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One of the most fulfilling aspects of owning a vintage watch is the nostalgic connection to a piece of history and is often appreciated for its rich horological heritage. For the very first time, Gnomon Watches is presenting an exclusive limited edition timepiece from Aristo Watch Co. that captures the rustic charm of a vintage military flieger, rediscovering the spirit of classic pilot watches with a rare NOS (new old stock) handwinding caliber by Durowe, a distinguished German movement manufacturer back in the late 60s—this will be a stunner for Flieger Fridays.
|Aristo Aviator Vintage 4H451 - Sapphire - Ltd Ed 50pcs|
Tool watches are unquestionably made to be tough, ready to take a beating and handle specific purposes it is designed for. These were traits that were very much needed for timepieces worn in the harshest of conditions, such as watches that would be worn on the wrists of military pilots during combat missions. During the second World War, it marked the birth of German Flieger watches, meaning ‘air man’ (or also referred to as Beobachtungs-Uhren, or B-Uhren) that were originally produced for Germany’s air force ‘German Luftwaffe’ to reference time during combat operations and aerial warfare.
While the Swiss may represent the pinnacle of haute horlogerie, the impressive production, impeccable precision and engineering mastery from the Germans in the field of watchmaking is truly worth a closer look. Coming from a German watch manufacturer that produced timepieces since 1907, Aristo Uhren (known today as Aristo Watch Co.) was founded by watchmaker Julius Epple in Pforzheim, southwestern Germany, a beautiful city that earned the nickname “Goldstadt” or “Golden City” for its jewelry and watchmaking industry. Today, the brand calls upon their great watchmaking legacy to offer remarkable military-inspired watches with outstanding value.
|The perfect size for a vintage themed watch|
Unlike original flieger watches that were massive, with case sizes over 50mm that housed movements meant for pocket watches, the Aristo Aviator Vintage 4H451 - Ltd Ed comes in a wearable, more refined modern form factor bringing forth a cultivated appearance sitting closer to the dimensions of an elegant dress piece despite having its core design inspired by military pilot’s tool watches. Measuring with a tasteful case diameter of 38.5mm, a lug to lug distance of 43.5mm and a pleasantly slender case thickness of merely 9.5mm thanks to the manual-winding movement. Naturally, these dimensions allow the watch to fit splendidly on a wide range of wrist sizes.
Built out of 316L stainless steel, the case is finished excellently with retrograde satin brushing at the top of the lugs and the side of the case, contrasted with a thick highly-polished bezel around the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal for a dressy flair. Accompanying this suave timepiece, the accompanied German handmade mocha brown leather strap handsomely elevates the old-school glamour of the timepiece with a delicately distressed texture and vintage stitching.
|Minimalistic dial with Teutonic appeal|
In contrast with many Swiss counterparts, German timepieces are largely influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy of emphasizing functionality over decorative elements. Likewise, the Aristo Aviator Vintage 4H451 - Ltd Ed carries a rather simple and minimal flieger-inspired layout following the dial designs of vintage aviation watches. The matte black dial features 12 luminous Arabic numerals for hour markers, pencil-style minute hand and a broad distinctive squared-off hour hand that provides clear orientation of the dial with a simple glance on the wrist. Beauty lies in Aristo’s fine attention to details in the dial work, depicted by a needle seconds hand that reaches out all the way to reach the ‘railroad’ minute track at the edges of the dial, as well as Aristo’s retro logo for a cool vintage touch. With the lack of a date window, the dial flaunts a delightful symmetry that is certainly gratifying to look at.
At the core of the watch lies the main highlight of the Aristo Aviator Vintage 4H451 - Ltd Ed—the NOS (new old stock) Durowe 451 handwinding caliber that came straight out of the golden era of German watchmaking. A total of 70 NOS Durowe 451 movements were found in Aristo’s workshop, of which 50 were utilized to produce this exclusive model (with the remaining 20 sets of movements reserved for repair and servicing). Freshly serviced and thoroughly inspected by Aristo’s skilful watchmakers, these well-kept movements are assured to be as robust and high-performing as possible.
|Glows green in the dark with SuperLumoinova
Durowe, or Deutsche Uhrenrohwerke was a German ebauche movement manufacturer founded in 1933 by Ludwig Hummel. Durowe was a distinguished name that grew to be one of the leading movement manufacturers for watch manufacturers in the region of Pforzheim during its prime. However, like countless other brands in the watchmaking industry, Durowe fell victim to the quartz crisis in the late 1970s, and vintage timepieces with Durowe movements have become highly-sought after by collectors since then.
Like any well-made mechanical movement, the 17-jewel manual-winding movement is a capable engine that could very well outlive the wearer if taken care of. Beating at a rate of 21,600 beats per hour (BPH), the movement features a healthy power reserve of approximately 40 hours when fully wound using the crown at the 3 o’clock position. At the back of the watch reveals a see-through display caseback grants a gorgeous view of the Durowe 451, in all its glory. Despite not having fancy finishes and decorations, this is a utilitarian workhorse that is meant to last a lifetime with its incredibly robust metal parts.
|NOS Durowe 451 movements|
Limited to only 50 pieces worldwide, the caseback is engraved with an individual serial number out of 50 as a mark of exclusivity. On top of that, this is a unique timepiece that marks the very first Gnomon-signed caseback on an Aristo model, a never-seen-before detail denoting an limited Aristo release that is exclusively available only at Gnomon Watches. To complete the entire package, the watch is presented in a lacquered hardwood box signed with Aristo’s proud emblem.
The Aristo Aviator Vintage 4H451 - Ltd Ed is especially appealing for those who crave a vintage experience in a watch that is essentially fresh out of the box, incorporating a NOS movement that is a significant part of the history of the German watchmaking industry. This exclusive release from Aristo is more than just a watch that tells the time, it is a creation that encapsulates the rich history of the brand and German watchmaking in itself.