About time: High fliers
The whole 3D movie thing always felt a bit gimmicky and pointless to me - until, that is, some genius in Hollywood realised that re-releasing classic films with a "Now in 3D" sticker slapped on the poster was a good idea. You will forgive my giddy excitement at again seeing Jurassic Park and Top Gun on the big screen - particularly the latter, with its bucketloads of jingoism and cold war paranoia, a thin Val Kilmer and absurd plot.
The original release of Top Gun led to a spike in recruitment for the United States Navy air combat team, and while on second viewing I didn't march down to the nearest recruitment office, the film did make me consider the pleasures of a good, sturdy pilot watch. Traditionally, pilot watches have been the domain of the likes of Breitling and IWC, which have strong aviation histories, but a slew of brands are getting in on the act with some interesting results.
One of the most intriguing pilot watch releases of 2013 has been the Vulcain Aviator GMT Pilot Cricket (top right).
Vulcain has some links to aviation, its 1950s Cricket alarm watches having adorned the wrists of Swissair pilots, but this modern rendition merges the legendary Cricket alarm function with a handy, and nicely designed, 24-hour time-zone display. The case is 42mm and comes in satin brushed steel, which accentuates the black dial face and the retro gold-tone numerals, including the triangle with two dots at the 12 o'clock position. The strap is a brown calfskin, again harking back to pilot's watches of the past, and the overall design itself has a retro feel but not in a forced way. Inside is a Vulcain Calibre V-10 movement, which is reliable without being spectacular and pumps out 42 hours of power. Functions include the previously mentioned 24-hour second time zone and, of course, an alarm, which can sound for up to 20 seconds. The Vulcain Aviator GMT Pilot Cricket is also available in a limited-to-250 DLC-coated version. Prices are available upon request.
JeanRichard is another brand one doesn't necessarily associate with aviation but with the Aeroscope range it is changing hearts and minds. New for 2013 is the Aeroscope titanium chronograph watch (below), which comes in a meaty 46mm case in satin-finished titanium with a titanium bezel.
Everything on the case is designed to look substantial, in keeping with modern aviator watches, so it's no surprise the strap is a rather thick, wide grey rubber. The grey dial design is also deliberately exaggerated with luminescent oversized numerals. JeanRichard doubles up the pilot markings with both a triangle-with-two-dots night-time marker on the top of the bezel and an arrow for the hour hand.
Inside is an in-house JR66 movement with 42 hours of power that gives life to the chronograph, small seconds hand and date window functions. The JeanRichard Aeroscope titanium chronograph is priced at HK$20,800.
Lastly, we have Oris - another brand with no immediate connections to flyboys, but the Air Racing line is another confident attempt to enter the aviator market. The Oris Air Racing Edition III (above right) is a 1,000-piece limited edition watch that has links with the Swiss Air Racing Team, so it's not without pedigree. The design is simple and all the more effective for it, with the only functions beyond the hours and minutes being the day and date indications at the 3 o'clock position.
The most striking thing on this watch is the red and white zebra-striped minute hand, which looks like something you'd find on a cockpit instrument panel. The case is made of stainless steel but given a black DLC coating and the watch is sized at 42mm. The strap is black textile and inside is a SW220 automatic movement. The Oris Air Racing Edition III is priced at HK$12,500.