The modern pilot’s watch resembles those of the 1940s and ’50s as little as an F22 Raptor resembles a P-51 Mustang. While the simple dials and small cases of yore were quaint and served their owners well in the Battle of Britain and beyond, nowadays, it’s all about materials, ruggedness and functionality: think anti-magnetic, anti-shock and anti-scratch (they’re just missing anti-aircraft). Modern pilot’s watches are getting as stealthy as the planes they’re modeled after, too, all blacked out for night maneuvers and flying under the radar. Today we look at two stealth fighters from England, both high flyers, but one that won’t dive bomb your budget.
Since its inception, Bremont has created watches associated with aviation and functional ruggedness. The English brothers (yes, that’s their name) have successfully focused their passions for planes and all things mechanical to become one of the premier up-and-coming watch brands. Bremont’s entire lineup is as close to bombproof as you can get with mechanical watches — from simple, clean pilots to more complicated world timers. The ALT1-B ($6,395) is no exception to their philosophy.
A derivative of the ALT1-Z, the ALT1-B features chronograph and GMT functions to back up slick DLC-coated looks. Bremont packed the ALT1-B with its patented three-piece Trip-Tick case and upgraded the hairspring and mainspring for further resistance to changes in temperature and magnetic fields. With a thickness of 16mm and a width of 43mm, there’s no forgetting the ALT1-B is on your wrist. It’s a big, badass watch that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if Darth Vader decided to sport it. While there are plenty of reasons to want this watch, there’s one main reason you can’t have it: the price. The ALT1-B comes in at butt-puckering $6,400, a stiff bill for an ETA 7750, regardless of the modifications.
Christopher Ward C1000 Typhoon
It seems like everyone and their mother has cashed in on the black watch fad. Many are either PVD- or DLC-coated (like the Bremont), arguably the more economical ways of achieving the black appearance. On the less economical end of the scale is ceramic; it’s more difficult to work with and more prone to crack from blunt trauma, but its hardness is wear-resistant and practically scratchproof. But take a quick inventory of ceramic watches from high-end watchmakers like IWC, Omega, and JLC and you’ll find they quickly reach and surpass the $10,000 mark.
Christopher Ward has always been a brand that produces high-end looks with low-end prices. As of late, they’ve really pushed the envelope by releasing several watches with features or complications normally reserved for the deep-pocketed set. With the C1000 Typhoon ($2,000) they’ve decided to take on ceramic. Most likely aimed at the IWC Pilot Chronograph, the Typhoon is a fine replacement for its fellow countryman, the ALT1-B. Based off of the same ETA 7750 (albeit with less upgrades), the Typhoon ups the ante by using ceramic as the predominant case material, strengthened with a titanium sub-frame. Its sleek black looks, well-proportioned 42mm case and wallet-friendly price will be constant reminders of the value-seeking watch lover that you are. Sure, it may not have all the “go anywhere” capabilities of the ALT1-B, but at a third of the cost, who’s complaining?