Model Jets and Army Men

Since I was a young boy, I have had a strong fascination with military vehicles. Jets, tanks, helicopters – I would spend hours building models of these, labouring to get the decals placed just right. My eyes were always drawn to the geometric shapes of these scaled-down stickers. I recall outings with my dad to the Military Museum in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, where I would marvel at the different squadron badges and markings on the vintage aircraft and vehicles.

At the Warbirds hanger at Ardmore, New Zealand with the Peregrine V1

Growing up I loved to draw. Military vehicles and planes were a favourite subject matter, but I also vividly recall copying the road signs from an old map book of South Africa my parents owned. I also went to numerous airshows where some spectacular displays could be seen. My dad would prod me into the queue to get to sit in the cockpits of the different fighter jets. It was astounding to me how many gauges and instruments pilots had to be aware of. Looking back now, I can see the invisible threads connecting my past, with my present at Draken. Those moments of obsession as a kid played a small but important role in how I approach design at Draken today.

On the stick of the Mustang P-51

Many of the rules and techniques used in vintage aviation instrument design from the mid-20th century are still applicable today. Bold white-on-black markers, matte-finish surfaces, sans-serif typography and simplified shapes are some of the key attributes of a good instrument design. Recently I have been looking at old military spec docs to see some of the early rules and guidelines for dial design.


 In watch design, careful consideration also needs to be taken to how the materials within the dial relate to materials outside the dial. Our recent models are examples of this. The Kruger is a feature-packed chronogroph, with a matte-finished titanium case and aviation inspired dial. A symmetrical layout with a bold and high-contrast dial removes all the non-essential elements for a design dedicated to function. To increase contrast, and avoid conflicting material use, the handset is completely painted, with the base colour-matched with the dials. Note that we also opted for lume-painted vs lume-filled hands for the sub-dial hands. The former of these hand styles is a nod to vintage aviation instruments.

On the Aoraki, we brush-finished the stainless steel case, and therefore aligned the hour and minute hand finish accordingly – brushed vertically. We deliberately painted the base of the small second’s hand though, to align with the style and appearance of the previous Kruger model. Look out for these stylistic elements on our next model, the Peregrine V2.

Thanks for reading!

Kia kaha.




  1. Mike Braniff

    You have a kitset of the Swedish Saab Drake fighter.

    1. Ha! What a coincidence!

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