Flieger: The Original Pilot Watch

During the 1930’s the German government commissioned the development of a timepiece, specifically for aviators. These timekeepers known as B-Uhr watches (short for Beobachtungs-Uhren) were initially huge at 55mm, utilising pocket watch movements. They featured the all-important hacking feature (the ability to stop and synchronise the second hand) and had a soft iron Faraday cage, protecting them from magnetism, a common problem in cockpits.

The word Flieger was adopted by the watch enthusiast community, and referred to the style of watch first defined by the B-Uhr watches. Characteristics of these watches are an ultra-readable dial with white Arabic numerals, a black dial and sword hands. A large ‘onion’ shaped crown aided the aviator while wearing heavy flight gloves, and a thick rivetted strap kept the watch secure over said gloves.

These distinct military watches now share the same collectability as the Dirty Dozen watches from the same era. Only 5 watch companies were contracted to produce these timepieces. These were Stowa, Wempe, Laco, A. Lange & Söhne and IWC. IWC was the only Swiss company of these, having neutral status during the war.

The first B-Uhren specified watch was labeled ‘Type-A’, and had a triangle with two dots at 12h, 1-11 hour numerals, and minute/second track.

In 1941 ‘Type-B’ was developed, with a more technical dial design. The minutes/seconds were called out in increments of 5 while the shorter hour hand pointed to an inner track with numerals 1 to 12.

On the side of the watch case was an identification number beginning with FL for ‘Flieger’ which thus became the name defining the genre.

in 2023 Draken created a Flieger ‘Type-A’ inspired watch under the Aoraki series. You could say that this was a mash-up between ‘Flieger’ and ‘Dirty-Dozen‘ as the watch featured a small seconds sub-dial at 6h. Coincidentally the Aoraki also features an anti-magnetic Faraday cage and is a much more werable size at 39mm.

This March we will be releasing the Peregrine, Draken’s original pilot-style watch. Our original Peregrine dial design will be back, with adjusted proportions and the new power reserve indicator moved to the bottom.

We have also added a second dial design, in the style of a Flieger ‘Type-B’. Both dial versions will be available in black and full-lume, the latter glowing blue thanks to a thick application of Swiss Super-LumiNova BGW9.

You’ll notice that the crown on the Peregrine is on the left. This was a result of rotating the movement 180° to bring the power reserve indicator down to the 6h position. Wear it on the left for a completely unobstructed wrist, or on the right to free up your dominant hand (for us leftys).

 

2 comments

  1. Nico Labuschagne

    Awesome blog, thanks for the easily digestible content. Eagerly awaiting the Peregrine release!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Nico!

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