When is a B-uhr not a B-uhr? When it’s a Watch Angels B-uhr Monopusher Chronograph

Everybody loves a flieger. Even if budget means you turn right when you climb aboard and aren’t allowed more than 100ml of anything, there’s still a romance to flying. Originally made for wartime pilots and observers where precise navigation was a very important thing indeed, fliegers are part of watchmaking heritage.

Back in the days when all the best pilots flew red triplanes and had ‘von’ in their surnames, the pilots shooting at them used pocket watches to navigate. The Mark IV.A and Mark V British pocket watches were the thing to have in the cockpit of your SE5. Large enough to hold with gloves on, solid enough to survive and clear enough to read in a shaking aircraft.

In WWII, the German Imperial Air Ministry fought back and laid down their own detailed criteria that still form the basis of flieger-spec today.

  • a hacking, chronometer movement, so an airman could set the time to the second and know it would stay there. Vital for long-distance navigation and making it back to the mess in time for medals and cocktails
  • a clear, luminous dial with 12 o’clock clearly marked – and a big, 55mm case to put it in
  • a large crown, so you could set your watch with gloves on
  • a long, leather strap so you could wear your watch over your flight jacket sleeve.

And, being German and thus precise, each watch had to be engraved on the caseback with “FL 23883”, indicating that it was a watch, airmen for the use of.

Perhaps the best known of these was the “B-uhr” style. B-uhr is short for ‘Beobachtungs-uhren’ or an observer’s watch. This is the one Watch Angels are following with their new release. And it makes a lot of sense. Trying to find an original 1940s B-uhr will put quite a hole in your pocket and an original Luftwaffe watch is, for several reasons, probably something you don’t want to wear every day. But Watch Angels are giving you the option of a very wearable bit of kit for a rather more reasonable 1,890CHF.


The Swiss firm who specializes in ‘crowdmanufacturing’ have taken the original B-uhr concept and brought it a little more up to date. They’ve still kept the good bits though…

The first thing you might spot is that the B-uhr Monopusher is a bit smaller than its 1940s counterparts. This one measures just 44.8mm in diameter against the original’s honking great 55mm spread. OK, so a gnat’s toenail off 45mm is still a chunky old thing, but the B-uhr design doesn’t really work as well when you take it sub-40mm, so it makes a lot of sense.

The case itself is black DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coated (the original would have been plain metal), but the update – again – works and brings the watch up to date. Watch Angels are coating the strap buckle too. 

Back in the early days of the B-uhr, the watch had no chronograph function. This new watch, however, offers one and in a way that doesn’t detract from the original styling. Eschewing buttons at 2 and 4, this new B uses a monopusher; you start, stop and reset the chronograph by pushing the button on the winding crown.  It keeps everything neat and simple and is as easy as getting another martini in business class.

That crown pusher starts the chronograph function on the watch’s Sellita SW500 MPC b automatic monopusher chronograph caliber. Originally, Watch Angels planned the watch as a manual mechanical, like the first Bs.  But the Sellita movement is solid, reliable and works splendidly as a mono.  It’s also a proper certified chronometer that would have made it through the 1940s precision tests with flying (sorry) colors.  The movement gets tested in 5 positions (3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, dial up and dial down). It gets tested at 3 temperatures (so you’ll not be late in your Fokker Dr.I ), and it should run to an average daily tolerance of -4/+6 seconds.

There’s a neat way to measure how long you’ve been aloft too (or merely the time since your last bowl of complementary snacks)  If you push the bezel down, towards the case, it engages a set of teeth with a cog mounted just behind that screwed-in plate at 12 o’clock.  As you turn the bezel, it in turn rotates the 30 minute counter at the top of the dial.  Watch Angels say it’s a 3:1 ratio, so satisfyingly mechanical and direct to use.   All you have to do is push down on the bezel, give it a turn to move the marker on the dial, then simply set the chronograph running and measure elapsed time. 

B-uhrs needed to be antimagnetic. That’s because of the fields they’d encounter in the cockpit. But even if the highest you’re going is the 34th floor, an antimagnetic watch makes a huge amount of sense today. Just about everything in modern life chucks out a magnetic field – from your laptop to your stereo speakers. The Watch Angels B shrugs them off with (like most watches today) an anti-mag balance and balance spring, but the firm has gone one better; the B uses a soft iron Faraday cage around the movement.  

Usually, Faraday cages get hidden behind a solid caseback, but not here. Flip your watch over and you can see the soft iron cage, suitably engraved with the right military identification code – FL23883 – engraved on it.


The B also features the “Baumuster B” dial design with 60 minute markers placed around the dial edge and a 12 hour scale on an inner circle.  They’ve clearly thought about how to integrate that chronograph too; when you’re not using the chronograph, the central chronograph seconds hand and the 30min counter hand, as well as the elapsed time marker, all overlap exactly so that the watch looks like the original 3 hands B-Uhr despite being a chronograph. The original B-uhr design is so clear and simple that it would be easy to wreck it with a change like adding a chronograph. This does the job simply, clearly and elegantly. 

You might spot that, quite correctly, the Watch Angels B doesn’t have a running seconds hand. Instead, it uses a small window in the dial with a white-black turning disc keeps you posted about whether your watch is running or not. 

One of those 1940s Bs would be a lovely thing to have, but the large lume plots on the dial and hands would have been painted in enough radium to give a geiger counter seizures. As you’d expect, Watch Angels have used SuperLuminova, and super-bright X1 grade too, so your watch will be as easy to read in low light as in full daylight.

So should you get in on the funding round and reserve one? Well, like all the best flying watches this one has one of those deceptively simple clear, uncluttered faces that you can read without having to squint or look closely. Although you will, often, just for the hell of it. The Sellita movement will hack, so you can set the exact time to a reference. And ostentatiously starting that monopusher chrono with its display will be incredibly handy for limiting how long tedious colleagues yap for in meetings.  And, let’s face it, how many of us haven’t slotted in behind that car bimbling along in front of us and made machine gun noises?  It’s so much more satisfying with a B on your wrist.

Originally, an airman would be issued their watch for each flight, the quartermaster carefully taking it back and storing it away again afterwards. This is your chance to keep one; the Angel round opens the 31st of March and Angel round prices start at 1.890 CHF. Watch Angels.

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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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