The past couple of years been a golden age of vintage reissues, from the Tudor Heritage Chrono to the W&W favorite Oris Diver’s Sixty-Five, and Junghans’ new announcement looks to continue the trend. The Junghans Meister Pilot Event Edition picks up the legacy of Junghans’ own J88 Bundeswehrchronograph of 1955, the under-appreciated second part of a trifecta of watches made for the reassembling German military that also included the mono-pusher Hanhart 417 and the legendary Heuer Bund.
Nowadays Junghans certainly makes some incredibly attractive designs, like the Max Bill line, but the majority of these pieces trend toward stark minimalism. The Meister Pilot Event Edition represents only the second dive into more retro designs for the brand after last year’s gorgeous Meister Telemeter, and one that on paper could be lost in a sea of flieger chronographs. One look at the Meister Pilot Event Edition puts that fear to rest. The clear standout element here is the unique scalloped bezel design, lifted straight from the 1955 original. Rather than the more usual coin edge or toothed design, the bidirectional stainless steel bezel features 12 rounded cutouts for easy operation even for wearers with heavy flying gloves. It’s a form-follows-function design choice that remains as striking today as it was 60 years ago.
The rest of the design keeps the DNA of the J88 intact, while updating to a slightly more modern feel. The case is upsized to a contemporary 43mm wide and a hefty 14.4mm from casebook to the top of its double-AR coated sapphire crystal, the dial’s flieger-chrono style numerals retain the classic cutouts at 2, 8, and 10 (although weirdly the cutouts do not extend to 4 o’ clock) for the chrono subdials but are more fluid and rounded, and the Sinn style handset of the original has been bulged out to a lume-filled Roman sword style with needle tips. The brushed lugs feature some attractive edging work, and curve down quickly away from the main case, for what should prove to be a wrist-hugging shape that could wear quite a bit smaller than its size and thickness suggests.
The large boxy crown is etched with the old-school Junghans six-pointed star logo also featured on the dial, and the chrono pushers have surprisingly been stretched to a slight oval shape. It’s an unusual touch, but one that echoes the contour of the bezel cutouts. Adorning the screw-fastened caseback is a detailed etching of Junghans’ terraced factory building, although this etching is exclusive to the limited Event Edition so it’s unsure what the caseback design will be when the watch reaches the company’s main line sometime next year.
The Meister Pilot Event Edition is powered by Junghans’ J880.4 chronograph movement (ETA based), with a small running seconds and 30-minute counter at 3 and 9 respectively. The subdials are large and instantly legible at a glance, and the main dial’s outer seconds track is uncluttered by sub-markers. While obviously hindering split-second accuracy in timing, this arrangement is ideal for the kind of instant low light readouts necessary in the cockpit of an aircraft. The watch comes on either a black or brown riveted leather strap, but (wrist size allowing) is perhaps the ideal candidate for a Bund strap.
Overall, the Junghans Meister Pilot Event Edition represents Junghans taking an impressive step forward by looking backward, and we’re very much excited to learn more details as they are released.