The Flieger A dial, a true tool watch - The Laco Heindelberg 39
If you want to talk about a tool watch, a watch with a porpoise, there is nothing better than a pilot watch, yes divers and field watches are great tools too but the speed when things happen on a cockpit are much faster than diving or walking, this means that watches have to be precise, very precise.
A pilot watch did not started in Germany or during the middle of a war, some people argue that the first pilot watch was the Cartier Santos. When Cartier decided to put his watches on a strap for easy reading on air, back then it sounded like science fiction, think about it: ''a mechanical object to calculate time while you are conquering the sky..'' and you know what, it feels as special even today. Flieger or B- Uhren watches came later at the beginning of the second world war when the German Ministry of the air forces gave exact specifications for this instrument that would help pilot to calculate navigation, distance and even fuel during a flight. The watches were utilitarian, chronometer certified and with no ornaments, pure legibility and ready to perform a job.
Despite of the history which might appeal to some more than others, to me pilot watches have always been an object fascination, I came across Laco last year at Baselworld, they had a beautiful stand with their full catalogue and they were kind enough to walk us through them, I was immediately hooked, later that year we were fortunate enough to review their beautiful Frankfurt GMT which won the Red Dot award in 2020. I always wanted to review the A dial Flieger, the original one in 39mm and my wife kindly knowing my obsession gift me one for my birthday and here we are, reviewing what I consider one of the coolest utilitarian watches out there, let's begin.
As the name suggest the watch has a 39mm case which wears perfectly on my 6.25 inch wrist. To me Laco makes one of the best cases in this price range, the sand blasted case adds a lot to the utilitarian look of the Heindelberg and that side case with the "FL23883" looks spot on.
The whole case is full of vintage details without being cheesy, even the case back receives the full instrument treatment with denominations that look straight from a government entity saying: '' please return the watch when you are done..''. The movement inside is an ETA elabore which is the standard version, it keeps time beautifully, you can also opt to upgrade the movement which would be regulated in more positions and offering a anachronic hairspring for more accuracy. Of course the star of the how is the dial, this Heidelberg has an A dial configuration which is one of the 2 designs created by the German government, the A dial is what we call the original one, the first. This configuration tells everything you need to know plain and simple, a large seconds hands reaching and almost touching the chapter ring, long thermally blued hands pointing precisely to the numbers and markers and lots of lume to be legibly on any situation you might encounter.
On the wrist:
The Laco wears like a charm, is true that pilot watches should be big but this under 50mm lug to lug makes it perfect for me, and this is not a reduced version of a big watch, all the details are present and the quality is here, the onion crown is machined to perfection, easy to grip and wind, just like the original ones in the 40's.
Legibility is spotless as expected, easy to read at any glance, the black mate dial really creates a great contrast with the markers. The strap really completes the look, vintage inspired with an 18mm width is a great choice for the smaller case , I wish the buckle was sandblasted too but I am just nitpicking to what is an irresistible package. The dark grey case really looks apart, nothing in my current collection looks like this A type beauty, it is as versatile as you wanted to be, I have been wearing it in casual environments and also with shorts, everyone always ask about it, it's a great conversation piece.
It is hard to find a true original piece that you can trace it's heritage and still cost less than 1000 GBP, the quality that Laco is offering is really putting to a test to their Swiss luxury counter parts, well made with great details that make not only a unique watch but a piece of history that you can wear, it's simplicity is not only utilitarian but also minimalistic, only the necessary feels good sometimes in a world that we want everything now and fast, I would recommend this watch to anyone who is not only interested in the history of flieger watches but to anyone who wants to start a conversations saying :''this watch? Let me tell you about it..''
For more information visit www.laco.de
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