Laco is a German brand specializing in traditional pilot’s watches. They are, after all, one of the original manufacturers of the German Flieger, and trace their roots back to 1925. Very often, their watches take their names from cities in Germany, but today we’re looking at two watches that Laco has just reintroduced to their catalog that are named after Italian cities: Palermo and Naples. The Palermo 39 and Neapel 39 are certainly true to Flieger heritage in all of the most important ways, but have a few small twists. I don’t know that the style changes here necessarily make them more Italian in any meaningful way, but they’re certainly sharp looking pilot’s watches.
The Palermo and Neapel are 39mm watches in the traditional flieger style, with the Neapel’s dial in the so-called “Type A” format and the Palermo in “Type B.” The Type A dial is likely the more familiar of the two, with Arabic numerals at each hour and a clearly defined open minutes track. At 12:00 you’ll find the traditional triangular marker with two small dots alongside it, a clear nod to historical flieger watches. The Type B dial shows the minutes in increments of 5 around the dial’s perimeter, with hours referenced in a smaller inner circle. This is a busier dial by its very nature and a bit of an acquired taste, but is extremely intuitive to read and presents a particularly accurate reading of the minutes at a quick glance.
What sets these watches apart somewhat from others in the Laco catalog is their bright orange accents. Rather than a crisp white, all of the dial information is presented in a bright orange, including minute markers, numerals, and the large flieger hands. According to Laco, the color was inspired by orange trees as seen from a plane flying over the Italian countryside. We’re happy to take their word for it, mostly because the orange simply looks great, and offers an alternative for the flieger-curious watch buyer looking for something just a little bit different, but with the name of a brand on the dial that offers some real authenticity.
The watches are both powered by the Laco 21 movement, a rebadged Miyota 821A. The use of this movement allows for an appealing price tag of just $410, which is a solid value considering the brand heritage and style you’re getting with an orange accented flieger watch. It seems like pilot’s watches might be having a bit of a moment (maybe it’s a hangover effect from IWC’s great pilot focused showing at Watches & Wonders). Regardless, we’re here for it, and glad to see options at all price points for these easy to wear, all purpose tool watches. Laco