The holiday season is synonymous with travel. Whether it’s driving across town or around the world, pretty much everyone is headed somewhere. One way to make the burden of travel easier? Having an amazing watch on your wrist. We searched near and far, and selected our top three timepieces to take with you on your next excursion.
First up, a modern re-issue of a chronograph that Longines produced in the 1930s, the Avigation BigEye (“Avigation” is a portmanteau of “aviation” and “navigation,” which are the two functions the original watch was engineered to serve). The modern watch is distinguished by its extra-legible, semi-glossy black dial with big luminous Arabic numerals and an extra-large 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock (presumably, the “big eye” referred to in the model name). The dial, protected under a domed sapphire crystal with several layers of non-reflective coating, also has a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and a sub dial for running seconds at 9 o’clock; a central hand counts the chronograph seconds; the hour and minute hands, like the hour numerals, are coated with Super-LumiNova. The 41-mm stainless steel case is water-resistant to 30 meters and features two prominent chronograph pushers for easy handling, even for a pilot wearing gloves.
Continuing the brand’s tradition of aviation-influenced designs, the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Horolum takes its cues not only from the dashboard instruments that a pilot consults while in flight but also from the bright lights that he sees when he’s coming in for a landing. Its dashboard-clock dial has a Super-LumiNova coating that glows in the same intense green color as the lights on airport runways (hence the name “Hora” plus “Lum,” short for “Lumen” or light). The 42-mm bead-blasted steel case is reminiscent of those used in the brand’s early BR-01 models. The dial — made of micro-blasted brass-rhodium that makes it homogeneous with the case — is made of two superimposed metal plates, with cutaway numerals and indices on the gray upper plate and green-tinted, long-lasting Super-LumiNova C3 coating covering the lower plate. In this “sandwich” construction — favored by brands such as Panerai — the luminescence shines through the cutouts for a brilliant glow and easy nighttime legibility. Green Super-LumiNova is also used on the hands, and the calfskin leather strap, with stainless steel pin buckle, is in a gray-green color. The BR 03-92 Horolum is also outfitted with the Sellita-based, self-winding BR-CAL.302 and includes a date window at 4:30. Both watches’ cases are water-resistant to 100 meters and feature non-reflective sapphire crystals over the dials.
The IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” was released in 2017, it is a limited-edition of 250-pieces set with an attractive 18k rose gold case. The tobacco brown dial, gold-plated hands, and brown calfskin strap match handsomely to the case and are meant to recall the pilot suits from the days when Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took to the skies and wrote about his aerial adventures in classics such as The Little Prince and Night Flight. A stylized “A” underneath the Annual Calendar indicator offers a nice nod to the French pilot and author’s initial. The seven-day power reserve comes courtesy of the IWC in-house Caliber 52850 that includes a Pellaton winding system with parts made from long-lasting ceramic. But the real selling point for horological enthusiasts and fans of Le Petit Prince? A rotor constructed from 18k rose gold and crafted into the shape of a Lightning P-38, the same airplane model that Saint Exupéry took off in on that fateful Mediterranean summer night in 1944 — and never returned from.
Of these three models, which would be your first choice for traveling?