Son of a gun So I have good and bad news for 1980s nostalgia freaks. The good news is they're making a sequel to Top Gun. The bad news is they're making a sequel to Top Gun. On the one hand, the follow-up is gonna have Maverick, yes Tom Cruise himself, going up against drones and the like, the ultimate (short) man versus machine match-up. On the other hand, is nothing sacred any more? Why is everything rebooted, reimagined, retold, rehashed and reheated these days? It's enough to make even the Ice Man lose his cool - and not even a homoerotic game of volleyball would be enough to calm him down.
Anyway, all the Top Gun talk got me thinking about aviation watches, which, to be honest, I had kind of got bored of. My interest was rekindled by meeting a real-life Miramar pilot, as in a real "top gun", who, for the purposes of this column, we'll call "Big Dog" (we can't use his real call sign, but it is way cooler). Anyway, Big Dog was kind enough to indulge my stupid fanboy questions and also showed me his one-off for-Top-Gun-pilots-only Breitling Navitimer. Now, of course, you can't purchase the watch (unless they appear at auctions) but it proved that Breitling is the choice of the pros and, if you want something that the likes of Maverick or Big Dog would wear, then check out the Navitimer AOPA (above right), which stands for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The AOPA has all the classic Navitimer elements, such as the busy dial, with three chronograph sub-dials, as well as several outer-ring indications. What makes this a hit with flyboys and nerds is the bidirectional bezel with slide rule that allows for calculations to be made. Sized at a classic 42mm, the steel case houses the Breitling 23 movement and the watch comes with a leather strap or the Navitimer steel bracelet. Prices for the Navitimer AOPA are available upon request.
IWC is also a dab hand when it comes to pilots' watches, although it is prone to delve into gimmicks such as the Little Prince special edition. It can still knock it out of the park when it puts its mind to it, though, and it has with the Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month (above left). The first IWC Pilots' watch to display date and month digitally in large numerals, the Spitfire gets points for including leap years and a perpetual calendar. The dial is classic IWC, in that it's clean and legible. Inside is the 89801 in-house movement, which pumps out an impressive 68 hours of power. The 46mm case comes in a number of materials. Prices for the Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month start at about HK$250,000.
Finally, we have another brand steeped in aviation history which lost its way for a number of years but has seemingly roared back into life. For the 45th anniversary of watch retailer Elegant, Zenith has created the Pilot Type 20 GMT 1903 limited edition (above right). A tribute to the Wright brothers, who flew their first "flying" machine in 1903, this watch has wonderful vintage accents. Sized at 48mm, it is a beast of a watch, with the real estate filled with big, brash numerals as well as a large small-second indicator. To mark Elegant's 45th anniversary, the nine o'clock position is marked with a red 45, and the watch is limited to 45 pieces. Inside is an Elite 693 movement with a 50-hour power reserve. The case has a DLC coating and the strap is oily nubuck leather with a protective rubber lining. Prices for the Pilot Type 20 GMT 1903 are available upon request.