First unveiled earlier this year at Baselworld 2009 and set to go on sale in less than a month in the beginning of October, the new Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 4 (ref. 241381) pilot’s watch features a “love it or hate it” layout of its huge dial, but has at least one advantage over competitors that you just can’t deny: it is powered by an almost legendary Unitas 6497 hand-wound movement that gives you good power reserve, is decent at keeping time, and is practically bursting with old school charisma that more modern mechanisms simply don’t have.
Although mostly known for their high-quality Swiss Army multi-functional pocket knives, the Swiss brand also sells its own family of wrist watches that, if properly serviced, are usually of superior quality to similarly priced competitors and, if serviced properly, tend to work for years without giving their owners any trouble.
Since the brand has a very strong “militarist” aura about it, their best selling timepieces continue to be all sorts of pilot’s watches.
Powered by a pocket-watch-sized Unitas 6497 hand-wound caliber, the watch comes in a huge 45 mm stainless steel case. Although definitely oversized, the case nevertheless has one natural advantage: it provides lots of real estate for the dial.
In fact, the dial of this 241381 is so large that there is enough space for a huge seconds counter at 7 o’clock, a set of huge Arabic numerals and even for an inner rotating bezel of the Airboss. Operated by a separate crown at 2 o’clock, the bezel serves to track time between different events. Sorry, at this time of night I can’t really imagine, what kind of events an average owner of the watch is supposed to track with this 60-minute scale.
Of course, persons suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder will love the function.
The most interesting feature of the Airboss Mach 4 is its two-handed seconds indicator. Instead of one hand that completes one turn in 60 seconds, the watch has two hands pointing at two scales from 0 to 30 and from 30 to 60 seconds on the inner scale. I can not really say that it adds sufficiently to the watch’s usability, but at least it makes the watch fun to look at.
What I really love about the new Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 4 is how “un-German” it is! While many watchmakers draw their inspiration from the German WWII B-Uhr timekeepers, this one simply has its design based on an average altimeter gauge of an average aircraft.
While not terribly “historic,” it at least looks more original than dozens of “aviators” that you may find in an average brick and mortar shop.
Photos: Victorinox Swiss Army
Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 4 (ref. 241381) watch specification:
Price: $1350 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Unitas 6497, hand-wound, 16.5 lignes, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, 24-hour “military time” scale on the dial
Power reserve: 56 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel: Rotating, matches case
Crown: Screw-down, matches case
Case size: 45.00 mm
Case height: 15.10 mm
Hands: Luminous, sword-shaped
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Brown leather with low-contrast stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective