutouts for a brilliant glow and easy nighttime legibility. Green Super-LumiNova is also used on the hands, and the calfskin leather strap, with stainless steel pin buckle, is in a gray-green color. The BR 03-92 Horolum is also outfitted with the Sellita-based, self-winding BR-CAL.302 and includes a date window at 4:30. Both new watches’ cases are water-resistant to 100 meters and feature nonreflective sapphire crystals over the dials. More details can be found here.
The Tutima Grand Flieger is the revised and modernized re-edition of the historical Flieger chronograph that the German brand introduced in 1941 (and later released in a replica edition in 1990) — which was also the first German-made chronograph outfitted with a flyback mechanism. This year, Tutima introduced several non-chronograph versions of the watch, including one with a sunburst-finish brown dial, powered by Tutima’s in-house Caliber 330. The watch maintains much of its predecessor’s period details, including the notched, bidirectional coin-edged bezel with red reference marker at 12 o’clock, the vintage-style hands, and the Arabic numerals. The day and date are displayed in a window at 3 o’clock. Over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal with a nonreflective coating on both sides; in the back, another sapphire pane offers a view of Tutima Caliber 330, an automatic movement with an “antique gray” rotor, 25 jewels, and a power reserve of 38 hours. The stainless steel bracelet is also a nod to the styles of the past; the new Grand Fliegers are also available with blue or black dials and on leather straps as well as bracelets. Learn more here.
The IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” was released only a few months ago in a 250-piece, limited-edition set with an attractive 18k rose gold case. The tobacco brown dial, gold-plated hands, and brown calfskin strap match handsomely to the case and are meant to recall the pilot suits from the days when Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took to the skies and wrote about his aerial adventures in classics such as The Little Prince and Night Flight. A stylized “A” underneath the Annual Calendar indicator offers a nice nod to the French pilot and author’s initial. The seven-day power reserve comes courtesy of the IWC in-house Caliber 52850 that includes a Pellaton winding system with parts made from long-lasting ceramic. But the real selling point for horological enthusiasts and fans of Le Petit Prince? A rotor constructed from 18k rose gold and crafted into the shape of a Lightning P-38, the same airplane model that Saint Exupéry took off in on that fateful Mediterranean summer night in 1944 — and never returned from. All details are available here.
The very first Oris Worldtimer introduced a mechanism that used plus and minus pushers on the side of the case that adjusted the local time forward or backward, in one-hour jumps, when pressed — without the wearer ever needing to pull out the crown and stop the running of the watch. The watch included displays for small seconds, home time, and day/night indication, and featured another Oris in-house innovation, a patented mechanism that ensured that the date would keep track of the time adjustment, even if it meant going backward over midnight. Oris has used this world-time system in many of its watches since, and, for its 20th anniversary year, updates it with even more user-friendly functionality. Gone are the plus and minus pushers; a simple turn of the bezel now suffices to adjust the local time. Making its debut in this new model from Oris’s popular Big Crown ProPilot collection, the revamped world-time function enables the user to move the central hour hand forwards in one-hour jumps by turning the bezel clockwise, and backward in one-hour jumps with a counterclockwise twist. Everything you need to know about the Oris Big Crown ProPilot can be found here.