REC Watches is consistently releasing fast-selling limited edition watches that house salvaged parts from historically significant cars and planes. The new RJM watch sports a dial made from untreated aluminum taken from the wing of a WWII MK IX Spitfire plane. As if that weren’t enough historical significance, the specific plane is number PT879, which the Allies loaned to the Soviet Air Forces. Remarkably, of over 1,000 Spitfires loaned to Russia, PT879 remains the only one to return to the UK—and that’s after being shot down in 1945 and sitting in a barn for decades. Today, British aviation expert Peter Teichman is diligently restoring PT879 to exact original specifications. The watch’s name, “RJM,” stands for Reginald Joseph Mitchell, the British designer of the Spitfire.
Unlike many of REC’s offerings, the 41-millimeter RJM is relatively understated. Designed in collaboration with Switzerland’s StudioDivine, there were two goals: to feature the Spitfire’s aerodynamic qualities, and to capture the spirit of WWII British military watches. That sounds like a convoluted design brief to my ear, but by featuring basic shapes of the Spitfire on features like the crown (shaped like the nose of the plane here), the crown guards (shaped like the wings), and the date aperture (shaped like an altimeter), the RJM coheres into a handsome and stylish watch without falling into the pit of kitsch that ensnares many thematic watches.