Victorinox Goes Mechanical With New Airboss

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There’s a lot to be said for watches that don’t fuss; the ones that just get on with the job without crowing about it. They may not impress you on the first date but, over time, you find they’re the ones you pick from the watchbox first. Victorinox’s Airboss (ok, we’ll forgive the slightly OTT name) is a fine example. 

It doesn’t do anything flash, like tell you what’s going on in a second timezone, work out lap times for racing cars or chime on the quarters. It just gets on with telling you what the time is where you are now. And, at 42mm diameter with big, lumed numerals and spade hands, it does it unambiguously.

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That’s not to say it’s a dull watch; there’s plenty going on both front and back. The bezel (more of that in a minute) is thin enough that your eye gets drawn straight to the dial. But before you get there, take a look at the crystal. Victorinox have triple-coated it with anti-reflective, but they’ve also used it to carry a 24 hour scale – the numbers and scale itself are printed on its underside. Neat; it avoids cluttering the dial and gives you the information you need in a rather more engaging way than usual. It matches the red second hand, too.

The rest of the dial is an example of what a watchmaker can do when they set out to be clear. White numerals on a black background for maximum contrast. The hour markers use the now traditional Victorinox typeface and they’re three dimensional as well as lume-filled. Bluntly, don’t buy one of these if you want to blame your watch for being late.

Then there’s the bezel. On this Airboss (there are several variations of the model) the bezel and rehaut carry sliderule scales. The practicality jury’s out on watchborne sliderules; they’re pretty fiddly and usually, in the time it’s taken you to work out how to use them, Apple’s released two new generations of iPhones with an app that does it better. The gear jury is pretty convinced though; they may not be practical but they’re definitely cool. And learning how to use it could be the alternative to boredom in those tedious Zoom meetings.

The back of the case is the screw-down sapphire display variety, showing off the almost ubiquitous self-winding Sellita SW-200-1. There’s a bit more visual interest here as Victorinox have specced the rotor with their logo. The Sellita is a fine, robust engine after years of development in its earlier incarnation and you’ll never struggle finding spares. It matches the watch well.

Despite the watch being almost devoid of complication, you still have some choices to make.  Both cases are 316L stainless steel, but you can either have a natural sandblasted finish or a black PVD. Either, given the nature of the watch, will only get more characterful as it gets worn and scratched a bit. Then there’s the choice between a brown leather strap with a neat deployant buckle or, with the PVD watch, a matching bracelet with a deployant.

So should you buy one? OK, if you’re looking for bulletproof, reverse-a-Sherman-over-it robustness it’s still worth going for a G-Shock. But the Airboss is in a different market – it’s for people who want a utility watch that’ll take its share of bashing about but still have a mechanical movement at its heart and be smart enough to wear anywhere. It’s a good size, has a proven movement and is definitely one of those watches you’ll keep coming back to, even if it doesn’t win you over at first glance. Victorinox.

Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
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