Thursday, July 03, 2008


I’ve always loved a classic pilot’s watch or flieger. For me the flieger is one of the archetypical watches which any WIS worth their salt needs to have in their collection. I’ve gone through a few fliegers myself and will wager I’ll go through a number more before its all said and done.

I started off simple with an Aeromatic 1912 flieger I grabbed off eBay back in 2004. This watch was bought during the nascent days of my WIS-dom. If ignorance is bliss then I made a wise choice when purchasing this watch. If you anything about the Aeromatic brand you know these are Chinese watches, which imply German origins. That’s all well and good because I certainly knew I wasn’t getting a German built timepiece. It didn’t matter to me. I wanted an automatic flieger than was inexpensive and that’s exactly what I got fresh from The Bay. The watch arrived in a neat tin and I though it looked pretty darn good. I was drawn to the observation dial, which features an outer track with the time marked off in five-minute increments and an inner track with the standard 12-hour markings. This and the arrow at 12:00 sang to me. The watch was outfitted on a reasonable leather strap and featured a Chinese clone of the eta 2824 I honestly don’t recall the number of jewels used but the movement wound, hacked and kept pretty good time. I got some good use out of the watch and threw it back to The Bay not all that long ago. I’ll tell you I didn’t lose a cent on it, and I sincerely hope it is still enjoying life on another’s wrist.

My next flieger was a classy little number I grabbed from one of the watch sale’s forums from a fairly well known WIS. This was an IWI Pilot with eta 2824. This was a “Swiss Movement” watch and pretty darn nice. It had all the right bits (sapphire, screwdown crown, eta 2824) and was quite a looker in my opinion. The seller informed me this was indeed a rare flieger as it featured a red second hand, which was not standard issue for the watch. The fit and finish were very good and the watch was one ace of a timekeeper. I wore the watch on a sharkskin and poliot’s strap and had a great time with my IWI Pilot but as my WIS-dom increased, I found myself drawn to a whole new concept for the hoary flieger.

One of the members on my home watch forum had obtained and N.B. Yaeger Delta Sector and I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I still think Martin Braun (the brain behind N.B. Yaeger) came up with a fresh take on the flieger, which is innovative while remaining classic. At any rate, said forum member was (and still is) a serial flipper. When complimenting his new timepiece I immediately called dibs quite publicly. It was only a short time until he offered the watch to me for an attractive price. What a fantastic watch. It came on a beautiful bracelet with a rubber strap should I desire any change of pace. I wore this watch often while neglecting my IWI Pilot. At some point, my funny little WIS brain told me I was done with the traditional flieger and I would “fly” forward on the cutting edge with only my N.B. Yaeger. I decided the IWI Pilot had to go find a new home.

And off it went to a new home where it thrives to this day. The new owner reports it is one of his most accurate watches. Well as WIS-dumb will have it, it wasn’t long at all before I found myself pining for a more traditional flieger. I added a true pilot’s strap to my NBY but it didn’t satiate my desire for a traditional flieger. Combine this with a penchant for hand wound watches and it’s easy to see I was in a bit of a spot and needed to get myself right. I began scouring the sales forums for fliegers, particularly hand crankers and hit upon a sweet Lacher, which I narrowly missed. I kept looking and considered one of the DeBaufre Nav-B watches but found myself wanting an observation dial, which was not offered on the offering from DeBaufre. Besides that, I still don’t care much for the new name for Steinhart!

I put it on the back burner deciding I would bide my time and hope for something to come up on a sale’s forum… well lo and behold, something did pop up. Would this get your attention?
“SOLD is a self built Unitas 6497 Flieger. I purchased the bits seperatly and assembled it myself. To make it look authentic I applied vintage noctiluminova to the dial and hands to make it look like aged tritium.Swiss Unitas, soigne grade with blued screws, Saphire crystal front, K1 back, 42mm case bead blasted, fantastic vintage leather strap.”
Well it sure got mine. May be I am a little askew.

In no time, the watch was in my possession form over the pond in a super smooth deal between WIS. Now if you look at the watch it looks a little beat… and that’s a lot of its charm in my mind. This is a Flieger plain and simple. So I’ve added this flieger to my collection and couldn’t be happier with the watch. It most definitely has the look of a classic flieger. In fact the WIS I bought it from pit it together to have a vintage look and feel. In this, he excelled. The fuzzy, aged markers and classic observation dial give the watch a vintage appearance in combine with the no nonsense bead blasted 42mm case. No frills here; just timekeeping plain and simple. The dial is the essence of legibility, and the generously applied vintage noctiluminova assure visibility in zero light conditions. The soigné grade Unitas 6497 is a fantastic movement. Winding is a pleasure and time keeping is precise. The nine-eater sub seconds sing to me! The beautiful movement is visible through an exhibition pane and is the ultimate in simplistic beauty.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the seller outfitted the 22mm lugs with a sweet 24mm Ted Su vintage ammo strap. I am certain I will try other straps on this flieger and will put the ammo on another watch at some point, but for the time being the two a one as it were; the strap adding to the character and charm of a very vintage looking flieger. I think you’ll agree this is a sweet flieger. It has a homespun rustic feel which allows me fantasize it’s an ancient treasure.

I really should ask the seller for some more details on the watch as I get many questions. People’s eyes are drawn to the big bold dial and upon handling the watch, they are always full of questions. Not only should I get some more information; I think I owe that man another round of thanks.

For the time being I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with my two fliegers. That is unless I hit the lotto!!

Thanks for having a look.


Watcher said...

I like that NB Yaeger watch a lot . I have a similar model with a slightly different dial. I agree with you it's very cool and unusual. I was drawn to the colorful dial and hands right away. I was looking for more info on this company and there's not much out there. Not even a working website! Do you know if the company still exists? I was thinking of contacting them to see if I could get a bracelet for my watch .

Paxman said...

I am only finding a web page which stated the company was sold... in 2006. I would try They have a section devoted to NBY and might be able to hook you up.