In the world of watches, whether “luxury” or “affordable” there are a handful of names that come up again and again in each category (and across categories at times). Every now and then an unfamiliar name will surface and provide a new option for watch enthusiasts. Xezo however, is not a new name: they have been producing “sensibly priced, high-quality, handcrafted luxury items in limited quantities designed with exquisite beauty to express the creative side of your personality” since 2001. Since 2002 Xezo (pronounced Zee-zo) has been producing watches with some similar and appreciated traits: limited runs (usually 500 per piece), Swiss movements and reasonable prices.
I came across the subject of this piece, the Xezo Air Commando, when looking for a new, affordable sports watch. I needed something that I could wear in the pool and a crystal that would stand up to my klutziness; I was after a Swiss movement and a rotating diver-style bezel and a price tag less than $700. After a number of days browsing sales sites, forums and other auction sites the Xezo finally popped up on my radar. It had what I was after plus some extras: day and date and an internal bezel for the possibility of a second time zone. I was sold, and so was the watch. I’ve been wearing it for a few months now and wanted to share my impressions of this timepiece.
Model: Air Commando D44 – L
Movement: ETA 2836-2
Dial: Black (also available in Silver)
Complications: Day, Date, Diver timing bezel, inner 12 hour bezel
Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Crystal: Sapphire (front and back)
Price (USD): $750 – $845
The case of the Air Commando definitely comes across as a very masculine case. From the blocky crown guards to the angles on the lugs it portrays a watch that means business without being over the top. It comes across as a sports-style watch thanks to the brushed finish, rotating bezel and legibility but not a blocky piece despite the 44mm diameter and 55mm length of the watch. Although the case is on the larger side, it wears very comfortably and does not “feel” as large. Adding to the angles and edges, the case between the lugs is straight rather than curved, meaning the bracelet models will have a straight end link. After market straight-end link bracelets will fit the case fine, but unlike the stock bracelet there is a small gap between the end link and the case. Whether or not this causes an aesthetic problem is up to the wearer.
The case is home to two crowns: the standard crown for time and date settings is located between guards at 3 and the second crown which operates the internal bezel is at 10 o’clock. Both crowns are knurled and easy to grab and screw down for water resistance protection. The second crown controls the inner bezel that can be used for a dual purpose: on the surface, with markings for each hour, it can easily be used as a second time zone. Unscrew the crown, adjust the inner bezel to the time you want and you essentially have a local time and home time using the one set of hands. When used with the rotating outer bezel the watch could be used to time an event up to 12 hours: align the internal bezel with the hour hand and the outer bezel with the minute hand and you can track elapsed time using the two bezels.
The price point for the watch would lead one to expect a sapphire crystal and that is the case with the Air Commando, both front and back are flat anti-reflective sapphire crystals. An ETA 2836-2 movement with a Xezo marked rotor can be seen through the screw down display back, as well as the usual watch information including the number of the piece out of 500.
Dial and Hands
The dial of the Air Commando contains quite a bit of information; it is pretty far from a sterile dial. The hours are all marked in an attractive font (except for at 3 o’clock) and minute hash marks are present as well. The date sits at the usual spot at 3 o’clock and is under a magnifying cyclops that actually works quite nicely. The day is tucked in an arc right above 6 and has a black wheel with white text so it blends in well and does not stick out like a sore thumb. The last two bits of text are “automatic” above the day and “Swiss Made” flanking the 6. If you look at all of the components you realize there are a number of fonts used on the dial; each bit of text is in a different font, which can be a bit distracting.
Overall the dial has a lot of information and, by itself, is not too overly busy. As things are layered however the pace picks up: the inner bezel has hour numerals and half-hour stick markers and on top of that the outer bezel has numerals every 5 minutes with hash marks on the minute. Putting all of that together does make for a fair bit of information and might be too busy for some.
The hands of the watch are tapered from the center thickening towards the end where they taper back into fine points which makes them very legible. The seconds hand has a triangle tip with the same pointed finish as the hour and minute hands. The dial has lume on the numeric hour markers as well as the dots for each hour along with the hands. Overall the lume may be one of the weaker parts of the watch’s construction. The elements are luminescent however not nearly as strong as other watches in the same category or price range.
Straps and Wearability
The Air Commando D44 – L comes on complimentary black leather strap with white stitching. The strap is water resistant calfskin and is 4mm thick with a stainless steel buckle. The strap is not at all stiff and feels very comfortable on the wrist. It is a very well made strap and it fits the look and feel of the watch quite nicely. Alternatively the Air Commando D44 comes on a 316L brushed stainless steel bracelet with a fold-over clasp; the links of the bracelet are removed via screws rather than pins. Whether on the strap, an after-market bracelet or a NATO the Air Commando is a joy to have on the wrist. It is not overly heavy and sits very comfortably.
The Xezo Air Commando provides a number of useful functions into a well designed and attractive watch. The Swiss, ETA 2836-2 movement provides reliability to match any use, whether diving, traveling, being active or just desk-diving. The dial can be a bit on the busy side, but with the additional functions packed into it, that can be overlooked. The Air Commando is a robust watch with a solid design and an affordable price. Watch for sales via the Xezo website and sales sites like Overstock and Amazon.
by James Enloe