Elite Traveler Winter 2021


by Roberta Naas

BELL & ROSS BR 03-94 PATROUILLE DE FRANCE Long known as a pilot’s watch brand, Bell & Ross was selected by the French Air and Space Force as the official watchmaking partner of the French Acrobatic Patrol, Patrouille de France. To celebrate its relationship with the famed aerobatic aviation team, Bell & Ross worked with the pilots to create a limited edition (500 pieces) BR03-94 Patrouille De France watch. Highly functional and extremely legible, the 42mm watch is powered by an automatic mechanical movement and offers hours, minutes, small seconds and date, along with chronograph functions and tachymeter scale. The case is crafted in stealth matte black ceramic, and the blue dial boasts the Patrouille de France logo. Super-LumiNova hour and minute hands help with reading in the dark. $6,400, bellross.com

Pilot watches are all the rage right now, even for people who aren’t professional pilots. They have a certain look to them— often vintage, other times stealth — that is universally liked. The first pilot’s watches were introduced nearly 100 years ago in the early 1930s as military needs sparked invention. Later, aviation exploration drove watch brands to push the limits on what could be accomplished when it came to form and function, and pilot watches became a genre in their own right. Today, the best aviation-inspired watches are antimagnetic, shock resistant, highly legible and incredibly precise. Many are also certified chronometers attesting to their abilities to function under many different conditions. An important highlight of the watches shown here: They are all powered by mechanical movements and so are considered highly sustainable, since, when taken care of, a mechanical watch can last lifetimes. FLYING HIGH

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN ROYAL MACES EDITION One of the first brands to create an antimagnetic pilot’s watch in the early 1930s, IWC has been inextricably tied to the world of aviation ever since. Its most recent unveiling is a series of three new Pilot’s Watch Chronographs in black ceramic. They are inspired by the brand’s military program, where it creates watches for select US Navy squadrons. Each watch features the particular squadron’s (Royal Maces, Tophatters or Blue Angels®) colorful patch at 6 o’clock on the dial. Powered by IWC’s in-house caliber 69380 with column-wheel chronograph movement, this Royal Maces Edition features a 44.5mm black ceramic case and proprietary Ceratanium crown and pushers. It boasts a soft-iron inner case for antimagnetic purposes. $10,900, iwc.com

Photo Claude Weber

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