Why the A-13A Flyback
A13-A Pilot Watch is a venture that was born out of my passions for flight, horology and precision mechanics. This is the second watch to take off from my drawing board. Hot on the success of the A13-A quartz chrono, I am now launching the mechanical version.
What is This?
To give it its full title this is the Automatic A13-A Pilot Watch Flyback Chrono, it is powered by a Swiss automatic movement with a flyback chronograph module (www.dubois-depraz.ch), all stainless steel and water resistant. It is the evolution of the A-13A quartz chrono, which I launched in 2017 to fill a niche that no-one in the horological world had yet provided for, that of a practical, highly legible personal timepiece specifically designed for piloting aircraft. The original was such a success that I immediately started thinking of taking the project one step further and placing a Swiss automatic movement into the watch. Two years later, and after solving a great deal of challenges, not least a global pandemic, here it is.
How the project started
It all started in 2016 when I was flying my ‘plane and looking at the cockpit clock, I thought that the market did not provide a wristwatch that allows a pilot to tell the time at a glance while flying an aircraft in challenging conditions. After two years of research, study, trial and error, the result was the first A-13A pilot watch, a tool watch serving the sole purpose of telling the time in the most accurate, reliable, legible way possible. Both as a timepiece and as a chronograph. It was designed to be robust and to keep out dust and water; it’smade to last. All of these features are carried over in the automatic version of the watch, together with the general aesthetics, but I took the chance to carry out some improvements: the movement, of course, but also the hands, the lume, the caseback and strap.
Because the A-13A watches are aimed primarily at the aviation community, I thought it made perfect sense for us to entrust the field tests to actual pilots. So I sent the prototype, in turn, to 9 of the friends I made during my experience with the first A-13A and encouraged them to take to the skies with the watch and beat the hell out of it, as you do with the tools that you need in your work.
- 1) May 7, Bampton (UK), W&W editor
- 2) May 22, Köln (Germany), photographer and watch enthusiast
- 3) June 3, Louisville (KY, USA), U-2 pilot, B737
- 4) June 18, Tyndal AFB (FL, USA), F-15 pilot, F117
- 5) July 10, Honululu (Hawaii), HiLuxury magazine editors
- 6) July 25, Miami (FL, USA), F-14 pilot, B777
- 7) August 26, Winnipeg (Canada), SH-3 Sea King pilot and watch designer
- 8) September 6, Mildenhall RAF base (UK), KC-135 pilot
Crown and pushers
Looking at the pics, you’ll notice that the crown and pushers are on the opposite side of the watch to where you’d normally expect to find them, at the 7.30, 9 and 10.30 positions. I chose to assemble the watch this way because it’s a rather tall piece and the controls are set relatively low in the case, so I figured it will be more comfortable without the crown on the other side, possibly digging into your wrist. This is a suggestion, however: if you want the controls at the more traditional positions – maybe because you intend to wear the watch on your right wrist – just say so and that’s what you’ll get. The beauty of microbrand manufacturing is that you can account for flexibility.
The watch is supplied on canvas RedRock straps; I know it’s a bit of a strap monster and owners love to express their personal taste in their choice of straps or bracelets, so to start you off, on your new A-13A you have the option of either tack stitched Granite Grey, or saddle stitched Moon Dust colourways.