Pilot watches are kind of a funny thing in the way they can run the gamut from hyper-modern, tech heavy tools used by actual pilots (think of the Breitling Aerospace, almost any G-Shock, or even the Apple Watch) to watches that are made seemingly as monuments to history. The classic aviation watch aesthetic often deployed by brands like IWC, Hamilton, and Laco (to name just a few) is more about paying tribute to the earliest days of watches and aviation meeting one another than it is about actually flying planes in 2022. But the design of these watches is so simple and effective that it lives on long after the supposed use case is no longer really in play. In other words, no pilot really needs a watch with an onion crown large enough to operate with gloves on these days. But there’s a certain romance inherent in that nearly century old pilot watch aesthetic, and in my opinion it gets really interesting when that classic style is met with accents that are genuinely contemporary.
Case in point: the new Stowa Flieger Verus 40 Vintage 95. Here we have a traditional pilot’s watch made in a limited edition for Stowa’s 95th anniversary (remember: every year is an anniversary) with a single design element that makes it feel completely modern. That, of course, is the black coated case. Paired with a dial that’s right out of the history books, with large Arabic numerals indicating the hours, oversized hashes for minute markers, and enormous sword style hands, the Flieger Verus 40 Vintage 95 is delightfully idiosyncratic in a case that makes more sense on a flight deck at any point from the 80s onward.
As you might have inferred from the name of the watch itself, the case measures 40mm in diameter, which of course is a nice modern size, and not totally out of line with what a pilot’s watch with a dial configuration like this might have been sized at when they were truly the most practical tools for the job. Black has a tendency to make watches wear smaller, so this one might actually be a solid option for folks who typically enjoy a watch in the sub 40mm range. It’s also quite thin at just 10.2mm tall, and keeps time with the stalwart Sellita SW 200 beating away inside. There’s plenty of “old radium” colored lume throughout the dial, which I think is hard to argue against on a watch like this, even for those who normally come down against faux-tina (myself included). This dial just wouldn’t look quite right with bright white lume. Fans of the brand will also notice that the logo near 12:00 is in the style of the original Stowa logo, a tribute to brand founder Walter Storz.
There’s no shortage of pilot and aviation inspired watches available if you’re inclined toward this particular genre, but if you’re like me and feel a bit funny wearing something that looks like a replica of a watch that might have existed in the 1940s, a mashup like this that mixes the classic with the modern holds a lot of appeal. While some might see the black case and immediately register it as something less than authentic, for me it’s that specific twist on a well understood formula that makes the watch interesting.
The Stowa Flieger Verus 40 Vintage 95 is available now through the Stowa website. The retail price is 1,295 €, and a total of 95 pieces will be made. Stowa