Issued, mid-20th century U.S. pilot’s watches is a fairly niche category — there simply weren’t all that many different watches that were purchased by the American military for specific use by aircrews, and those that they did buy tended to be diminutive by today’s standards.
The A-7 Avigation was different, however. Introduced originally in 1934 based upon design spec 27748, this was a navigation watch meant for use by Army Air Corps crews (the Army Air Corps was the precursor to the post-war Air Force). The A-7 was a wristwatch adopted from a pocket watch movement and as such, was quite large, and meant to be worn on the outside of a flight jacket. It came in both black and white dials (the white were made by Gallet and the black by Longines and Meylan), and featured a single-button chronograph operated via an onion crown. In order to give easy access to the crown, the dial was rotated 40 degrees, which also allowed a pilot to view the time more easily without having to remove his hands from the cockpit controls.
Longines has released several reissues of the A-7 over the past few years, the newest of which is the Avigation Watch Type A-7 U.S.A. Exclusive Edition (I’m gonna go ahead and call it the “A-7,” however, and assume you know what I’m talking about). The A-7 is limited to 100 numbered pieces and available solely to the U.S. market. Echoing the original design, it features an oversized 44mm stainless steel case rotated 40 degrees, an onion crown with a single pusher that operates a column-wheel chronograph (based on the self-winding L788 caliber developed exclusively for Longines), a grained black dial with graduated shading and honey-colored Arabic numerals, and a black distressed leather strap. Overall, this is a gorgeous reinterpretation of a little-known military watch classic.
The Avigation Watch Type A-7 U.S.A. Exclusive Edition will be available in stores and online beginning this month for $4,250.
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